Sunday, April 6, 2008

Early Returns on the Girardi Era

It's ridiculously early in the baseball season to draw conclusions about nearly anything. However it's not too soon to start paying attention to a new manager's tactical tendency. Girardi's first four games (he missed 2 due to illness) as Yankees manager have been a bit of a mixed bag.

First the good. I love the way Girardi has handled the bullpen thus far (at least the members whom he has chosen for the big league roster). Thus far we have only seen one reliever go less than an inning in an outing. Changing pitchers every batter to capitalize on platoon splits is a surefire way to run your pen into the ground by August. He has properly utilized his two bullpen aces (Rivera and Chamberlain) in tight games and allowed his lesser pitchers to eat up the garbage innings. I know this seems obvious but having watched Joe Torre for the past several years, I no longer take common sense for granted. Particularly impressive was Joe Girardi pulling Wang yesterday with a 2-0 in the 7th, with nobody out, and runners on first and third. He had Chamberlain and Farnsworth warming in the pen and I was nearly certain Girardi was going to foolishly call on the lesser option. Instead Girardi summoned Chamberlain who worked out of trouble without allowing a run and pitched a scoreless 8th as well. Girardi proved that he would not be a slave to the "Joba must pitch 8th. Rivera must pitch 9th" mentality.

The bad news is that after Chamberlain and Rivera, Girardi did a miserable job constructing his bullpen. I honestly believe that the Triple A Scranton bullpen is better manned than the Yankees. At this point a Congressional Committee should be formed to uncover what exactly Chris Britton has to do to make the team. What about this resume suggest that he doesn't belong? ( He is clearly the third best reliever in the organization. I also believe that Edwar Ramirez and Scott Patterson are better than Farnsworth, Bruney, Ohlendorf, and probably Hawkins.

Girardi also seems to overvalue the prevention of a single run early in the game, while opening himself up to bigger innings. In the third game of the season in scoreless game in the 4th, Girardi brought the infield in with one out and a runner on third. Ultimately the decision did not affect the game one way or the other. However that type of thinking will be a detriment in the long run

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