You see, a manager has very little power over the outcome of a game. Unlike basketball, football or hockey, a brilliant manager cannot design a play that neutralizes the opponent's strength or compensates for his team's weaknesses. A baseball manager fills out the lineup card (usually with 8 or 9 of the same names as last night) and hopes that tonight's starter (who has usually known this would be his night for a week or two) pitches a good game.
The one thing a manager can control, though, is when to wave the white flag.
Sergio Mitre is a kind of white flag.
He can pitch; I don't think Mitre is worthless. I don't think he's just heaving meatballs over the plate, begging every hitter in the league to tee off. I've seen the good Mitre: who pitched 23 innings last August and September, allowing 24 baserunners against 10 Ks. He's not Mariano Rivera, not David Robertson, not even a Joba Chamberlain.
Mitre is a league average pitcher, and league average pitchers have significant value, especially when they are cheap and fungible. Like the ex you call when you're bored on Saturday night, you use them while they're your best option and then drop them as soon as someone better comes along.
So my anger can't be with Sergio Mitre. He is what he is.
My anger is with Joe Girardi for prefering Mitre when the Yankees have better options in Scranton (Ivan Nova, Kevin Whelan, Adam Warren, George Kontos). My anger is with Brian Cashman for not having more faith in his farm system.
If Mitre is what he is, then at least the prospects are what they could be; a loss like last night's is a learning experience, it's a big situation the pitcher needs to slow down, it's a game plan being refined on the fly. As much as I try to resist narratives for the way they dictate our perception of future events I know that I would feel better with a rookie on the mound. It would help make last night's loss (and concurrent series loss) a little easier to bear.
To calm myself, I'm trying to focus on Q-TDSK's extraordinarily salient observation:
In retrospect, Mitre's outing is what brought Pestano in and made the rally possible (And that actually makes it all the more infuriating.)
I didn't watch the post-game, but I'll bet that David Robertson was the closer again last night; Mariano Rivera's sore tricep is certainly worse than advertised. So I'm trying to tell myself that Girardi's hands were tied.
But there's a part of me that wants blood in exchange for the pain I've suffered. Fire Joe Girardi for his game management and his roster building. If Mitre was Brian Cashman's idea, then fire him, too. Get this dead weight, these mediocre pitchers, these mop-up men off the roster. Until the team is healthy, let the kids lose important games.
At least it would make me feel better.