"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Rally Monkeys in the Mist

So of course I knew things had been bad with the Angels, but I didn’t realize that the Yankees had not won a series in Anaheim since May of 2004. Judging from the hilarious “Yikes, really?” look on Joe Girardi’s face when Kim Jones asked him about this after the game, neither did he. But that streak ended today, and if the Yankees showed last night that they can win at Angel Stadium, today’s 3-2 squeaker showed that they can even do it with Damon, Swisher, A-Rod and Posada tied behind their backs. (Although I would prefer not to see them try it again, okay? Thanks!)

More important than the outcome of today’s game was A.J. Burnett’s solid start. True, he only went five and two thirds innings, but that was largely because it was 95 degrees today in Anaheim and Girardi, as he explained afterwards, wanted to err on the side of caution. Burnett allowed seven hits and three walks,  more than would be ideal, but he also had 11 strikeouts and just two earned runs. Not bad, and for my money far more impressive than his last start against Seattle, because the Angels are an excellent offensive team whereas most of the Mariners could not hit water if they fell out of a canoe.

Scott Kazmir started for the Angels, but since Al Leiter wasn’t in the booth today, Michael Kay was unable to ask him for the 73rd time about that rumor that the Mets traded Kazmir because he switched Leiter’s music in the gym one day without asking. With Swisher and Posada recovering from yesterday’s foul-ball bruises and Damon and A-Rod resting, the Yankees’ lineup was not exactly at its most ferocious; things got even rougher when Jerry Hairston Jr left the game with a wrist injury, resulting in a batting order that included Jose Molina, Shelley Duncan, and Ramiro Pena, along with both Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner. Nevertheless they scraped three runs together – two on Robinson Cano’s lovely single in the fourth, another when Cano scored on Cabrera’s  subsequent double – and then hung on for dear life.

After Marte, Albaladejo and Coke had all flirted with disaster, Ian Kennedy got the call in the eighth inning, which was a nice moment on a purely human level. Baseball-wise it was a little strange, but I suppose the team needs to find out soon if Kennedy can help them in tense postseason situations or not, and this was probably as good a time as any to find out. Although since Kennedy first hit a batter and walked the bases loaded, then worked his way out of trouble for a scoreless inning, I’m still not sure what the answer is. Nature took its course in the ninth  as Mariano Rivera came in and worked his 42nd (nice) save of the year.

The Yankees are off tomorrow and hopefully will get some rest before this weekend’s series, the season’s last against the Red Sox — or is it? Dun dun dun. Friday night Joba Chamberlain faces Jon Lester, and I’m sure that will go absolutely swimmingly… now please excuse me a moment while I wipe the dripping sarcasm off my keyboard.

Finally, for those of you who are into this sort of thing, I just joined Twitter. My “followers” so far include Cliff, Diane, and about 17 porn spambots, so feel free to join the party.

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1 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 24, 2009 12:13 am

Any particular reason why they switched up Sabathia and Chamberlain?

2 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 24, 2009 12:14 am

Also, I'm not sure how I feel about being lumped in with the porn spambots

3 Emma Span   ~  Sep 24, 2009 12:20 am

[2] Ha! Sorry, the joke didn't work if I listed all the actual human beings. But of course I value ALL my Twitter friends, not excluding Katrina, Kaelyn, Callie, Kellie and Sabrina, who are so friendly and touchingly eager to show me their pix.

4 Emma Span   ~  Sep 24, 2009 12:25 am

And [1] nope, I didn't even know it had been switched - that's just what mlb.com has listed now. You're right though, it should be CC's turn, shouldn't it? Hmm.

5 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 12:32 am

The decision to use IPK has to be seen as a slap at Bruney. You have wonder if his playoff spot is in jeopardy. Regardless, I can't imagine using IPK in the playoffs...even if he pitched well yesterday.

With the extra off days in the first round and the need for only 3 starters (if the Yankees win homefield), the Yankees can go with 10 (or even 9) pitchers. Of course, if Hairston is injured, there may not be enough worthwhile bench players to carry.

Also, its worth noting that the Yankees also wouldn't need 4 starters in the ALCS if they are willing to go with CC on 3-days one time. The way the schedule breaks, the #2 and #3 would get two starts on full rest and the #1 would get 3 days and then 4 days. Considering the plight of Joba, I think that's the route you'd want to go.

Speaking of Joba, I was hoping to see CC on Friday instead of the experiment, but I guess that makes the Saturday matchup all the more favorable.

6 Emma Span   ~  Sep 24, 2009 12:45 am

[5] Yes, I also think CC on three days' rest is probably the way to go for the ALCS. Unless Joba's next few starts are unexpectly brilliant. He did it repeatedly last year and pitched amazingly (although that was the NL).

And yeesh, if Bruney's playoff roster spot isn't already in jeopardy, it certainly should be.

