Thursday, October 29, 2009

This Is Not The Regular Season!

As we covered in yesterday's roster changes, Francisco Cervelli was removed from the Yankees roster for the World Series, leaving the Yankees with a more conventional two catcher roster construction. Given the impact this move has on the Yankees' roster flexibility, we assumed that Jorge Posada would now be catching A.J. Burnett. Then came Joe Girardi's pre-game media session yesterday:
“It’s something (catching Molina) that we’ll discuss,” he said. “But as I’ve said all along, it’s worked pretty well. And in the course of the season you go with two catchers all the time. I’m still comfortable using Molina, and if I have to, pinch hit Jorge.”
/holds breath
//counts to ten

Where to begin on this one? Joe Girardi did some things this regular season that pissed me off. He has made some decisions this post-season that I thought were the wrong ones to make. At the same time, he's taken some heat that he probably didn't deserve. This latest comment has got my blood up again.

Here are some other things that you do in the course of the season:
  • You use five starters, but I haven't seen Joba Chamberlain before the seventh inning, Chad Gaudin in anything but mop up duty, or Sergio Mitre anywhere in the tri-state area during the post-season.

  • You (supposedly) give A-Rod a day off once a week. But he's played every inning of every post-season game, including the one that was safe enough for Chad Gaudin to pitch.

  • You give injury prone veterans like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui a day off every so often to keep them fresh, but they've started every game of the playoffs.

  • You keep Matsui and his balky knees out of the field all season long, but you don't rule out using him in the field in Games Three through Five.

  • You give a slumping player like Nick Swisher a day off when he's in a four for thirty two slump, but he too has started every game.

  • You don't use Mariano Rivera for 4+ out saves everyday, but he's averaging four outs per appearance in the post-season and has two outings of two plus innings.
And I'm not remotely suggesting that Girardi should have done otherwise on any of the six above points. What I am trying to say is that when it comes to line ups or certain pitching moves in the post-season, the decision making process is often quite different than in the regular season. Just because Jose Molina would get a start each time through the rotation in the regular season does not mean he should do so in the World Series.

The Yankees are in an 0-1 hole; starting Molina tonight would be borderline suicidal. Yet Girardi was non-committal about who would catch when making his post-game comments last night.

I was dubious of Molina's ability to coax a better game out of A.J. Burnett to begin with. Burnett's performance in Game Five of the ALDS only shoots more holes in that logic. At this point, I'm diametrically opposed to the idea of Molina behind the plate at any point unless it's in the event of an injury or a blow out. If the Yankees choose to go with a three man rotation, Burnett's second start would be at Citizens Bank Park. If Molina were to start that game the Yankees line up would feature what amounts to two automatic outs at the bottom of the order.

Part of me feels bad to hammer on points like this with the Yankees being in the World Series, but poor decisions like these can be the difference between winning and losing. Girardi is free to make whichever choices he wishes, but please don't insult my intelligence by trying to defend an unorthodox move as something that would be done in the regular season.


  1. Well, as far as the resting guys goes, they have had a billion days off in between games, or so it seems.

    That said, I totally agree with you on the Posada/Molina thing, and I wouldn't mind benching Swisher for a day either. Using Matsui in the field when he literally hasn't played a single game there all year (correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm right here) is incredibly stupid, too.

  2. Anon - You're absolutely right; with all the off days there's no reason to rest any position players. That's the point I was trying to make. When it comes to this time of year, line up decisions aren't based on the same reasoning as the regular. Saying Molina started every so often in the regular season is a paper thin defense for doing it this time of year.

  3. Girardi's removal of Posada from the lineup further weighs in on Burnett psyche - he has not yet proven that he is capable of harnessing his temperment under dire circumstances - tonite's start can either reaffirm his stature as top pitcher, or further erode his rapport as a big game pitcher - the Yanks are essentially losing Posada's bat becuase Burnett can not play nice with Jorge...this is unfathomable at this point in the season

  4. I don't know that I'd put that on Burnett. While he has shown his emotions on the mound on a few occassions this year, I always felt that this was more a reflection of his frustration with himself, not anyone else.

    Burnett's injury history has given him a reputation as being physically fragile. I don't think he's in any way mentally fragile or a head case. Burnett's been a stand up guy all season, taking responsibilities for his own failures and deflecting praise for his successes.

    This is unfathomable; but it's on Girardi. This is an unspeakably bad decision. The past Burnett starts the Yankees were always ahead in the series; not so tonight.

  5. I just don't see how Girardi can defend this decision - the Yanks need offense and there hasn't been the slightest hint that Molina is capable of producing any viable offense

  6. But he hit the last home run at the old Yankee Stadium! In the regular season!