Coffee Joe extends ALCS

Despite getting some things in Game 5 that seemed impossible just hours and minutes before they happened — big hits from Mark Teixeira and (holy cow) Robinson Cano — Joe Girardi helped pay back a terrific Yankees rally by once again mismanaging his pitchers. There are many questions to ask about the fatal bottom of the seventh, some in the Yankees’ control, some not.

1. Why can’t the Yankees retire Jeff Mathis, a career .200 hitter who normally strikes out once every 3.3 at-bats, equivalent to 152 Ks over a 500 at-bat season?

girardi275.jpg2. With a rested bullpen and another day off in front of him, why did the previously hyper-twitchy Joe “Coffee Joe” Girardi stay with A.J. Burnett to open the frame? Sure, his pitch count was on the low side, but he had also been on the bench for nearly half an hour and, despite settling down after being roughed up in the first inning, had struck out only three Angels, suggesting that, lacking his best stuff, he could again be damaged by a combination of walks and balls in play.

3. Why wasn’t Burnett yanked after the Mathis single to open the inning? Having broken ground on his grave, he was allowed to dig further by walking Erick Aybar, a hitter who took just 30 free passes in the regular season in close to full-time play. Girardi, who was so pepped to make changes in prior games, sat on his hands after the Mathis hit.

4. Why not start the inning with Phil Hughes? The way relievers pitch when they enter with men on is very different from the way they pitch when they start an inning. Though Mariano Rivera has performed some Houdini-like escapes in this series, including one to bail out Joba Chamberlain in this very game, even he yielded to the Twins in Game 2 of the Division Series, entering with two men on and allowing an RBI single.

5. If the Angels’ batting order was the problem and Girardi didn’t want to have Hughes pitch to Chone Figgins after (theoretically) retiring Mathis and Aybar, then why not burn David Robertson and his strikeouts in that spot, then pull him for the inevitable lefty?

6. Related to the previous question, is it really even necessary to worry about the platoon matchup when facing Chone Figgins? The Yankees have done a great job of taking him out of this series, in part by giving him a steady diet of lefty pitching to face. But even if Figgins beats a righty pitcher, he is likely to beat him with a single; this is a guy who homered once every 123 at-bats this year. The same is true, though to a lesser extent, of Bobby Abreu. Even against right-handers, he hit just 12 home runs in nearly 400 at-bats. That’s one per 32 ABs. Against hitters like these, a manager should only pursue the platoon advantage if it’s not going to trip them up in other ways.

In this case, it led to Girardi, so profligate with relievers previously, to keep his starter in the game, solely so he could avoid making a pitching change before those two lefties were due up. And as long as we’re on the subject of platoon advantages, let’s talk about Damaso Marte for a moment, and for that matter, Phil Coke as well. Even Casey Stengel, who loved the platoon more than anything else in the world save his wife, said that you don’t switch out a good pitcher for a bad one just to get a platoon advantage. You can see that done every day of the regular season, and though the move worked out in Game 5, Girardi might have been guilty of it here.

7. It didn’t have an impact on the game thanks to Rivera, but why is Chamberlain pitching ahead of Robertson, or Urban Shocker for that matter? It’s depressing, but sending Joba back to the bullpen has not magically turned the clock back to 2007. There are still the makings of a fine pitcher here — the guy just turned 24, which means he’s about 2.5 years younger than Tampa’s Jeff Niemann, who is going to get some Rookie of the Year votes. There is still time for him, but his moment might not be now.

8. I am sick of the Rally Monkey. Have the Yankees’ scoreboard operators gotten to work on the New York equivalent as of yet? Guys, I want to see Rally Kong climbing the Empire State Building and smashing biplanes. You don’t need more than a day to get that set up, right?



