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2008-05-28 22:13
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Last night, Andy Pettitte turned in his third straight quality start, the Yankee offense scattered four runs against Jeremy Guthrie and company, and Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera, likely appearing as a relief tandem for the last time, combined to nail down the Yankees' win.

The first two batters Pettitte faced reached base, but Andy wiggled out of the jam. In the top of the second, Hideki Matsui doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch, and Jason Giambi miraculously hit a groundball RBI single through the right side of a drawn-in and shifted infield that had three men lined up on the edge of the grass between first and second base.

In the third, Melky Cabrera led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout, but Derek Jeter struck out and Bobby Abreu was unable to pick his captain up. Brian Roberts began the bottom of the third with and infield single and Melvin Mora made it count with a two-run homer off Pettitte, but Giambi evened things up with a 410-foot shot to Eutaw Street (his second plaque-worthy shot in as many days) with two outs in the top of the fourth.

In the fifth, Jeter made up for his missed opportunity earlier in the game by hitting a sac fly to plate Cabrera from third with one out following another Melky double advanced by a Damon hit. Roberts doubled in the bottom of the inning, but Andy Pettitte picked him off second, catching him cold a third of the way off the bag. That was the key play in the game as the Yankees never relinquished their slim 3-2 lead.

Chamberlain came on with two out and none on in the seventh to face Mora, who had a bunt single, a homer, and a walk against Pettitte to that point. Mora singled off Chamberlain, and Joba walked Nick Markakis to put the go-ahead run on base, but he settled down from there, striking out Kevin Millar and cruising through the eighth with two more Ks.

The Yankees added a run in the ninth, which made the decision to leave Chamberlain in to finish the game seem like an obvious one given that he was scheduled to throw 55 pitches and had thrown only 28, but Joe Girardi proved he's a slave to the save and brought in Mariano Rivera the day after his 31-pitch outing on Wednesday night.

Not that it was a terrible call, just a needless one. Mo pitched around an Alex Rodriguez error for a scoreless ninth to nail down the win, and Chamberlain finished his work in the bullpen, throwing 14 pitches, sitting to simulate an inning break, throwing pre-inning warmups, then finishing with 13 pitches to hit his 55-pitch goal.

It was a quick and easy game that helped the Yankees avoid embarrassment and head into their off day and trip out to Minnesota with a good feeling. All decisions on Joba's next appearance and exactly who will replace Ian Kennedy in the rotation early next week remain to be made. It was just a good, solid 4-2 win in which nothing went wrong and no one got hurt.

I'll take that.

Comments
2008-05-29 06:15:02
1.   Rob Middletown CT
"Not that it was a terrible call, just a needless one"

My thoughts exactly. But anyway, seeing a well-pitched win is nice.

2008-05-29 06:26:32
2.   ChrisS
Giambi's splits:

April: 73 AB .164 BA .315 OPB .411 SLG .726 OPS 5 HRs 15BB:11K

May: 59 AB .322 BA .468 OPB .678 SLG 1.146 OPS 5HRs 12BB:12K

He wasn't sloppy at the plate in April, he was getting his walks and still hitting the ball hard, it just wasn't in the right places. BABIP for April was .119 and in May it's .333

Despite his defensive liability at first, the dude can still hit. Granted, he's playing for another contract this year, but I'll take it.

2008-05-29 06:39:13
3.   williamnyy23
I must admit that I don't get the notion that going to Mo in the 9th was "needless". After all, what is the priority? Getting Joba enough pitches, or winning the game? As great as Joba is, no one is as lock solid as Mariano. The Yankees desperately needed a win and Girardi went to the man best equipped to give him one. An extra inning wasn't going to accelerate Joba's ascension into the rotation, but having him try to go more than 2IP for the first time in his career would have carried some risk. I think Girardi made the right call because he wanted a sure win, not because he is a slave to the save.
2008-05-29 06:40:36
4.   williamnyy23
2 It's funny how Giambi's defensive stops being a liability when he hits like he has in May. Also, after watching Betemit and Duncan at 1B, it makes you more tolerant of Giambi's glove.
2008-05-29 06:46:37
5.   mehmattski
3 The logic makes sense for yesterday's game, but then why not bring in Joba on Tuesday night:

What's more important, getting Joba his pitches, or winning the game?

The Yankees chose A on Tuesday and chose B on Wednesday. It's the inconsistency that has people confused.

2008-05-29 06:49:43
6.   OldYanksFan
It was a good win. Pettitte posted very good numbers in a game where he didn't look as good. It was an important W, as it's getting late early, and our schedule tells us it's time to make our move.

