Friday, July 2, 2010

Girardi baffled by inconsistent bullpen

It’s good that Joe Girardi shaves his head because otherwise we could count the new white hairs that appear every time he calls for someone not named Mariano Rivera to come out of his bullpen.

The New York Yankees bullpen imploded again today, turning what was a tight 1-0 lead into a 6-1 loss. Afterward, Girardi tried to explain what went wrong, but had trouble coming up with answers.

“We’re just not making the pitches when we have to at times,” Girardi said. “We need to be better.”

Joba Chamberlain’s struggles are the most perplexing, characterized by his Jekyll and Hyde routine. He was helped out initially by a fantastic play by Brett Gardner, slamming against the wall to take away an extra base hit. Girardi seemed most frustrated by the fact that Joba gave up a walk to the next batter rather than a hit, eventually giving up the tying run. Joba was bothered by not being aggressive enough, particularly after AJ Burnett pitched so well.

“He pitched his tail off … that’s really, really frustrating because he went out and did what he needed to do for us to win and we didn’t do our job,” Chamberlain said.

I also remember watching Chan Ho Park pitch in Arizona and wondering why this guy was still on the team and why Girardi keeps sending him out there. The manager gave a little bit of explanation when he talked about Chop having a history of throwing the ball well. But he hasn’t looked good recently, except for a clean two-inning stint against the Seattle Mariners this week. Today, he gave up the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk before giving up the triple that broke the game wide open.

“In this league, you have to make pitches,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Girardi is rightly determined to protect Mo, who only pitched one inning today before giving the ball up to David Robertson, the eventual loser of the game. As much as Girardi might have been tempted to ask Mo for one more inning to see if his offense could finish off the game, the manager knows he has to protect the most valuable 40-year-old arm in the big leagues and wasn’t willing to ask him to go two innings after he threw one frame for the save yesterday.

“I got to be careful how many times I do that,” Girardi said. “That’s not something that I’m going to push the envelope because we can’t afford to hurt him.”

Brian Cashman recently said that his bullpen is better than it has performed, implying that he was not actively looking for help in that area. He may want to rethink that after today.

“This is the group that we have right now,” Girardi said. “They have to get it done.”

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