"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Shouldering On

The Yankees lost 5-2 to the Angels Monday night as Joe Saunders pitched a gem. Saunders allowed solo homers to Alex Rodriguez and pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui (Godzilla’s first career pinch-hit tater) in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, but otherwise allowed just five hits, no runs, and walked no one. Meanwhile, the Rangers crushed the A’s 10-3 to postpone the Yankees’ postseason clinch at least one more day.

Andy Pettitte's left shoulder looked good Monday night (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)None of that was particularly important, however. The most significant thing that happened for the Yankees on Monday night was that Andy Pettitte turned in a quality start, recovering from a rocky, two-run first inning to retired the Angels in order in the second, third, and fourth before giving up a third run in the fifth on a walk and a pair of singles. Pettitte then retired Vlad Guerrero, Torii Hunter, and Juan Rivera in order in the sixth, finishing his day at 91 pitches with just five hits allowed in six innings.

Pettitte had skipped his last turn due to some shoulder discomfort in his previous start, but after shaking off some rust in the first, he looked sharp, and more importantly, said he felt good after the game. In fact, Pettitte said his shoulder hasn’t hurt since that previous start ten days earlier. That’s a tremendous relief given Joba Chamberlain’s disaster start on Sunday and A.J. Burnett’s inconsistency. The Yankees’ biggest concern entering the postseason is the effectiveness of their starting rotation. Having Pettitte healthy and effective is of utmost importance.

Trailing 3-0, Joe Girardi used the remainder of the game to audition relievers for the postseason roster, giving the seventh to Brian Bruney and the eighth to Jonathan Albaldejo. Neither made much of a case for himself. Bruney gave up two hits including a booming home run to pinch-hitter Kendry Morales (Bruney said after the game that he was trying to be too fine with the pitch). Albaladejo gave up a run on a Vlad Guerrero single and a double to the wall by Juan Rivera.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Recap

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1 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:41 am

Both Bruney and Albaladejo are going to make the post season roster anyway. If their performances up to this point hadn't soured the Yankees on them, I see no reason why this will change that

2 Rich   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:47 am

The Yankees will win the division and maybe even the WS...irrespective of Girardi's serial determined efforts to derail them.

3 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:48 am

This whole nonsense about auditioning relievers is a myth. Besides, why on Earth who Girardi consider using either Albaledejo or Bruney in a two run game during the playoffs? The reason Girardi didn't use an effective reliever is because he is tied to Hughes as an 8th inning guy, Mo as the 9th inning guys and Ace as the guy he brings in after the starter gets knocked out. He has regressed to a bullpen by formula, and the Yankees have lost games as a result.

Without more help from KC, the Yankees could be headed back to Anaheim sooner than they'd like. While it's nice that Andy had a decent start, the Yankees need to win games. Chad Gaudin is on the mound tomorrow, so the picture doesn't seem to be getting brighter. Hopefully Zack Greinke is up to the task.

4 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:50 am

[2] I hope so... it is sad that the Yankees biggest obstacle might be overcoming their manager. It would nice if they could count on the manager as an asset instead of as a liability.

5 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:55 am

[1] You really think so? I predict that at least one of them doesn't make it.

6 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:29 am

1 Posada
17 Gaudin
24 Bruney
25 Mitre

7 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:33 am

I think the most vulnerable man on that list is Mitre.

8 monkeypants   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:35 am

[6] There is no way they go with 13 pitchers in the playoffs. In fact, I suspect that they will carry only 11 pitchers, with 14 position players (including some sort of designated PT).So right off the bat, eliminate Mitre and Albie (probably) from the roster, and Hinkske and player X (Peña?).

Bruney may make the team. But I bet they take Marte instead.

9 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:39 am

I don't think Hinske makes the playoff roster. I don't think Girardi likes him.

10 thelarmis   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:39 am

[7] by vulnerable, do you mean "unlucky" ?! ; )

11 monkeypants   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:40 am

[9] Whoever it is, there will be 14 position players and 11 pitchers. But I think he'll take Hinske as potential PH.

12 thelarmis   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:41 am

[8] yeah, hinske and pena. or cervelli. prolly dumb to carry 3 catchers. they talked about that other fast guy, but if gritner and pena are there, that's enough. i get the feeling hinske will hit a big homer in october (if allowed by GI Joe...).

13 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 22, 2009 4:30 am

If Mitre makes the post-season roster instead of Hinske...well, that would show that either Cashman or Girardi has zero idea of what how to build a post-season roster...

14 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 6:51 am

Told you I had to get up early. {yawn}

William, when you said, "I hate to break this to you, but the most ardent statistician wouldn’t mock context," I think you were completely missing my point. I wasn't mocking context. I said quite plainly that it's a good idea to adjust the historical data for context, if you know how. What I think is ridiculous is to cite two factors that might raise leverage, ignore the factors that might lower it, and then insist that all of the historical data should just be swept aside. That just looks like some kind of magical thinking to me.

