MLB News & Views @ MLBRT 10/12

This week’s questions…

Joe Girardi (right) looks on after no “challenge” in game two of the ALDS.

1) In the 6th inning of game 2 lead of the Indians/Yankees ALDS, the Yanks led 8-3. Then with two men on base, two out and two strikes on the batter, an inside pitch to batter Lonnie Chisenhall was ruled a HBP by the home plate umpire. Yankees’ catcher Gary Sanchez, who had caught the ball immediately yelled “foul ball” and then turned to the dugout and indicated that the call should be challenged. If overturned, it would be strike three; inning over. Yanks ahead 8-3 coming to bat. TV replays appeared to show that the ball did hit the knob of Chisenhall’s bat and the likelihood of the challenge being upheld was good.

Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi declined to appeal the HBP and the bases were now loaded. The next batter hit a HR, score was now 8-7. The Indians later tied the game on another HR and then won it in extra innings 9-8.  

Girardi’s decision to not challenge the HBP, which he at first defended and then the next day admitted was a truly bad gaffe and that he had screwed up, has led many to question whether owner Hal Steinbrenner will renew his expiring contract.

In your opinion, is this one “bad decision”, especially in the playoffs when every call, every decision needs to right, a serious enough breach of managerial responsibility to validate Girardi being let go?

Joe: I am a die hard and make no bones about it  Yankee fan. Been one since I was knee high to a grasshopper which amounts to about  60 years or so now. Yeah, I’m that old.

Girardi at post-game two press conference.

I watched that game and then incident described in the question unfold, I was, to say the least, incredulous that Girardi did not challenge the HBP call. Sorry, but when your own catcher insists the HBP call was a “foul ball” that he had just caught, which meant strike three; inning over… YOU NEED TO CHALLENGE THAT DAMN CALL! I went on to say that if the Yankees somehow went on to lose the game that it would be all Girardi’s fault. We know what happened next, and then, eventually in extra innings. Lets’s just say that after Chisnehall’s grand slam the people in Connecticut probably thought an earthquake was occurring from the amount of energy I exerted in cussing out Girardi and suggesting he have impossible acts happen to his body before Hal Steinbrenner should fire his butt.

Then after the game, in his post-game presser, when Girardi made his lame excuses for why he didn’t challenge the call, I was even more incensed at him. The next day every time I saw his face… on TV, in the paper my anger would just begin rising. Now, understand as someone who lives in the NY metro area, I have had times when I have thought Girardi has been more than an ass before and said so… I probably watch close to 130 Yankee games… if not more… a year. But overall, I have always thought he was the correct guy to manage the team. Not after that call… or non call as the case was.

It is now days later and I have since calmed down… he has since said, “I screwed up”… and I believe that he should not be fired over that one call. Maybe taken to the woodshed by Hal and GM Brian Cashman… but not fired.  I believe Girardi is the right man.. and teacher… to manage the Baby Bombers into their very bright future to come, regardless what happens in this year’s version of MLB’s post season tournament.

Steve: The mere fact that the New York Yankees are in the playoffs is enough for me to say Girardi keeps his job. They were not expected to do much this year as young as they are. So, yeah, he had a bad decision, it happens. He has been the manager of the Yankees for too long for him to be allowed to walk.

Steinbrenner is a smart business guy, and knows Girardi is the right man for the job. Look, he did what some managers would not do. He admitted he made a mistake, he took ownership of the situation. Girardi will be the Yankees manager for the foreseeable future.

2) After Chris Sale was once again relatively lackluster in MLB’s post-season tournament (8.38 ERA and 2 losses) and other members of the Boston Red Sox staff sort of underperformed as well (ERA of 6.35 and BA Against of .333) do you see the Sox making any wholesale changes in their pitching staff… that is… outside of somehow trading Sale and/or David Price who have long term expensive contracts?

Chris Sale (left) & David Price

Joe: Chris Sale is not going anywhere regardless of what he did during September and eventually in the playoffs in October. Price… they would have to eat some salary but he could be traded somewhere to a pitching needy team. The real problem is what comes after Sale and Price in their rotation… Doug Fister and Rick Porcello? Please…

Fister was 5-9 wit ha 4.88 ERA this year. He is an 82-85 career pitcher for his career with an ERA of 3.68. Throw out two years when his ERA was under 2.50 and that career ERA balloons to over 4.00. In my opinion he sucks. As a Yankee fan I was very happy he was signed by the Sox.

