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Oct 212009
2009 Postseason Sortable Pitching Splits-As Reliever
RK TEAM GP W L ERA SV CG SHO IP QS ER R BB SO BAA
1 NY Yankees 7 2 1 1.96 2 0 0 23.0 0 5 5 10 21 .286
2 St. Louis 3 0 1 2.08 0 0 0 8.2 0 2 4 6 11 .278
3 LA Angels 7 2 1 3.24 2 0 0 25.0 0 9 10 14 24 .232
4 Philadelphia 7 3 1 3.54 3 0 0 20.1 0 8 8 11 15 .289
5 Colorado 4 0 2 3.77 1 0 0 14.1 0 6 6 11 10 .269
6 LA Dodgers 7 3 1 4.21 2 0 0 25.2 0 12 12 12 18 .196
7 Minnesota 3 0 1 5.59 0 0 0 9.2 0 6 7 6 7 .222
8 Boston 3 0 1 8.59 0 0 0 7.1 0 7 7 4 7 .346

Results speak for themselves, no?

Say what you want about Joe Girardi’s quick hook with relievers, but his Bullpen has outperformed everyone else’s in the playoffs. Including teams like the Dodgers, who were thought to have far more talent on their staff going in.

It’s also worth noting that every one of his relievers was available for last night’s game, which featured CC Sabathia going on short rest. Mike Scioscia was going to avoid using his primary setup man Kyle Jepsun, who was used for 31 pitches on Monday night. That’s what you call a competitive advantage. It wound up not being used in last night’s game, but it was there if needed.

When dealing with relievers, overuse can lead to injury and/or ineffectiveness. A bit of fatigue may not sound like much, but it’s the difference between a fastball with some hair on it and a fastball that’s straight as an arrow, which is the difference between a fly ball and a 3-Run Home Run. Anyone who watched Torre’s 04-07 Yankee teams is familiar with that. So while it’s easy to take these results for granted, I would argue that they are no accident, they are by design. Girardi has consistently given his relief corps less work than they can handle, taken care not get guys up and down (which was why he used 2 lefties on Monday) and kept their pitch counts low. We as fans may not like this unconventional approach, but it has yeilded results. It’s also pretty tough to ignore the lack of results by the man Girardi replaced (famous for his overuse of relievers) when heading into this October, Joe Torre was thought to have the best bullpen in all of Baseball.

To be sure, the Aceves move on Monday didn’t work, but let’s put that into some context. Joe Girardi has called upon his bullpen 30 times in 7 games this post season, producing only one glaring failure. If I was a MLB manager, and something I was doing was working 29 out of 30 times, I wouldn’t care what criticism I received for it from fans, sportswriters or players, I would keep on doing it. As we all know, nothing is 100%.

Now critics will probably dismiss all of this as a ‘Small Sample Size’, which it is. But of course, so are the playoffs. Baseball determines who wins the World Series in a tiny sample of 7 games. More experienced managers than Girardi will tell you that you have to manage differently in October than you would in June. If you think 23 Innings facing the best teams in your league are meaningless, then it should also follow that the Yanks’ World Series championships mean little as well. I doubt many Yankee fans would embrace that idea.

44 Responses to “Overmanaging, Wave of the Future”

  1. I read the first line and thought – Small Sample Size, but later in the post you called yourself out on it. I would also disagree with your statement, ” Including teams like the Dodgers, who were thought to have far more talent on their staff going in.” That’s just not true, maybe pundits believed the Dodgers were on par with the Yankees but everyone thought the Yankees had the best backend (Hughes/Mariano) and when you have starters like CC those are the arms that get the majority of the the innings.

