Thursday, August 17, 2017


Source: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Less than 24 hours after Joe doubled down on his obsessive refusal to concede he had a Cuban Missile crisis imperiling winnable games and a Yankee run at the postseason,  he finally pulled his launch key from Silo #1 and stood down Aroldis Chapman in favor of prodigal son David Robertson.

And the result was yet another gritty team comeback against the Mets -- this time  without any undue drama or risk from the final Yankee pitcher in the game.

Photo: Getty Images
It was sweet relief for everyone from @dougstro (h/t for the silo thing!) and I, most of us here at BYB, and many, many other Yankee fans who had been screaming for the move as we all watched in horror while Chappy seemingly deteriorated in agony before our eyes.

Chapman's final three appearances over a positively terrifying 3.1 innings apparently proved to be the back-breaker for our slow-to-get-it skipper, although you'll never get him to admit it. Five runs. Four walks. Two dingers. A hit batter. One save blown and two more narrowly averted by a couple of highlight reel defensive plays (h/t to Hicks and Sir Didi) and some all-too-rare nick of time type offense that would be folly to expect on a regular basis.

Photo: Getty Images
That Joe waited to make the change at closer under the cover of a minute twinge in Chapman's hammy the closer himself admitted was incurred only after bending over in disgust following his second gopher ball in as many nights and was gone by morning with no tests or examinations or any kind ordered or performed was typical of the  opaque and reactive style of managing Joe employs that endangers Yankee scoreboards and players alike.

At its heart is a binder approach to everything where how things look, sadly, take a back seat to how things work; including press and personnel management;  where phantom injuries are used as transparently phony excuses to bench, option and even deal players while real ones  all-too-often go undiagnosed, untreated and exacerbated.

Photo: Bill Kostroun
Joe declared repeatedly how he was the team's closer and how he was comfortable and had a ton of confidence with the way he was pitching, even going so far as to pull out his tired old tactic of saying he looked his best  on the days he was at his worst -- give or take a tiny little mistake here and there, of course.

But despite  all that talk of loyalty and comfort and confidence and compliments, tell me, Joe: With $86 million and a sizable chunk of the team's future invested in those hammies, how could you not   ask him to hop up on the team trainer's table for a quick 60-second look-see when he said he felt something right then and there?

Fact is, after the game Joe hadn't even talked with him or even knew which leg it was that was bothering him. No exam or procedure of any kind was ordered. because that wouldn't look good. That,  or else it what it might reveal could force Joe to make a decision about not using him. Joe doesn't like being forced into making a decision.

 "I still really believe in him,” Girardi said at the presser. “There’s other guys in that bullpen that have had tough times this year and we didn’t abandon them."

That's true, Joe. The ones that are still here weren't abandoned. Thanks to Pete Caldera of the Bergen Record for that!

Photo: Paul J. Bereswill
But it's an interesting word for him to be using when there's so many successful former pinstripers around the league who would probably say different. Heck, Joe, you just threw Monty aside like a used snot rag until CC pulled up lame, and he wasn't even having that tough a time. Maybe you should look up the word abandoned. Deserted and cast off are a couple of definitions. You might want to keep that in mind going forward because  I have a feeling you're going to be learning the meaning of the word in a very personal way soon.

The fact is that moving relievers up or down in a bullpen order based on current performance to best meet the fluid dynamics of a game is the essence of bullpen management; not rigidly adhering to a pre-set schedule in a binder like it's a lineup card of position players locked into a batting order submitted to the umpire.

And the closer role is by definition the reliever who can end the game the quickest and cleanest with the least amount of risk or drama. Mo had to wait years to do it because a better guy than him was ahead of him. So did DRob and when he got the chance he stepped up big time -- so big, in fact, that the Yankees had to let him walk because of the money and years he was able to command in free agency.

If the job was called scheduler I'd be you biggest fan, Joe. But it's called managing for a reason.

Brendan Kuty at explained it succinctly enough. "Spell out to whoever takes over for Chapman that when he corrects himself, he gets the job back. Robertson and Betances have had no problem taking lower-profile roles in deference to Chapman. That won’t stop when Chapman is Chapman again. And they can give Chapman the job back whenever. Maybe as soon as he’s ready. Or maybe once he’s proven himself over the course of a few outings. Girardi said he’d be a little worried about Chapman pitching in something other than a closer role because he’s never done it before. But, at this point, trying doesn’t sound like a bad alternative."

Photo: ESPN
In my last BYB article I stressed that  "it seems ridiculous for Joe to not at least consider juggling the order of the pages in his binder a little bit to give Chappy some lower leverage innings."

Nobody's advocating abandoning Chappy, Joe. Just move him down in the order a couple of innings for awhile until he gets his mojo back.

That's not abandoning him. It's just the opposite. That's nurturing and supporting him, helping him get his confidence back while protecting the rest of the team from meltdowns in the high-leverage ninth inning where every run is priceless and every base runner is a threat to end the game and shorten the season.

I also wrote that the way the Cubs abused Chappy from the first day they got him until the last game of the Series and the disruption it created for his off season throwing program coupled with his extended stay on the disabled list earlier this season all conspired to bring on this regression and nobody should blame him for his current struggles.

“It has been a difficult year for me,” Chapman said.  “I’m going through a rough patch here but you have to keep fighting and trying to go out there and do your job. “I’m here to pitch. My job is to be ready to pitch every day. As far as where I pitch, that’s not up to me. If at some point they need to remove me from the closer position, I’m always going to be ready and willing to pitch here.”

Hear that, Joe? That's the sound of a warrior bleeding Yankee blue who will do anything in any role to help this team win.

Nobody doubts your readiness, willingness or abilities, Chappy. Just shake it off and give DRob and DTrain a chance to close the lights for a spell.

And don't worry about that "as far as where I pitch" part, mi amigo. You're the closer for the next Evil Empire. You're just on a break.

Joe's the only one who needs to be concerned about abandonment issues.

--Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

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