In the Spring, I predicted a .900 OPS for Giambi when most people were salivating over the idea that we were finally rid of him after this year. It's a long season, and Jason is on par for only 400 ABs, but so far his line is: .244 .393 .556 .949
Gotta luv the big lug.

I don't want to do any Jeter bashing (although a previous post finally addressed this issue), but I find it interesting that many Yankee fans use Jason's contract as the quinicential example of 'failed, long, expensive contracts'. 7 years at $17.1m per. While he has had 2 bad years, his Yankee career OPS is a bit over .930. Jeter's contract is 10 years at $18.9m per. By the By, Jason now has more HRs as a Yankee then as an Oakland A.

When facing tough Lefties, we often sit Bobby or sometimes JD. Matsui is usually pretty decent regardless and handedness. This year: JD has posted BETTER OPS numbers against lefties by 55 pts. Bobby is only 20 ps LOWER against lefties. Matsui is 255 pts lower against lefties, his numbers being a little worse then Jeters. (.717 vs .972)

For his career, Melky has hit (OPS) just a little worse as a righty, basically due to lower SLG. This year as a righty, his OPS is 265 pts lower (then as a LHB, .545 vs .810)

Jason has hit Lefties BETTER this year then righties.

As pathetic as Shelly has been this year, and I don't think he is MLB caliber, but I DO think he is better then this year has shown, his OPS (against lefties) is 75 pts better then Melky's.

So.... if you use this year's splits (smallish sample size), out best offensive lineup against LHP would be Jason at 1B, and Mats, JD, Bobby in the OF, and Shelly as DH (unless Shelly is a better fielder in LF then Mats?)

With a season 1/3 over, the AL has an average OPS of .724, compared to .760 last year. Considering the numbers of ABs (LARGE sample size), this is quite astounding!

For example, Mats LEADS the AL in batting at .340, and Jason is tied for 4th in HRs with 11.

Has anyone noticed the year Lance Berkman is having? And Chipper has an OBP of .495! And while our great 2nd baseman is wallowing in the sewer, Chase Utley and Dan Uggla have OPS of over 1.000, with 17 and 16 HRs respectively. Just nuts.

It is interesting that you just don't hear Lance Berkman's name much... even when talking about the games best hitters. Just a few career OPS+ numbers:

25. Manny Ramirez 154
34. Lance Berkman 149
34. Jim Thome 149
41. Jason Giambi 147
41. Vladimir Guerrero 147
41. Alex Rodriguez 147

I'm not sure who/what organization computes these numbers. I will say that the Park Factor (used in all '+' stats) that ESPN uses for adjusting OPS is WAY OFF, as much as 10%. I know there are more complicated PF computations. It's interesting how fans revere these numbers, but don't really know where they come from.

Anyway, Berkman is in some elite company, and currently has an OPS over 1.200.

And that's my worthless trivia post for an off-day (God! I HATE Off-days)!.

2008-05-29 06:55:52
7.   mehmattski
6 Not sure where you got you career leaderboard from, but baseball-reference.com has a lengthy discussion of park factors:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/parkadjust.shtml

Also note, from the all-time OPS+ list, Frank Thomas is higher than all the other men you listed, at 157 is currently the 19th best hitter of all time according to OPS+. Albert Pujols is even higher, at 168 and #9. And this is not a list that one can climb simply by playing longer... they have to continue to be so much better than league average. The good old days had some great baseball, but we have historically great players among us even today.

2008-05-29 07:00:14
8.   Rob Middletown CT
3 Joba in the 9th, facing 8-9-1 in the order with a 2-run lead is just as much of a lock as Mo was. Mo had thrown 31 pitches the night before.

I don't think it was necessary, and it make getting Joba's pitches in more difficult. To me, using Joba to close out the 9th was a "kill two birds with one stone" deal.

2008-05-29 07:06:10
9.   dianagramr
Anyone have any opinions on A-Rod not running all out on that infield grounder he hit early in the game? The YES-men were noting that it was in Baltimore that he originally injured himself.
2008-05-29 07:07:37
10.   mehmattski
10 SF Yank had an opinion, and it was the 1,000,000th Toaster object....
2008-05-29 07:17:12
11.   RIYank
8 Joba's probably not as much of a lock, but pretty close.
The win expectancy for that score and point in the game is 85%. Now add Joba's ability and the part of the order and it must be much higher. And with Rivera waiting in the wings, you can also eliminate part of the worry about Joba losing his control (because even if he does there's still a very good chance to win). So calling for Mo, I suspect, adds very little to your win percentage for the game.
On the other hand, with the day off today the costs were small, so yeah I'm on board with the 'mistake but not a big one' crowd.

