As always when a playoff exit occurs for the New York Yankees, blame is quick to be spread around various players and coaches. In this sense, I am no different. However, even through the struggles of certain players for the Yanks, I feel the majority of the blame must fall on the manager, Joe Girardi.
In certain situations, Girardi seemed like he didn't care. There were times when he didn't do any managing at all, and other times when he decided to over-manage excessively. As great of a work ethic Girardi has, I have never felt that he has the sort of "feel" that Joe Torre had. Torre would make decisions based on how he felt about his players, while Girardi leans on the huge binder of numbers that no one really cares about.
Even when Girardi made a move based on the stats, it made no sense. Here are five examples of players that were affected by poor managerial moves. Some delivered and some didn't, but no matter what the case, they weren't used to their full potential.
How many at-bats did this guy get over five games? One? Maybe?
This fact can be partially due to the fact that Jorge Posada's experience paid off. Also, there are a lack of lefties on the Detroit Tigers staff. However, Girardi should have found a way to get Montero in the lineup, at least for some more pinch-hit efforts.
Maybe the possibility of an offensive replacement for Russell Martin in a later inning should have been considered? Yes, Montero is still a work in progress behind the plate, but if the team is behind by a couple of runs, offense is the most important aspect in that situation.
In an extreme case, maybe even a pinch-hit appearance would have been more suitable for others in the lineup who weren't performing. In any event, Montero proved he could hit home runs in September, and Girardi should have utilized him more often.
Although Ayala was decent during most of the regular season, he began to struggle in September in a big way.
So when the Yanks were down by three in the ninth inning of Game 2, it seemed a bit odd that Girardi would bring in Ayala to hold things down. With the Yankees offense, three runs is a very manageable deficit, even with an inning left. David Robertson seemed like a much better choice in that situation.
What happened? Ayala gave up a run, extending the deficit to four. The Yanks were able to put up two more in the ninth inning, but the situation could have been much more different had there been a one-run deficit to deal with in that rally.
By bringing Ayala in, Girardi almost seemed to be throwing the game away. Another decision that is being criticized by many writers and fans.
Gardner was probably the most effective hitter in the Yankees lineup.
And he hit ninth.
Girardi's stubbornness about the lineup has to be a major factor in the Yanks' downfall. He said that it was too early to switch after two games, but when the series is only a maximum of five games, how does that make any sense? That's 40 percent of the series gone, and still no change.
By Game 3, Gardner should have been leading off. His speed could have set the tone at the top of the lineup and would've made the lineup deeper by sliding everyone down one. Also, he probably would have gained a couple of extra at-bats. Girardi, however, decided to stand pat in his lineup.
This won't be the last time I talk about this.
P.S.: On another note, why did Chavez pinch hit for Gardner in Game 2? Not only did the situation not make any sense, the stats didn't line up, either. That seemed like an easy decision to keep Brett in the game, especially because of his defense. Oh, and Chavez struck out on three pitches.
The workhorse was sorely misused during this five-game series.
First of all, I still firmly believe that CC should have gone in Game 2, setting him up for a possible Game 5 start. Yes, the rest is tricky, but there is no other pitcher in the majors that can handle it better than Sabathia.
Instead, Girardi went the Game 3 route, which only gave him one start in the series. CC under-performed, and the game was lost to Verlander. While having CC available for this final game is a good idea, why was he brought in at that time?
Bringing CC in the fifth inning basically says to the rest of the bullpen that you don't believe in them. Why not put in Cory Wade in that situation?
In general, Girardi showed very poor bullpen management. I still believe Nova isn't hurt at all, and pulling Hughes was just a bad idea. Joe panicked in his decisions, and it hurt big time.
There once was a hitter who could hit any home run with a slight flick of the wrist. Now, in his place there is a hitter who can't catch up to a 90-mph fastball anywhere on the inside half of the plate.
Sadly, that hitter continued to bat cleanup for the vaunted New York Yankees.
Alex Rodriguez just looked lost at the plate. Pitchers threw inside to him on every single at-bat and he still couldn't catch up to the pitches. So why did Girardi continue to bat him fourth?
At best, A-Rod should be sixth in that lineup. By moving Gardner up to the leadoff spot as mentioned before, it would allow Granderson and Cano to occupy the third and fourth spots. Teixeira could stay in fifth, although he didn't hit much better. Then A-Rod would follow up in the next spot.
Making this switch in the lineup could have given a jolt to the team. But because Girardi was too stubborn to make a move, we will never get the chance to know if that change would have worked out.
Even though A-Rod did not produce at the plate, that was expected given his injuries and lack of production. Girardi should have seen this, as everyone else did, and made the adjustment.