7 Eddie Lee Whitson KO   ~  Sep 24, 2009 1:22 am

As always, great post Emma. Regarding the post-season roster, Ca$h already spilled the beans on carrying 10 pitchers for the ALDS. In that case, it would be CC, AJ, Pettitte, Mo, Hughes, Coke, Aceves as 100% locks; Joba should prob be in that group too, so you're down to 2 remaining spots. Jonathan A, Bruney, Marte, Gaudin, Meat-tray, Bruney......who do you take out of that group? Joe G likes his mix and match, so could see Marte getting one spot....some choices for the last spot there! Who would you pick?

8 Eddie Lee Whitson KO   ~  Sep 24, 2009 1:24 am

apologoes, left Ian Kennedy off the list....

9 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 24, 2009 1:39 am

I took a stab at the Yankees postseason roster yesterday. From the list in [7], I guessed Marte & Gaudin. Kennedy is not in the running. He's just up to get some innings now that the mL season is over. If they go with 11 pitchers, it will likely be because Robertson is able to go.

CC and Joba switched spots in the rotation to lineup for the postseason with CC and Andy starting in that order Sat and Sunday, then in the first two games of the final series vs. Rays. That would put CC on normal rest for Game 1 of the ALDS on Oct. 7. Andy would then get an extra day before Game 2 on Oct. 9.

10 Eddie Lee Whitson KO   ~  Sep 24, 2009 1:43 am

Thanks Cliff, will have a read through.

11 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 24, 2009 1:54 am

I remain nervous that Mitre will not only be on the post-season roster, but that on his first pitch, Vladdy G will hit the first home run to exit Yankee Stadium on a fly...

12 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 24, 2009 8:24 am

I have a bit on the CC rotation jig in my NOTD today (coming soon)

13 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 24, 2009 8:31 am

nice headline, Emma.

I think I'd go with Burnett in Game 2. He seems to be back on track, he's more comfortable at home, why screw with his head? Is there an advantage to going lefty lefty against the Tigers/Twins? or is the reasoning simply putting the two more reliable pitchers before Burnett?

14 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 24, 2009 8:57 am

[5-6] I understand the hesitation to give Joba a start, but let's see how he does his last two starts. If he doesn't turn it around, I'd be inclined to stick with a 3 man rotation in the ALCS... but the risk of those 3 pitchers being toast for the WS frightens me. The team really needs Joba, and something tells me he realizes this, and is abiout to turn his game around fast (see Burnett, AJ) . Let's see about Joba before we write him off.

15 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:03 am

[3] Spambots can be amusing, I think. Not sure any ever bother to follow me.

Have you finished wiping the sarcasm off your keyboard yet, Emma? I too am not looking forward to Friday night . . . after yesterday's sturm und drang over playing a house money lineup vs the Angels, I can only imagine what will happen if Joba is less than perfect on Friday night. Not looking forward to the Panic Train.

16 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:12 am

Let’s see about Joba before we write him off.

I agree, I think next year will be telling. I still think he can contribute in the postseason, he wouldn't be the first pitcher to do so after having a lousy season.

17 OldYanksFan   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:13 am

[5] It's not a question of Joba, but of AJ.
In a short series, it's Joba against their #4. What are our odds?
In a long series, it's AJ against their #2. What are our odds?

Is AJ better then Detroit's #2?
Is Joba better then Detroit's #4

18 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:14 am

Not looking forward to the Panic Train.

Would you prefer the panic plane?


19 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:19 am

[16] I just think having a 4th starter is crucial. We all know the AL postseason is brutal. Think about how gassed the Yanks were in the '01 and '03 Series. To think the Yanks can go all the way with 3 pitchers is asking an awful lot of the Big 3, too much I think. As inconsistent as Joba has been, I'm inclined to trust him to give the Yankees a better 5 innings than Gaudin. I'm hoping Joba can show us a lot tomorrow night. Something tells me he's pitching for his postseason life tomorrow.

20 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:27 am

[18] Surely you can't be serious! ;)

[19] Joba will be on the postseason roster, no doubt. As you say, too much potential there - it'd be foolish to leave him off it. The question is, how will he be used?

As I see it, the Yanks will essentially have 3 long relievers on the staff - Joba, Aceves, and Gaudin - and some combination of those ought to be able to bail out one of the starters (if two need to be bailed out, the Yanks are in trouble) in the ALDS. As for the ALCS, again, no reason some combo of those three couldn't handle a Game 4 start and bailing out one of the starters in Games 1-3 if needed.

21 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:39 am

[20] true, true - he'll be on the roster - but I think tomorrow night could be an audtion for a postseason start. If Joba tanks tomorrow, I think the Yanks will give Gaudin the Game 4 start and (sigh) probably should. But think about the implications. Joba the Great reduced to Joba the Mop. It would be so much better for everybody if he just finds the ON switch now, so we don't have to endure the "Oh My God, The Yankees Fucked Up Joba And Now The Sky Is Falling!" noise going into October.

