Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Groundhog Day

I don't enjoy writing the same or similar things over and over. I'm sure you guys don't enjoy reading it. Unfortunately it's pertinent. If Joe Girardi continues to make Yankees games like Groundhog Day I refuse to allow this site to do the same. I'll just stop writing game recaps in some capacity so that we don't have to go through this routine. At the very least we'll try to break the bullpen micromanagement up into a more digestible format.

The Situation: Bottom of the 6th, 2 outs, BASES EMPTY, Yankees leading 2-1.

The Move: Pull starter Phil Hughes, who after a very shaky second inning had retired 11 of the last 12 batters he'd faced and was at 109 pitches, to put in lefty Boone Logan to face lefty Luke Scott.

The Rationale: We can't pretend to understand the inter-workings of Joe Girardi's micromanaging of the bullpen, but we can only assume Hughes was at his pitch limit and more importantly...LEFTY/LEFTY!!!!!1!!!!!

The Result: Girardi gave Logan the one lefty, who Logan walked. Since the next batter was righty Ty Wiggington, clearly you have to go righty/righty with David Robertson. D-Rob hit a batter and gave up 3 hits, allowing Logan's runner and two of his own to score. Yankees go from 2-1 up to 4-2 down before they could get an out.

The Analysis: Hughes was rolling, and was pulled because of pitch count. I'm a big believer in not extending your starters too much, especially early in the season, especially with younger less experienced starters. But with two outs in the 6th, you have to wonder if he can't get one shot to finish it. He doesn't get him, you pull him. The most hysterical part about this is that Girardi will let a starter who doesn't have it go all the way to 110 pitches, and will also cut a starter who has it off at that number too. It's like how you pitch barely matters, you're getting 110 pitches unless you're extremely good or extremely bad. I think you have to toughen up there and let Hughes go the extra few pitches to try and get that last batter. We're not talking about going to 120-125 here, we're talking about 112-115 or so, and maybe as little as 110.

Going lefty/lefty with 2 outs and the bases empty in the SIXTH INNING is absurd. It's absolutely absurd. Let Hughes finish it, or go to your best pitcher since you are going to need a few outs anyway. The players have to execute regardless. Logan should be able to get the one lefty and get you to the 7th with a lead. Robertson should be able to get out of the inning with nothing more than a runner on first base and one out needed. But guess what, when you've only thrown 6 pitches since May 15th (12 days ago), you might not be at your sharpest. You also can't underestimate the impact of coming into a game with the bases empty as opposed to with a runner on first. Something players need to be able to work around, but also a situation the manager doesn't need to unnecessarily create by playing match-ups.

Girardi has now micromanaged the bullpen in 3 of the last 4 games. The Yankees have lost all 3 games, one where they were tied, one where they were down a run, one where they were up a run. Just let your best pitchers pitch, and when a pitcher is in looking good, let him pitch, don't play matchups. There is no reason to get cute when you can just let your best relievers go 1-2 innings.

In a lot of ways Hughes' start tonight was as impressive as his last outing. He didn't have his best stuff, he had almost no location, the umpire was squeezing both pitchers and had a roaming strike zone, and Hughes had a very rocky second inning. But he found a way to settle down and battle through 5.2 innings allowing only 2 hits, 4 walks, and 1 run. As Mike Mussina has said, these are the types of games that decide what kind of pitcher you are going to be, because every pitcher is going to have days where the hitters can't touch them and days when they can't get an out, but the really good ones are going to find a way to pitch well in the middle. Hughes did that today.

The focus and attention to detail that was evident through the first 2.5 weeks of this season has gone completely out the window. Baserunning mistakes, lack of tough at-bats, laziness and mental lapses in the field. It's not acceptable. The Yankees have lost 4 out of 5, but it's not the results as much as the way they've lost that is the frustration. They showed a little something fighting back in the 9th and getting the tying run on third after being 5-2 entering the inning (and I have no idea what Lugo was doing that far up the middle, Rodriguez's ball looked like a sure game-tying single with two outs). They did themselves a solid getting out to a very fast start this year despite a tough schedule. They would do well not to give it away. They need to turn around the level of play, and hopefully the results will come with it.

Part of that is getting Nick Johnson in the lineup. They are a better team with him batting second working counts and getting on base, even when he's not getting hits. It's going to be very annoying if he's not able to play regularly, especially as the season wears on and the games get bigger. Hopefully that is not the case, although his history and need for days off already this season with "back stiffness" is not a good sign considering he almost exclusively DH's, which is not taxing.

15 comments:

jason said...

a post from pat two nights in a row? UNHEARD OF

the gm at work said...

That's not fair...he's done it twice this month I think.

On to Pat's point, I don't really know Boone Logan too much. Is he a LOOGY? Even if he is, he could be used next time through the freaking order if it's the sixth inning. With the bases empty, unless Hughes makes a moderate to big mistake to Scott, Hughes has some breathing room. I agree with Pat here. Asinine.

