Melky Saves Joe’s Butt

July 1, 2009 – 11:55 am

Melkman Delivers AgainNYY 8, Seattle 5. Last week Joe Girardi did the Yankee offense a huge favor by getting ejected from a game, which apparently was all it took to awaken them from a rather deep slump — and they’ve been on an offensive tear ever since. But last night, after Alex Rodriguez came up with a clutch two-run home run in the 7th which should easily have been the game-winner, Joe pulled one of his bigger bonehead moves by bringing in Brian Bruney, who promptly blew that lead and left the Yankees in dire straits. But fortunately the Yankee hitters apparently decided to re-pay Joe for what he’d done for them last week, and so they saved his butt with a huge 3-run eighth inning. Instead of A-Rod having the game-winner, it was Melky Cabrera yet again coming up with the big hit to regain the lead.  And the Yankees won in spite of Joe’s stupid bullpen management.

It boggles the mind how so many managers continue to follow this “bullpen by committee” strategy. What it amounts to is that you are basically running through your bullpen trying to find someone who will blow the lead. Why in the world would you not want to stick with a reliever who has given you one good inning and has plenty left to give you another good inning? And it’s particularly stupid when that reliever happens to be a starter by trade, who can easily give you multiple innings. And on top of that, someone who actually needs to get the innings in to keep up his arm strength in case you might need him to jump back in to the starting rotation at some point. And to even top that, he hasn’t given up a single run in his last 6 appearances, allowing only 3 H over 8.1 innings. Leaving Phil Hughes in to pitch the 8th inning last night is as close to an automatic call as you can get in baseball managing. Yet Joe Girardi’s brain totally shut down and in came Brian Bruney, and immediate disaster. One would like to think this will finally be the learning experience Joe needs to get out of this “bullpen by committee” mode, but somehow I doubt it.

Meanwhile, Joba Chamberlain turned in yet another good-but-not-great start, which is getting to be his modus operandi. He seems to be settling in to a consistent routine of giving you 5 or 6 innings and keeping you in the game, but nothing more than that. In his 6 June starts, only once did he fail to make it through 5 innings, but only once did he get past 6 innings. And he gave up either 2 or 3 runs in every one of those starts. The reality is that he’s still very young and hopefully will do nothing but get better. But for now, he seems to be stuck in this “fair to middling” mode — which of course is nothing but fodder for the Joba-to-the-bullpen folks. Right now, though, he’s essentially the No. 4 starter and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

Photo: Yanoo! Sports

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