When your team goes through its worst stretch of the season, losing seven of its last eight including its first four-game losing streak of the season, there's bound to be second-guessing of the manager by the barrelful.
While I am a Joe Girardi fan and for the most part feel he's done a very good job at the helm, he's certainly made a number of head-scratching moves that may have indirectly (or directly) led to some of the tough losses the Yankees have taken of late. Monday night's walk-off loss to the Rays in particular seemed to have raised the ire of just about every fan in Yankeeland, given that Joe went with the two worst pitchers on his staff to try to preserve a 0-0 tie in extra innings. Of course, we later found out that there was a method to the madness, as there often is.
As fans, we're simply not privy to the inner workings of managing a Major League ballclub and have no idea as to the availability of a given player on a given day. We only know what the beat reporters and YES anchors tell us -- if, for example, David Robertson needs a day off unrelated to injury, it's not like he holds a press conference or Tweets it out for the entire world to see.
That being said, to a certain extent we can call into question some of Girardi's in-game tactical moves, particularly on offense. I for one have no use for bunting -- especially with a team like the Yankees that's been built on patience and power -- and yet Joe's shown a periodic desire to opt for the bunt, seemingly more often lately than earlier in the year. Moshe at TYU has a spectacularly comprehensive breakdown of all of the bunts Girardi's called for this season; as you can see a fair number of them were mostly pointless. Joe's also made several bizarre pinch-running moves, particularly with regards to inserting a pinch-runner and then not having them attempt a stolen base. And there have also been instances where he didn't insert a pinch-hitter in a situation that sorely called for one, or inserted one too late.
In any event, given the spate of Girardi critiques, I wanted to take a moment to give Joe props for mostly making the right calls in last night's game. Or perhaps I should be thanking him for not overmanaging. Granted, running out to a 6-0 lead in the early going certainly helps make your decisions easier, but it was still a relief to not have to see Joe try to force the action. There were no pinch-runners; no stolen bases; no hit-and-runs; no unfortunate sacrifice bunts (I was very excited that Joe didn't have Curtis Granderson bunt in the top of the 10th with no outs and Derek Jeter on first), let alone sac bunts in favorable pitcher's counts; and no baffling pitching changes.
You could make the case for Ivan Nova being lifted a few batters earlier than he was in the fifth -- in hindsight, he probably should've been pulled after the Carl Crawford walk -- but I for one didn't have an enormous problem seeing if he could wiggle out of it. I was also hoping for a Jorge Posada pinch-hit appearance in the top of the seventh, but given the ultimate outcome of the game I'd say that decision worked out alright.