Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fire Rob Parker?

I don't want to have to do this, Rob Parker. Don't make me do it. Oh lord. Fine.
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi likely won't win American League Manager of the Year.

Rick Perry likely won't be elected president in 2012. But there's a disturbing probability that each of these could happen despite mountains of evidence that neither man has offered a shred of value added to his representative organization.  I like the direction that this article is going, Mr. Parker, please continue.

In fact, he'll be lucky to finish in the top three in the voting.

I don't know. If I had a ballot, it would probably say Joe Maddon, Manny Acta, and Ron Washington, but a lot of people just look at who went to the playoffs, so Girardi's name will be on there. But I also think that Manager of the Year is preposterous since managers are essentially irrelevant -- what you need is a GM affiliated with the Army of the 12 Monkeys and some dork that was in Get Him to the Greek. Haven't you seen that Moneyball movie?

Sadly, most baseball writers/voters just can't look past the Yankees' $200-million payroll to actually see what he's done.

Earned an attendance certificate? Filled out the lineup card? This is why Manager of the Year is as stupid an award as an ESPY. Winning games is its own reward for a team or a manager. Winning individual awards is something only non-true Yankees like A-Fraud cares about.

Plus, there's an anti-New York vote that swirls around Baseball America whether folks want to admit it or not.

You do know that Baseball America is a publication, right? One that's infinitely more esteemed in its coverage of baseball than the Red Sox crap factory that employs you?

But if there was ever a manager who deserves some credit for getting his team into the postseason this year -- the Yankees clinched the AL East title with a doubleheader sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday -- it's Girardi.

If there was ever a manager who deserves some credit for getting his team into the postseason this yearYou tricked me, Rob Parker. I was going to suggest that EVER was a very high threshold -- that you would have to be saying that Joe Girardi outmanaged Gil Hodges in 1969 or Sparky Anderson in the 1970s, Bobby Cox in any of the years between 1991 and 2005, every year John McGraw managed... No, instead you are saying he is the most credit-worthy of all time* *if you measure all time by considering only this year. You're still demonstrably, ludicrously, and insanely wrong by any rational measure (Kirk Gibson, anyone?), but you're clever. (Oh, wait, you mean credit like credit ratings, credit limits, right? Because obviously since he has a $200+ million payroll...oh Jesus. You're serious.)

No one wants to remember spring training when all the talk was about the Boston Red Sox. Some, or so it seemed, wanted to call off the season and hand the Sox the division title, without ever playing a game.

The Yankees, who seemingly did nothing in the offseason to improve themselves, were flying under the radar.

There were some baseball experts, shockingly, who predicted the Yankees wouldn't make the playoffs.

That's right. It was the Red Sox winning the division and the Rays grabbing the wild-card spot out of the AL East.

Hold on. I know you're not done. But your article has, as I see it, one premise.

1. Joe Girardi had to do an exceptional job to get the Yankees into the playoffs.

You are now describing the very idea that someone would SUGGEST that the Yankees might not make the playoffs as "shocking."

Joe Girardi has to do an exceptional job to avoid something that, even in the abstract, is so unlikely to Rob Parker as to be shocking.

Accordingly, there can be no doubt that Ned Yost is the manager of the year. He managed the Royals to a season where they did not make the playoffs.

But with a week to go in the regular season, not only are the Yankees going to the postseason for the third straight year under Girardi, they are on the verge of securing the best record in the league.

A fact so significant that, if every series went its maximum length, they will play a maximum of two more games at home than any team in the playoffs.

And by no means was it a walk in the park. Girardi had to work at it, solve problems and work through dilemmas. He had to guide this team through a slew of injuries as well.

Girardi lost Phil Hughes, Rafael Soriano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to the disabled list at different points in the season. And lost Joba Chamberlain for the year with an elbow injury.

The loss of Hughes along the way would have derailed most clubs' postseason dreams. Not Girardi's Yankees.

Ok, I am an Indians fan. So please...on August 18, the Indians were 1.5 games back in their division. At that time, players who had spent time on the disabled list?

Hm. 3 of the pitchers in the starting rotation and the top 2 pitchers in wins for the club last year (1 - Fausto Carmona, 2 - Carlos Carrasco, and 5 - Mitch Talbot) for 15 days, 15 days, and 66 days, respectively.  The pitcher called up to replace the number 2 starter -- Alex White -- for 70 days before he was traded to Colorado for a plate of Rocky Mountain Oysters and some magic beans.

Plus, A-Rod . . .

Parker, shut the f*** up. I'm not finished.

Every player on the team who had ever attended an All-Star Game in a non-fan capacity.  Grady Sizemore -- 3 different times -- for a combined 64 days. Travis Hafner for 30 days.  Shin Soo Choo for 49 days. Carmona (as mentioned above).  Alas, in July, Asdrubal Cabrera got sent, likely because the rest of his team was currently on the DL, so the Indians could no longer claim to have an exclusive club in their infirmary.