  1. nyyls1fan

    Goldman, posts like these are why you are my favorite NYY analyst. WHERE THE HECK IS DAVID ROBERTSON!?!?
    WHY IS DAMASO MARTE NOT ON THE BEACH IN SANTO DOMINGO?!?! WHY IS SOME REDUNDANT GUY NAMED GUZMAN ON THIS TEAM (I would be curious to see who would win a foot race – Guzman or Hairston)?!?! WHY DID GIRARDI TRANSFORM THE YANKEES BENCH (a strength during the regular season) into an anemic bunch of unused and mostly unnecessary players?!?!
    It disappoints me to say it, but Joba is through for this year. Well above his previous innings, I haven’t seen him top 94 in the playoffs and his command is terrible. His slider has no tilt and really very little break. Joe better make changes to the pen and the bench if the Yanks make it to the WS.
    Hughes problem this postseason has been command and pitch selection. No way I throw Vlad a fastball of any kind in that spot – cutter away, 12-6 curve, not a pitch that you need to place perfectly or face destruction.
    Thanks for the opportunity to vent!!!
    Signed, a NYY fan for life who has witnessed ridiculous collapses since 2000 thanks to horrendous mismanagement and straight-up choking by the best team money can buy.

  2. jimlyttle

    Steven – as mind-blowing as Girardi’s pithcing decisions were in Game 3, I can’t fault him as much in Game 5. I could see having Burnett start the 7th, low pitch count, had righted the ship, etc. Probably should’ve pulled him after the Mathis hit. But at some point, the pen has to come up big in a big situation. At least I was glad to see Joe bring Mo in to save Joba’s butt in the 8th instead of saving him for a ninth inning lead that would probably never come. Not having Hinske on the roster has been killing the Yanks; if Swisher could’ve hit a paltry .200 this series or at least produced a couple of long fly balls/weak grounders to first with runners at third, the Yanks would be in the Series by now. Melky and Gardner at the bottom of the lineup isn’t a thrilling prospect, but Swish needs to get his head clear.


    Steven-I can see Giardi alowing Burnett to start the 7th–even after a 30 minute(??)top 7th–BUT to allow him to pitch to Aybar– walks after a 3-o count —the whole world knew that Figgins would bunt–SUCCESSFULLY—then bring in MITRE–why not COKE??h WALDMAN__STIRLING(will not allow FOX’S JOE BUCK in my house)kept asking —where is COKE??
    A-ROD is walked–pitch runner????WHY–MATSUI walks another pich runner—IF the game goes extrta innings—who bats for A_ROD—GUZMAN—-
    Joe either over-manages or dOES NOT MAMAGE
    SWISHER is non entity in the play-offs—no pinch hitters on the bench—GUZMAN over HINSKE ????


    Why, why, why do you throw Vlad a fastball again with 2 strikes, curveball,curveball,curveball. Posada/Hughes come on, are you guys kidding me. Joba is just brutal out there and Swish is, I can’t even say. Did anyone notice the face Arod had when he was replaced for a pinch runner? Joe don’t over manage because this is going to turn into 04 all over again. Almost forgot why can’t we get a 200 hitter out in Mathis, that’s pitiful, at this point you might as well throw at him, come on Yankees let’s go. Wake up YANKEES, take care of business already! LET’S GO YANKEES!

  5. charlief

    Couldn’t agree more on point #2. After the Yankees scored 6, me and friends were discussing whether they were bringing in Joba or Hughes. Some people said Joba, some of us, including me, were looking for Hughes and Mo to just get 9 outs. We were all shocked to see AJ back in there. Bringing in Hughes with 2 on and no outs seems to have a different ending than I envisioned, which would have started with bringing him in with no on and no outs.

  6. nyplayer

    You hit the nail right on the head. Girardi has proven he is not a ready to manage a playoff contender. No way Burnett should have entered the 7th. He scrambled to get through six and then sat for forty minutes. He’s prone to wildness. The bullpen was well rested. Nine outs to go. Joba (or Robertson), Hughes and Mo. If those guys blow the lead, so be it. That’s their responsibility. Joe’s responsibility is to put the right players on the field. He’s proven time and again (in wins as well as loses) that he’s not ready. And what the hey! Pinch run for Alex????? Really???? Take your best player out of the game???? Really??? The one who stole a base and scored from third on an infield hit??? That player needs a pinch runner?? Really?? Hopefully, the Yanks will overcome their manager’s mistakes and move on. But once the seasons over, Cashman should consider making a change. Joe’s not ready for prime time.