22 The Hawk   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:43 am

I disagree completely about Joba. He hasn't been inconsistent of late, he's been consistently bad. And I'm not sure I want "potential" in the playoffs; I want proven performance. Or at least inconsistency a la AJ where there is a decent chance he'll come out and dominate.

Even if Joba throws 18 innings of shutout baseball in his last two starts, I'm not gonna be sold, as after the ASB he had a few great games then became ineffective - and worse, ineffective in the same way he had been pre-ASB. If they're gonna use him in relief, I wish they'd start now so we don't have to find out in a crucial playoff moment whether he can do it or not.

23 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:52 am

[14] Even if he pitches well in two abbreviated starts, I still don't trust him the post season. He hasn't earned a post season start, so if the Yankees can avoid using him, they should. Beause of the way the schedule breaks out, the only pitcher who would be asked to go on short rest would be CC, and that would only be one time. Also, if the team isn't stretched to the limit in both series (and wins them), the top-3 would all have sufficient rest.

Also, dropping him from the postseason rotation isn't writing him off. Hopefully, he'll return next season without limits and a better attitude, and those two things will lead to improvement.

[17] At this point, Joba against just about anyone is a losing battle (he hasn't been bad over the last month, he has been awful).

[21] As annoying as it is, the "Yankees screwed up Joba" mantra has merit. "Panic", as unpleasant as some may find it, is sometimes needed to expose poor decisions. Instead of debating Joba the starter versus reliever, it's a shame the debate didn't focus around Joba being groomed for the postseason versus no coherent plan. Had the Yankees had a plan (like swapping Joba and Hughes), they might actually have two effective options instead of just one.

24 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:56 am


What would a Banter-related spambot offer?

"Increase the size of your fanhood!!!"
"Don't let her call you "swisher'"
"Here comes the Score F**k"

25 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:57 am

Wait, so some people hammer Girardi over the slightest questionable calls, but when he nails the final game to take a questionable series, there's not a peep?

I'm going to guess that the anger directed at this manager is a holdover from the last. Girardi, while some calls are always iffy, is rapidly proving himself to be a valuable asset. It would be nice if some fans started to recognize that.

26 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:57 am

Think about how gassed the Yanks were in the ‘01 and ‘03 Series.

Even so, the 01 series came down to Mo in the 9th with a lead, and a few fluky things happened during the 03 series. Just as big as the Weaver game, was Wells' back acting up in game 5.

Between Joba, Gaudin, Aceves and Hughes, if deployed properly, they should be able to cover innings as a 4th starter or stem the bleeding if a starter gets knocked out early in one of the 1st 3 games.

And I’m not sure I want “potential” in the playoffs; I want proven performance.

Not sure you want that either given the postseason numbers of CC and co... Anyway, I can name several players that have stunk it up during the regular season who've done well in the postseason, players who have done well during the regular season and stunk during the postseason, players who have stunk during both the regular season and postseason, and players who have excelled during both the regular and postseasons.

You just can't tell with these things; there is no proven formula to win in the postseason.

27 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:59 am

Of course, great stat from Kim Jones on the last time they won a series in Anaheim.

28 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:00 am

Wait, so some people hammer Girardi over the slightest questionable calls, but when he nails the final game to take a questionable series, there’s not a peep?

Are you surprised?

29 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:02 am

Had the Yankees had a plan (like swapping Joba and Hughes), they might actually have two effective options instead of just one.

Because they didn't take a plan you suggested, or even one that you agree with does not necessarily mean one was not in place.

30 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:02 am

You just can’t tell with these things; there is no proven formula to win in the postseason.

How about by putting your best players in the best position to win?

They had the whole season to turn Hughes and Joba into starters, especially with Wang's injury, and somehow waiver-claimed Chad Gaudin is the current #4? And there's a chance Joba might not even be on the post-season roster, not even as a reliever?

31 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:03 am

[23] I don't think they're going to be abbreivated starts. Because he had to be removed so early in his last start, I think he has 14 innings in the tank before he hits 160. I'm hoping they've told him they expect a quality 6 out of him the next two games.

So what if we get that? Do you trust him with a Game 4 start then? I do, and would probably even be inclined to give him a start in the Division Series.

32 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:06 am

Are you surprised?

Not really. But nitpicking individual games while ignoring others and without seeing the big picture is the very definition of myopia. I mean we've had people here talking about the guy getting fired!?

33 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:06 am

[28] You think Girardi "nailed" that game by stating a house money lineup, playing Duncan in the outfield AND using IPK in the 8th? He nailed it alright...

