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Yanks Need that “Extra Gear” From Girardi in Game 3



By Mike Silva ~ October 3rd, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest, New York Yankees.

Back in August, Bob Klapisch of The Record talked about the failures of Joe Girardi as a manager. He believed that “Girardi is unable to stand in the middle of his clubhouse and ask the Yankees for an extra gear that they need in the playoffs.” Despite winning the World Series in 2009, Girardi’s group has never handled adversity very well. During his first year they folded the tent up in August when things went south. During the ’09 championship season it took a visit in Atlanta from Brian Cashman to kick the team into gear. They never looked back, and blitzed through the remainder of the regular season and playoffs. Last year they took a hard punch from Texas and never recovered after Cliff Lee shut them down in Game 3. Tonight, they face Justin Verlander, a matchup that should have happened on Friday if not for the cruel fate of Mother Nature.

Give Girardi a binder with matchups and “Moneyball Joe” manages with the best of them. Ask him to lead men through choppy waters and he is as tight as a drum. He never seems to rise above the adversity, rather he adds to the tension. When Jim Leyland‘s Tigers came out yesterday with their backs to the wall they played fast and loose. Can we expect to see the same type of performance from the Yankees tonight?

Unlikely, if history is any indicator.

Instead, I expect to see a tight-jawed Girardi and a Yankees team that will squeeze the bat a little tighter than normal.

Advantage Leyland and the Tigers.

***

Even if the Yankees beat Verlander I suspect we are heading back to the Stadium for a Game 5. The ALDS could come down to Ivan Nova against Doug Fister.

Nova is the anti-Joba, a pitcher that was unheralded by the media, struggled at various points of his development, and was nearly a member of the San Diego Padres. Kevin Towers actually selected Nova in the 2008 Rule V draft, but returned him to New York before the start of the ’09 season when he couldn’t find a spot for him on the 25 man roster.

Out of all the young pitchers, Nova might be the best of them all. Sure, Ian Kennedy won 21 games in Arizona, but Nova was able to navigate the challenging AL East. I love Kennedy, but you have to at least call it a tie between him and Nova when it comes to performance. While Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain were the darlings of the system, Nova just kept earning his keep. He didn’t need special rules or 3-inning little league starts to conserve his arm. Nova just went out, competed, and didn’t make any excuses for himself. Brian Cashman has been the one voice raving about Nova for years.

We had a scout tell us last winter that Nova reminded him a lot of Pedro Martinez in terms of his moxie. If you can’t have CC Sabathia starting Game 5, then I believe Nova is the next best option.

I originally said the Tigers would win the series in 5 due to Verlander pitching twice. Now I think they only can win it in 4 since they will have Verlander for only one game. As much as I think Doug Fister will compete, I don’t know if winning a Game 5 at The Stadium is feasible unless you have someone really special starting that ballgame. Verlander is special, Fister is just very good.

Of course, Derek Lowe beat the Yankees in a Game 7 at the old Stadium in 2004. Lowe was very good, not special; although the team he played for could be put in the “special” category.

***

I am not really all that upset for Joe Girardi bringing in Boone Logan, Cory Wade, or Luis Ayala yesterday. Maybe he went with Freddy Garcia a bit too long, but the Yankees bats were the issue. Max Scherzer issues 4 walks. The Yankees had 2 on and none out in the seventh inning. That was where this ballgame was lost.

Wade and Ayala were outstanding during the regular season. Those are the guys he goes too when the Yankees are behind in the game.

I can see the frustration with Girardi, but I am not sure the fourth vs. fifth run made much of a difference in this game.

***

Should Joe Girardi consider starting Eric Chavez at third base tonight against Justin Verlander?

This is not a situation where I am questioning A-Rod’s ability to hit in the postseason. Rather, he is banged up as he hit .191/.345/.353 with three homers in 68 at-bats after coming off the disabled list due to knee surgery. Ever since the hip injury in 2009 A-Rod hasn’t been the same player.

Would you pitch to Robinson Cano or Rodriguez at this point? How much longer will it be till Detroit pitchers not named Verlander decide to go that route?

Chavez is no longer the All Star we saw during his Oakland days, but he is a healthy left-handed bat.

I doubt Joe Girardi sticks his neck out with such a decision. After all, think about the firestorm it would cause, but right now the better option at third might be Chavez.

***

Jose Valverde opening up his mouth after yesterday’s game is quite funny.

“Oh yeah,” he said after Sunday’s game. “It’s over already.”

“Verlander has it [Monday],” Valverde added. “Next day, have the celebration in Detroit — 100 percent. The Yankees have a good team, but I think that’s it for them.”

Phil Coke, who played across the field for the Yanks, warned Valverde the press was writing his comments down. Valverde shrugged and said ”What’s the deal?” he said. “I want it over, because I want my team to go to the second round.”

