Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How To Overmanage Your Bullpen, by Joe Girardi

"Hmmm, let's see here. There are two outs and it's the bottom of the 9th inning. The tying run is still in the dugout. Why don't I go get my closer? RIGHT NOW!"

"Yeah, perhaps that wasn't such a good idea."

Rivera hadn't pitched in five days, he probably needed some work. The Yanks had been up for 7 runs for four straight innings, it's not like the situation snuck up on Girardi. Why not let him start the 9th?

Or, I suppose, you could bring in someone else and go into panic mode when you are still up by 5 runs. The absolute worst case scenario was that Albaladejo gives up a three run homer and the Yanks are up by two, with two out and no one on base. That shouldn't even count as a save situation. It's one out. And again, that's the worst case scenario. Why pull the alarm and rush Rivera into the game? The guy is an extremely valuable commodity and he's 39 years old. Don't jerk him around unless it's absolutely necessary. 

This isn't because Granderson hit the home run. It was a stupid decision regardless of the result. The bullpen meddling annoys me, Joe, it probably lowers the confidence of the pitcher you are taking out of the game, and most importantly, IT KEEPS BACKFIRING ON YOU. 


Nice Try, Tigers Fans

Pulling the fire alarm is not approprite reaction to your team getting lit up. It's only a figure of speech. 

Game 21: Detroit Medley

The rubber match of the Motown Showdown goes down tonight as the Yankees look to climb back over .500. Like Phil Hughes did last night, Joba Chamberlain will get a chance to remind everyone why he should be in the rotation. I think Joba should be a starter until injuries or ineffectiveness prove otherwise. Having too many good starting pitchers is a good problem to have. And that's all I have to say, about that

Toeing the rubber for the Tigers tonight is a lanky 20 year old righthander named Rick Porcello. For those unfamiliar, Porcello was a high school phenom who entered the 2007 draft and was projected to go in the top five picks, with some forecasts placing him as high as number two. His senior year at Seton Hall Prep in New Jersey included a perfect game, a 14.7K/9IP ratio and he was named the Gatorade National Baseball Player Of The Year. 

Porcello chose Scott Boras, and as a result, concerns of signability allowed the Tigers to draft him with the 27th overall pick, just three slots ahead of where the Yankees drafted Andrew Brackman. His total contract was worth over $11M, making him the highest paid high school prospect ever. After spending only one year in High A-Ball, Porcello is already in the Big Show. While he had a solid 2.66ERA in the minors, his strikeout ratio dipped to just 5.2/9IP. Clearly, the Tigers felt pressured by the massive contract they extended to him, along their lack of depth in the starting rotation, to give Porcello some Big League burn. 

So far this year, he has made three starts. Sandwiched between two outings where he gave up 4 and 5 earned runs respectively, Porcello threw seven innings of one run ball against the Mariners last Sunday. By far the youngest starting pitcher in baseball at the moment, just over two decades old, Porcello makes a 23 year old Joba Chamberlain look like a seasoned veteran. 

I must extend a special thank you to local Springsteen Aficionado, Schiff Happens for tonight's song selection. In honor of Jersey boy Rick Porcello, from The Boss, here is a version of Detroit Medley from the '78 Tour, which I have been assured was epic. 

Cause For Concern?

Tim Dierkes of MLBTR came out with a list of free agents who are off to a poor start this year. Don't worry, the Yankees only have $435.5M worth of commitments to guys on the list:
  • Mark Teixeira, Yankees: .206/.363/.381 in 80 plate appearances.  This contract runs through 2016, so it's barely begun.
  • C.C. Sabathia, Yankees: 4.73 ERA in 32.3 innings.  So far we haven't seen the expected walk and strikeout rates.  This one runs through 2015.
  • A.J. Burnett, Yankees: 5.47 ERA in 24.6 innings.  Home runs and walks have been the problem so far.  He's signed through 2013.
  • Damaso Marte, Yankees: 15.19 ERA in 5.3 innings.  Signed through 2011.
I'd agree that they all belong on this list, but allow me to offer up some homeristic justifications/excuses for their poor starts.
  • We were all told that Teixeira is a slow starter because he's a switch hitter and needs time to get both of his swings in order. His defense has been great. I'll start taking calls in a couple weeks. 

