With the recent explosion of the internet as a means for sports discussion and analysis, the typical sports fan has become significantly more informed and intelligent. The more frequent exchange of ideas has led to the questioning of some of the conventional wisdom that butresses many of the decisions that managers make ”by the book.” When the Yankees brought in Joe Girardi, one of the things frequently said about him was that he was not your father’s manager. He would use statistics and logic to reach decisions, rather than just repeating the mistakes of his predecessors in the profession. Last night, we saw Joe abandon ”the book” in one situation while adhering to it against all logic in another. The second choice cost the team the game.
Melky Cabrera led off the 7th inning with a single in a game the Yankees trailed 1-0. With Frankie Cervelli, the 9 hitter up, conventional wisdom would call for a bunt to move a runner into scoring position for the top of the order. Rather than give up the out, Joe called for a hit and run, and Cervelli delivered an RBI double over the drawn in Mike Lowell. Having an extra out paid further dividends when A-Rod drove in two runs with a two out double. The decision was truly a great one, as it clearly caught the Red Sox off guard and was a play at the big inning rather than just an attempt to score one run. Had the Yankees won the game, this post would end right here.
However, Joe’s next decision stuck steadfastly to the book, and it cost the Yankees dearly. With CC Sabathia faltering in the 8th (lead cut to 3-2, two on, none out), Girardi had Alfredo Aceves and Mariano Rivera warming. Rather than go to his best reliever to get out of the jam, Joe saved him for the save situation, as most managers would have. Some believe that Joe should have gone to Mo for 6 outs. Personally, I think that would have been the wrong decision, suggesting that in the long run, these games are more important than those against any other team. However, I certainly would have allowed Mo to pitch the 8th and then gone to Aceves for the 9th. The save situation last night came in the 8th inning, with two on in a one run game and Youkilis and Bay coming up. Your best reliever needs to pitch in that spot. Someone else can retire the bottom of the order in the 9th. While most managers would have made the same move, that does not make it any less wrong. As Mike at RAB stated during the game yesterday, a book of cliches could have managed that inning. With a manager who was supposed to be different, I find that quite disappointing.
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