Joe Girardi is in the ultimate damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't position. Every decision he makes will be dissected, analyzed, and picked apart by the often-critical New York media and Yankee fanbase, because hey, that's the beauty of being a baseball fan.
However, he still makes some pretty glaring mistakes, and even though I may not make a better major league manager than him, wrong is still wrong.
And so while I don't consider myself a full blown Girardi hater, the headline pretty much sums up my feelings about his bullpen management skills, because frankly, at this point I'd actually prefer to hear that random chance was the sole arbiter of his reliever/inning rubric, rather than trying to navigate through the convoluted logic that led to two bullpen debacles in the past week.
This isn't about results, it's about the decision-making process, and if that process is sound, the wins will be there eventually. If it isn't, however, then Girardi will look like a fool when his bullpen fails to bail him out, which happened both on Sunday night against the Red Sox and last Tuesday against the Twins.
What we've learned so far this season is that Girardi is the most flexible with his worst relievers, and the most inflexible with his best (thank you very much, save rule). He'll incessantly play the matchups when anybody not named Rivera or Soriano is on the mound, even if it means intentionally walking the bases loaded in a close game so that Boone Logan, of all people, can face Adrian Gonzalez. Even worse, when it's obvious that a reliever is struggling, Girardi seems to just leave him in the game to either pitch out of the jam or implode entirely, rather than pulling him early to try to limit the damage.
His latest sin was allowing a well-rested Rafael Soriano to sit on the bench while Joba Chamberlain struggled and ultimately failed to prevent the Red Sox from tacking on insurance runs during the 7th inning of Sunday's game, a game in which the Yankees hitters probably couldn't have made solid contact with a whiffle ball. Compare this to last Tuesday's game, when Girardi couldn't seem to find anybody but Soriano to try to protect a 4-run lead in the 8th inning against the bottom of the Twins lineup.
There has to be some logic behind this. If Soriano needs to protect that 4-run lead, shouldn't he also be the one to try and limit the damage in a late and close/runners on situation, especially against the top of your arch-rival's lineup? Or is he just "the 8th inning guy" because that inning is a specially (and arbitrarily, it seems) designated time for him? Or did Girardi's coin simply land on "heads" Sunday night?
How can anybody but the willfully delusional justify the Soriano signing if Girardi keeps using him this erratically?