    You also reference how Girardi had all these arms in the pen yesterday – as a good thing. We lost Monday saving arms that weren’t needed for Tuesday and that’s good planning? That type of managing was good in the regular season, not in the play-offs. (I defended letting Coke pitch to Victor Martinez over and over back in August)

    You also stated “Joe Girardi has called upon his bullpen 30 times in 7 games this post season, producing only one glaring failure.” the critcism is not with the results its with the process. Girardi continues to play Bull Pen Roulette and the odds are not in his favor. He has very talented arms in the pen which have bailed out multiple bad decisions – that does’t make them good decisions.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other SteveS Reply:

    Lou, you said
    “We lost Monday saving arms that weren’t needed for Tuesday and that’s good planning? ”

    Who did he save Monday? He used the whole pen except Gaudin.
    I agree Joe uses too many relievers, when you use 6 guys, the likelyhood one of them will screw up spectacularly goes up. But you have to look at the results and consider that a guy who has been around pitching and baseball his whole life might be better equipped to make these decisions than you or I.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Lou Reply:

    Rivera. He had thrown 17 pitches after an off day and part of his explanation for taking him out was his future availability.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Really? Where did you see that? The answer I heard from Joe was that he had pitched 2.1 innings in Game 2.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    Mo is right he didn’t want to pitch Mo again after pitching him 2.1 and the 1 inning on Monday, the combination was made him not want to use Mo.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    misterd Reply:

    From what I heard Mo told Joe he was good for one inning on Monday. So blame Mo.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. Without getting into particulars re Game 3, and there certainly are arguments that Girardi made a few mistakes, I would suggest that bullpen decisions will always be second-guessed with the benefit of hindsight. A bad result does not necessarily mean that the decision was wrong. The big picture to keep in mind is that Girardi did a good job managing the bullpen during the regular reason, and that he is 6-1 in the post season. So on balance he’s doing a good job.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Lou Reply:

    Girardi did a good job not wearing out his bullpen in the regular season. I wouldn’t say he did a good job. He took a starter that the Yankees will need a lot of innings from next year and used him for what 5 – 8 innings a month? Short Sighted. I understand that Hughes helped the Yankees out of the pen, but we may have a good 4th starter now if he hadn’t used him for 2 batters at a time. He could have at least used him for 2+ many times in the season, which would have gotten his innings total higher, allowing us to avoid “Phil Rules” in 2010. Sorry, I do not think Girardi did a good job managing the pen in the regular season. He just made different mistakes than Torre.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Tom Swift Reply:

    And not having a 4th starter hurt us . . . how? It’s easy to see how having Hughes dominate in the 8th inning helped us.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Lou Reply:

    As for the 4th starter. Lets wait for the series and see if it bites us. I hope it doesn’t but the WS is 2-3-2, not 2-2-1-2 so you would need to go with CC twice on short rest, and also have both Andy and AJ go once on short rest.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Yeah, but pretty much all of the numbers disagree with you. He used his best guys in the highest leverage spots without overusing them. You may not like the guy, but the fact is that the Yankees have had one of the best bullpens in baseball in both of Joe’s seasons, even last year when Jose Veras and Kyle Farnsworth were setting up for much of the year. He does a very good job with the bullpen. In the playoffs, I would prefer to pull a guy a batter too soon rather than a batter too late.

    Oh, and the Hughes decision was an org decision. The team was ready to send Phil down, he wanted to stay up in the bullpen, and they made a judgement to help this year’s team. If it means Hughes will have limits next year to 160 innings as the 5th starter, big deal.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Lou Reply:

    Actually the numbers 100% agree with me. Mo has a innings leverage of about 1.8 year after year. Hughes was used to a leverage below 1.8 in 2009. So if you could get 80% more his innings – 51 1/3 as a reliever you would have gotten more value. (90 innings from June on assuming 0 leverage) Also, the organizaation didn’t say he had to pigeon holed into a rarely used role, it was just decided to keep him in the pen. Getting 3 innings from here and there would have been prudent. Add on the innings it cost us in 2010 and we cut his value in half. What are these numbers you speak of?

    I, and conventional baseball wisdom disagree with, “I would prefer to pull a guy a batter too soon rather than a batter too late.” The guy you are bringing in is an unknown, but you have real feedback on the guy who is pitching. That phrase works with trades and years not relief pitchers and batters. If you said, I do not want to re-sign Matsui as I would rather get rid of a player a year too soon than a year to late – that would make sense.

