Win, Or Lose Job

So the scenario has almost completely played out: Joe Girardi’s misuse of his bullpen, and the forces of nature, have combined to push Game Six of the ALCS to Sunday. It is a game that likely will determine whether or not Girardi is still Yankee manager on the 15th of next June.

If the Yankees beat the Angels Sunday Night their intended World Series rotation will be unchanged and they will still be able to throw lefthanded starters against the Phillies at least four times and probably five. Two posts back you’ll see the key southpaw splits for Phils’ lefthanded and switch bats, but the money line remains Ryan Howard’s nightmarish production at home against lefties: one homer, eight RBI, a .178 batting average, a .290 slugging percentage (numbers that suggest they’d be better off starting Eric Bruntlett at first base in those match-ups. Or Miguel Cairo. Or Chris Wheeler).
But if the Yankees lose the Sunday Night game, Girardi is facing a choice of three unpleasant futures:
a) The Angels win Game Seven. It is hard to believe that Girardi, with a year left to go on his contract, would not be the scapegoat for the Yankees’ collapse. It might be one of those old-fashioned quick firings, too, especially if George Steinbrenner is even tangentially involved in the decision, especially with Don Mattingly ‘in play’ as at last a nominal candidate for the Indians’ managerial job.
b) The Yankees win Game Seven. But with the rotation plans scuttled by the extended ALCS and the weather, they have no choice but to open the World Series behind A.J. Burnett on Wednesday and Chad Gaudin on Thursday. CC Sabathia might yet shine on three days’ rest, but he’s not going on two. The Yanks would no longer be favorites, for at least the first two games, and perhaps for the Series. Whereas they still get the opportunity to fire Sabathia and then Andy Pettitte in Philadelphia in Games Three and Four next weekend, to use them both twice in the Series, he’d have to use them both on short rest, and there would be absolutely no way to use Sabathia three times. In short, the extension of the ALCS to a seventh game would move the Yankees from the chance to pitch them each twice in the first five games, to the prospect of having pitched them each only once in a Series that could conceivably be lost in five games.
Presumably that would cost Girardi his job, too – only about a week later.
c) The Yankees beat the Angels and despite the astrayness of the best laid plans, also beat the Phillies. Yet in the back of the minds of everybody who counts at Yankee Stadium is this unspoken doubt that they can be confident that Girardi – entering the last year of his deal and doubtless pushing for an extension – knows how to manage a bullpen. Even Defending World Champion Yankees can change managers (ask Billy Martin and Bob Lemon)  when things start slowly or unhappily the next season.
And yet all of those unhappy events are nearly obscured, if not totally forgotten, if they still put away the Angels in Game Six. Remarkable on how the game turns on such seemingly small things.

7 Comments

Couldn’t have been said any better. The only thing is, there’s a very good chance they win tomorrow. There’s also a possibility that game 1 of the WS is rained out, then CC could pitch on 3 days rest in game 2. A lot of things can happen, so there’s no reason to speculate. If they win tomorrow, most of the problems go away. Great post and very well written, but I think it would be a mistake to make too much of this.
– NYColeman
http://nycoleman.mlblogs.com

One thing that bothers me about this whole situation is that, if guys like Burnett had been doing their jobs well, Girardi’s decisions wouldn’t have been quite so devastating. It’s like trying to start a car with a dead battery – no matter how good the driver is, if the car’s parts aren’t all functioning, the driver isn’t going anywhere.

I’m not absolving Girardi of all blame, just saying that weak pitching is to blame, as well. I know anybody can have a bad day, but Burnett seems to be having a bad day every time his feet touch the pitcher’s mound. True, Girardi should have used different pitchers, but his head isn’t the only one that should roll. At some point, any team is going to have to make use of all the pitchers in its rotation. Whether it’s Girardi or somebody else calling the shots, the end result will only be as good as the guy doing the pitching. If the pitchers were all pulling their weight in this series, Girardi’s decisions wouldn’t have had such diastrous consequences.

That said…GO YANKEES! :-D

The Phillies had the most homers by any team in baseball. Ryan Howard hit the most but there are others just as dangerous: Werth, Ibanez, Utley, Victorino, Rollins… They also have won countless games with Howard going 0-for. And, you don’t know if the Yanks are in the WS yet. I can’t believe you are assuming they will be.

@cohenjill: It’s hard to tell whether you were referring to Keith’s original blog post or my response, so I’ll give you a two-part response to cover both possibilities.

I’m guessing that you’re referring to what Keith posted, since he was the one referring to Ryan Howard. In that case, he clearly was pointing out what could happen in one of three scenarios. When he’s talking about Joe Girardi being likely to lose his job, that’s a far cry from “assuming” the Yankees will be in the WS.

On the other hand, if part of your post was directed toward my “Go Yankees!” exclamation, I was merely expressing my preference in teams. It’s anybody’s right to be for another team, and it’s anybody’s right to reach a different conclusion about the Phillies. What isn’t right is saying you “can’t believe” that somebody is making an assumption that differs from yours. Especially when it wasn’t stated as an assumption at all, just a possibility. :-)

I think most people, when confronted with the choice between the opinion of an enthusiastic fan and the opinion of a baseball historian and expert, would give more weight to the latter. I’m not saying experts are infallible, but when somebody presents statistics as Keith has done, you need to contribute more to the debate than unsubstantiated words like “others just as dangerous” and “countless games”.

unpaka27…I was directing my comments to Keith. If I was referring to your post I would have addressed my post as I did right here with your name first. As for Keith, I respect him very much but his love of the Yanks is clouding his expertise. He was wrong about the NLCS results. He said Dodgers would win. He was wrong about the NLDS with the Cards v. Dodgers. He said the Cards would win. Keith’s stats are irrelevant. This is the playoffs and when the Phils take the field on Wednesday night regardless of who will be their opponent it will be the Phils with the most experience and the most rings on the field as well as the most homers and the most come from behind wins.

Well, your analysis was quite on point, Mr. O. But it looks like Girardi avoided an early demise Sunday night. As a Yankee fan, I’m a happy camper. This current Yankee team has been my favorite incarnation since the 1978 edition, when the likes of Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Chris Chambliss, Bucky Dent, Willie Randolph, et al. were kings of The Bronx. Now, pennant no. 40 and on to face the World Champion Phillies…World Series in the new House…so sweet…YES!!!

(Also, props to the Halos for not making it easy, and especially to manager Mike Scioscia and CF Tori Hunter for their classy post-game comments.)

Good thing they won last night, then. I want Phillies blood for their humiliating defeat of the Dodgers. Nice analysis, as well. Thanks. Have a good show tonight!

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