Girardi versus Torre in bullpen use

There is a common narrative when it comes to looking back on the two great Yankee managers over the last eighteen years. The narrative goes something like this: Joe Torre burned out his bullpens and Joe Girardi‘s use of his bullpen is one of his strengths as a manager. I have heard variations of those memes over the years and wondered if there was a way to measure the bullpen usage to see how true these narratives were. Once I put together all the numbers, the conclusion I came up with is that Torre really did not earn his reputation until the last five years of his tenure.

First, let’s look at the most basic of numbers, things like ERA, WHIP and bullpen losses. Each provides some insight to the conclusion.

Joe Girardi’s bullpens have beaten the average American League bullpen in ERA every season he has been the manager. His accumulative average bullpen is then higher than the league over that time period.…

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Thinking About The Potential DH Carousel

Carousel

Not pictured: the Yankee DHs

We’re less than 4 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting, so baseball is officially out there on the horizon.  When that Friday comes, baseball will officially be back and a few days later when the rest of the team arrives at the Tampa complex Spring Training 2014 will be fully underway.  As usual, there will be a handful of roster battles that will dominate the ST headlines, highlighted by the annual 5th starter competition.  A bench job or 2 will be up for grabs, as will some bullpen roles, possibly the closer role if the Yanks do end up signing another veteran late-inning reliever, and the third base platoon jobs.

One spot that won’t be up for competition this year is designated hitter.  The older and injury risky Yankees have more candidates for the DH spot than ever this season and will most likely be rotating a large cast of veteran characters through it in an attempt to keep everybody as well-rested and healthy as possible.  …

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A Quick Word On The Idea Of Moving Derek Jeter To Third Base

Jeter vs CHW

The Yankee infield is a hot topic right now and rightfully so.  On Opening Day the Yanks will have a starting infield that’s entirely different from the one that opened the 2013 season.  They’ve got 2 old/older players in Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira returning from serious injuries at first base and shortstop, they’ve lost Robbie Cano at second base and Alex Rodriguez at third base, and their current plan to replace the 2 of them appears to be the old “throw as much stuff at the wall as we possibly can and see what sticks” method.

An idea that I’ve seen mentioned multiple times in various blogs across the Yankosphere, and one that’s really been gaining steam in the comments section here is moving Jeter to third base and making Brendan Ryan the starting shortstop.  In theory it makes a lot of sense and I totally understand why people are thinking this way.  Jeter’s biggest defensive weakness is lateral movement.  …

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Yankees Running For Their Lives Lately

Soriano vs TB

I guess things were going to balance back out eventually, huh?  After breathing life into their dying season with a 2-week stretch that saw them go 11-3, the Yankees have lost 3 of their last 4 games and looked pretty bad doing it.  The rejuvenated offense that slugged its way to 8 or more runs in 5 of 7 games has now scored 3 or less in 4 straight, 5 or less in 7 straight, and times are starting to get desperate.  The Yankees are damn near must-win territory for the rest of their 31 remaining games and it’s starting to show in how Joe manages the offense during this offensively lean stretch of games.  Suddenly the Yankees have become one of the biggest base stealing teams in baseball.

They stole 2 bags last night, 1 each by Alfonso Soriano and Curtis Granderson, who have been among the most aggressive Yankees on the basepaths lately with 10 combined stolen bases in the last month.  …

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When Is Joe Going To Shorten CC’s Leash?

