• It’s Girardi Season

    Posted by on September 26th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    First via Joel Sherman -

    Joe Girardi must make a decision — and we are not talking Cubs vs. Yankees.

    Girardi must decide to go all-out to win games until a playoff spot is secured. Because the hybrid he is deploying between saying the games matter — but often not managing that way — has left his team confused. Actually that decision might have been made for Girardi now since the Red Sox, with a 7-3 triumph yesterday, closed within five games in the loss column for the wild card.

    That should be huge with eight games to play. But this weekend has the feel of a reverse Boston Massacre, or as if the ghosts of the 2004 ALCS Yankee choke job are being revived. That four games remain between the teams means the Red Sox have re-opened a door that seemed closed.

    And Girardi’s schizophrenic managing style has helped open that door. He has alternately pushed hard and pulled back so often over the last few weeks that his team has been left as tight as its high-strung skipper.

    Girardi said he is managing the same now as always. But that is just disingenuous. He has been more cautious with injured guys, older guys and tired guys than ever, acting as if his team has a playoff spot locked up, but no real fervor for the AL East title or the best record in the league. Yet by prioritizing that caution, Girardi has shut off his team’s switch. The Yanks currently feel like an NBA team that pulled its starters up 23 in the third quarter, and now can’t get going again with the lead down to seven in the fourth.

    And, next, via Andrew Marchand

    It is nearly impossible for the New York Yankees to miss the playoffs, but they are trying their hardest to make it is as interesting as possible.

    They have a manager who continues to say bewildering things that, if true, makes him seem delusional at best and incompetent at worst. They have a very famous third baseman who squarely pointed the finger at the team’s starting pitching as the problem of late. And they are tumbling toward the finish line, losing 13 of their last 19 and suffering their first four-game home losing streak of the season.

    On Saturday, the Boston Red Sox again shellacked the Yankees in a 7-3 beating as rookie Ivan Nova could only pitch 4 2/3 innings, which left Alex Rodriguez to draw a line between the hitters and the pitchers.

    “It’s hard to play with an edge when you are down five or six runs,” said Rodriguez, refreshingly honest, if impolitic.

    On Sunday night, the Yankees send out the pedestrian Dustin Moseley, trying to avoid a sweep. Even as the Yankees slowly fade — they are now 36-31 since the All-Star Break — their manager, Joe Girardi, says that if the Yankees were in a tighter playoff race he would be handling his pitchers the same way.

    That means, even if the Yankees weren’t at the postseason one-yard line, Girardi claims he would have turned to Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre in a first place showdown with the Rays on Sept. 13. It means that Girardi would be handing the ball to Moseley instead of the innings limited Phil Hughes on Sunday.

    “I would manage the same way,” Girardi said before the Yankees’ latest no-show.

    Girardi said that he values the players’ health first and that they are more productive rested. Of course, if the Red Sox were a game back and the Rays were up a game — which is the exact scenario a reporter put forth to Girardi — it is unfathomable he would turn to Moseley to avoid a sweep. But those were the manager’s words. That is the message he sent out.

    Girardi is very careful not to say that he is managing like the Yankees are already in, but his actions belie his nonsensical words. The Yankees’ magic number to clinch the wild card is still just three, meaning they would guarantee at least a tie if they win Sunday night.

    “We’re still in a good spot,” Girardi said.

    With that in the back of his mind, Girardi continues to use his pitchers as if it were spring training. Girardi is valuing health over home-field, which is not an unreasonable way to go. However, the jogging to finish line approach may play better in theory than in reality. As programmed as many of the Yankees act, they are still people.

    But similar to when the tumble began gaining steam with Girardi in the middle of it all on Sept. 13 — the Gaudin-Mitre game — this season is becoming all about Girardi, not his players.

    I have to confess, when I look at the way the Yankees have been going about their business lately, I get that feeling of…well, like Game Four of the 2003 World Series and Game Six of the 2001 World Series, and, of course, Game Four of the 2004 ALCS…

    By this I mean, they had this season down on the ground with their foot clamped down on its throat, but, rather than go for the kill and finish it off, they got soft and have allowed it get its air back and climb back to its feet. And, sometimes, that’s a fatal mistake.

