• Blame Girardi Or Cashman?

    Posted by on November 4th, 2009 · Comments (17)

    Via Wallace Matthews

    Because if the Yankees don’t win Wednesday night with Andy Pettitte, 37 years old and just three days removed from a start in which he said he “felt terrible” and if they then don’t win on Thursday, with CC Sabathia being asked to pitch on short rest for the third time in two weeks, the questions will only have begun.

    And when they do, it won’t only be sportswriters asking them.

    The Yankees may still survive Girardi’s Gambit, his reckless decision to try to win four World Series games with only three starting pitchers. Then, and only then, will Girardi truly be able to eliminate “that question.”

    If they don’t, he will be answering “that question” and a lot more for a long time, the rest of the winter at least, and maybe for the rest of his managerial career.

    For better or worse, Girardi’s Gambit will forever be remembered as the defining moment of the 2009 World Series, the decision that either brought the Yankees their 27th World Championship, or ensured their third straight World Series failure.

    And if the Phillies go on to rally behind Pedro Martinez on Wednesday night and whatever they cobble together for Game 7, it will be remembered as more than that.

    It will have been the turning point.

    There was some desperation in Girardi’s decision, to be sure.

    Between the season-ending injury to Chien-Ming Wang, the failure of Joba Chamberlain to develop as a starter despite all the Yankees’ carefully laid plans, the inability of anyone else Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Phil Hughes to decisively grab the fourth starter role and the trading deadline paralysis of GM Brian Cashman, who apparently decided the Yankees could get by on what they had, Girardi was left with pretty much no other choice.

    There was also some hubris, an arrogant assumption not exactly alien to this franchise that somehow they did not have to conduct business the way mere mortals did let the Phillies take a chance starting a Joe Blanton in the World Series, the New York Yankees don’t mess around with guys like that and that their players were not subject to the normal frailties inherent to the human body.

    After coddling their pitchers all season long, carefully monitoring pitch counts, rest days and throw days, the Yankees have now decided that pitching on three days’ rest is no different from pitching on four days’ rest, a laughable assertion coming from the organization that devised the Joba Rules.

    Plus, throw in a healthy dollop of stubbornness. The more Girardi has been asked about his decision, the deeper he seems to entrench himself in the process of proving himself right.

    And now, the only way he can do that is by winning the World Series, something that seemed like a sure thing on Sunday but a very iffy thing now.

    Some very interesting questions, at least for me, come out of this whole issue:

    • Is it Joe Girardi’s fault for riding three starting pitchers this post-season, or, is it Brian Cashman’s fault for not giving Girardi a 4th starting pitcher that he can trust?
    • Is it Girardi’s fault that Chad Gaudin sat since season end and therefore was not an option to start Gave Five of this World Series, or, is it Cashman’s fault for acquiring a starting pitcher, Gaudin, so questionable, that Girardi had no choice but to not have him work during this post-season?
    • And, of course, is it Girardi’s fault that Chamberlain and Hughes were handled they way they were, and therefore were not reliable starting pitcher options this whole year, both regular- and post-season, or, is it Cashman’s fault for not having a better option at backing them up besides Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin?

    Sure, the injury to Chien-Ming Wang was the reason all this came up – and neither Girardi or Cashman can be blamed for that. However, things happen, and, then, it’s up to the team to have a “Plan B” to address that situation. And, the Yankees “Plan B” to replace Wang was Hughes, Mitre, Gaudin, etc. – and none of those worked out in the starting rotation.

    And, that “Plan B” failure has now carried over to the post-season – forcing Girardi to go with only three starting pitchers.

    When this is said and done, if the Yankees lose, many will want to pin this on Joe Girardi. But, is that correct? Or, should Cashman get his share of the blame here too?

    Comments on Blame Girardi Or Cashman?