If anyone is going to have a say in this series not going back to the Stadium, it’s Valverde. Logic says Justin Verlander will go deep tonight, but Jim Leyland has not shown an inclination to push his ace too hard. He could have pitched him yesterday, thus ensuring a Game 5 start at the Stadium. Instead, he went the cautious route and will take Verlander for just Game 3. I can’t see him going nine unless he breezes through the Yankees lineup.

Valverde might be asked to close out two more games. How do the Yankees feel about facing him after they made him sweat out yesterday’s ninth inning? Pretty good I imagine as there doesn’t seem to be the dominance factor you would expect from a closer that didn’t blow a save to date this year.

He was one more big hit away from blowing it. I would have been quiet and thankful I made it through that sweat box unscathed.

Valverde was 49 for 49 in save opportunities this season. The law of averages says he is about to blow one. Those postgame words might come back to bite Valverde.

***

You had to get a little 2001 World Series redux when watching Al Avila drop the potential final out when he slipped by the Yankees on-deck circle on Curtis Granderson’s pop up. I thought a Yankees come-from-behind victory was in the bag after the Avila miscue.

It seems that kind of stuff always happens in favor of the Yankees. Maybe the ghosts relocated to the new Stadium instead of resting in peace. Maybe they aren’t quite as influential, as Valverde got Cano to groundout to end the ballgame.

By the way… where was Brandon Inge on that play? That was the third baseman’s responsibility to call for that ball.

***

Is it just me, or was Yankee Stadium rather sparse this weekend. Yesterday’s attendance was 50,596 (97% capacity), and Friday/Saturday’s game was 50.940 (98% capacity). Overhead shots for both games indicated the actual attendance was far less. As a matter of fact, the overhead shot of the Yankees ninth inning rally yesterday looked like a regular season game in May; not the playoffs.

Michael Kay mocked Red Sox fans earlier this season for leaving Fenway in the eighth inning. His trademark “see ya” was used to wish them goodbye. Kay wasn’t doing the television broadcast, but I wonder if he was equally upset by the performance of the Yankees fans sitting home in his Yankee footie pajamas.

To be fair, the fans that were left made a great deal of noise. You wouldn’t have known how sparse the crowd was unless TBS showed you the overhead shot.

I understand there was rain, but have Yankees fans become that soft they can’t handle a little water? Did all of them retreat to the Hard Rock Cafe? Jim Beam Suites?

Do the fans realize how bad this looks? Disinterested in first round games? Waiting for the second round? Well, maybe you should have stopped by since yesterday could have been the final home game of 2011.

Compare that to Citizens Bank Park last night. Phillies fans braved the rain and stayed for the entire game; a game that ended past midnight. I am sure they had to go to work or school, but they made an exception for the playoffs.

Hey, if the fans are tired of the playoffs it’s ok to send the commissioner a letter rejecting the invitation.

Bad job by Yankees fans.

***

If there is one manager that can derail the Philadelphia juggernaut its Tony LaRussa.

LaRussa nearly was able to pick off the Phils in back to back games. Last night he threw the kitchen sink at them by using his entire bullpen sans Jake Westbrook.

If the Cards beat Cole Hamels in Game 3 what would Charlie Manuel do? Bring back Roy Halladay on short rest? I would assume so.

In order for St. Louis to win this series they are going to have to beat Halladay, and maybe Lee a second time. That is what makes this Phillies team so impossible to beat. What are the odds you touch-up Halladay a second time? What are the odds you can beat Lee twice.

That is why this Phillies team, even when facing adversity, is going to be a tough group to knockout.

***

In the unlikely event the Phillies are eliminated before the World Series, the path to a championship will be wide open. Why not LaRussa’s Cardinals making it to the World Series? Why not the Brew Crew returning to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1982.

The balance of power, however, would shift sharply to the American League. Any of the AL teams would be a huge World Series favorite over a non-Phillies NL club.

If the Phillies are eliminated I would say Tampa is the next best club on paper due to their starting pitching.

***

I said that Deadspin finally met their match when they took on the Yankees and Brian Cashman before the start of the ALDS. In case you don’t know, and based on the lack of media attention it’s possible that you don’t, Deadspin ran a report about an affair the Yankees General Manager supposedly had with a women since 2009. They posted photos of someone that looks like Cashman, and claim it’s from a private investigator hired by the woman’s husband.

Here is the issue: the photos came from friend of Deadspin contributor Pete Nash, free of charge.

Nash is formerly Prime Minister Pete Nice of Def Jam’s 3rd Bass. He is a long time memorabilia collector, and I have been told by those in the industry his merchandise has sometimes been “suspect.”

On September 29th, a judge ruled that Nash could be arrested if he continues to ignore an order to provide tax records and other financial documents to a New Jersey sports memorabilia auction house. The Daily News reports that “Nash has been involved in a protracted legal battle with Robert Edward Auctions and its president Rob Lifson for several years; Lifson claimed in a New Jersey lawsuit that Nash had failed to pay back almost $1 million he borrowed from REA. When Lifson tried to sell the memorabilia Nash had put up for collateral, Nash sued the auctioneer and his business. Lifson filed a counterclaim.” The paper went on to report that “Nash repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked during a deposition about the memorabilia he had put up as collateral for the loans. The judge ultimately ruled for Lifson and ordered Nash to pay REA $760,000 in 2008. In the settlement order signed by Nash, the former rapper acknowledges that he committed fraud.”

