Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday morning managing

The Yanks won, and I'm pretty happy about it. It's always good to see New York City up on the top of the heap where it belongs, even if it's not my beloved Mets. And let me be clear about this AGAIN, I am a fan of New York City. That means I am a fan of any of the New York Teams. My allegiance lies with the Jets, Knicks, Mets and Islanders but that doesn't mean I won't be happy for the Giants, Nets, Yankees or Rangers.

Which leads me to the reason for my post, and that's to question Joe Girardi on a small point. In the 7th inning of last night's World Series Game 6, reliever Joba Chamberlain was in a sticky spot. He had just given up two baserunners (a hit and a walk? Two walks? I don't remember), with two outs and the lefty Chase Utley was coming up to the plate. At this point, the Yankees were up 7-3, but a home run by Utley makes it a one run ball game and would have demoralized the Yanks to the point where I think they would have ended up losing. Even a long double would give the Phillies a decent shot of catching up.

So Girardi wisely chose to pull Chamberlain, who was waning and is a righty, and bring in fresh blood in the form of lefty Damaso Marte. Marte ended up making the biggest strikeout of his career by shutting down Utley who, incidentally, could very well have been voted MVP of the series even though his team didn't win.

So far, all well and good. Girardi even left Marte in to start the 8th inning and he struck out the first batter. Then, Girardi made what I believe was a mistake. Granted, it all worked out in the end, but I believe it was a mistake none-the-less. In poker terms, the mistake is on par with betting the river with bottom pair when it's been checked to you. Yes, you may win, but your opponent could raise and then you will be forced to throw away your hand (ok, that's a stretched analogy, I know).

So what was the mistake? Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera to close out the game. But you're saying to yourself, "Rivera is the best closer in baseball history! Why wouldn't Girardi want to put him in? Especially as he's a righty and the second batter was right handed."

Well, here's the thing. With the Yankees up by 4 runs, there was a comfortable enough lead for Marte, who was pitching spectacularly, to finish out the 8th inning. Then you can bring Rivera in to close the 9th. The danger is that if Rivera starts giving up runs in the 8th and the 9th, who do you have to go to? If you have to pull out Rivera because he blows the lead, who else is left on the bench?!? Gaudin? Or do you have C.C. Sabathia warm up and take over, in which case, who're you going to use to start Game 7 if needed? AND, if Rivers blows the save, he probably will have pitched out his arm enough to make him vulnerable for Game 7 being played the next day!

So that's my gripe. I think Girardi brought in Rivera too early with Marte pitching so nicely and introduced a risk that wasn't necessary. It turned out fine, though. I guess he won his 55/45 flip (another poker analogy, FTW!).

What do you think?


ASG said...

Marte (which is often the case with "left handed specialists") is not somebody you want to keep in to face right handed batters. Just to give you stats, lefties batted .120 against him and righties batted .414 against him (granted, only a 13 inning sample but you get the picture). You might argue putting in another righty besides Rivera (such as Robertson) to finish off the 8th but I wouldn't challenge pulling the lefty to face Werth.

SirFWALGMan said...

Only a New Yawker could win the World Series and complain. Dickwad. heh. Just kidding! A Bostonian could too!!

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Tycou said...

I was thinking the same thing about bringing in Rivera, but all is well that ends well. Good to get that monkey off our back.