Monday, July 13, 2009

Lessons in Overmanagement: Outfield Edition

As if the three game sweep at the hands of the Angels wasn't bad enough for this Monday morning, via Peter Abraham we get this little nugget of idiocy courtesy of the man who wears his heart on his sleeve and his mission on his back:
"As I told all the outfielders today, we have five guys who are playing pretty good," the manager said before a 5-4 loss against the Angels. "Everyone's going to play. It's all about winning ballgames. We know everyone wants 600 at-bats, but it's probably not going to happen."
Well good golly, Skip. We know you want to win the World Series, but if those are the kinds of managerial decisions you're going to make, it's probably not going to happen. And by the way Joe, you have five outfielders who are playing pretty well, not pretty good. You're Northwestern educated, try to act like it.

Here's a look at the numbers of the five Yankee outfielders, plus Godzilla for good measure:

Damon: .276/.362/.510, OPS+: 127, UZR/150: -15.6 LF
Swisher: .237/.360/.464, OPS+: 115, UZR/150: 1.8 RF
Matsui: .265/.367/.517, OPS+: 130
Gardner: .282/.352/.404, OPS+: 99, UZR/150: 20.1 CF
Cabrera: .285/.347/.439, OPS+: 105, UZR/150: -3.5 CF, 11.2 RF, 3.8 LF
Hinske: .263/.379/.411, OPS+: 121, UZR/150: 2.4 RF

I applauded the Hinske move when it was made, and I still feel he was a good acquisition for the bench. I think the Gardner/Cabrera two headed monster has done a commendable job in CF, producing better than the average AL centerfielder. I know Damon has looked pretty bad in the field, and the numbers bear that out. I realize Swisher is prone to adventurous plays in the field and boneheaded decisions on the bases.

That said, any OF/DH lineup that doesn't include Matsui, Damon, Swisher, and one of either Gardner or Cabrera puts the Yankees at a disadvantage. Matsui, Damon, and Swisher are third, fifth, and eighth on the team in OPS respectively. There is a sizeable gap between the worst of those three and the best of the other three, despite Hinske's good numbers in a small sample size. If it really is "all about winning ballgames", this latest idea probably isn't one to pursue.

I don't have a problem with sitting both Damon and Swisher yesterday given their numbers against Lackey. I'm all for giving Damon and Matsui a day off here and there to keep them fresh. I'm all for sitting Swisher down from time to time if he needs to be sent a message. I'm all for sending in Gardner or Cabrera for defensive purposes in the late innings (although it would appear that it's Damon, not Swisher, who needs substitution). But to enter anything remotely resembling a platoon that's taking regular at bats away from Matsui, Damon, or Swisher is going to have a negative effect on this team's chances of winning.

We've talked in the past about our displeasure with Girardi's overhandling of the bullpen. It looks like his "hands on" strategy will infect the outfield as well. I fear that the infield is next, and I'm only half-sarcastic when I say that. "Listen, I know Jeet's having one of his best seasons in years, but we have to get Cody some at bats".

/bangs head against wall repeatedly

I had hoped that Girardi's hiring meant that the Yankees were getting a cerebral manager, someone who would make informed, intelligent decisions. Despite the team's success this year, with each passing day I'm feeling more and more like that is not the case. This situation will bear watching as the second half unfolds.

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