  • Sabathia's ERA is only slightly higher than his career average in April (4.73 to 4.54). While not being terribly effective he has averaged over 6 1/3 IP per start. His K/BB ratio is somewhat alarming, but that has traditionally improved for him as the season progressed as well. 

  • Burnett's ERA before Saturday's game against the Sox? 3.20. Early in the season, 8ER in one start is going to skew an ERA pretty wildy. 
  • Damaso Marte... Um, he like, used to be good and stuff. 5 1/3 innings is a very small sample size, and he has looked good at times. The Yankees have options in their bullpen, and even if Damaso Marte turns out to be a horrible signing, it's not the worst thing in the world. It's $4M a year. 
Are any of these guys really worrying you at this point? Feel free to vent in the comments. Except for you, Anon

A Simple "Yes" Would Have Done

From Wallace Matthews of Newsday
When I asked Yankees vice president Randy Levine if this meant the team had misjudged the market, he [said] "For a very small number of seats, in this economy [...] I guess it was a mistake.''
Reason #446,785 why I hate you, Randy Levine. You are that guy. The one who will never admit when he's wrong. 

It's not even entriely your fault. The economy went south between the time you set the prices and the when the time came to sell the tickets. Not too many people saw that coming. 

"A very small number of seats?" Okay, maybe in relation to the capacity of the Stadium, but they represent a huge chunk of the revenue. For one $2650 Legends ticket (there are 122 total), you could buy 189 bleacher seats or 120 in the Grandstand. There are 1200 seats priced over $325 and the prices of about 600 of them have been effectively cut in half. Those seats were what the entire "Robin Hood" pricing model of the New Stadium was built around. That's not a "very small" loss in revenue. 

A fun little aside... Here's a nice fabrication that I turned up in the ESPN article linked above, dated March 21st, 2008:
The New York Yankees will charge $500 to $2,500 for seats near home plate in the first five-to-eight rows of their new ballpark. They already have commitments from ticket-buyers for all 122 of the front-row seats.
Oh, did they? Then we must have varying definitions of the word "commitment", because those are the seats that they are now halving prices on and giving away to those who already purchased at full price.

Randy, you fucked up. We all see the empty seats. It's not up for debate. Are you 7 years old? Stop acting like you didn't break the window, we saw you and Lon Trost throwing the ball as hard as you possibly could on the front lawn. Would it kill you to just admit that things didn't go according to plan? 

Back On Track

Last night's game was my favorite of the season so far. It was better than the 14 inning affair with Oakland or the tight one they pulled out against Tampa Bay. The final score would imply that the game was a blowout, but for six full innings that certainly was not the case. It was a tense pitcher's duel which allowed us to enjoy Phil Hughes' craftsmanship while simultaneously fretting that the Yankees might never score another run.

In fact, the 10 run seventh inning could have very easily been stifled in its infancy. With one out and men on second and third, Jorge Posada (pinch hitting for Ramiro Pena) sliced a flare into shallow left field. After initially hesitating, Josh Anderson approached, but narrowly missed a basket catch. 

The scorer awarded Jorge a sacrifice fly and Melky Cabrera scored from second base on the error. David Cone disagreed with the decision, based on where the ball was and the fact that Nick Swisher, not known for his blazing speed, was the runner on 3rd base. Replays indicated that Swish was coming home regardless if the ball was caught or not.
Had the ball been caught and the play made at the plate, the Yanks would have squandered the opportunity and the score would have still been 0-0. 

Alas, they did not, and the floodgates opened as they went on to put up 8 more runs in the frame, capped by a Jose Molina grand slam. Mark Melancon, Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras then combined for 3 innings of scoreless ball and Swisher added a dinger in the top of the 9th. It's not every day that you see a game end 11-0 using only ones and zeros in the box score.


It's been a while since reactions to a Yanks game were fun to read, so if you would like to take a cruise around the Yankeenets, here you go:

Matthew Pouliot at Circling the Bases thinks part of the explanation for Hughes' great outing was Detroit's marginal line-up vs. right handers. 

Joe at RAB takes a closer look at Hughes' performance, and relives the 7th inning, play by play. 

Tyler Kepner makes a bold prediction

Joel Sherman says there was a lot to like in what we saw last night, and wonders what continued success from Hughes will force the Yankees to do.