    The next seven games will tell us what it means to this season – and the ALDS. And, if it’s not a nice story for Yankeeland, I suspect that Girardi will get, and probably deserves, a fair chunk of the blame for the way he’s handled the close of this season.

    Comments on It’s Girardi Season

    1. JeremyM
      September 26th, 2010 | 10:40 am

      I agree Steve. I have that feeling too even though I know deep down it’s nearly impossible for the Yankees to blow this. But I have never seen such a poor managing job. Girardi has created the conditions that could lead to an epic collapse. Will it happen? Probably not, but he’s the one that has got the ball rolling. Turning to Dustin Moseley tonight, who I have nothing against, feels oddly like turning to Kevin Brown to save the season in 2004. The good news is there are 6 games left, unlike 2004.

      All that said, unless this master plan works and the Yanks are stunningly refreshed and clobber the competition in October, I think you have to let Girardi walk. You don’t need a manager to think this much when you have a kick-butt lineup and so forth. He can take his freaking Chad Gaudin obsession with him to Chicago.

    2. MJ Recanati
      September 26th, 2010 | 10:55 am

      The Yanks aren’t missing the playoffs, so the tabloids can stop with the idiotic doomsday scenarios.

      That said, Girardi’s managing has been absurd these past few weeks. He deserves all the heat and second-guessing he’s been getting because even if there’s absolutely no evidence that a bad September can carry over to October, there’s still no reason to play the passive-aggressive, pseudo-forfeit card the Yanks have been playing for weeks now.

      Chad Gaudin and #62 should never see the light of day on this team ever again. Trade them, cut them, have them mother-effing killed. Whatever. Just no more of those two.

    3. Raf
      September 26th, 2010 | 11:52 am

      Going with Pettitte with a 3-2 series lead in the 2001 WS isn’t going for the kill? Going to Rivera for a 2-inning save in game 4 of the 2004 ALCS isn’t going for the kill?

    4. JeremyM
      September 26th, 2010 | 12:32 pm

      Well, I would’ve started Mussina on normal rest in that game 4 instead of “saving” him for a possible game 5, which Torre made the point of declaring to anyone and everyone who would listen. Why even mention losing a game 4? I would’ve went to Mo in game 5 for another 2 inning save as well, but I never trusted Tom Gordon and Torre did, and that one is a tough second guess I think (unless he really was heaving in the bullpen before appearances). And I still think they should’ve bunted Schilling’s gimpy a$$ out of game 6. But I need to move on from all of that!

      It’s going to be near impossible for the Sox to pull this off, but I hate relying on the White Sox to do what the Yankees should have taken care of a week ago.

    5. ken
      September 26th, 2010 | 5:34 pm

      Even if the Yanks win the WS again this year, I would be perfectly happy if he left to manage the Cubs. This team wins despite him, not because of him. As bad as been his handling of pitchers this Sept, he did his best to lose in last year’s playoffs with silly over-managing, “I’m smarter than you” pitching moves.

      And you can’t manage the NY Yankees and essentially forfeit a late season, home series against BOS even if it “doesn’t matter”. Just can’t let that happen. Ivan Nova vs. Lester???? with cameos by Gaudin, etc etc…

      Gosh, where’s the Boss when we need him.

    6. Evan3457
      September 27th, 2010 | 1:01 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      The Yanks aren’t missing the playoffs, so the tabloids can stop with the idiotic doomsday scenarios.
      That said, Girardi’s managing has been absurd these past few weeks. He deserves all the heat and second-guessing he’s been getting because even if there’s absolutely no evidence that a bad September can carry over to October, there’s still no reason to play the passive-aggressive, pseudo-forfeit card the Yanks have been playing for weeks now.
      Chad Gaudin and #62 should never see the light of day on this team ever again. Trade them, cut them, have them mother-effing killed. Whatever. Just no more of those two.

      Joba did OK tonight in a tight spot in a tie game in the 10th. Two good outs. No Mo to backup. (In fact, the worst of the big 5 relievers has been Mo, lately.)

      Just sayin’.

    7. MJ Recanati
      September 27th, 2010 | 9:11 am

      @ Evan3457:
      Just sayin’ what? That with a runner on second, we can trust #62 to spike the baseball on a totally weird pickoff throw to first base?

      The guy is an idiot and he’s the safest bet to letting inherited runners score. Can’t stand the sight of him. Want him gone.

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.