Saturday, October 23, 2010

Younger, Stronger, Faster

  • And smarter:

It's somehow apropos that as the Rangers celebrated their AL pennant at midfield, the camera caught a stone-faced Yankees manager Joe Girardi grabbing his ever-present Binder before walking back towards the visiting clubhouse to answer the inevitable questions about his (and the Binder's; and the organization's) decisions in the series loss.

These questions are viable and unanswerable by the Binder; by Girardi; by Michael Kay; by Mike Francesa; by Suzyn Waldman; by Brian Cashman; by anyone.

As they try to digest this loss, I'm sure Yankees fans and apologists are assuaged in their grief that neither Mariano Rivera nor C.C. Sabathia were overused in the series; both are rested for the, um....well....for the winter.

They'll be in tip-top shape for golf and spring training.

Pardon my sarcasm, but once the series got to a point where the Yankees were going to be forced----one way or the other----to face the Stone Cold Killer (Cliff Lee) in a potential game 7, they were doomed. That aside, a perfunctory attempt made to run up Lee's pitch count in game 3; to tire him; wear him down----any means-to-an-end strategy you can describe----for the hoped-for game 7. It might've failed, but it would've been a logical attempt (Binder and Francesa be damned) to win the series.

Mariano Rivera should've been in the game to pitch the ninth inning in game 3.


Because they were down 2-0 to Lee in that game; since the Killer had been dominant in blasting through the eighth inning and was growing stronger and increasingly dialed in as the game went along (more ammunition against pitch counts, but that 's an argument for another day), of course there's a template for the day-after Francesa argument----rife with his usual stupidity, pomposity, negativity and floating gambits----that the Yankees needed to rest Rivera for games 4 and 5.

But using David Robertson rather than Rivera was a mistake. Hypothetically, even if the Yankees had lost; if Lee had retired the side in order in the ninth inning with barely a whimper, it still should've been Rivera pitching the ninth inning to keep the game close enough for a prototypical "bloop and a blast" threat.

There are so many reasons for the Yankees to have kept the score 2-0 in that game that even the Binder should've known it was the right thing to do.

Lee had thrown 122 pitches; Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira were due up for the ninth; the score was easily within reach...until Robertson blew it up; if it was still 2-0 when Lee came out for the ninth, even if the Yankees had gone down in order, Lee's pitch count would've been up around 135 at least; and if a runner had gotten on base, who's to say that Rangers manager Ron Washington wouldn't have pulled Lee? And if Lee's pitch count was up around 135-140, what would that have done to him for a potential game 7? It would've been very hard for him to repeat that effort again, game 7 or not.

There were so many reasons to use Rivera to keep the game within striking distance that it was idiotic not to do it.

But Girardi didn't do it.

The Rangers blew the game open; won game 4 in blowout fashion (no Rivera); the Yankees won game 5 easily (Rivera pitched, but was needed); and got bounced in game 6, 6-1.

Rivera pitched the ninth last night to keep the score at 6-1.

That's how it ended. At least Boone Logan, Sergio Mitre and whoever else didn't get the opportunity to make the score embarrassing. And that's what's important.

Then we get to the utter lunacy of starting A.J. Burnett in game 4 over Sabathia and then, inexplicably having Sabathia "available out of the bullpen" for game 6.


I asked this yesterday and am still waiting for a sensible response.

Sabathia----having never-ever-ever worked out of the bullpen as a professional----was going to be a pricey lefty specialist after throwing 112 pitches two days previous? And they didn't want to risk the 6'7", 300 pound horse in game 4 after he threw 94 pitches in game 1?



This is also with the knowledge that the pitcher was willing to go on short-rest and....he's done it before!!!

Oh, and he's been terrific on three-days rest----link!!! He did it without issue last year in the post-season as the Yankees won the World Series.

Sabathia should've started game 4. Period.

A.J. Burnett pitched well enough to keep the Yankees in game 4; but that's neither here nor there; and we can debate some of the other Girardi moves (pinch hitting Marcus Thames for Brett Gardner in game 2; benching Jorge Posada in game 4; flip-flopping Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte in the starting rotation), those are arguable for either side; but the Rivera/Sabathia calls were flat-out wrong and they cost the Yankees dearly; in fact, they might have cost them the series and a second straight championship.

Don't tell me any different.

The Rangers won the series; they deserve to go to the World Series; they're younger; they're hungrier; they're stronger; they're faster. They were better in this series; they were courageous in coming back after that game 1 loss; but more importantly, their mistake-plagued manager Ron Washington wasn't given the chance to blow the series as Girardi was. Girardi took his gacks by choice and that, as much as anything, is why the Yankees are going home.

  • Flexibility:

I would not have taken a chance on Josh Hamilton.

I would not have retained manager Ron Washington after his failed drug test (and nonsensical assertion that it was the first time he used cocaine).

There's a place for being stringent; in certain cases, I'm never going to acquiesce to lax disciplinary procedures and new age quirkiness the type of which Rays manager Joe Maddon engages with his Romper Room silliness.

It's interesting that a hard core Texas conservative like Rangers owner Nolan Ryan was willing to give his employees another chance after such high-profile and public missteps.

In this case, while I still cling to my principles, it's possible that the Rangers flexibility and understanding with the likes of the recovering addict Hamilton and the strategically odd and flawed Washington (we're all flawed) are major factors in the Rangers rise to the perch of American League Champions.

I'd still be reluctant to give Hamilton a long-term contract; to fully trust Washington's in-game strategies or off-field frailties; but Rangers owner Ryan and GM Jon Daniels did trust them and they've got the pennant; Hamilton has an ALCS MVP; Washington's going to manage the Rangers in the World Series. None of this would've happened if my suggestions had been implemented.

It worked.

They were right.

  • Sunday Lightning Preview:

I don't generally give previews for upcoming postings, but we'll throw it at the wall and see if it splatters.

The Blue Jays have offered their managerial job to Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. I've got some things to say about that.

Also, the Mets have narrowed their GM search to Sandy Alderson and Josh Byrnes. I'll talk about that and a manager I think would be a good choice for either man. Click the names for my dissections of Alderson and Byrnes.

You'll learn a lot.

I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz a week ago Friday talking about the LCS and managerial stuff. Click here for Sal's site or here to listen directly.


Jeff said...

Gotta tip my cap to Nolan Ryan. His plan worked. And it's pretty exciting for the folks in the Dallas area.

On a sidenote, I am in Houston, visiting a bunch of family down here, and none of them seemed to notice the Rangers were even in the playoffs.

Surely, FOX is quivering.

Joe said...

I don't know that Washington had much to do with this. His strategic game is in question, and the team had talent. Another manager probably would have done the same.

Gabriel said...

I'm afraid of tomorrow's post (regarding the Blue Jays).

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers, Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels and Ron Washington, they did a tremendous job.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

My, the mighty have fallen (NYY and Philly).

The World Series will be the ultimate and final Battle between S.F. Liberalism and Texas Conservatism.
The New World Order is at our doorsteps looking to take over our TVs. I looked out my window after the game and saw dogs and cats playing together as a pig flew by.
After everything the Rangers have gone through this season, how can they be denied now?

NapLajoieonSteroids said...

What is comes down to is that the Yankees did not have enough pitching to even pretend like they belonged on the same field as the Rangers this series. They lost the minute Burnett and Vasquez collapsed and second-guessing who should have started what game is like rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.