Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hitting Slump? What Hitting Slump?

All I saw out there tonight was a champion thoroughbred centaur at the top of his game.  Crushing home runs, cantering around the bases, and continuing to be the world's greatest man/horse athlete.  Winning indeed.

Should Joe Be On The Hot Seat?

(Don't ask me what's going on.  I just manage the team.  Courtesy of The AP)

Now that we're done recapping Rafael Soriano's diarrhea of the mouth, I can get back to the topic I wanted to address earlier this morning, that being Joe's job security and how secure it should be.  Now let me preface this by saying that this is not meant to suggest that I think Joe should be fired or that the Yankees should even consider firing him.  It is simply meant to be a conversation starter and to point out some of his deficiencies as a manager that may be hurting his team.

This Joe's predecessor, Joe Torre, was run out of town after continued poor performances by his teams in the postseason and based on concerns about his bullpen management, his in-game strategy, his perceived lack of "fire" during games, and his perceived different sets of standards for veteran guys in the clubhouse.  In examining Giardi's recent history, there are a lot of parallels to be found.

First, Girardi's bullpen management system, while not as destructive to his pitchers' performance and health as Torre's "ride the hot hand 'til his arm falls off" method, is still just as flawed and has produced poor results.  His marriage to the "defined roles" of guys and having those roles dedicated to specific innings rather than dedicated to the situations and the leverage of those situations in games has been detrimental to the team's success and has undoubtedly cost the Yankees some games, both this year and in years past.  He has shown no willingness to break from this stubborn, flawed way of thinking, which suggests these issues will continue to hinder the team moving forward.

As for strategy, one need only to look at Girardi's insistence on sacrifice bunting seemingly every time the Yankees get a runner on first with no outs to see that his in-game X's and O's aren't exactly top notch.  Lately it's been Brett Gardner who's been getting a heavy dose of the bunt sign and considering he's shown himself to be a below-average situational bunter, he's one of, if not the hottest Yankee hitter over the last couple weeks, and the call has almost never worked in the Yankees' favor, one would think that Joe would abandon this proven wrong strategy and let his guys swing away.  But nope, he's still content to give up outs at the expense of more runs.  Everybody else can see it , Joe. Why can't you?

And this latest mess of a slump and added clubhouse turmoil speaks to Girardi maybe not being the best behind the scenes either.  He called a closed-door team meeting after Friday night's loss and what was the result?  The Yankees came right back out the next day and Sunday and yesterday and played the same sloppy, lifeless, losing baseball that they had been.  Whatever was said in that meeting clearly didn't get through to the players because nothing has changed since then.  A manager's words are supposed to inspire his guys to play better and harder, but the results on the field since that team meeting suggest that no inspiration came from Joe's words on Friday night.

And while I can't argue with Joe's logic in batting Jorge 9th, why is he getting the shaft while Jeter continues to hit at the top of the order?  Sure, he had a nice game in Texas a few weeks ago, but since then he's been back to his comical constant groundball ways, and his season OPS is actually LOWER than Jorge's right now (.625 compared to .626 for Posada).  When one guy who's sucking gets demoted in the lineup but the other doesn't, do you know what that's called?  It's called different standards, and it's something that managers can't and shouldn't have.  If a guy ain't producing, he should be dropped in the lineup regardless of what he's done in the past.  That held true for Jorge, but still hasn't for Jeter.  If you don't think the rest of the guys in the clubhouse noticed that, then you're kidding yourself.

Again, I'm not saying that Joe should be fired right now.  But I am saying that there are flaws to his approach, and they are being exposed in a big way right now.  His team is in the longest slump of his managing tenure, hasn't shown any signs of correcting the mistakes they need to correct to get out of the slump, and he doesn't seem to have any solutions.  And mind you, this is coming off a postseason in which his team was thoroughly outplayed and outcoached by the Texas Rangers in the ALCS.  I know he's less than 2 years removed from a World Series title, and that there is some grace time that comes with that, but I believe it's only fair to lay some of the blame for the Yankees' recent lackluster performance at the feet of the man in charge of running the team whose decisions and actions are a contributing factor to the recent struggles.

Fair?  Not fair?  You decide.

Soriano's Stupidity Steals The Show

I was going to come in this morning and write a quick post about Joe Girardi's job security and how the seat might be starting to warm up a little under him.  The idea came into my head last night as I was reading the box score of the latest team meltdown and it seemed like a logical, albeit early, point to bring up considering all the turmoil surrounding the team both on and off the field in the last couple weeks.  But then I read Rafael Soriano's postgame comments in the LoHud wrap-up of last night's game and was completely blown away.

Take it away, Raffy:

On whether it bothers him to not be able to pitch: “I don’t think the bullpen be the problem right now. I think it be the hitters. That thing happens sometimes. Whatever we have to do, make a good game and see what happens. One of these days, everything be better.”

On how much it bothers him to not be able to pitch against Boston and Tampa: “Not at all, to me.  Because in the situation, how the team looks be the situation when I’m supposed to be in the game, the eighth. Everybody see, (the team is) losing two, three runs. I don’t think it be that situation that I would be in the bullpen, that I would be in the game.”

Wow.  Just... WOW!  That is some of the most selfish, ignorant, ego-centric shit I've ever read in my life as a Yankee fan.  Mind you this is the same guy who has put up a 5.40/4.96/5.94 ERA/FIP/xFIP tripleslash in his 16 appearances this year, allowing 26 baserunners in 15 innings of work, before this elbow flare-up shelved him.  And he's going to get in front of the media and throw the offense under the bus and then essentially say it doesn't matter that he's not pitching because he wouldn't be in the game anyway???  Who'd Raffy get lessons on how to be a good teammate from?  Jorge Posada?

That $35 million is looking real bad right now...