    1. G.I. Joey
      November 4th, 2009 | 10:21 am

      Jeez, the series isn’t over yet and we’re already speculating on who should get the blame for losing. I understand this blog is extremely critical of the team and I have no problem with that, but the tone of posts over the past two days are pretty close to concdeding defeat. That’s not to say that I don’t have concerns or feel things slipping away to some degree, but this thing isn’t over yet.

    2. Corey
      November 4th, 2009 | 10:27 am

      @ G.I. Joey:
      You’d think we were down 3-2.

    3. MJ
      November 4th, 2009 | 10:39 am

      I agree that it’s too early to already be writing “blame” pieces as a prelude to “fire ___” pieces. The Yanks do, in fact, hold a 3-2 lead in the series (my anxiety over the results of the upcoming game(s) notwithstanding).

      Having said that, if I only get two choices — blame Joe or blame Brian — I’d blame Cashman for this one. Gaudin isn’t a good enough pitcher in general and certainly doesn’t match yup well with a lefty-heavy team in the WS in particular.

      Although my dislike of #62 is no big secret around here, I DO believe that the execution of the “Joba Rules” — or, more accurately, “Joba Rules v2.0” — backfired badly and hurt the pitcher more than it helped him. That’s on Cashman. Unfortunately there’s no reason to think that the same fate won’t befall Hughes next year or the year after.

      I don’t buy the argument that the Yanks didn’t have a Plan B because, clearly they did. Gaudin/Mitre DID assist in leading the Yanks to the best record in baseball this year so clearly the Yanks were able to weather Wang’s injury and #62’s ineffectiveness by scraping the barrel for Gaudin and Mitre at the end of the year. Of course, the downside there is that the Yanks still didn’t have another arm good enough to earn a start in October/November. I’d have picked up Brad Penny after Boston let him go. Then again, the Yanks had the last possible waiver claim position since they had the best record in baseball…

      I don’t think the Yanks could’ve reasonably acquired Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay so I will categorically dismiss any calls that Cashman failed in not getting those guys. But I do wish the Yanks had someone other than Gaudin so that they could’ve given Andy, AJ and CC a chance to pitch at full strength as the season comes down to the final handful of games.

      Bottom line, I’d rather not play the blame game right now, while the Yanks are a one run advantage and 27 outs away from a title. But I would be lying if I said that I felt great about the fact that the Yanks are leaning so heavily on their rotation.

      To turn the question on its ear, why should Joe or Brian take the blame? Why not blame Teixeira or Cano for sucking so hard?

    4. YankCrank
      November 4th, 2009 | 10:42 am

      This all won’t matter after we win tonight.

    5. ds
      November 4th, 2009 | 10:43 am


      I don’t say I disagree, but why do you say the Yanks couldn’t have gotten Cliff Lee? The Philis gave up nothing significant for him.

    6. Corey
      November 4th, 2009 | 10:51 am

      ds wrote:

      sagree, but why do you say the Yanks couldn’t have gotten Cliff Lee? The Philis gave up nothing

      He said reasonably, you gotta factor in the Yankee Tax.

    7. ds
      November 4th, 2009 | 10:57 am

      I may be wrong, but didn’t Phili only give Lee $6million? Not too much tax there.

      To get back to the original article, win or lose, and I don’t think we are going to lose, there is enough blame for the two of them.

      Plan B seemed to be Joba and Hughes as starters. When it was obvious this wasn’t working they went to Plan C- Mitre and Gaudin. Was this really the best they could come up with?

    8. Corey
      November 4th, 2009 | 11:06 am

      @ ds:
      I wasn’t referring to actual taxes, I meant the well known fact that every team demands more in a trade from the Yanks than any other team.

    9. Raf
      November 4th, 2009 | 11:12 am

      Yanks have a 3-2 lead in the world series, and had the best record in MLB in 2009, and I’m supposed to “blame” either Cashman or Girardi.

      Nah, does not compute.

      The Yanks could’ve thrown Joba or Gaudin as their 4th starter. They chose not to. They chose instead to go with their 3 best starters, which makes a lot of sense. Burnett blew up a couple of nights ago, not because he was on short rest, but because he’s AJ Burnett. That’s what he does. It’s popular to blame short rest, but that isn’t the case.