Then their best right-handed reliever (Joe Smith - 15 days), the man who was supposed to play third base and left the Indians starting Jack Hannahan for two months because of his slow recovery from a broken finger (30 days), their woeful first baseman (Matt LaPorta - 18 days), and the guy who was the center fielder for all of last year (168 days as of August 18, alas, he came back in September).

Plus, A-Rod (.281 with 16 HRs and 60 RBI) has struggled through his worst season as a pro.

He is making $30 million a year -- which is pretty much the payroll of all of the Indians other than Travis Hafner. His worst season in history (119 OPS+) would be damn near be the best season of anyone on the Indians (Asdrubal Cabrera is at 120, Carlos Santana is at 124, Hafner's at 127 in his half season). The Indians were within 1.5 games of achieving the same thing that you're celebrating right now despite the fact that nearly every player on their team would have had to get markedly better to have his season.

Girardi's ability to hold the team together didn't go unnoticed by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

"Joe and his staff have done a great job," Cashman said before Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. "Obviously, we have a lot of talent, we have a lot of depth and it showed this year because it was needed.

"And we've had a lot of guys also step up. Some guys we knew had that in them, other guys came in and surprised us."

I'm pretty sure that the New York Post headline for this statement would have read: CASHMAN: GIRARDI IS WORTHLESS. "Obviously, we have a lot of talent, we have a lot of depth and it showed this year because it was needed." 

Girardi also was impressive with the way he handled delicate situations with his stars, namely Jeter and Jorge Posada.

Many wanted Girardi to give up on Jeter when he was struggling during the first two months of the season. Sports-talk radio was screaming for Girardi to drop Jeter from leadoff to ninth in the batting order.

And it would have made perfect sense for him to do so. His decision not to do so does not have any correlation with Jeter's resurgence after coming off the disabled list. Only an idiot would...

Girardi, to his credit, never wavered on his future Hall of Fame shortstop. And Jeter delivered for his skipper. Since coming back from the disabled list July 4, he's hitting .336 (90-for-268).


Girardi also handled the Posada situation properly. He benched the former All-Star catcher when it was necessary. And it took guts to do it to a player who has meant so much to this franchise. But Girardi had to do what was best for the team, not play favorites.

What was best for the team, apparently, was playing a person who is not hitting in a position that is designated solely for hitting on an everyday basis until the end of August. What was best for the team was playing that lousy hitter as a DH with an 88 OPS+ in a mere 109 games (for the record, 20 more than Hafner's played in all year). 

Give Ozzie Guillen the Manager of the Year. His DH is even worse and he's played him even more.

He also had to work a lot of different players into the lineup in order to fill in for the players that went down, and keep his older team fresh in the process. For sure, Girardi earned his pay this season.

You know, I actually thought this had to be true. It's not. Not even close. The Yankees have a total of 13 players with more than 50 plate appearances. In other words, they have never gone deeper than the Opening Day roster.

for comparison:

Boston - 16; Chicago - 16; Cleveland - 21; Detroit - 18; Someplace where they aren't Angels of someplace that isn't the first place - 15; Texas - 15

I admit my 50 PA cutoff is relatively arbitrary. But for the Yankees, there's only one player close to breaking it -- Jesus Montero -- and he made his debut in September. The Yankees have 16 players with more than 30 plate appearances and 4 other guys who have 11 or fewer. I would safely wager that Joe Girardi has worked his primary hitters for more games than any team in baseball. And the only reason it might not be a lock is the ineptitude of a DH that he platooned with a much better DH in Andruw Jones.

"Joe has done an incredible job and doesn't get enough credit," said Rodriguez amid the Yankees' celebrations. "To me, he is the manager of the year. He's been terrific."

Best of all, Girardi doesn't believe his job is over by just making the playoffs.

"It's the first step of three that you want, to me, to accomplish in the regular season," Girardi said. "First one is to get in.

"The second one is to win your division. And the third one is to have home-field advantage throughout. It's the first step, and you've got a shot now."

Thanks to Girardi, whether others want to acknowledge it or not.

Well done, Mr. Parker. That second paragraph should just say "Best of all -- obvious cliche proving that Joe Girardi does not accidentally say 'yep, we made the playoffs. Now it's time to snort some coke and bang some hookers. F*** the World Series." That's true. By having what is likely the healthiest starting lineup in baseball, the highest payroll in baseball, by winning a division where his team was basically given a 10 game head start because the Red Sox and Rays both started the season 4-16, and overcoming the burden of having to pencil 5 of his starters (4 of whom are all stars) into the lineup for more than 145 games, and overcoming a 15-day DL stint to a player who was atrocious, an injury to a starting pitcher with a 6.00 ERA, and two relievers -- a setup man his GM didn't want (and who had pitched his way out of the eighth inning role anyway) and a headcase who had been demoted out of the 8th inning role and was replaced by an exponentially more effective LUIS AYALA.

Put me down for voting Larry Rothschild the pitching coach of the year. Joe Girardi should be fired and replaced by a creaky old mimeograph that can make blurry copies of the same lineup every game.

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