    With the huge fuss Joba’s innings limit brought on this year I think you may be the only one who doesn’t think this would be a big deal.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    You can’t not use Hughes in the 8th and try to only use him as a long man so he doesn’t have an inning count next year, this year s currently all that matters! If he hadn’t stopped using Hughes as a long man and started using him as a set up man we might not be where we are today!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    I’m really not going to go back into it, but search the archives for a study that uses your LI that you just used to show that the best manager at managing his bullpen in all of baseball this year was Joe Girardi. The best. You keep bringing up Hughes, but that was the only objectionable decision. And you assume more value from Hughes because you assume the same performance in more innings. Considering that it would be more likely that he gave you something more like what we got out of Joba this year, you are probably wrong. Hughes was worth 2.1 WAR as a reliever this season, Joba was at 1.5 WAR as a starter.

    “With the huge fuss Joba’s innings limit brought on this year I think you may be the only one who doesn’t think this would be a big deal.”

    Why on earth should the Yankees make decisions based on “fuss.” Plenty of teams had pitchers on innings limits this year, it really is not a big deal. They just need to learn to handle it a bit better.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    When isn’t there a fuss in New York over something? The media thrives off of fuss and if that is what it takes to win a world series I would rather have that than the fuss of losing a series after leading 3-0 because every single member of your pen was completely wiped out from a long season of raking up innings!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Also, you defend Torre below, and the same study shows that despite a very talented bullpen, he was one of the worst at managing it this year. Joe does a great job with the bullpen. By harping on the same very debateable Hughes point over and over, you cannot change that fact that is supported by the data.

    Oh, I found the study.
    http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2009/10/bullpen_managem.php  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    Didn’t Joe use his bullpen more than any other manager in the playoffs? I think at one point Belisario and Broxton both had to be shut down from “arm fatigue” and he has used Broxton in every playoff game thus far but the blow out win or lose… If they are down 1-3 going into the 9th Broxton pitched the 8th, if it’s a tie Broxton pitched, if they are up by one Broxton pitched two innings… Look at his numbers this offseason and then you won’t wonder why he blew his save the other day… He has been overworked and the Phillies have seen him in 3 of 4 games and they have only one of those games…  (Quote)

  3. I think Girardi did a good job with what he has. The yankee way is to “win now” and thats what girardi is doing, its a bit sad for phil and joba but girardi has managed them and molded them to win THIS year..hopefully over the offseason they can add a 4th starter to eat up innings and joba should be off his rules and phil can spend the first half in scranton extending himself, as a yankee fan i want the best for joba and hughes, but its october….we as yankee fans expect to win and this team looks built for that. Go Yanks!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  4. Having guys like Rivera, Hughes, and Robertson can make any manager look good. The Yankees have the best pen and the numbers should and do reflect it no matter who is managing them. Girardi gets credit for not burning out arms during the regular season but having Joba pitch to one batter in a tied game 2, replacing Marte for Coke, and pulling Robertson were all questionalble moves. The Yankees have enough talent to move on but its more despite Joe than as a result of his decisions.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Wasn’t the Joba move supported by how Joba looked in Game 3? He wanted to limit him as much as possible.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Lou Reply:

    No. if he didn’t trust him to get batters out Hughes should have just faced Hunter/Guerro in the 7th. It doesn’t make sense to burn through the pen in a tie game. It was the ALCS not the All Star game.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    So you want Hughes to pitch 2+ innings in every game that’s close? That is ridiculous you have to trust Joba to at least come in otherwise what is he on the roster for?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Jon Reply:

    Outside game 3 Joba has looked good in the post season. I still trust him to pitch a FULL inning. If he stinks it up again then I would think about using someone else like Robertson to pitch in his slot. I don’t want to complain too much since overall I like Girardi, but he certainly is a conversation starter.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    Are you serious? He has looked awful in every game he was just not challenged in a couple of those games! He has no slider and he hasn’t since before the playoffs started, by “he looked good” you mean he threw 95 then yes that’s true but he has no other pitch right now and he little control on that pitch as it is! I don’t trust Joba to do anything in this post season and Joba is one of my favorite players in baseball but he has been god awful. He throws 94-95 in the pen right now but his slider has no across the zone break, they have all been cement mixers and he hasn’t thrown a curve or change in the post season!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Jon Reply:

    His ERA was 0 before game 3. Not sure what you mean by he wasn’t being challenged. Even without his best stuff he is better than most.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    No he isn’t right now he is a below average middle reliever… His ERA is one thing, his execution pitches and his ability to throw the baseball where wanted is quite another… He got away with having 2 outs and Vald up with the bases loaded by throwing one of the worst sliders I have ever seen get a strike out and had anybody else been at bat he gives up runs there… He has a fastball, a 94 MPH fastball thta he barley locates and that is it! He has not been good this offseason even when getting outs, that is why Joe wont let him pitch a whole inning just a batter or two here or there.