      I don’t buy that Gaudin is “questionable”. He has never faced the Phils, and troubles with lefties notwithstanding, there is no reason he couldn’t have thrown a couple of innings in game 4 with the caveat that he has a short leash; remember, the Yanks have a 12 man pitching staff, of which 3 of them are starters and an off day looming. Having said that, Burnett was/is the better pitcher, so I would’ve thrown him anyway.

      And on top of that, why should Girardi/Cashman take the blame when guys like Teix, Cano, Swisher, etc aren’t executing?

    10. MJ
      November 4th, 2009 | 11:18 am

      Raf wrote:

      And on top of that, why should Girardi/Cashman take the blame when guys like Teix, Cano, Swisher, etc aren’t executing?

      That was really my main point. Teixeira/Cano were vital cogs in the ’09 Yanks’ machine and they have stunk up the joint in the worst way.

      Teixeira’s AB’s are a study in passivity and Cano’s a study in hyper-aggressiveness and poor pitch ID. Each could learn a lot from watching the other and both could use some time with Kevin Long…that is if hitting coaches actually mattered or did anything of any great utility.

    11. MJ
      November 4th, 2009 | 11:24 am

      @ ds:
      The Phillies gave up RHP Carlos Carrasco, C Lou Marson, SS Jason Donald and RHP Jason Knapp, representing their 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 10th best prospects, as ranked by Baseball America before the 2009 season.



      I don’t know if the Yanks had similar players available to offer Cleveland or if they had the depth in their minor league system to make such a trade palatable to them. If we simply go by the same rankings, it would’ve meant giving up C Jesus Montero, RHP Andrew Brackman, C Austin Romine and 3B Brad Suttle.


      Brackman has no value at this point and Montero is likely to be ranked one of the 10 best prospects in all of baseball by the time Baseball America gets around to doing their annual top-100 list in late February 2010.

      Toss in the fact that, as Corey said, teams tend to “tax” the Yankees in trade negotiations, and we’re talking about paying a very steep price to get Cliff Lee. And all of that is based on the assumption that he was even available to the Yankees in the first place. Maybe Cleveland preferred to get him out of the AL altogether, as Minnesota preferred to do with Johan Santana.

    12. November 4th, 2009 | 12:57 pm

      This article is a travesty, up 3-2 heading home, just won 2/3 in the NL Champs’ digs… dispatched off the ALDS n ALCS with ease… standing 1 game away from the ring and we get a column like this…

      i bet this column was written for game 4 of ALCS and then for game 4 of WS and finally was posted now… i just loathe columns and columnists like this because to a man they think they know the temperature of the team, city and baseball down pat. A few breaks in the 9th inning of game 5 and we would be having a parade already…

      sports journalism at its nadir

    13. #15
      November 4th, 2009 | 2:37 pm

      Bang on comment. The chances of taking 3 of 3 from Philly in Philly were never that good. I’d still rather be in our position than in the Phillies position, down 3-2 facing 2 games on the road. Deep breathing, guys and gals. Deep breathing.

    14. MJ
      November 4th, 2009 | 3:02 pm

      @ #15:
      Agreed, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Yanks have an uphill climb tonight. Pettitte on 3 days rest, a lineup littered with slumping/bad bats, a bullpen with one stud and a bunch of stiffs…

      I’m not saying the Yanks are doomed but it wouldn’t shock me at all to see them lose in 7. I see it in them to lose tonight and then for CC to be totally spent tomorrow.

