Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Joe Girardi Just Loves To Give Up Outs

(Hmmm, I could sure go for a sac bunt here.)

Of all the frustrating deficiencies that Joe has as a manager, the one that has now skyrocketed to the top of my list is his unexplainable obsession with the sacrifice bunt and his insistence on acting on that obsession at the most inopportune moments of a game.

Let's set the scene for anybody who doesn't know what happened last night.  Bottom of the 9th, 2-run deficit after a Jorge Posada homer to start the inning.  Russell Martin doubles, Brett Gardner reaches on an error, and suddenly the Yankees have the winning run coming to the plate with nobody out and great speed on the basepaths.  The winning run was in the form of The Captain (not me), Derek Jeter, who was already sitting on a 3-3 night at the plate and a walk and, in case anybody has forgotten, has been tearing the fucking cover off the ball since coming off the DL.

Now the pitcher on the mound, A's closer Andrew Bailey, had already shown that he didn't have his A-game last night and was having serious trouble locating.  After allowing a run and putting a couple guys on base, it seems reasonable to expect that he would be trying his damnedest to throw strikes to Jeter to not risk walking the bases loaded for one of the leading AL MVP candidates.  And with the way Jeter has been swinging the bat lately, I would trust him to put a good swing on a strike and possibly keep the rally going.  Unfortunately, Joe didn't share that trust and instead immediately put the sac bunt on, which Jeter executed, advancing the runners, wasting an out, and in the end the Yankee rally fell just short as Swish's deep fly ball settled into the glove of Coco Crisp.

After the game, Joe explained his decision by saying it was based on "factors," those being C-Grand and Teix looming on deck and wanting to stay out of the double play.  This is truly stupid.  For one, Teix was 0-4 on the night, looked like complete dogshit at the plate again, and had a dogshit at-bat when he came up after Curtis' walk, taking one pitch before popping up to 3rd.  I'm not saying anybody could have foreseen that, but I am saying that, no matter what the number on the back of the jersey is, it isn't a sound baseball decision to sacrifice an out by taking the bat out of a guy who's gone 3-3 in a game to ensure that a guy who's 0-4 gets a swing.

Secondly, the double play factor shouldn't even play into the decision-making process in this situation.  Yes, I know Jeter has the tendency to ground into them, but he's been on fire lately and Bailey wasn't locating.  The odds of Jeter hitting into a DP given those factors has to be significantly less than they would in a normal situation.  Baseball scoring says that you can't assume a double play in instances where a fielder bobbles a ball or makes some kind of small error that prevents a double play from being turned.  That same logic should apply to at-bats.  You can't assume the double play before a guy even has the chance for his at-bat to play out, and that's essentially what Joe did.  He allowed the factor of the potential double play to affect his decision and decided to give up one out at the expense of possibly committing 2.

Steve Goldman of Pinstriped Bible said it best last night when he said:

"... Girardi acted defensively, so fearful of staying out of the double play that he actually helped the A’s by giving them one-third of what they needed to record a win. You can’t win playing for one run when you need two, and Girardi ought to know that."

And that's really the best way to put it.  He traded 1 guaranteed out for 2 possible, non-guaranteed outs without even scoring a run.  And in a game where your team is down 2, that's just not a winning strategy.  Sooner or later, Joe needs to figure this shit out because situations like these are going to come up in the postseason.  And for the sake of my own mental health and the well being of my TV controller, he better handle them the right way.

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