    ERA and what a pitcher is doing are two totally different things if you don’t know that I won’t go any further with this conversation because I won’t waste my time… I have actually watched every Chamberlain pitch this year.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Jon Reply:

    Congrats to you on your free time and ability to watch all that is Yankees. I do agree that he is a bit off and his slider is missing in action but I would still put him 3rd in the pecking order behind Rivera and Hughes with Robertson a very close 4.  (Quote)

  5. 8 of those 23 innings are Mariano Rivera

    the interesting thing is that the BAA is not particularly good, and even that is helped out greatly by the above point. It’s a combination of a little luck and a lot of having really good pitchers in the pen.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    Joe built our pen out of Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, Damaso Marte, Brian Bruney and Brett Tomko… I would say Girardi has done a better job with our pen that any other manager in baseball would have!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Jon Reply:

    Those guys were hardly the foundation of the pen. They pitched a few, laregely ineffective innings and there numbers would be even worse but the likes of Hughes and Rivera bailed them out. I like Girardi, but he is no genius.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    That is exactly what I am talking about! He had nothing, through calling up young players and using guys he already had to his potential he made a great pen out of what started as one of the worst pens in baseball!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    A manager is only as good as the sum of his parts but he puts those parts in the scenario best afforded for them to succeed, if you don’t think that Joe handles the bullpen as well as any manager in baseball then you don’t know baseball like you think you do!

    David Robertson
    Alfredo Aceves
    Phil Coke
    Chad Gaudin
    Damaso Marte

    These are not house hold names and yet they all pitched nig innings for the Yankees all year and none of them out pitched the others as far as work load, he has tremendous understanding of what it takes to build a pen and what it takes to keep these guys fresh.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    Aceves has 43 games and 84 IP, Robertson has 45 games and 43 IP, Mariano has 66 games and 66 IP and Coke has 72 games with 60 IP…. WIth Joe Torre Robertson, Ace and Coke would never have seen as much action as they did and they would be less prepared for the playoffs and with Girardi this is the least amount of innings Mariano has had since 2002…. By the way in 2004 Mo had 78.2 IP more than 12 more total innings than he has this year… Joe doesn’t over work pitchers and he keeps them working all year in important parts of games… You can not say Torre is better than Girardi with bullpen and there are few mangers better with that part of the game… Mike S is a better manager than Joe G but he isn’t as good with his bullpen he overworks guys and he doesn’t put them in the best positions to be successful.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  6. Example of not understanding the big picture;
    Yes, Joe could have use Phil many more times and innings during the year.
    If Joe had used Phil for 2+ innings most of the time, he would have been wore out for the play-offs and WS. That’s a move Joe T would have done and lose the play-offs.
    Joe G., has done a remarkable job with this team, yes the horses were there for him to use but, one needs to keep all hands fresh for the play-offs.
    Joe T had all the horses but over used a lot of them…and he lost.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Lou Reply:

    False. He could have got him more innings without making the same mistakes as Torre. he didn’t need to get him up in every game and twice on Friday, he didn’t need to pitch him in 4 staright contests, what he could have done was leave him a little stretched out by letting a starter throw a few innings every couple of weeks.

    Also wrong on Torre. When Torre had the horses (Rivera/Wettland and then Nelson/Stanton/Mendoza/Rivera) the Yanks won all the time. When the names changed to Quantrill, Gordon, Strutze, Karsay, Proctor, and company the results changed.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    The Yankees may have won but Torre did wear them out! He rode them all year with almost no break and they were all tired come post season time!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    If Hughes wasn’t pitching every close game in the 8th we might not have won those games we did… It’s not about keeping a future starter stretched out for no reason it’s about winning and Hughes as the set up man is what is best for the team!