    15. #15
      November 4th, 2009 | 4:45 pm

      I agree, it’s not in the bag. But, I like our chances, even if it goes to seven, especially at home. We’ve all had 9 years of frustration and want to get over the hump. I probably watched somewhere around 120 games this year (Living in Houston, I can’t get the Fox feeds on Sat.) and it will really disappoint me if we lose out. But, some of the folks here are gripping it as bad as Tex and Robbie. Maybe I’m a bit more used to it than some of the younger folks on WW. I’ve watched the Yankees win 6 WS over my cognitive life and they were all tough games/series, except for the Padres…. and even in that one we had 2 come from behind victories in the 7th inning or later. This is the WS. It’s supposed to be tough to win it.

    16. Corey
      November 4th, 2009 | 4:53 pm

      #15 wrote:

      Maybe I’m a bit more used to it than some of the younger folks on WW.

      Age has nothing to do with anything. I’m younger then either of you. 🙂

    17. Evan3457
      November 4th, 2009 | 4:54 pm

      Girardi or Cashman?

      The correct answer is: neither.

      When the decision was made not to lay out money and big prospects/young pitchers at the deadline for a Halladay, for a Lee, for a Washburn, those pitchers were in the rumor mill to be acquired as the FIFTH men to complete the 5-man rotation. I do not mean that Halladay would’ve been the #5 starter.

      What I mean is this: at the deadline the race for the AL East was still only 1.5 up on Boston, and Tampa Bay was still in the race. Texas was only 3 games back for the wild card. The consideration was whether to add a 5th to make sure of a playoff spot.

      The FOURTH starter at that moment was Joba Chamberlain who, at exactly that moment in the season, had just thrown 3 BRILLIANT starts back to back to back. There was not the slightest doubt in the organization’s mind that Joba would be the 4th starter, and there shouldn’t have been. At that moment, Joba was 7-2 with an ERA of 3.58, and speculation was rampant that he would be the #3 starter and Andy would be the #4 starter.

      Then, right after the deadline, two things happened: the Yanks blew the race open, and Joba declined. When the Joba rules were put back into play, he fell apart completely. However, at that moment, there were no good options left. Jon Garland went to the Dodgers, but they were an NL team, and had prior claiming rights. As Joba continued to stuggle, his status fell until he fell out of the rotation completely.

      It was never intended that Chad Gaudin be the #4 starter in the playoffs. When Gaudin was picked up, they were only looking for a caretaker for the #5 slot for to make wrapping up a playoff slot easier than it would have been with Mitre, who was horrible.

      Now, if you want to blame the organization for putting the rules back on, or Cashman, that’s fine, but blaiming Cashman for not getting a better #4 man for the playoffs is crazy, because right up until mid-September, Joba was the #4, and would’ve been. The Yanks were looking for a #5 man at the deadline, a pitcher who would never have gotten a start in the post-season. They found Gaudin, and he did his job well, firming up the #5 slot. The Yanks ran away with the AL East.
      But blaming Girardi is unfair as well, because now, it IS playoff time. Now, they needed a better #4 starter than Gaudin, and they didn’t have one.

      So Girardi, caught by circumstance between a rock and a hard place, made a hard decision. I don’t fell competent to criticize the choice he made, either way.

      Girardi still has two outs here. The first is that Andy or CC could step up and throw a big game. People seem to be ignoring this possibility, but the odds of on of the two throwing a good game has to be at least 1 chance in 2. The other out is that his lineup, all together again for the last two games (minus Mellky) could bust out and put up a big number on Pedro or against whoever the Phils start in game 7. This also must have about 1 chance in 2 of happening in one of the last 2 games.

      Put these two chances together, and you’ll see why I think the Yanks still have about a 75% chance to win it all.

      Baseball Prospectus agrees; their postseason odds report puts the Yanks’ chances of winning at roughly 82-83% right now. I think that’s a bit high, but I’m that’s just a subjective guess on my part.
      And if they don’t win it all, I still think it isn’t Girardi’s fault, and it isn’t Cashman’s fault. I don’t see how either one could have done much better with the situation they were working with at the time each made his critical decision in this decision chain.

      You’re free to disagree of course. But at least try to bring more to it than “Catastrophe happened; somebody is to blame; the guilty must be punished.”

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