10 Love the self reference, mehmattski.

2008-05-29 07:29:23
12.   mehmattski
11 I don't know how that happened. It's not like a typo, since I had to hit keys on opposite sides.

I'm still flustered from failing to get a reference to #134 as the 1,000,000th object. For nostalgia:

http://bronxbanter.baseballtoaster.com/archives/851551.html#134

2008-05-29 07:31:28
13.   williamnyy23
5 I can't defend the logic, although Girardi has said from the onset that they would push him back.cut him short, but never bring him forward. There may be sound reasoning for that plan....perhaps it has to do with work they are doing between appearances. Without knowing all the particulars, it's hard to say.
2008-05-29 07:39:32
14.   williamnyy23
8 11 Even if you assume that Joba had just as good a chance to save the game as Mo, you also can't ignore the human element. If Mo tells you he's good to go, then you have to weigh how he'd feel about being passed over so Joba can get his starter training wheels off. It's easy for us to say Mo is under contract and should be a team player, but Girardi has to keep his players happy. He can't turn this into a tryout camp. As Pettitte's post game comments implied, the vets on this team might be a little suspicious of this move to begin with. The benefit of getting Joba another 15 pitches doesn't come close to outweighing the other concerns (including locking down a win).
2008-05-29 07:47:55
15.   ny2ca2dc
14 Agree; when you have a guy of Rivera's ability, you use it. I'm a big fan of stepping on necks, especially when you really need a win - like last night.
2008-05-29 07:49:09
16.   flycaster
I don't understand the seeming need to find fault with Girardi here. If Mo's ready to go (and they talk before every game) he pitches the 9th inning of a 4-2 game we need to win. End of discussion. Not because anyone's "a slave to the save", but because he's the best there's ever been. The off-day tomorrow made it a complete no-brainer. Joba can throw his 30 extra pitches in the hotel parking lot, far as I'm concerned. Then he can work on curves and changes, which he wouldn't be doing in the 9th inning last night.
2008-05-29 07:51:08
17.   Alex Belth
"total chaos, no mass confusion..."

I think Rodriguez must still feel ginger, otherwise he'd have been running full speed as per usual.

2008-05-29 08:04:20
18.   Shaun P
14 I have a different take on it than you, william, but I don't think it matters. Joba isn't going to suffer for not having pitched the 9th. With the off day today, Mo probably doesn't suffer from throwing 48 pitches in 2 days. And keeping the vets happy is a good thing.

I think it was an interesting window, albeit a bit opaque, into how Girardi makes decisions. I'm still not sure what to think about him.

2008-05-29 08:15:05
19.   RIYank
14 I just don't believe Mariano would feel in any way slighted by Joba pitching the ninth inning in a two-run game.

16 Why 'end of discussion'?
Throwing 27 pitches in a parking lot (or bullpen) isn't the same as throwing them in a game. Getting Chamberlain ready to be a starter isn't trivial. It's important. I wouldn't give up a game for it, but Chamberlain pitching an inning with a two-run lead isn't giving up a game!

2008-05-29 08:16:57
20.   dianagramr
BTW, amidst the Reds' calling up of stud prospect Jay Bruce, they also demoted Corey Patterson and called up one-time Yankee (and Banter fave) Andy Phillips

http://tinyurl.com/4b7mdb

2008-05-29 08:19:59
21.   standuptriple
17 I was wondering when Eric and Parrish were going to show up 'round here. One of my favorites growing up.
2008-05-29 08:21:15
22.   RIYank
18 Every inning is an opaque window on Girardi's soul. (From Look Homeward, Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim, one of Wolfe's least beloved works.)

20 Yeah, Andy!

2008-05-29 08:24:08
23.   pistolpete
0 I have no problem with Mo getting as many save opportunities as possible right now. He's locked in and simply a joy to watch right now.
2008-05-29 08:24:11
24.   mehmattski
19 The point about mixing in all four pitches is a good one though; Joba would be going fastball-slider with the game on the line. He really needs to pitch some low-leverage innings in the game to get those on track, however.
2008-05-29 08:28:03
25.   RIYank
24 Agreed.

Also, the more I think about today being a day off, the less of a problem I have with the decision. If I think of it as a free Mo inning, well, how could anyone complain about that?