If someone wants to tell me, when a team scores a tenth of a run per inning above league average, that will raise the leverage late-and-behind by 20%, sure, that's perfectly sensible, and I'd be happy to see an argument like that. Nobody made it. Instead, you mock the idea that we need any kind of data to tell us that "the Yankees can score runs and the Angels bullpen can give them up." Yes, and the Pirates can score runs, and Mariano can give them up. What you have to know, to decide whether the situation is high leverage or low leverage, is not whether it can happen, but how likely it is. That's why you need data.

And I think this really is a crucial point, because it's a very bad idea to use your good relief pitchers in low leverage situations. That's one of the most important errors that managers make in managing bullpens. If Girardi would use even the simple leverage data, without modifying for the situation, he would get much better use out of the bullpen than he does, and I think probably better use out of our bullpen than any other managers gets out of theirs. If he could adjust, in an intelligent, rational, evidence-based way, for context, then he'd do even better. But of course we know he doesn't do either of those. He follows some mindless rules about which guy goes in which inning, which guy pitches to lefties, and so on, and then he uses his gut feelings. Ugh. I guess that's what they all do. Seems like Cashman, or Theo, or somebody could do something about bullpen management. Maybe next decade.

15 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 6:55 am

Also, my brother stayed in the hotel in Newport Beach last night where the Yankees were staying. Long story short, he says there were beefy security guys who flexed their muscles at autograph seekers and wouldn't even allow photos. He was disappointed, though he said it was pretty cool to ride in the elevator with Pettitte and Teixeira! (My brother, not the security guy.)

16 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 6:58 am

Oh, and finally, thelarmis: cashews aren't nuts. At least, not botanically speaking.

17 Paul   ~  Sep 22, 2009 7:42 am

[2] This whole nonsense about auditioning relievers is a myth.

How could you possibly know this?

We can't even trust what Girardi says after the games. It's not like he's going to come out and say "They're pitching their way on or off the post-season roster".

I don't care how many games they win or lose. They're in the post-season and if AJ Burnett is incapable of being consistent, this team won't go far. Because they failed to develop Hughes this year, they'll go into October with exactly one shutdown starter. That's probably not enough whoever the manager is.

[8] [12]

I'm with you guys. Max they carry 12 pitchers. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see them carry, gulp, three catchers. Plus, there's no reason to carry both Gaudin and Mitre.

18 Paul   ~  Sep 22, 2009 7:50 am

Besides, why on Earth who Girardi consider using either Albaledejo or Bruney in a two run game during the playoffs?

If he's not willing to there's no reason for them to be on the post-season roster especially not with Joba and Gaudin available out of the pen in the ALDS. If they make it to the ALCS then there's room for one of Mitre, Bruney, or Albie.

Cliff is exactly right. An audition is exactly what it was. If they can't get the outs in a mostly meaningless game in September, they should be watching the October games from a couch somewhere.

19 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 8:35 am

In my morning haze (now cleared out by a double espresso), my eyes ran right over Cliff's second paragraph without registering it. Excellent, I completely agree, and well said. That para plus the last sentence of the third paragraph is my take-away from last night's game. (Cliff, I did catch your tweet about Posada's injury last night, so I hope the extra credit points can partly compensate for my foggy oversight this morning.)

20 Horace Clark   ~  Sep 22, 2009 9:03 am

Why don't those who think Girardi is doing such a terrible job simply send a CV to the Yankees, explaining why they should get the managerial job?
It should be easy for them to prove that they could do a better job than Girardi.

I look forward to this time next year when Joe G. is commenting on this site, complaining bitterly about the lousy job Williamnyy23 is doing at the helm of the Bombers.

21 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Sep 22, 2009 9:37 am

I wake up and find (what a surprise!) that California beat us.

So are we looking at a sweep, here?

4-6 over our last ten. I'd love to think it's just a random blip, but I'm officially nervous now.

22 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 22, 2009 9:39 am

Pete Abe nails it:

"Girardi manages his bullpen a lot like Joe Torre did. You have relievers who pitch with leads or when the score is tied and relievers who pitch when the team is losing.

The “winning” relievers are Rivera, Hughes, Aceves, Robertson and Coke.

The “losing” relievers are Bruney, Mitre, Towers and the assorted September call-ups like Albaladejo.

The difference is that Girardi allows more guys into the circle of trust than Torre ever did, which cuts down on visits to see Dr. Andrews. But every manager has basically two pools of relievers."

My two cents:
The obvious problem with this approach is that when the bats aren't getting the job done for a few nights, guys like Ace, and Hughes, and Mo can become rusty. I imagine the Yankees are aware of this risk. It would be a relief sometimes (last night would have been a good example) to see Girardi go to his "A" pen, but I can't criticize him too much for not managing last night's game like it's a playoff game. We're still in the marathon portion of the season. The sprint begins in a couple weeks. The short-term upside is that Hughes, and Ace, and Mo are available for the rest of this series. Hopefully Gaudin, Burnett, and the bats can make the "winning" relievers a factor these next two games.