CC Sabathia

In a scene that has become way too common for comfort this season, CC Sabathia failed to protect the lead the offense gave him on Saturday.  In a span of 4 batters and 16 pitches to start the bottom of the 6th, Sabathia gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk, turning a 2-0 Yankee lead into a 3-2 deficit from which they would not come back.  Sabathia had allowed just 2 baserunners in the 5 previous innings, and his pitch count wasn’t very high, but the decision to allow him to continue in that inning was questionable at best.  He left a sinker up on the leadoff hit and the walk to the next batter was on 4 pitches, all either 4-seam fastballs or sinkers that missed.  It was clear CC had lost his command, and with the go-ahead run stepping to the plate and the Yankees needing every win they can get it was probably the time to pull him.…

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Careful Not To Over-Rest Mo

Mo vs BOS

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Mariano Rivera made his return to the mound last Sunday night after a week off from action.  He hadn’t pitched since blowing his third consecutive save last Sunday against the Tigers, and no, nothing was physically wrong with him.  After experiencing his first rough patch of the season, Joe elected to give Mo some extra time off after a somewhat heavy workload the week prior.  Overworking a 43-year-old baseball icon and risking injury to him would not be a fun way to finish Mo’s final season, but to go a full week between appearances seemed like a bit of overkill.  After all, the only way a pitcher gets over command problems is by continuing to pitch and working through them.  Mo’s recent struggles being command-based, it would have been helpful to get him some work prior to Sunday night.

Mo’s command was better Sunday night than it was the last time he pitched against the Tigers on 8/11.  …

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Joe Still Pushing The Right Buttons

Joe Girardi

I know I wasn’t all that enthused to see that both Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki were out of the starting lineup last night, even with a lefty opposing pitcher on the mound.  I was even less enthused to see Eduardo Nunez batting leadoff in their place and was fully prepared to write this morning’s post on Joe still leaning too hard on the matchup binder instead of just playing his best guys.  Naturally the team went off for 14 runs on 19 hits, Nunez went 2-6 with 2 R and 4 RBI at the top of the lineup, all 14 runs were driven in by right-handed batters, the Yankees won their 3rd in a row and 4th out of 5, and I was once again reminded why Joe is the manager of the New York Yankees and I’m a cubicle monkey Yankee blogger.

It wasn’t just the decision to sit Gardner and Ichiro.  It was Joe’s consistency in playing that matchup game whenever it was to his advantage that made last night brilliant on his part.  …

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C-Grand Brings Respectability Back To The Lineup

C-Grand Rehab

Barring any really unforeseen setbacks in the next few hours, all expectations are that Curtis Granderson will rejoin the Yankees and return to the lineup this weekend.  He wasn’t in the Double-A Trenton lineup yesterday and Josh Norris reported that he was off to rejoin the team in Cali.  There was no formal confirmation or announcement by the team – they were basically on media blackout yesterday with the A-Rod stuff still hanging out there – but I can’t imagine they would give up a day of rehab ABs for C-Grand if they and he were confident he was ready.  Personally, and I don’t think I’m alone here, I’m hoping to see him back tonight.

Whether it’s tonight or tomorrow, the return of Granderson to an already upgraded lineup should bring that lineup up out of the “upgraded” category and back to a level more befitting of a competitive Major League team.  While “good” would still be a bit of a stretch, these boys should now be at least respectable against both righty and lefty pitchers.…

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Joe Brings The Old Sac Bunt Out Of His Bag Of Tricks

Ichiro Bunt vs BAL

There’s perhaps no play in baseball that further divides old school fans and analysts from the more sabermetrically-inclined new school crew than the sacrifice bunt.  What one calls a gritty, smart “baseball play,” the other calls pointless and a waste of a perfectly good out.  Personally, I’ve always been on the new school side.  I just don’t like the idea of giving up outs and killing chances for a potentially bigger inning by sacrificing one.  I can, however, see the value in a sac bunt in certain situations or at certain times in certain games, and that’s why I’m not sure how I feel about Joe bringing it back this weekend.  Joe has used the sac bunt a time or 2 in the past, usually in situations that left more people scratching their heads than clapping their hands.  Against the Orioles, he damn near featured it as the focal part of the Yankee offense.

Twice in each of the first 2 games this past weekend Joe went to the sac bunt with a runner in scoring position, with mostly positive results:

  •  In the 1st inning on Friday, he had Ichiro try to sac bunt Brett Gardner to third base after Gardner led off the game with a double.  
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