Monday, October 4, 2010

Risky decision

Let's hope, for his sake, Joe Girardi knows what he's doing.

The Yankee manager essentially gave the AL East title to the Rays by his moves over the weekend. Now I know we can all look to the pathetic numbers the Bombers compiled hitting with men in scoring position, but the fact remains that if Girardi would have managed differently, home-field advantage throughout the playoffs was there for the taking.

Up 6-4 late in the second game of the doubleheader against the Red Sox on Saturday, who did Girardi turn to close out the game to keep the Yankees a game a head of the Rays in the standings? The answer: Royce Ring and Ivan Nova.

Why? Good question. In the first game, Girardi used his top relievers of David Robertson, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera in a game the Yankees won in extra innings.

I have no problem with using those guys in that situation. But because he did that, Girardi was too worried (in my opinion) that he was going to hurt one of those pitchers by using them twice in the same day. Less than 24 hours later, however, Robertson, Logan and Chamberlain were used in a game the Red Sox cruised past the Yanks.

Now I know Tampa won on Sunday to finish a game ahead of the Yanks and that if the teams tied, the Rays would have won the division by virtue of a tiebreaker, but no one is going to convince me that had the Yankees had destiny in their own hands on Sunday, they would have played the game differently.

As I said earlier, Girardi has been too cautious with this team's health down the stretch, although the Yankees are an older team. But now instead of having the extra game at home for the remainder of the AL playoffs, the Yankees will have to be road warriors if they want to defend their World Series title.

If it works, Girardi's a genius. If not, he might very well be managing the Cubs next season.

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