23 Paul   ~  Sep 22, 2009 9:45 am

[22] As usual, Abraham's analysis leaves something to be desired. Perhaps he could explain how Robertson, Aceves, and Coke got into the circle of trust? And how did Bruney get bounced?

That's a HUGE difference between Girardi and Torre. The former runs a meritocracy. The latter runs an aristocracy. They couldn't be more different.

24 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 22, 2009 9:50 am

[23] you don't think Aceves, and Robertson are more circle of trust worthy than Bruney? I think the performances of the pitchers explain everything.

25 Paul   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:16 am

[24] Would they ever have gotten there in Torre's pen? Instead, Bruney would still be there.

26 Rich   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:23 am

Torre sucked at bullpen management when he didn't have a push button pen, so saying that a manager is like him in that regard is tantamount to saying that he should be fired.

RI Yank,

Williams's point about context raising the gain of a leverage situation is not without some merit. Some games mean more than others which increases the constructive leverage of a given situation. Given the way the Yankees have lost games lately, the way the RS have won games, and their historic trouble winning in Anaheim, last night was such a game.

btw, Burying Melancon is very Torre-like.

27 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:26 am

[25] Oh, so you're saying his analysis is lacking because he isn't emphatic enough about the HUGE difference between Joe and Joe. Fair enough, but I thought his larger point was interesting, and clear enough.

28 Raf   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:38 am

Torre sucked at bullpen management when he didn’t have a push button pen

When didn't he have a push-button pen?

29 Rich   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:44 am

[28] Mendoza, Nelson, Stanton, Mo.

30 Raf   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:46 am

Joe Girardi used the remainder of the game to audition relievers for the postseason roster, giving the seventh to Brian Bruney and the eighth to Jonathan Albaldejo.

Not sure why he would need to audition these relievers. At this stage of the game, they are what they are. Bruney throws heat but is wild, Alby is a generic RHRP.

If they go with a 12-man staff, I think this is the way they go.

Starting Pitchers:
A. Burnett
C. Sabathia
A. Pettitte (L)
J. Chamberlain
C. Gaudin

Relief Pitchers:
M. Rivera
P. Hughes
P. Coke (L)
A. Aceves
B. Bruney
D. Robertson
D. Marte (L)

If Robertson is unable to go, then we're looking @ maybe Alba in his place or the Yanks going with an 11 man staff.

31 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:51 am

[26] Don't agree about this (that) game being more important, but if you do then yes, I agree that raises the leverage in the relevant sense.

[30] Not bad, but in my opinion Bruney has failed and should be off. Robertson can fill his role (and by that I mean Strikeout Situation Guy, not Scary Fly Ball Guy). I'd keep Mitre instead.

I think eleven men is enough, though, except for the WS when they'll need one or even two more for pinch hitting in the away games. (Knock on wood.)

32 Raf   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:52 am

[29] Stanton to Nelson to Mo doesn't qualify as a push button pen?

33 Raf   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:53 am

but in my opinion Bruney has failed and should be off.

Yes, but you know how managers love them some power arms.

34 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:54 am

[33] I know. I was dreaming, not predicting. :-o

35 Rich   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:55 am

[32] Oh, I misread your first post. That is the push button pen.

He didn't have one after Nelson and Stanton declined and/or left.

36 Raf   ~  Sep 22, 2009 11:03 am

[35] Actually he did. Depending on the year, they used Farns, Gordon, Quantrill, Osuna, Karsay and Joba to set up Mo.

37 Rich   ~  Sep 22, 2009 11:08 am

[36] But Farns, Osuna, and Karsay sucked.

By push button, I meant relievers that could be relied on to be successful more often than not.

38 Raf   ~  Sep 22, 2009 11:19 am

By push button, I meant relievers that could be relied on to be successful more often than not.

Karsay and Medoza qualify in 02

Osuna, Contreras & Hammond qualify in 03

Farnsworth and Proctor qualify in 07

39 Rich   ~  Sep 22, 2009 11:31 am

[38] Without even checking the stats to see how you are using the word qualify, that means that there were years when these pitchers didn't qualify, which proves my point.

40 Raf   ~  Sep 22, 2009 11:56 am

Without even checking the stats to see how you are using the word qualify, that means that there were years when these pitchers didn’t qualify, which proves my point.

No, it means that these pitchers were replaced. Whether it's Rivera replacing Wickman as the setup guy, Rivera replacing Wetteland as the closer, Joba replacing Farnsworth as the setup guy, it doesn't change the "push button" managing aspect. Names change, but the roles stay the same.

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