Monday, May 1, 2017


Photo: Getty Images
It's always nice to win a series,  but a sweep is always better.  And Joe Girardi out managed himself and his team right out of one Sunday, as well as out of sole possession of first place in the division.

Hate to be the fly in the ointment here, and if you want to read about how wonderful the team is doing and what a grand first month they've had, there's plenty of that joy juice to imbibe from other sources.

But I wrote a month before Opening Day  "Joe's resistance to change is looking more and more like the biggest weakness on the Yankees lineup card." And we all saw an example of it booting a winnable game that could've left  the Bombers two games up in the East instead of tied.

Photo: Getty Images

Going into a game he said he'd already decided he wouldn't use Adam Warren, his chief longman, or Tommy Layne due to their usage the previous day, Joe proceeded to manage his bullpen precisely as he always does -- which is to say, excessively, slavishly following his usual binder formula and, not all that unpredictably, ran short of pitchers when the team managed to tie the score 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th on a two-run double by Sir Didi.

Photo: Getty Images

This embarrassing eventuality -- one that Joe conceded in the post-game presser he didn't see coming until he sent Dellin Betances into the game for his usual 8th-inning-bases-clear outing   --  prompted him to park Bryan Mitchell, the last pitcher standing in the 9th, at first base -- a position he'd never played before and losing the team the DH in the process -- so Aroldis Chapman could come in and pitch the 10th.

About an hour later, following a not so clean inning by Chapman and a bases-loaded-nobody-scores inning from the offense,   Mitchell  traded his first baseman's glove for his 6.35 ERA and returned to the mound in the 11th to cough up three runs and the game.

Photo: Getty Images

Now, you could blame Mitchell if you wanted to be mean. Or you could blame bad situational hitting by Castro and Judge at the end for failing to get the go-ahead run in -- but you'd be blaming the two guys who scored the tying runs to send it into extras in the first place, so you'd only look silly.

No, this one's on Joe and his binder who both decided it was business as usual, first when starter Jordan Montgomery who had been cruising for five innings opened the 6th with two walks. Joe and his binder decided  that Jonathan Holder -- the guy with the highest WHIP available in the pen -- was the right man to bring in with the tying and go-ahead runs already on base with no outs.

Two batters later, the NY lead was gone for good as Joe's  bullpen-by-numbers approach came in for a savaging from  fans across social media , led by YES analyst and Yankee announcer David Cone who couldn't believe what he was seeing when Holder came into the game. He rightly wouldn't stop howling  about it the rest of the game, spotlighting each new high-paid  reliever who soon followed to face empty bases and minimum batters to earn their paychecks. Throughout his manifesto,  Cone was met online by a hail of supportive baseball fans, researchers, sabermetricians and statisticians -- including YES's own James Smyth -- who kept posting metrics and stats supporting his point, as if they were even needed.

Whether Joe can be called clever for his  Waxahachie Swap that left an overwhelmed and over matched Mitchell pitching two innings separated by an hour spent awkwardly fielding an unfamiliar position before an anxious crowd and then desperately trying to stay loose as his team tried and failed to pull off a protracted comeback win is a matter of opinion.

According to him, he had no other choice, which of course would make him desperate not clever. Either way, though, he's full of baloney. He had other choices.

Mitchell could've just kept right on pitching until the Yankees got the lead, and then Joe could've brought in Chapman. It was a home game. There was no need to rush in Aroldis. In fact, it was the bottom of the order he faced. Joe could've let Mitchell pitch two innings, then pulled his swapadeedo so his high heat guy could face the top of the order and then brought Mitchell back from first base. Now, THAT would've been clever, we wouldn't have lost the DH an inning sooner than we did and maybe Mitchell doesn't get shelled quite so badly.  Or Chapman could've even pitched two innings. Heck, he's done it before and has said he'd be happy to do it again.

Or perhaps, like Coney opined, Clippard or Betances could've come in when the game was really on the line -- with two on and nobody out in the sixth -- when the game was actually decided.

That's not just Coney's and my opinion either.

"It was a wonder why Girardi turned to Holder, a rookie who entered the day giving up 12.9 hits per nine innings, when strikeout artist Dellin Betances was available," wrote's Brendan Kuty.  "Instead, Girardi went to Betances in the eighth, with his team down two runs. Girardi also went to more accomplished relievers Tyler Clippard and Mitchell later in the game. Holder's choke job erased the 2-1 advantage..."

Make no mistake: This Yankee team has been  all kinds of awesome so far because of the players. Period.

On Sunday, the players did enough to win. Joe and his binder were the ones who struck out.

 --Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

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1 comment:

  1. Agreed. He is the most stubborn, hardheaded, thin skinned, stiff person I've ever seen. Next year, time to get someone else, along with a new pitching coach, when their contracts are up.


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