Monday, October 19, 2009

Joe Girardi channels his inner Jerry Manuel

Joe Girardi's bizarre bullpen move in the 11th inning tonight reminded me of something that Jerry Manuel did way back in April.

On April 29, the Mets were trailing the Marlins, 4-3, when they loaded the bases with two outs in the bottome of the ninth. Ramon Castro was coming up. Then Jerry Manuel pinch-hit Omir Santos for Castro.

A righthanded catcher pinch-hitting for another righthanded catcher. There was no matchup advantage - Castro had only faced Florida pitcher Matt Lindstrom a couple of times and Santos had never faced Lindstrom.

It did not make any sense, especially since Castro had gone 2-for-4 in the game. At the time, Santos had only been with the Mets for a few days. Santos flied out and the Mets lost.

Tonight, Joe Girardi's decision to replace righthander David Robertson with righthander Alfredo Aceves ended up costing the Yankees the game. As with Manuel's April move, the player replaced was doing well - Robertson had retired the first two batters - and the matchup history was almost non-existent between the two Yankee pitchers and the next batter, Howie Kendrick.

But when Manuel made the move, it seemed to come from his gut. Manuel is not too big on statistical analysis. It was one of the first times this season that Manuel's decision-making came into question. By the end of the year, many Met fans would have been happy to see him go.

The explanations for Girardi's strange move go in the opposite direction. Girardi was seen looking in a big book before making the pitching change. Many wonder if Girardi is too obsessed with data and is overmanaging as a result.

Girardi's eagerness to remove some of his sluggers with pinchrunners or defensive replacements also reminds me of what Manuel did with Gary Sheffield earlier in the year. It's hard to remember back when the Mets were actually taking leads into the late innings. Sheffield, batting cleanup, would be removed for defense. So if the game went into extra innings, suddenly Jeremy Reed would be in the middle of the lineup.

Tonight, Angel manager Mike Scioscia walked A-Rod in the ninth inning, realizing that Brett Gardner was now hitting behind A-Rod instead of Hideki Matsui. (Jerry Hairston Jr. pinch-hit for Gardner.) If Scioscia had done the same thing in the ninth inning of Game 2, when Matsui also had been removed, A-Rod would not have hit the tying homer.

One place Girardi is not channeling Manuel is in his record. Girardi won 33 more games than the beleaguered Met manager. And Girardi is still likely to bring home that 27th title. (Will he then change his uniform number to 28?) But maybe he should look at that big matchup book a little less often.


Jonmouk71 said...

Actually, Girardi was channeling his inner Gene Mauch - the king of overmanagers who was famed for the Phillies Phold, had the Angels one away from the World Series, and pulled Mike Witt for Gary Lucas, who hit a batter and then Dave Henderson hit his HR off Donnie Moore.

NAM said...

Congratulations Yankee fans on your postseason wins. I am still mourning my RS's pathetic postseason showing. One little loss yesterday, but I am sure you will be moving on to the WS. Good luck and Peggy, if you are out there today, enjoy the series. The Yankees are playing great baseball. At least you can be inside where it is warm while they are in LA for the next few days!


Bklynfan said...

NAM - Sorry about the Red Sox. I was looking forward to a Yankee/Red Sox ALCS. Hopefully the Yanks can pull this off -- it's been a while for us!

NAM said...

I know what you mean, they do make for exciting games, but the two series going on now have been great. I am rooting for the Phils on the NL side because I can't stand the thought of Manny going to the WS. Does that make me horrible?

Bklynfan said...

The games are definitely good, but there is nothing like Yanks/Red Sox and no, it doesn't make you horrible in the least to root against Manny.

I am kind of rooting for the Dodgers. It would be great to win #27 against Torre. Does that make me a horrible person?!

Anonymous said...

BTW - it may be that Girardi felt he was "playing with house money" being up 2-0 and Sabathia waiting to go in game 4. He needs Aceves to get out of his funk so that he can use him and drop Marte like a bad habit.

NAM said...

Not at all. I would be as well if I were you. Isn't it great when your team is playing baseball in October! Maybe even November this year.

Bklynfan said...

NAM - October baseball is great and November even better. WHEN the Yanks make it, I hope it is over and done with before November 5th. I'm flying to Europe that night and if I miss any of the games, I am going to FREAK OUT!!

NAM said...


Really, can't the powers that be make sure baseball is over by November! I would freak out too if my team were in the WS and I might miss games. I hope it is wrapped up then.

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