34 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:09 am

[29] Forget my plan...they changed their plan at least twice. The original plan was to give Joba extra rest between starts but when that didn't go well the first try, they adopted this ramp-up approach. If they really had a strong plan in place, they wouldn't have needed to make these changes on the fly. Also, the fact that they wouldn't even tell Joba the plan leads me to believe they never really had anything settled. You'd think it would have been wise to let Joba know what his season would entail?

35 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:14 am

[31] But is he ready to go 6 innings? Because his performance prevented him from going long, perhaps he isn't even capable of a 5-6 inning start?

36 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:15 am

They had the whole season to turn Hughes and Joba into starters,

And Joba's starting. And given Hughes injury history, there's a possibility that the organization wanted him to get a full year under his belt without him getting hurt. While I don't necessarily agree with the way he has been used, I see that he is thriving in his current role, and will hopefully build on that success as a starter next season.

37 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:16 am

[31] To answer your question, no, I do not trust Joba in the post season. I'd much rather avoid him in the ALDS and use CC on short rest one time in the ALCS. The only thing that would change my mind is if he somehow displayed vastly improved stuff, but I don't see that happening.

38 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:16 am

[33] Ah yes, there it is. They win a series in Anaheim for the first time in five years and still the manager gets no credit. But these same "fans" would have been all over the guy if they lost either of those games.

That's how you know when a fan is being irrational...no amount of counter evidence could ever contradict their pretzel logic.

39 The Hawk   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:17 am

[26] Ha, I don't think you can compare Joba to CC. I mean, to me that's nuts.

40 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:17 am

If they really had a strong plan in place, they wouldn’t have needed to make these changes on the fly.

Because no one ever makes changes to, or adjusts a plan?

41 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:18 am

[36] Joba isn't starting though. Sure, he is beginning games, but the plan they have used over the last month is starting in name only. In retrospect, the Red Sox approach with Buccholz was a better strategy (assuming the Joba/Hughes swap was out of the question). They allowed him to slowly build his innings in the minors and then called upon him when he was 100% ready. Now, he is a viable starter in the playoffs.

42 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:19 am

[36] Joba should be made a reliever over these next few games. Just call it what it is and do something to help the team. At some point you just have to let the pitchers pitch.

But I won't be holding my breath.

43 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:20 am

[35] to me, that's the biggest question going into this weekend - and into October. Let's see, and hope the answer is yes. If not, let's hope the rest of the pitchers can handle the load.

44 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:20 am

[39] Not comparing them, I'm just going off your comment that you want "proven performance." Players have good and bad games in both the regular season and the postseason and regular season success does not necessarily ensure posteason success.

45 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:22 am

In retrospect, the Red Sox approach with Buccholz was a better strategy

Not really. The choice of Penny/Smoltz alone cost them a real shot at the division and while hurting his development, see below...

Now, he is a viable starter in the playoffs.

His peripherals are actually worse this year and he's benefiting from a lucky BABIP especially at home.

46 The Hawk   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:23 am

[38] I don't see anything irrational with that if you begin with the assumption that a manger of a team like this can do more harm than good. In other words, a team this loaded doesn't need a whole hell of a lot of help, but can be undercut by poor managing.

So you're not going to get a lot of general praise for a manger whose team is expected to win anyway. As far as specific praise, I don't know what in yesterday's game would elicit that ... maybe bullpen deployment? But then, the Kennedy thing sort of mitigates that as a positive, I think.

47 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:26 am

[40] To "strong plans", no. You might tweak them here or there, but if you have to completely overhaul it, chances are the original plan was weak.

48 The Hawk   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:28 am

[44] I think you know that I was talking about how they've performed this season. I don't really care about the unpredictable nature of life, I want the proven performers, as much as there is such a thing, in the playoffs. You have to admit it's at least counter-intuitive to pitch a guy who stinks.

49 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:30 am

[46] He was working with a short pen against a loaded team and nailed it, looks be damned. IPK - why the hell not? The division and homefield were wrapped up on Wed.

The manager can never be perfect - just like hitters and pitchers. But the one area that has the most impact- the bullpen- he's been an All-Star the last two years. Everything else is nitpicking even as he's as good with strategy as any top manager.

If the Yanks win #27, can we all agree to lay off #27 for at least one season?

50 monkeypants   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:30 am

[38] When evaluating a manager, you have to take into account not only outcomes but also decisions (i.e., sometimes good decision go bad, and vice-versa).

I didn't think Girardi did much yesterday one way or another warrant comment. He played a house money game to rest players, which makes sense. Though why Jeter never gets a day off is beyond me. I think that he failed to PH a couple of times late in the game, which suggest that his adherence to resting players is somewhat dogmatic. Would it have hurt to PD A-Rod for Molina in the 8th, and then pull him immediately for Cervelli.