2008-05-29 08:30:47
26.   ny2ca2dc
20 Andy Phillips would be a more useful player than Ensberg right about now. Ain't that some shit.
2008-05-29 08:44:48
27.   mehmattski
26 Phillips was hitting .315/.394/.493 with Louisville in 146 AB. A slight tick better than what he hit in 249 AB with Scranton last year. And when I look up "AAAA player" in my baseball encyclopedia, Phillips' picture is still there...
2008-05-29 08:48:37
28.   Alex Belth
There was one series, maybe it was a playoff series a few years back where I used titles from each EPMD record...BUSINESS
2008-05-29 08:57:05
29.   horace-clarke-era
Interesting long post OYF, and yes, hard to MISS what Berkman is doing over there, if one even glances. And Chipper is well north of .400 past the 1/4 mark. My, my.

Me and my main man william are lock-stepped here and I confess I am a bemused at all the outrage, the cries of 'rote managing' that Joba didn't do the 9th. Dudes, you all know, or should know that when it comes to pure pitch counts and endurance prep it does not have to be in the game! Happens every spring during rain outs, happens when pitchers are rehabbing an injury. Joba was to throw 55 full-out pitches, and he DID. End of story!

Girardi managed a critical road game the way he should have, doing what he's paid to do: focus on the win. Mo was (clearly) not tired, had a day off coming, and Joba got his extra 27 pitches in. Me, I'd have been astonished and even (marginally) outraged if Chamberlain had pitched the 9th in a key getaway game with a day off coming.

What they did RIGHT was get him his work yesterday, leaving at least open the possibility of throwing starter 75 pitches in Kennedy's place next week. If Joba had done the whole 9 yards (or 55 throws) today, in a sim game (and note that this was discussed as possible, which makes the point that it does NOT have to be in a game!) he'd have been a day off for the possible start.

I see nothing wrong and everything done right here. Except maybe Joba walked a couple of guys on purpose to get his count up. (Kidding. Really.)

2008-05-29 09:37:24
30.   pistolpete
23 And this is why I'm not a writer, 'right now'.
2008-05-29 10:01:39
31.   mehmattski
According to hittrackeronline.com, Giambi's homer yesterday traveled 449 feet, the 25th furthest homer hit this season:

http://www.hittrackeronline.com/hrdetail.php?id=2008_1341

Unfortunately, they don't have data on Tuesday's homer, which may have gone further. Interestingly, Adam Dunn has 3 of the top 10 furthest hit balls this year.

2008-05-29 10:03:27
32.   Raf
29 Girardi managed a critical road game the way he should have, doing what he's paid to do: focus on the win.

Which is why Hawkins was pitching the 11th a couple of nights ago :)

2008-05-29 10:19:28
33.   horace-clarke-era
32 I haven't been a Joe G fan this spring but who would you have had out there? Veras was his only other option, unless he went with a starter needing work.
2008-05-29 10:29:23
34.   Chyll Will
21 Shoulda said something earlier, I woulda hooked you up >;)
2008-05-29 10:30:09
35.   RIYank
I think Raf's point was that "focus on the win" often gets you in trouble further down the line. If you put the blinders on and refuse to think about future games, it really does come back to bite you. As in, you're stuck with Hawkins or Veras in a critical situation.

Using Rivera in the ninth last night is less likely to be a problem, since there's an off day now. But Mo only has a finite number of innings this season. We might be really sorry not to have one of his great ones some time in September -- or, knock on wood, October.

2008-05-29 11:04:43
36.   Bama Yankee
20 Glad to see my boy, Andy getting another shot. I've often thought that he would be a better fit over in the NL (since he can play several positions and they can afford to carry his weaker bat in those lineups over there). Andy is truly one of the good guys in baseball and has had some terrible luck personally. Maybe this time everything will work out for him. Go Andy and Roll Tide!!
2008-05-29 11:27:40
37.   Raf
33 No reason not to leave Joba in there, especially since he needs the work. Veras was the only other option? Britton wasn't available?

Having said that, I have no problem with going with Rivera, I'm just saying that if it were about focusing on the win, we would've seen Joba out there for the 11th (or maybe earlier in the game), instead of Hawkins.

35 My point was piggybacking on Mehmattski's post in 5 . If we're talking about focusing on the win, then there's no way Hawkins gets the call before Joba.

There has to be a balance, of course, between thinking of the future and or focusing on the win.

2008-05-29 11:37:48
38.   OldYanksFan
7 You are correct about OPS+ and the Big Hurt is historically underrated.

ESPN uses a simpler version of PF. My issue with both versions is that the primary stat to calculate OPS+ is Runs Scored by Home/Away teams as opposed to OPS of the players in those games. While a higher OPS TENDS to lead to higher scores, there is NO direct correlation between RS and OPS. There are many, many games played every year where Team A might have had a better team OPS but scored less runs.

