Thursday, March 20, 2008

Does Girardi Ruin Young Arms?

Anonymous Number Two has suggested a post on whether Girardi ruins young pitchers. I like Anonymous Number Two because he doesn't swear at us like Anonymous number one, whom everyone universally hates, including Jesus (I'm a seminary student, I would know). My brother really is the one qualified to take on this post but he's on a train heading to visit me in New York so he's unavailable. I'm more or less utterly unqualified since I could care less about most statistics that aren't initialed W or L. I'm also a sarcastic jerk, a skill I honed in law school (I know, I have way too much education and I should get a job already, but you can't make me).

The story is well known: Girardi, supposedly, forced his young pitchers to throw too many innings, routinely asking them to pitch 9 innings around 150 pitches on consecutive days, so on and so forth. He wins manager of the year, but, knowing that he ruined all his starters in the process he swore at the Marlins owner so that he would be out of town before they figured that out. The main stat cited is ERA and innings pitched. The year Girardi was manager the marlins' starters logged an average of 320 innings. The year after Girardi left all the ERAs sky rocketed, from respectable NL ERAs in the area of 2.5 to almost respectable AL ERAs in the area of 4.2-5.1. (I'm more or less making up these numbers but you get the point). Factually, the Marlins still sucked under Girardi, but they sucked worse when he left them without any pitching.

Many people buy this story, but it has some holes. The first one is the fact that we're dealing with young pitching. Young pitching and consistency year to year are not two things that really go together. So it's hard to tell if Girardi ruined them or they were all under 25.

Another hole is this: besides Dontrelle Willis who the hell was starting for the Marlins? If you can't answer this question without wikipedia you're not allowed to cite me their ERAs, lord knows I have no idea. My brother will probably get here and ramble them off the top of his head in like 3 seconds, but like I said, I'm unqualified to write this post.

There are also pragmatic issues like having no bullpen to go to. I've seen this a lot when we play KC. They got some kid pitching a gem for seven innings, he's out of steam, but you either let him finish or guarantee that your bullpen blows the win for this poor kid who just pitched his heart out. A lot of times they just leave in the young starter. Hey, if he throws his arm out in a season or two he can always A) move to the pen, or B) move back home and live off of endorsing used car dealerships, or B) get a job like the rest of us, well, the rest of you and forget about being the next cy young.

There's also the long term outlook which isn't clear yet. It's one thing to say that the next year the Marlins staff didn't pitch as well. But let's watch for a few years and see if there really is an effect. Again, young pitching is less than consistent.

With all that being said it does raise a legitimate concern. Namely, we've invested a lot of time and effort in our Yankee prospects and we don't want Girardi screwing this up for us. We don't need Girardi to do to Joba, Phil and Ian what Torre did to every reliever ever not named Mo. So we might put in some Girardi Rules. Here's a few suggestions:

1. Just because Joba's in the Pen doesn't mean that you can bring him in during the second inning and take him out in the 9th for Mariano.

2. Watch pitch counts over one hundred. Get the kids out around 110, unless their pitching a no hitter or perfect game.

3. Use Kyle Farnsworth. I know, it's not the best option, but it'll save the kids.

With rules such as these the young arms will be protected. Besides, Girardi will have Cashman and Hank looking over his shoulder. If they think he's overusing the kids they'll let him know. I think Hank writes his memos on pink slips. And we have the added protection of the fact that no matter how edgy Girardi is, he's not telling Hank to "shut the #@&$ up!"


Butch said...

Girardi burned out Anibal Sanchez, Scott Olsen and Josh Johnson in September, when the Marlins were out of the race.

The worst was Johnson, who he sent back out after a long rain delay.

Maybe Girardi is one of those guys who thinks a 23-year-old throwing 140 pitches builds character... maybe the general manager gave him specific instructions to have these guys throw as many innings as possible... maybe he knew he was going to get fired anyway and did it as a "screw you" to the owner.

In any event, let's hope he learned from his mistakes and won't repeat them in the Bronx.

Reverend JR Davis said...

Bottom line is that the Yankees have the best front office in baseball, and EVERYONE around the organization knows these kid's innings limits by heart. If Joe tries to put one of them back out on the mound after a long rain delay, I wouldn't be suprised to see Hank run out on the field himself to call in a reliever. I understand what hapened in Florida, but the front office philosophies of these two teams are comletely different and this will not be an issue (until we get to the World Series).

Bucky7588 said...

with all due respect, i wouldn't say we have that great of a front office rev. I mean, as much as it hurts me to say it (like passing a large kidney stone) Theo Epstein is a GREAT GM. Cashman is losing his touch I think.

anonymous number two said...

Thank you for the informative post. I feel better able to jeer Girardi with confidence when the time comes and it will come.You must be a Jesuit seminarian. By the way, I have it on good authority that anonymous number two is a she not a he.

Roberto Alejandro said...

damn it, I knew I should've gone with the he/she, since I wasn't sure. But then I thought, a he might take that personally, you know, on account of our frail male egos, so I went the other way. My apologies.