IPK in the 8th is a non-issue. Hughes was gassed from the day before, and he clearly did not want to go back to Bruney. With limited options for the eighth, IPK was as good as anybody.

In fact, it brought a smile to my face that the team won without have a proper EIGHTH INNING GUY. Maybe someone somewhere will take note.

In any case, I saw very little praise in Girardi's managerial decisions yesterday, and a couple of things that warranted small gripes. That's all.

51 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:34 am

In retrospect, the Red Sox approach with Buccholz was a better strategy

They both took different routes; Buccholz was called up in 07, 08 & 09, finally sticking around this season, Joba was called up in 07 and hasn't been back to the minors since.

FWIW, workload
05: 41
06: 119
07: 147 (125 MiL |22 ML)
08: 134 (58 MiL |76 ML)
09: 176 (99 MiL |77 ML)

07: 112 (88 MiL |24 ML)
08: 100
09: 146

52 ms october   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:36 am

[50] well put mp

53 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:41 am

[50] I think IPK was a big issue. If you know Hughes and Aceves are unavailable and you are unwilling to use Bruney, you can't burn Albaledejo for one batter. Girardi managed himself into a corner. Regardless of the outcome, using IPK in that situation was an awful decision...one that if repeated would fail more often than it would succeed.

54 RIYank   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:44 am

[50] I almost agree with all of that, but I think if you look at the PH opportunities you might find that there were fewer than you first thought. Swisher, Damon, and Posada were all nursing injuries. Girardi strongly preferred not to play them at all. (Obviously if it were the ALCS it would be a different story.)

55 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:46 am

Maybe if Wang was healthy, the Yankees would have had more flexibility with Joba, but you know how I feel about the way the Yankees handled the Wanger, going all the way back to his injury. Luckily for this team, both AJ and Pettitte proved to be very durable. Next season, however, they need to improve their depth because Hughes will not be a long-term rotation option (another unfortunate consequence of the "pan"), and AJ and Pettitte are not locks to throw 200 IP. It would not shock me to see Chad Gaudin in the rotation for at least part of 2010.

56 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:53 am

[55] The Yankees had depth this year. I'm fairly confident they'll sign more pitchers during the offseason.

57 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:54 am

And yet still it continues...I'll never understand this segment of the fanbase.

They take two of three in Anaheim for the first time since 2004 and it's "Meh." But if they lost either of those games the manager would be getting hammered for every little decision. Even now he gets questioned because he didn't PH?

I think there's something more at work here. People think they could easily do the manager's job. So they feel expertise to criticize. All that matters is the Yankees consistently win close games - two years running now. The only manager Girardi trails in that department is Scioscia. Who just won two of three?

IPK is a very good pitcher, so that means he's likely to fail? What!? Next year we'll have the IPK Rules.

58 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:56 am

I’m fairly confident they’ll sign more pitchers during the offseason.

From Cot's baseball contracts...

Starting Pitchers
Brandon Backe HOU
Miguel Batista SEA
Josh Beckett * BOS
Erik Bedard SEA
Daniel Cabrera ARZ
Bartolo Colon CWS
Jose Contreras COL
Doug Davis ARZ
Justin Duchscherer OAK
Adam Eaton COL
Kelvim Escobar LAA
Jon Garland * LAD
Tom Glavine ATL
Mike Hampton HOU
Rich Harden CHC
Tim Hudson * ATL
Randy Johnson SF
John Lackey LAA
Cliff Lee * PHI
Braden Looper * MIL
Jason Marquis COL
Kevin Millwood * TEX
Brett Myers PHI
Vicente Padilla * LAD
Carl Pavano MIN
Brad Penny SF
Odalis Perez WAS
Andy Pettitte NYY
Joel Pineiro STL
Sidney Ponson KC
Jason Schmidt LAD
John Smoltz STL
Jarrod Washburn DET
Brandon Webb * ARZ
Todd Wellemeyer STL

59 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:56 am

[56] When you consider that both Joba and Hughes would be limited and Wang was never recovered from his injury, there really wasn't much "viable" depth on that list.

60 rbj   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:57 am

porn spambots? I'm in!

61 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:58 am

[58] Interesting list. Lackey is probably the best, but I would take a chance on Bedard or Harden.

62 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 24, 2009 11:13 am

[28] Surprised. Hardly.

[51] There are many rumblings in Red Sox land, FWIW, that Buchholz is flying over 30 IP more than last year. But what choice do the Sox have? He's their #3, or certainly their #4.

[58] I'll call it now - they'll bring back Andy, and maybe take a flyer on Duchscherer. Most of the guys on that list aren't worth it at all. And they have IPK back, plus McAllister on his way, maybe even Ivan Nova . . . no, I see very the Yanks being very quiet on the free agent pitching market this offseason.