    Let?s play YANKEE JEOPARDY!

    A. Threw a game in Little League; or

    A. A psychic read his mind and found out he was THINKING about taking performance enhancing drugs; or

    A. Ran over Derek Jeter?s cat; or

    A. Slept with Joe Girardi?s wife; or

    A. Didn?t cough up a playoff game so as to earn pity points; or

    A. Didn?t lead the American League in strikeouts per 9 innings by enough.

    Q. What the Hell did David Robertson do??????!!!!!!


    Hi Steve,

    I’m surprised you ignored the single worst tactical decision Girardi made: pinch-running for A-Rod. See this article at Fangraphs:

    And while there is an argument to be made for starting the 7th with a reliever, leaving Burnett in is also an acceptable decision. It’s not Girardi’s fault that Mathis has turned into Superman this series, or that Hughes grooved one to Vlady when Posada’s target was at eye level.


    Love “Rally Kong”. And they should superimpose that little Angels monkey onto the planes that Kong is swatting out of the sky just like the Angels put the rally monkey in movie clips on their big screen.

  10. javamanny

    Steve. Haven’t been here for awhile. Are you still pushing Nick Swisher as the be all end all? How could you have left him out of your Friday Morning Quarterbacking Second Guess-a-thon? We all knew his odds of hitting safely in that situation as close to nil.

    Other commenters were dead on – HINSKE NOT GUZMAN ON THE BENCH. In fact I’d start him over Swisher with the funk he’s in.


    BRUTAL managing game by Girardi. I know the manager often gets hammered when the team loses and there is ALWAYS second-guessing but seriously! I just read a great article somewhere else on why Rivera should have been used in the 7th instead of Hughes. Hughes was just terrible, which surprised me. Maybe it was the pressure of the moment.

    I just hope we can handle the pressure of games 6 and 7. We’ve got the two pitchers I’d want on the hill in Pettite and CC, but I am worried about CC. I know he’s done the short rest thing before, but it has to catch up eventually. He’s at like 250+ innings for the season and we’re not to the World Series!

    Anyways, great post. Also, if people would like to see some great New York Yankees memorabilia, head to my client Steiner Sports. It’s a great link in any Yankees Blog


    This article would be a lot more on base if the Yankees relievesr(except Mo and D-Rob) were getting people out. Hughes has been dreadful(i mean it when i say dreadful) this postseason. He’s come close to losing a couple games for the Yankees, but got bailed out by A-Rod against Minnesota, and by Mariano in game 3 against the Angels. For a sabermetrics guy like you, i would think you would stay away from comments such as : “He’s due to do this and that,” “He could do this or that.” Let’s face it, of all the people to blame for last night’s loss, Girardi is far below a couple of guys. I like A.J. but he’s the number 1 culprit, and it’s not for the first inning. When the purists/old guys in baseball say things like: “X pitcher knows how to win games,” there’s definitely something to it. It’s no coincidence that A.J. only won 13 games with a good ERA(i’m saying good this because he’s ERA is unbalanced due to 3 or 4 horrible starts). Burnett doesn’t appear to have the skill of “how to win games.” When a team gives you a lead that late, the top pitchers will bring you home. Seriously, how do you walk Chone Figgins to start the game? The best Figgings will do is get a single, but A.J. instead gives him a free pass. Again, how do you walk Aybar? The 2nd goat of this game is Phil Hughes who’s been really bad in the playoffs. I’ll leave Robertson to the side, because Joe only uses him as a last resort kind of guy(might not be fair to Robertson, but Joba, Hughes, Coke are all ahead of him). I have to admit this postseason has demonstrated something is already well known in baseball: When it comes to relievers, there’s Mariano Rivera and then everybody else. This is why i’m not blaming Girardi for last night. With the exception of Mo, there’s no one who would have given the Yanks a better option over Burnett. Using the excuse that Hughes’ failure might have been to having a runner on base is flawed since Hughes has been bad whether he starts off the inning or comes in the middle of the inning. The third guy is Swisher, but i don’t have big expectations of him anyways. I can’t help put think that if Hinske was in the roster, whether he would have gotten a start because of Swisher’s futility. Also, if the Yanks go to the world series, and Swisher doesn’t get better, would Girardi dare start Matsui in right field in a national league ballpark.