Porcello won the AL Cy Young last year. H was very lucky. He had a once in a lifetime year. Outside of that year he is an exceptionable pitcher. His career record is 118- 99. Throw out his 22-4 record from last year and that record is 96-95. Barely a .500-plus pitcher… not very good.

So yes, the short answer is, they need to make some wholesale changes in their pitching staff.

Steve: Well, they did just get rid of John Farrell for reasons I could not tell you.

I think that trading Price and or Sale is a serious possibility depending on where the Red Sox are going. I don’t see them unloading Sale at this stage in the game, but Price could have some value to get a top guy on the market, but it is going to require them to eat some of his salary to do it, as no one will pay Price’s contract the way it sits now.

3) Jose Altuve very well may win the AL MVP and then add the ALCS MVP to his mantle, if he continues his current pace in the playoffs… 8 hits, 3 HRs and .533/.632/1.133 slash line. Regardless of who wins the ALDS between Cleveland and NY… can either pitching staff rein in his stellar and very sizzling playoff performance? 

Jose Altuve

Joe: My suggestion to the Yankees (since I waited until this morning to write this answer and they beat Cleveland last night) is… I don’t think Altuve is at the point where you walk him every chance you get but he is at the level where you are not going to stop him from getting his hits so just try and pitch to him very carefully and limit what he can do with his bat. 

Steve: No, and they should not try.

Here is the thing, as good as Altuve is, it will take more than just Jose Altuve to beat the Indians and the Astros. They can play it as “don’t let Altuve beat us”, but they both have so many more weapons, they just need to play their game and try to get everyone out. If, they worry about one guy, it will be a short series for either the Yankees or Indians.

4) In your opinion, who wins this years’ ALCS between Houston and TBD between NY/Cleveland?

Astros & Yanks in ALCS

Joe: Again, since I waited until this morning to write this answer and the Yanks beat Cleveland last night.. the Yankees. I said in an earlier MLBRT that I believed in the Baby Bombers and that the Yanks would beat Cleveland. I still believe and I see no reason to change now.

Yanks in seven.

Steve: It is so hard to pick against Cleveland. They have been there before, they are probably the more complete team as it pertains to offense, defense, pitching, and bullpen. However, I really think this is a year of destiny for Houston, so I like them coming out of the American League and likely beating the Indians.

I think it goes 7 games if it is Cleveland, and 6 if it is New York.

5) In your opinion who would LA be better suited playing in the NLCS… Washington or Chicago? Why?

LA be better suited playing in the NLCS… Washington or Chicago?

Joe: I think Chicago because I feel Chicago is just not as dangerous with their bats as they were last year.

Washington has sort of been sleepwalking offensively so far in the playoffs but I think they have the more dangerous hitters for the Dodgers pitchers to face.

Steve: It would be better off for LA, playing Washington. The Nats are pretty beat up, and like the Dodgers have struggled to win in the post season. The Cubs are red hot right now, and while the bats have not really come to life in the division series, they have the ability to crank out 7 or 8 runs. They have proven that they can beat Kershaw, as they proved that last year in a 5-0 series clinching win over Kershaw and the Dodgers.

The Cubs are playoff tested, and would be a tougher out than Washington I think.

Extra Innings…

Once again, the Yankees’ shortstop leads them to victory in the playoffs… this time his name is Didi Gregorius.

Didi Gregorius celebrates his second homer of the night to help eliminate the Indians in ALDS

From… “In the winner-take-all Game 5 of the American League Division Series, (Didi) Gregorius’… two homers for the ages in the first three innings chased Corey Kluber and provided the Yankees with the runs they needed to advance to the American League Championship Series with a 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. They overcame a two-games-to-none deficit and eliminated the defending AL champions, who were the hottest team entering the postseason.

“… the Yankees will face the Astros in Houston beginning Friday, with the winner of the best-of-seven ALCS going to the World Series. Gregorius will arrive in the next round further cemented as (Derek) Jeter’s heir.”

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