And I'll say this one last time - it seems clear to me now that the Yanks did not want to let Hughes start all year, because they were worried about putting too much too quickly on him after he missed huge chunks of the last 2 years due to injury. And while it lead to Mitre et al, and much gnashing of teeth (by me too, for a while), I think that was the right thing to do.

63 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 11:16 am

[59] Regardless, the Yankees started 2009 8 deep in starters


With Hughes, Aceves and Kennedy in the waiting. Plus whatever MiL'er that would've steped forward this season.

64 monkeypants   ~  Sep 24, 2009 11:23 am

[57] Well, tactically, the manager does only handful of things: change pitchers, pinch hit, and call for the odd bunt/SB. Given the extended rosters and the closeness of the game, yes I think it is fair to criticize the manager for not PHing.

You seem to feel that no criticism is warranted, ever...the team is winning, there is no chance for improvement, the manager is spotless. This seems to me as incomprehensible as those who pillory Girardi at every turn.

65 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 11:26 am

[62] They have IPK back, but what does that really mean? Also, McAllister and Nova are far from blue chips, so you can't depend on them as part of your plan.

Also, if the Yankees didn't want Hughes to start all year, why did they let him start 7 games at the start of the season? If not for the decision to put Wang back in the rotation, Hughes may have remained there, or resumed starting in the minor leagues.

[63] My point is Hughes/Joba/IPK couldn't be looked at as three starters because they all would face innings limits. Also, I don't think the Yankees every envisioned using Aceves as a starter, but that's just my opinion.

66 monkeypants   ~  Sep 24, 2009 11:27 am

[62] it seems clear to me now that the Yanks did not want to let Hughes start all year, because they were worried about putting too much too quickly on him after he missed huge chunks of the last 2 years due to injury.

You have more faith in the organization's planning than I do. Everything they did with Hughes looked pretty ad hoc to me, at least until they fell in love with him as the EIGHTH INNING GUY. It seems clear, though, that the decision to make him exclusively a short reliever had nothing at all to do with limiting his innings, and everything to do with his surprisingly excellent performance in that role.

They may not have wanted him to start the whole year (but if not, why start him in the MiL at the beginning of the season?), but I have a hard time believing that the plan was to use him so sparingly.

67 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 11:34 am

[64] No, all we need to do is reflect back on Torre is know that amanger is far from blameless. And all I know is Torre is widely seen as a great manager...but Girardi is even better.

On Girardi himself, I say let's give him his contract to figure out his quirks. But based on how well he does in close games those quirks are likely very, very minor.

We can all agree that the best time to evaluate a manager is the outcome of close games, right? On that score, Girardi is top-3 in the game.

Otherwise, give me another aggregate measure we can use, not some cherry picking of specific decisions.

[62] Agreed on moves this winter. Unless Pettitte retires I don't see a major move for pitching. Though if they could get Bedard cheap, he's worth it if only as insurance.

The real question is: Holliday or Bay?

Personally I'd love to see them trade something for Hermida. He'd have a great season with half his games in YS 2.0.

68 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 11:37 am

My point is Hughes/Joba/IPK couldn’t be looked at as three starters because they all would face innings limits.

Why not? Back end starters usually don't toss more than 150 innings

69 monkeypants   ~  Sep 24, 2009 11:49 am

[67] And all I know is Torre is widely seen as a great manager…but Girardi is even better.

Whatever the widespread opinion is, I am pretty sure that Torre is not considered a great manager by many (most?) of those who post here. I for one thought that he was, especially by the end, not very good at all.

On Girardi himself, I say let’s give him his contract to figure out his quirks. But based on how well he does in close games those quirks are likely very, very minor.

I am not calling for his head, so sure, let's see how he works out. From my view, however, he is not very quirky at all. In fact, I am a bit disappointed that he has not shown greater versatility and quirkiness in his tactical decisions, especially his use of the BP.

We can all agree that the best time to evaluate a manager is the outcome of close games, right?

I don't agree with this premise at all.

70 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 12:03 pm

I don’t agree with this premise at all.

Then give me a better one.

We use aggregate stats for all players. We couldn't rationally discuss players without them. Give me just one for managers. Because second and third-guessing individual decisions gets tiresome very fast and worse, goes nowhere.

Not too long along I looked here at games that should be closer to chance than any others - one run affairs and Pythag vs. actual. On that score Girardi was second only to Scioscia the last two years. I asked then for a better alternative. Still waiting...

71 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 24, 2009 12:13 pm

[68] Fair enough...the three together they probably add up to two starters.

72 The Hawk   ~  Sep 24, 2009 12:55 pm

[49] "IPK – why the hell not? The division and homefield were wrapped up on Wed."

Wait so the complaint is no-one's singing Girard's hosannas for making why-the-hell-not moves in a meaningless game?

