The New York Yankees have 27 World Championships, and are currently the defending 2009 champs, and look like they’ll make the playoffs once again this season. Yet, it’s tough to be satisfied.
Every year brings a new team, with a new vibe and a new skill set. It’s easy to fall in love with players like Nick Swisher, Derek Jeter, and Francisco Cervelli, all of which who play the game with the youthful exuberance of a Little League team playing for the district championship. The Yanks are a fun team to watch, no question about it, but their problem this season, and even last season to some degree, hasn’t been their talent or effort, but their coaching.
Simply put, the Yankees win despite their manager Joe Girardi, not because of him. Watching a solid majority of their games, it’s easy to see how this former Yank probably uses something similar to a Magic 8 ball to make his coaching decisions.
Example A…and this is basically a microcosm of his pitching decisions: The Yanks, holding a dental floss thin 1.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, lead the Rays Thursday night in the top of the 6th 3-1. Ace CC Sabathia was on the mound, but was laboring a bit, and started losing his control, putting him in trouble. Instead of noticing the balls he was throwing…i.e. walking in a run, Girardi decided to leave him in there. 7 runs later, the Yanks were at the short end of a 10-3 loss. Nice.
Now the lead is down down to just .5, with the Rays scheduled to play 3 of the worst teams in the baseball down the final stretch of the season, while the Yanks have rival Boston for the weekend.
This was certainly not the first time Girardi sat on the pine for too long, letting pitchers take their lumps. Throughout August, A.J. Burnett couldn’t even get me out. After giving up, say 5 runs in the first inning, Girardi would leave him out there, hoping he would “settle down.” I don’t think he heard me screaming at the tv, “He’s got nothing tonight!” All I was asking was for him to give the team a chance, so in the fourth inning when A.J. started to get tired with the 120 pitches he had already thrown, no more runs would be scored. But, Burnett proceeded to have one of the worst August’s in pitching history as Joe kept trotting him out there.
One school of thought would say he was letting A.J. find his stuff. Another might say he trusted the lineup to get his back. Still another might say he was saving the bullpen for some game down the road…who knows when.
That idea of saving players for the next game comes with his other master plan to rest the guys on random occasions, putting lineups out there that would barely give a AAA team a run for their money, because most of the athletes just arrived from that very league.
There is nothing worse than seeing Derek Jeter squirm on the bench, looking like a toddler having to use the bathroom. Or last night, with Girardi deciding to sit speedy OF Brett Gardner, a guy who can steal any base he wants and run down any ball hit higher than 15 feet in the outfield. He changes games, but for some unknown reason, Girardi decided to sit Gardner in one of the biggest games of the season.
That’s gone on since the All-Star Break. If the Yankees did not have the talent they did, they would probably be barely holding on to a Wild Card spot instead of the AL East crown.
Rumors have circulated that Girardi is a leading candidate for the Chicago Cubs job at the end of the season. It’s a dream job for him…and dream of this Yankee Fan to see someone to actually try to win games, instead of waiting for next week to win a game or two.
Don’t forget, if the Yankees end up repeating their World Championship, it won’t be because of great coaching, it will be because of their talent…that’s it.