    I just read the post before me and it brought something else i had in mind. This thing with closers only being used in the 9th is really flawed. Typically(at least in the Yanks’ case), your closer is your best reliever. In desperation time(e.g. Angels last night), i always hear the saying that you can’t worry about tomorrow, since you can only control the present. I don’t have the stats, but i don’t there’s one that says that 80%(or some big percentage) of games are decided in the 9th inning. If you’re looking at the game last for the Yanks, what inning decided the game? Well, it was the 7th, so of course Mo couldn’t be used. I know the case can be made that if the Angels don’t rally in the 7th, maybe they rally in the 8th or 9th inning. This might have been the case, but the key here is might, while if you brought Mo in the 7th, you’re almost assured the Yanks would still have a lead after 7. It’s too bad no manager has the gut to do something so unconventional, but give me stat that says the majority of games are decided in the 9th and i’ll shut up.


    I agree with most of the comments. I agree with all of your comments, Steve. Girardi is still over-managing. He did it with Aceves and he did it with Burnett. All the other relievers have had trouble during the post season (except Mo), so why not put in Robertson? He did great the one time he was in. Girardi’s book should be burned!! You can’t go by stats during the post season. You have to go with how the relievers are performing. Also, putting Guzman in for a pinch runner for A-Rod was totally stupid. A-Rod stole a base already; what has Guzman or for that matter, Gardner, done this post season? Why do you need 2 “speedsters”? You need hitters, not runners. You can’t run unless you are on base. Why take out your #1 hitter in the post season for a pinch runner? Total stupidity. If the Yankees should lose this series, then Girardi should be fired. He has already lost 2 games for us.

  15. paulo720

    The Yankees’ trouble with Mathis is indeed a mystery but not really a valid criticism. It’s probably some kind of aberration but you can’t really fault anyone for it. I can’t say I fault Girardi for leaving Burnett in either, but Steve raises some valid points and I have to think the 30-minute layoff might have had something to do with his walking Aybar. That said, Burnett was paid the big bucks to get guys out and he failed to get them after he was handed a lead. Phil Hughes has shined all season but has looked bad this postseason. Can’t blame Girardi for that (or for that ridiculous pitch to Vlad). However, it’s mind-boggling that Dave Robertson (who has been more effective against lefties, BAA-wise, than righties) has only been used for 2 innings in the playoffs. That merits some scrutiny. I agree with steevec about the save situation, especially in the playoffs. I think Mo (or at at least Robertson) should’ve been brought in after the walk to Aybar. Lastly, I agree with the comments re: Guzman, especially running him for A-Rod. Why? A-Rod has run the bases just fine in the playoffs.

  16. hateslibs

    The pitching in game left some to be desired, but the mess we’re in is because Joey keeps starting that “””””IDIOT”””” in RF. He has let us down time after time and Joey keeps putting him out there. Where the heck is Gardner? Where the heck is Henski? Oh, I know Guzman is the “”MAN””. The trouble is we’re all wondering what man. Serious how many RISP’s has Swisher left on in this series alone? I swear his body language and antics are buffonish, and if he looks to the sky 1 more time in his at bat I’m going to throw a beer bottle thru my TV. I know why he does it, but his grand-parents can’t like what their seeing. Betcha Joey starts him in RF again tonight. What’s his BA now???-.001. Joey may just coach us out the door. Hope not!! Go Yanks….

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