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?