73 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 1:05 pm

[72] He won a series many here were paranoid about it being unwinnable. And even with IPK, every one of his moves worked. You don't have to sing his praises, but I don't expect you blame him when things go wrong either. At least be consistent.

All I want is some objective way to judge the manager. I've offered one possibility. I eagerly await another.

74 The Hawk   ~  Sep 24, 2009 1:54 pm

[73] Well initially you were asking why he didn't wasn't getting any credit. Then you very capably described why yourself, so I was noting that contradiction.

75 monkeypants   ~  Sep 24, 2009 4:12 pm

[70] We use aggregate stats for all players. We couldn’t rationally discuss players without them. Give me just one for managers.

I like your approach, but reject the execution. You want to use close games as an "objective" measure of a manager's ability, but while objective (wins are after all wins) I question the under-girding assumption that such wins are directly tied to the manager. The burden of proof is on you to show that close wins are indeed directly related enough to a manager's ability such that tallying those wins is a meaningful measure of his abilities.

Meanwhile you dismiss "second guessing" as if it is not (ever) based on objective evidence. Yet, if a manager (hypothetically) does not employ Player X (who has a .400 OBP) in a given situation, opting instead to use Player Y (who has a .300 OBP), I think that the manager is open to criticism for such a failure to act. Moreover, the evidence is objective: the players' relative abilities to get on base (or, if you prefer, to avoid outs).

Now, one may counter that other factors came into play in that decision: the desire to rest X, or Y has great numbers against pitcher Z, or playing the hot hand, or whatever. And those would be valid arguments. Moreover, if the situation works out (i.e., player Y gets a hit, or even the team wins), these are certainly points in favor of the manager. But that does not mean that the initial criticism (the manager should have batted X) is not based on objective evidence, nor that it can be dismissed simply as "tiresome."

Bringing this out of the realm of the hypothetical into the real world--

I agree with you that criticism of Girardi is often overblown. That said, I do think he has made tactical blunders, as does most every manager. Moreover, I think that these blunders are often noticed by observers here, and that their complaints are not without merit, even if the their tone is exaggerated. Finally, I think that claiming that a manager is "good" or "bad" based on the team record is a rather weak analysis, akin to claiming that the team is winning because Sergio Mitre is on the roster (i.e., no strong causal relationship between the two can be demonstrated).

76 monkeypants   ~  Sep 24, 2009 4:28 pm

[70] Lastly, even if we accept the premise that managers are responsible for close wins, I reject your claim that Girardi has been particularly good in this respect. Just looking at the AL, the ONLY teams with winning records in 1-run games are the teams with winning records over all: NYY, BOS, DET, MIN, SEA, LAA, TEX. This suggests that teams that tend to do well in close games are teams that tend to do well in general, implying that the manager's influence is less important than other factors.

Be that as it may, if we look at the winning percentages of those teams in one run games, we get the following:

NYY .583
BOS .578
DET .565*
MIN . 525*
SEA .640*
LAA .600*
TEX .559*

An asterisk indicates that the team's winning percentage is better in 1-run games than their overall winning %. According to this, the Yankees (and Sox) do relatively worse in 1-run games. If there is a strong correlation between managerial excellence and 1-run victories, would we not expect the teams to have the same or better winning % in 1-run games? If so, this suggests that Girardi and Tito are relatively poor managers (ie, their teams fair relatively poorly in 1-run games)--that the Yankees win because (say) they have a great offense, but Girardi costs them a few close games.

Now, I don't buy this for a second. I think that 1-run wins and losses are largely driven by luck, though strong back-end BPs (or weak back-end BPs) play a big role as well. But if you want to push the close wins = good manager, the evidence, upon further inspection, does not help your case with Girardi.

77 Raf   ~  Sep 24, 2009 4:35 pm

Nice work MP!

78 The Hawk   ~  Sep 24, 2009 5:08 pm

It's work, all right. Sheesh! But as far as work goes, it is nice, nice, very nice.

79 Paul   ~  Sep 24, 2009 8:28 pm

Again I said both one-run games and out performing their Pythag. How many teams are positives in both? How many managers are on that list two years running? Still, I question your base assumption. If 1 run games are mostly luck then teams should win those half the time. You can't say they're based on luck and that they should be winning those games at the same rate as their other games.

You tell me. If we can blame a manager for a loss (and that seems all the rage around here) when can we credit him with a win. Under what conditions? You tell me.

Now, if you agree that close games are influenced by the bullpens, and we agree that Girardi has positively influenced his bullpen two years running, where does that leave us?

The bottomline is you still haven't provided an alternative measure. It's not productive to sit back and reject a measure without offering an alternative. That's religion not science. We could do that all day. I've provided one theory that describes the facts better than anything else offered. The onus is on you to provide an alternative.

80 monkeypants   ~  Sep 24, 2009 9:10 pm

[79] You can’t say they’re based on luck and that they should be winning those games at the same rate as their other games.