So we are to believe photos from an admitted fraudster? Ironic how these pictures surface via Nash around the same time the aforementioned news about a lawsuit is reported.

Back in December when Colin Cowherd of ESPN spread a rumor that A.J. Burnett‘s struggles were related to his going through a divorce, the Yankees pounced and discredited Cowherd in less than 24 hours. Deadspin and Nash probably thought they had the next big “Brett Favre story” on their hands, but they didn’t realize who they were dealing with. The Yankees aren’t champions on the field because of good fortune alone. They run a top tier organization from top to bottom. They aren’t about to be had by a Brooklyn fraudster.

Apparently Nash is coming out with a book on memorabilia. If he didn’t gather any monetary reward for the photos, one has to assume he did this for publicity for the book. What better way to get your name out there then to bring down the General Manager of the New York Yankees during the playoffs. Remember, Gawker Media paid $12,000 for the Brett Favre “dong” photos. Consider me doubtful that has someone close to Nash wasn’t trying to profit from all this.

I grew up in Brooklyn and know the nature of the borough. You don’t live there for as long as I did and not have a nose for BS.  This story never smelled right from the beginning and this former Brooklynite isn’t fooled by what appears to be a ruse the Yankees cut off almost as quickly as it started.

Deadspin and Gawker media is really good at what they do. I am surprised they went to a nuclear war with the Yankees with information that resembles a proverbial peashooter.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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13 Responses to Yanks Need that “Extra Gear” From Girardi in Game 3

  1. Brien Jackson

    Ugh, this is so silly. They don’t need an “extra gear,” they need Girardi to learn how to manage a damn bullpen late in a close playoff game.

  2. Stu B

    What the Yankees need is a better no. 3 starter than Freddy “Home Run” Garcia.

  3. Brien Jackson

    I’m not putting anything on Garcia. He did just fine yesterday, and even came up with a big pitch to strike out Young. He just shouldn’t have been asked to face Miggy and VMart for a third time in that situation. Not with only 11 outs to go and Houdini and the $35 million man sitting in the bullpen. It’s not his fault he was left in too long because Girardi doesn’t want to go to his set up men before their prescribed innings.

  4. Chuck Johnson

    While it should be noted I believe Girardi not to be a good manager, I have no problem with either move he made yesterday.

    I would have hit for Gardner regardless if he used Chavez or not, Girardi’s reasoning he needed someone to “pop one” is sound.

    Using Ayala was a no brainer, give him some work, the game was just about decided, and you lose your travel day, so no rest for the weary heading to Detroit.

    Again, for the most part, Girardi’s a moron, but he was right yesterday with both moves.

  5. Brien Jackson

    If you’re going to remove one of your best players just to give yourself some more power at the plate, shouldn’t you replace him with someone who actually has some power?

  6. Chuck Johnson

    Chavez has more power than Gardner, Brien, but, yeah, could have used Jones in that spot just as well.

  7. Brien Jackson

    Player A: .369 SLG% and .110 IsoP

    Player B: .356 SLG% and .091 IsoP

    Which one is Gardner, and which is Chavez?

    I guess I don’t mind putting someone else in there in the hope that he’ll run into one, but at least put in someone with some real power. Even if Jones and Montero are right-handed, and even if Jones doesn’t hit RHP well, at least he’s got real raw power. If you’re just hoping to get a little bit lucky, that ought to be more important than the platoon situation. Especially since Benoit doesn’t really have a platoon split.

  8. Chuck Johnson

    Chavez is in the starting lineup tonight, I believe, maybe Girardi was just giving him an AB to help get the butterflies out.

  9. Brien Jackson

    If Chavez starts tonight…okay, I don’t even know what I’ll do. I can’t even process that level of stupidity this early in the day.

  10. Chuck Johnson

    Apparently Girardi mentioned after the game yesterday the possibility of giving ARod a day off because of the loss of the travel day, he indicated Chavez would play third and ARod would DH.

    I agree, not too bright, but then again, neither is Joe.

  11. Brien Jackson

    A-Rod DH? Probably the best thing he’s giving them right now (aside from professional at bats) is solid 3rd base defense. So yeah, he probably will DH tonight.

  12. Joseph DelGrippo

    Extra gears are a myth. Robertson definitely should have faced Cabrera. Chavez has no business hitting for Gardner.

  13. Chuck Johnson

    No way Robertson or Soriano should have seen the game yesterday unless the Yankees had the lead.

    In his last five regular season starts, Sabathia had 100 pitches in by the sixth inning, Girardi may feel like he’s going to need three or four innings from his bullpen tonight, and maybe multiple innings from more than one guy.

    The Yanks had two hits through seven yesterday, I’m not suggesting Girardi mailed in the game, but there comes a point where you have to look ahead and do what’s best in the long run.

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