Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Morning: Perfection Isn't Reality, Joe

1. Yankee fans like to complain about Joe Girardi. I have complained about Joe Girardi in the past, and I admit to enjoying myself.

But I can also admit that he's a good manager. He deals exceptionally well with the bullpen, balancing work loads to ensure that nobody tires out when they're really needed toward the season's end. He's on top of all the stats, especially the match-up numbers for every pitcher and hitter in the league. He hired a good hitting coach. He likes his players. He's good with the media. He got braces on his lower teeth out of solidarity for his daughter, who was scared to get her own. He obviously cares about winning, to the point that he's visibly anxious on the bench almost all the time (a nice contrast to Torre's half-sleeping act). There's just one problem:

Joe Girardi is a perfectionist.

Really, it could be worse. I'd rather have a perfectionist than some sloppy, live-and-let-live skipper who cares less than he should. But sometimes perfectionism goes against the protective rails of common sense, and finds its way overboard. Last night, Phil Hughes struggled. He walked in a run in the second inning, couldn't harness his curve, and was getting crowded by a restrictive ump. But he plodded through, and made it through the fifth inning. When he came out for the sixth, he retired the first two batters. At that point, he'd allowed one run on two hits. He'd thrown 109 pitches, and the Yanks led 2-1.

Apparently Phil's upper limit is somewhere near 110 pitches. And a lefty, Luke Scott was up. The perfectionist manager's handbook says to yank Hughes and bring in a lefty specialist to try to close out the inning.

But for God's sake, Joe, use common sense: leave your starter in to at least try for the last out. He battled all day, turned in a decent outing, and was past the worst of his struggles. Why not let him finish the inning? To top it off, the lefty specialist he was bringing in, Boone Logan, was fairly untested. It wasn't necessarily a better option even on paper. But perfectionist Joe obeyed the dictates of his lefty/righty match-up stats, and the overly-stringent pitch count, and gave Hughes the hook.

Sometimes, that stuff is going to work. Sometimes it won't. Logan walked Scott, Robertson (also struggling) came in and hit Wigginton in the ribs on an 0-2 count, and three singles later, the Yanks were down 4-2. The game ended with a 5-4 loss to the current worst team in baseball.

I'm not saying I'd trade Girardi for anyone else. I like him, and he has a World Series championship to his credit. But his perfectionism has a tendency to get out of control, and to cloud his view of the bigger picture. The whole 'forest for the trees' metaphor works here. He could stand to relax a little bit, be a little flexible, and stop out-managing himself. If those wheels turned a little more freely in his very active brain, the Yanks would have a couple more wins to their credit.

2. Guess who went 3-4 last night and now leads the MLB in batting average at .389?


3. Guess who can't hit a lick the last few days, went a combined 1-13 last night, and have mired the Yankee offense in its first rut of the season?

Get your shit together, guys.

4. Jorge likes Chai Latte

This comes from the girlfriend, via another friend, who saw Jorge Posada in a Manhattan Starbucks a couple weeks ago. He made his order, chai latte, and the server asked him for his name. Apparently he paused and stared at the barista as if to say "really?" Then he said "Jorge," got his drink, called his manicurist on a pink Blackberry, and walked out with his poodle in tow.

GOSSIP! By the way, if it crossed your mind to question Jorge's sexuality, here's a picture of his wife.

She's the one on the left.

5. Why does Robertson stink now?

David Robertson, basically lights out in last year's playoffs, is rocking a 10.8 ERA and has had two really terrible outings. His fastball velocity seems fine, but its run value is way the hell down. Is it lacking movement? Batters are making contact on 95% of swings they take at balls in the strike zone, which means he's not blowing the heater by anyone. Last year, the total % was 77.

It still looks like he's got decent stuff, so I'm going to chalk this up to small sample size and a slumpy beginning, and hope that everything normalizes in the next month. Unlike a lot of Yankee fans, I came in to this season thinking he was a better 8th inning option than Joba, and I still hope that comes true. But at the moment, it doesn't look great.

More later.

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