Impressive. You completely failed to understand the argument I made. I will summarize: I don't believe that there is any significant correlation between 1-run records and managerial skill. That is why I invoked luck as a key factor.

But, granting for forensic purposes the proposition (for it was YOU who posited the relationship), the evidence does not support your point. That is, YOU (not I) suggest that records in 1-run games reflect managerial skill, but I point out that Girardi's team has underperformed in those games. Using *your* assumptions, *your* theory does not match the evidence.

As for me, I reject the premise to begin with, so the evidence is irrelevant.

You tell me. If we can blame a manager for a loss (and that seems all the rage around here) when can we credit him with a win.

You tell me, when did I ever say we could not credit him? I said, in fact, that his influence is probably limited one way or another. But just because a team wins does not mean that the manager is necessarily the reason, any more than the Yankees won WS in the past because Enrique Wilson was on the team.

Now, if you agree that close games are influenced by the bullpens, and we agree that Girardi has positively influenced his bullpen two years running, where does that leave us?

Ah, the double conditional. A fine rhetorical trick. I never agreed to the second proposition (that Girardi has positively influenced the BP). So, to answer, it leaves us nowhere.

It’s not productive to sit back and reject a measure without offering an alternative. That’s religion not science.

Yawn. I'm pretty sure that's not the definition of religion. But have it your way.

I’ve provided one theory that describes the facts better than anything else offered. The onus is on you to provide an alternative.

Well, you may think that your theory best explains the facts, I disagree. But that is besides the point. The onus is exactly *not* on me or anyone to offer an alternative, unless the scientific method has changed and I missed it. Scientific theories are dis-proven all the time by presenting counter-evidence, but there is not obligation on the part of the skeptics to posit their own counter theories.


In the end, my main argument was that it is reasonable to criticize the manager for poor tactical decisions, even if the team is winning. (Similarly, it is reasonable to praise good tactical decisions by the manager even if the team is losing.)

You seem to be bothered by this sort of complexity.

81 RIYank   ~  Sep 24, 2009 10:12 pm

This is not really dispositive (well, monkeypants said 'forensic' so I'm entitled to 'dispositive'), but I'm fairly sure that winning pct. in 1-run games should not be expected to match overall winning pct. (I can't quite figure out how to think about this. Overlap of two bell shaped curves, each representing distribution of runs for one of the two teams? Four bell curves, with one RS and one RA for each team?) It should be pretty close to 50% winning for any given team.

This means the excess can be attributed to luck, or to other factors than go into total RS or RA. It seems pretty plausible to me that a good manager would tend to win more than his share of 1-run games. You'd certainly need a huge sample (twenty years?) to have any confidence that the manager was really above-average and not fluky, but a large winning pct in 1-run games certainly looks like evidence of some kind.

(Keep in mind that "above average" doesn't mean "makes great decisions all the time".)

82 Paul   ~  Sep 25, 2009 7:54 am

[80] Actually, scientific theories are never dis-proven. They are replaced with better alternatives which do a better job of fitting the data. Read Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

There are always problems with every theory. But until you come up with a better one, we're stuck discussing mine - warts and all. Girardi, based on the measures I've cited, groups with the best managers in the game. And I don't think we need a 20 year sample to do it. He overperformed with his Marlins team. He's overperformed with this Yankee club two years running.

The funny thing is we can easily measure Wilson's value to those clubs. It's not as easy for a mangers but it is a tractable problem. You say managers have a limited impact. Limited how? How can you support that claim from the claims that they have no impact or an extensive impact?

You seem to be bothered by this sort of complexity.

Is the snark really necessary? But actually, I have a problem with cherry-picking rather than looking at aggregate stats. Invoking singular "tactical" decisions can always be used to support a priori biases (as we've seen plenty of examples here). That's not scientific even if the the basis of tactical theory is sound. It's the equivalent of watching one game and making a determination of a player's skills. We don't put up with that for players. We certainly shouldn't for managers

I want some aggregate stat for managers even if you're bothered by this sort of complexity. Moreover, just as a hitter who fails 65% of the time can be considered great, I have little doubt that a manager can make mistakes and also be great.

By the way, if luck explains one run games, why do people get so upset with singular decisions the manager makes in those games? I mean, if it's luck it doesn't matter what the manager does - ever. You're going to have a much harder time making your case than I am with mine.

[81] I had the same difficulty. I agree with your final point, of course. Then if we add in outperforming the Pythag and consistently so I think we're getting somewhere. Or at least we aren't stuck at nowhere.

83 Paul   ~  Sep 25, 2009 8:23 am

And hey, you don't like the interpretation for 1 run games. Explain to me why the Yankees are also beating their Pythag by 7 games this year which is the best in baseball. That's two years running even as they weren't a playoff team last year.

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