Friday, July 25, 2008

One Positive and One Negative on Off Day before Showdown in Beantown

As the Yankees rest up on one of their few off days remaining, they are in a great position to make a move this weekend and move past the Red Sox. The one thing that cannot happen is a sweep. If they are swept and return to their light hitting ways the Yankees can kiss the division good bye and possibly the Wild Card as the Rays could add some distance to their lead. The Yankees just need one game this weekend to stay in it.
Let's get the negative out of the way, Bobby Meachum. He continues to kill rallies, get people thrown out, or be over aggressive and have "lucky runs score." Two times yesterday he sent a runner home, one time Jose Molina who is almost as slow an 80 year old man with a piano on his back, try and score when they were barely around third when the fielder had the ball. It took two lucky breaks to have the runners be safe. He could have ended some rallies quickly. Maybe with a big lead trying to get an extra run is an ok play, but not when its Jeter or A-Rod trying to score. They are so valuable to the team you cant risk injury at this point. He needs to play safe. The Yankees rank in the top in the league in having guys gunned down at the plate, last year with Larry Bowa they were one of the best. So you know its not the team its the guy waving them in like mad because its the same players. Girardi is going to need to control this, Meachum is almost as bad as Wendell "Send em in" Kim from the Red Sox in the late 90's. They just windmill people in no matter the situation. How many times does someone have to be out at before he realized Ryan Sweeney has a great arm and not to run on it. With the short wall in left this weekend lets hope Meachum learns and plays it safe.
Now to finish with the positive. This change has been the biggest improvement from 2007 to 2008. I am not bashing my head against the wall every time a reliever is brought in this year. You can actually see that there is a strategy and thought in bringing relievers into the game. Girardi is 1000x better managing the bullpen then Joe Torre. Once the starters began giving some length and Girardi could dictate roles the staff has taken off. Torre really had become Clueless Joe when it came to managing the bullpen. He would burn guys out for weeks at a time till they were dead tired or hurt and couldnt perform. Then he would dump them and find another guy he "trusted." See Scott Proctor, Paul Quantrill, Louis Vizcaino, and Tanyon Sturtz for a short list of guys used and abused by Torre. He even needed rules put in place when Joba Chamberlain came into the equation late last year for fear of over use. And when the rules were gone he overused him the playoffs throwing nearly 40 pitches in game 3 with a big lead.
Girardi has not had this problem. He has an idea and a plan everytime he used the pen. When there is a close game he uses Jose Veras and Farnsworth as the bridge. But he wont use them more than two days in a row. When its a little bigger lead he turns to Edwar Ramirez and David Robertson and both have been extremely productive. So instead of having guys pitch 10 times in 15 days they are rested and effective. There is no building trust with Girardi you get it from day one. He puts people in positions to suceed and they have rewarded him with consistency. So there isnt a time where a guy sits in the pen and doesnt do anything for 20 days, like Edwar last year. When Joba was moved people feared a bullpen collpase when the opposite has happened. There havent been many, if any, panic moved to Rivera either. He has only used Mo in the 8th twice, Torre would constantly over use Mo. This has led to his best season of his storied career. Their ERA is better now then with Joba. Girardi deserves a lot of credit as the Yankees have a bullpen with a top 10 ERA and the best fact nobody in the top 15 of appearances. He has built up a great pen to be the bridge to Rivera.

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