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Fire Joe Girardi, Part 3

Part 1: 2008 edition.

Part 2: 2009 edition.

I can't decide whether I mean Fire Joe Girardi or not.  The Yankees are on an simple path to the playoffs, so step one of the Championship defense is in place. 

In the context of a full season, I don't think Joe G is any better or worse than any other manager in baseball.  I think he is (generally) a better than average bullpen manager in his willingness to spread the workload evenly, but I think he's below average in his handling of the position players (a la getting Arod days off last year and this year, leaving Jeter in the leadoff spot all season, and burying GGBG on the bench last postseason).

The team is a single game removed from the best record in baseball despite not having a second starter since mid-July, the best bullpen in baseball, and despite its recent struggles, the best offense in baseball.

All that said, last night's game was infuriating.

While much of my initial rage over letting Gaudin and Mitre pitch has been mollified by reports that Joba and D-Rob were unavailable, I have to ask: Why were they both unavailable?  If the answer is just to get them extra rest, then fire Joe Girardi.

Here's what I really don't get: Joe G. was willing to use Rivera in a tie game in Texas, but not in a tie game in Tampa.  What changed?  Both were the first game of a 3 game series, but in one the Yanks used their best reliever, and in another they didn't.

Here's my second Fire Joe Girardi moment.  Ok, Chad Gaudin is pitching in the most important game to this point in the season- I'm past that.  But after Gaudin has not had an easy inning. 5 pitches to K Pena and 7 pitches to K Joyce.  Then Navarro walks on 5 pitches. 17 pitches for Gaudin total.  Dan Johnson hits a single on the 5th pitch of his AB. 22 pitches total.  Up come BJ Upton.

The average plate appearance lasts 3.8 pitches, and since league average WHIP is 1.35, basic arithmetic tells us that the average inning lasts around 16.5 pitches (I'm assuming no DPs).  We also know that when we worry about pitch counts, pitches per inning are as important or more important than pitches per game.

So after 22 pitches, with the winning run on third, I'm ready for a pitching change, but I can understand sticking with the man on the mound.

And then BJ Upton worked a 9 pitch walk. 31 pitches on the inning.  Joe G has got to go get Gaudin now right?  He's been out there pitching this one half inning for longer than CC and Price combined to pitch the third inning (including the commercial break).

It took Gaudin another 5 pitches to strike out Brad Haupt.  Why was he still on the mound in a tie game in extra inning?  Unless Joe G thought resting his better pitches was more important than winning the game.  Unless, after watching his offense sputter and fail, he'd already accepted that he was going to lose this game.

Fire Joe Girardi.

Curtis Granderson's bunt in the top of the 11th is the move that really has me seeing red.  It's not that I'm opposed to the bunt in all situations.  Even in the AL, there are times that the bunt is the right move, especially in situations like last night when a single run is the difference between a win and a loss.

But there are two caveats.

1) If you bunt, bunt for a hit.  Never give up the out.

2) Never bunt in a 2-0 count.  2-0 and 3-1 are called hitters counts for a reason.  This is especially true if you are a speedy center fielder with a .760 OPS.

At times, Joe G. seems to be an able tactician.  And then there are games like last night. 

Joe G.'s contract is up after the season.  If he wants them, he certainly would have no shortage of suitors.  Would that really be the worst thing for the Yankees?

Is the devil we know really better than the devil we don't?