Patrick said...

it's like groundhog day jason. i wish it wasn't. really frustrating loss, not because the decision making was so poor and the team played such a sloppy game, but because the last three games they've lost have been at least contributed to by the same kind of bullpen management. how about mixing it up at least?

also, how about giving robinson cano the red light girardi? he's attempted to steal 42 times in his career and been caught 23 of those times. under 50% is a terrible success rate. he's not a base stealer, and him getting caught can take you right out of an inning like it did last night. especially since the guy behind him in posada hit a long homer his last time up. sure enough posada walked, and then his own baserunning mistake ultimately ended an inning when there should have been bases loaded 1 out, maybe even 1st and 2nd, 1 run in, and 1 out. cano is hot as could be with the bat. but don't eliminate part of that by trying to have him steal a base, especially when he gets on to lead off an inning.

Patrick said...

complete loogy, turns righties into pujols. his loogy splits are good, but not great. certainly not good enough that he should be getting the ball in a 2-1 game. the first play for me is leaving hughes in. considering the average at bat is 3-4 pitches, even if the at bat gets extended to 7 pitches (which is rather long), you're talking 115 pitches. i think you can let him do that when he's retired 11 of 12, let him finish off a clean 6th when his pitch count is 110 and you're giving him an extra 5, which is not a lot. but if you do want to stick to the pitch count, i'm OK with that. it's just that the second play should be brining in a better pitcher than boone logan, especially since luke scott isn't a guy who can't hit lefites. he hits righties better, but is still serviceable against lefties. that's my issue with this whole approach. i'm not philosophically against lefty/lefty or righty/righty. obviously there are a lot of scenarios where that makes sense, most notably where you have a lefty pitcher who dominates lefties and a left handed batter who struggles against lefties. that means last night, bringing in a lefty pitcher who is just okay against lefty hitters to face a lefty hitter who fares okay against lefty pitching is not exactly ideal. so even if you want to pull hughes, i still don't get this move. it's a one run game. bring in a better pitcher, don't just go to one because there is a potential lefty/lefty matchup. that doesn't make sense every single time!

Patrick said...

point being (and this should be obvious) there are times when lefty/lefty or righty/righty doesn't make sense. last night was one of them. that's where i get lost. it's like you go lefty/lefty just because it's lefty/lefty without considering the many other factors involved, and a lot of managers do this. i was consistently amazed that managers went to lefties to get matsui despite the fact that he hits lefties for a better average than righties for his career. higher obp and slg vs. righties, so there was some reason to go to a lefty, but there were certain seasons where the splits were more pronounced than his career, and he was legitimately hitting lefties a lot better than righties. and managers would still go to a lefty. does it just make them feel better? because it doesn't make any sense.

Patrick said...

also, and most importantly, a happy birthday to DV!!!!!

the gm at work said...

Pat,

I think we have gone over the righty/lefty thing before in a humorous way regarding Montgomery Burns pinch-hitting Homer Simpson for Darryl Strawberry despite Darryl's nine home runs that day. Way too much is made of it. Bottom line is, Luke Scott will take Logan deep if Logan throws a meatball--same with Hughes. Ironically, it's probably more likely that Logan would give up that bomb.

It's always great to turn 25 years old and feel like you're turning ninety. At this age, you can't say I have much upside anymore. At least Buck Martinez and Kathryn Tappen will think I still have upside in 7-8 years.

Anonymous said...

DV

I don't know about you, but Kathryn Tappen is free to think whatever she'd like about me.

--the Gunn

Ross Kaplan said...

Yes Girardi's bullpen over management is partly to blame for last night's loss, but I put the onus on the offense to score more runs against one of the worst pitching teams in the league. Up until the scratched together 2 runs in the 9th they could only muster 2 runs all night. They need to better then that against bad pitchers.

Patrick said...

no doubt ross. but the offense not scoring when the pitching has been good, or the pitching not getting it done when the offense scores a tons of runs, is never a reason for a manager to not doing what's best to close out the game. sometimes you have to win 2-1, and sometimes you have to win 9-8. the yankees needed to think about winning 2-1 last night and they didn't despite being in position because girardi got cute with the bullpen, and when you get cute with the bullpen you are upping the chances that one or more of your relievers won't execute. there are going to be nights when you just can't score or just can't stop the other team from scoring, no matter how inexplicable. you still have to find a way to win those games when you have the chance.

TimC said...

Just wanted to inform the Colby alumni community on the blog that Monday's at Colby are now officially "meatless". Although meat is still served on "Meatless Mondays", dining hall guests are frequently asked "Would you care to go meatless today?" or "Are you observing Meatless Monday?" as if this was some religious holiday that one could be celebrating. The campaign for this development included flyers that discussed the "dangers" of eating meat and the cost of producing meat food products.

There are no clear indications at the moment how long this will last. My guess is that it will run through the end of the year. Until then, feel free to weigh in with any thoughts or comments about the state of Colby College. I will be happy to answer any questions regarding "Meatless Mondays" as they are posted on the blog.

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

I feel the same way about Buck Martinez...I mean, Jade McCarthy.

the gm at work said...

Tim,

In 25 days it won't matter.

Patrick said...

hahahahahaha timc. i don't even know what to say.

Ross Kaplan said...

I'm pretty sure Colby stole "meatless Mondays" from a 10 Things I Hate About episode. And yes I do watch that show.