Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Joe Girardi leaves A.J. Burnett out to dry

A.J. Burnett is getting a lot of grief from Yankee fans these days, including some calling for his head last night. But really, he did much better than expected, giving up only two runs in the first five innings. Heck, he was the first Yankee starter to get through the first inning without giving up a run in this series. Until Joe Girardi left him in too long in the sixth, that is.

Longtime readers know that I'm no Girardi basher, but he has done such a poor job with decision-making this series that Squawker Jon and I were musing last night what were the chances that be fired if the Yankees lose the ALCS. And what Joe did in the sixth was just ridiculous.

Guess Girardi never heard of that "leaving on a high note" adage. He should have pulled Burnett after Vladimir Guerrero's hit. At that point, A.J. was at 90 or so pitches. Burnett could have left the cheers from the crowd, with a well-pitched game, and something to build on for the future. Instead, Girardi got a little too cute, deciding to leave him in, and then intentionally walking David Murphy to pitch to Bengie Molina. This, even though he had Joba Chamberlain warmed up in the bullpen. I thought Girardi would keep Burnett on a short leash, but instead, the leash was long enough for A.J. to get caught in.

Incidentally, did you see that Burnett nearly threw the ball away in one of the intentional walk pitches? That should have been yet another clue to Girardi that Burnett was about to turn into a pumpkin.

I didn't watch the postgame last night because he was too angry after the loss. But Jon did, and he thought Girardi was awfully defensive. New York Post columnist Joel Sherman wrote about what the manager said, and I pretty much agree with Sherman's take on what happened last night (emphasis added).
Girardi had Mariano Rivera for as much as two innings, a remnant of the manager’s iffy choice not to use the closer to keep the Yankees within 2-0 in the ninth inning of Game 3. So Girardi would have had to fill just two set-up innings here.
But he got greedy or caught up in the moment....
“If you take A.J. out there and you give up a couple of runs, people say, ‘Why did you take A.J. out?’“ Girardi said.
No, that would not have been the conversation. New York is now well versed on Burnett. No one could think it was a good idea to have him on the mound at that moment: tying run in scoring position, go-ahead run on first, season on the brink. Burnett has spent a career breaking hearts, throwing the pitch he absolutely could not at the wrong time.
And he did here....
Girardi had given a baseball arsonist matches and the Yankees season went up in flames.
I agree with Sherman, something I don't say very often!

One last note -- Squawker Jon sez Molina's homer is bad karma on me for trash-talking Jon for four years about Yadier Molina's homer against the Mets. By the way, last night was the fourth anniversary of that event.

What do you think? Tell us about it.


Island of Weiland said...

All points in your post are excellent.
It is unfortunate that A.J. leaves possibly his last outing this season on such a low note.It may put a Vasquez type of permanent scar on his fragile psyche.Joe obviously over managed the intentional walk then put Molina(a clutch hitter) up to nail A.J.'s coffin shut.
Notice that in the press conference Joe didn't really accept the blame.
Now that Cubs job is taken Joe may have to "settle" for the Yankee position.I hope the Yankee front office gives him a Torre like one year deal to prove himself.
After Game 3 it seemed it could not get any worse.
Joe proved last night that it could.
Bring back TORRE!

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

The offense has gone AWOL and Girardi is not helping with his awful decisions. This game is beautiful and you still have to play the game. I do believe the Yankees can still win it all and that means winning against Cliff Lee in game seven.
But if the Yankees don't make it to the next round, the Yankees should let Girardi go.

Steven said...

AJ was fine last night. The Rangers are just white hot and we have CC in part to thank for that (or maybe they where white hot on the come in and it was hopeless from the jump). AJ obviously should have been pulled for all the reasons you say.

I think at the end of the day Joe just didn't really respect the Rangers, though he could run over them like he did the Twins. The ease of the Twins series I think made everyone a little complacent. Now it's total payback time.

kcourtsclayton said...

I absolutely agree with your assessment of AJ/ Girardi. Aside from that pitch to Molina, I was thrilled for AJ! He did a spectacular job. He had to sit for long periods of time between innings but he kept his head. He didn't get frazzled when he had runners on base. He gave us the (second) best 5 2/3 innings of pitching that the Yankees have had in the ALCS.
One thing to add, I got really worried when I saw AJ's pitch count at 90. He hadn't started a game in over a month so he was certainly (and understandably) fatigued at 90 pitches. This isn't hindsight--Girardi absolutely should have pulled AJ at that point.
Poor AJ. What could have been...

Lisa Swan said...

Island of Weiland, I don't want Joe Torre back. But if Joe Girardi were to leave or get fired at this point, I'm okay with it.

Steven, good point about the Rangers vs. the Twins. I predicted Yankees in seven, so I thought this would be a tough series, but too many thought it would be a cakewalk.

Kcourtsclayton, the thing I keep coming back to is that A.J. nearly threw an intentional walk ball away. And Joe still kept him in after that!

Uncle Mike said...

Joe Girardi has been handling the pitching staff with all the efficiency of a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest. The hitters, aside from Cano, have vanished. (It was funny to hear Mike Francesa say on WFAN that Jeter's been all right due to 3 extra-base hits.)

Instead of 2009, the Yankees are making 2010 look like 2007. And that is unacceptable.

I can see it now: In the great ballpark in the sky, a big cake is being served to Mickey Mantle on his 79th birthday. Billy Martin says, "Make a wish, Mick!" And George Steinbrenner says, "Wish? You want a wish? I gotta wish: Billy! Get back down there! Tell Girardi he's fired!"

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