Using 2006 numbers, I compiled a simply PF using ACTUAL OBP and SLG (OPS) as opposed to Runs Scored. This can be viewed at:
http://www.toursdirectory.com/baseball/pf.asp
The last 3 columns are all you need to see.

So PF, calculated using OPS compared to RS, varied from Runs Scored by -10% to 7.7%. That a huge difference when comparing players. I would love for someone to show me what assumptions I'm making that are incorrect.

If you compare TWO 2006 players, 1 from Cinn. and 1 from Ana, if the players coincidentally have the same OPS+ using my PF, below is how they would compare using a RS PF.

Player.. -A- - -B-
OPS PF 150 - 150
RS. PF 165 - 138
diff... +10%. -7.7%

2008-05-29 11:42:37
39.   Rob Middletown CT
One of the creative things that Torre did a few times (and I liked a lot) was bringing in a starter for an inning on their throw day (he used both Pettitte and Wang that way, if I recall correctly). So, whose throw day was it during that 11-inning game?

That was a tactic I thought had real promise, and give Torre credit for. He thought outside the box there, and it's something I'd love Girardi to consider.

2008-05-29 11:43:45
40.   OldYanksFan
Now that we are 1/3rd through the season, I would love to see how people think the final standing will be... or at least the #1 and #2 teams in each division. So far we have a number of 'surprise teams' playing both much better and much worth then expected.

Over achievers: TB, Balt, Florida, White Sox, Oakland, St. Louis.
Under achievers: Yankees, Cleveland, Detroit, Colorado, San Diego, Seattle, Mets.

A LOT of baseball seems upside-down.
Is there a massive changing of the guard, or will things 'normalize' by October?

2008-05-29 11:46:32
41.   RIYank
39 I guess it would have been Moose.
2008-05-29 11:46:56
42.   OldYanksFan
39 EXACTLY!!! Maybe Joe G. didn't want to 'offend' LaTroy, but that's what we needed for the 11th inning. Either Joba, Pettitte or Wang? I'm not sure of the rotation, but the pitcher should have been ABHOV*
(* anybody BUT Hawkins or Veras)
2008-05-29 12:05:56
43.   horace-clarke-era
39 42 GUys, I did raise this as an option and suspect it would have surfaced if the game went further. Other managers have used it of course, and it is a staple of playoffs. Remember Johnson vs us, or Coney for us vs Seattle? Halladay relieved for the Jays earlier this year. But Pettitte? OYF, you know that wasn't on. He started the next night, remember (actually, kind of the SAME night it was so late!). I think it was Moose's day, and by that late hour he had likely thrown his workout day pitches.

BUt, before we go all nutso on Hawkins: before the 2 bad outings against Baltimore he'd had EIGHT straight scoreless appearances, some for 2 innings.

Further, with Joba leaving the pen, as we have all also noted, Hawkins and Farnsworth are what we have as vets for late. Learn to live with it? It will not always be pretty. Some games will also be lost if Mo pitches in ties (as everyone seems to like, including me) and the bullpen runs backwards. But surely it is NOT a failure of managing in that situation? ABHOV? The eight straight for zip meant ... zip?

And I also think it is unfair to Girardi to say he should have used Joba over Hawkins as the decision HAD been made to stretch both his pitches and (of necessity) his innings-between outings. That is a team executive call.

Maybe he could have rolled Chamberlain for that inning and then had him throw 40 in the pen (I'm the one noting it can be done and IS done) but even though I'm still not a G-man fan, I'm not against either bullpen move last 2 games, and I feel same way as I did with a lot of the Torre-pen-bashing: managers get fired for bullpen weaknesses, and they look like geniuses when the bullpen is strong.

2008-05-29 12:56:14
44.   ny2ca2dc
42 Torre brought Wang in to close a game 2 years ago, vs. the O's. I was there! I think it was the only time he used a starter on a throw day to actually close a game; if i recall correctly, Andy was mostly used in middle relief on throw days. Andy came up huge first month or two of last year, when the BP was totally overworked.

I thought using Hawkins 2 days ago was the right call, but it still made me sick. I knew there was know way he would hold the lead, and lo and behold...

2008-05-29 13:00:40
45.   Shaun P
43 Re: Hawkins. Ok, his last 8 appearances, he hadn't been scored on. But that's a really small sample.

His last 3 years, his K/9 and K:BB have both been going the wrong way. His last truly excellent season was 2004. He's primarily a flyball pitcher (last year seems to have been an aberration). They tried Hawkins, it hasn't worked out, and I think I'd jettison him in favor of one of the guys at AAA. They at least have growth potential. Hawkins is what he is, and isn't going to get better except by fluke.

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