    There was no reason to keep him stretched out because he was never going to start again, if Hughes had started last night he wouldn’t have been available for the first 3 games or the last 3 games so we would probably have lost this series by now! You have to think this year not next year because the playoffs are today.

    Besides Hughes can stretch out in spring training and be ready to start then right now all he needs to be is an 8th inning set up man… period!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  7. I have to wonder if the decision to limit Joba’s use ties to his poor September performance, and the relatively heavy inning load he carried up to this point.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    The other Chris H Reply:

    I think it has more to do with his lack of control and the total absence of a working second pitch right now…  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  8. Also another reason Joe uses all his guys in playoff games is so none of them get overworked, he used the same principle in the regular season except guys got days where they didn’t pitch… In the playoffs everyone is available so you have to change your strategy to keep people healthy, it also shows how much he trust each one of them and the reason he is able to trust them ALL is because he used them all in important situations during the regular season… something Torre never did!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  9. Girardi is one of the best bullpen managers in baseball and it’s one of the main reasons he won manager of the year with the Marlins, he took a bunch of young guys and got them to produce… Something about Joe brings out the most in his pitchers and players in general and one of Joe’s most underrated skills is not only putting together a pen but using them in a way that everyone gets work, everyone pitches in big spots through out the year and they are all put in the nest position for each one of them to succeed. Joe makes mistakes like we all do and sometime he overmanages because that is the kind of baseball he plays but no one can question his ability to handle a bullpen effectively and he does it without ever over working one pitcher.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Old Ranger Reply:

    Damn it, T.O.Chris…
    Your last two posts were very good, the only thing bad about them was; I didn’t write them. You covered (very eloquently) the very thing a few of the fans have seen and commented on, some negatively others positively.
    If we go back to the years of Joe T., Cash had to come up with the Joba rules to keep Joe from using him like he did Proctor. On top of that he traded him (I like to think) to save the kids arm and carrier. Great teams make an avg. manager look better they are, good managers make a team look better then they are. One Joe had a losing record when brought in, the other had a winning record. Both are managing very good teams at this time, which one is the better manager? I guess it is up to each one of us to sort that out for ourselves. Me, I like a manager that won’t take credit for his players skills and won’t show them up to the press.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  10. Jon: Congrats to you on your free time and ability to watch all that is Yankees.I do agree that he is a bit off and his slider is missing in action but I would still put him 3rd in the pecking order behind Rivera and Hughes with Robertson a very close 4.

    Your ass holeness aside he is probably below Coke and Robertson to me on who I pull out of the pen right now. He isn’t a “bit off” the kid is looking god awful, he can’t locate a fastball and they all end up in the middle of the plate or a ball and throwing 95 with bad location just makes HRs easier to hit and with no slider that any good hitter (not named Vlad) would swing at he has just the one inconsistent pitch, and if you haven’t noticed almost all his outs are long hard hit outs which could very easily have been HRs in our park! The point remains he hasn’t looked good this post season, he got some outs he was lucky to get but he didn’t look good or dominate doing it and if the game is on the line I would be wary to call on Chamberlain above even Robertson or Ace at this point and truthfully Gaudin has more control on his pitches and would probably be more effective right now. If he doesn’t get himself figured out and soon he is going to be one of the biggest disappointments in this organization in a long time.

    I just don’t understand how you can say you would rank him third when he is a 1 pitch pitcher right now and he can’t even locate that one pitch… He would have been a lot better off going to the minors this year and working his problems out before the playoffs started but now were stuck with his ineffectiveness just at 94 instead of 91… I’m sure Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins can’t hit 95 though…. except they beat Broxton easy!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  11. Sorry, but I’m not impressed that you saw every pitch that Joba has thrown this year. What does that add to the discussion? At any rate, I disagree with you on Joba and I’m surprised you would rather see Aceves or Gaudin in the game. Aceves has been less than impressive to say the least and for Gaudin, he pitched one meaningles inning in a blow out game. I agree with you on Roberston and I’m sure he is moving up Girardi’s pecking order, but for the moment I would still put him just below Joba.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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