The Joe Girardi Show: Season 5, Episode 1

Dellin Betances

I wanted the Yankees to go 4-2 in their six games against the Cubs and Rays this past week. After winning the four-game series against the Red Sox at the Stadium the weekend before, I thought 4-2 was very doable between a two-game series and four-game series and I didn’t care how the Yankees won their four games, I just wanted them to win them.

The Yankees did end up going 4-2 in the six games, so I shouldn’t have anything to question. But I do. And I do because Joe Girardi made some very questionable decisions over the weekend in Tampa Bay that nearly cost the Yankees my 4-2 goal and could have sent them to Boston this week reeling from a three-game losing streak. The Yankees prevented the losing streak to happen and Girardi’s decision making worked out, but that doesn’t mean over the course of the season his choices won’t cost the Yankees.

I was hoping to make it through April without having to do this, but after this weekend, I thought it was necessary to fill in for Michael Kay on my version of The Joe Girardi Show. After only 19 games, it’s time for the fifth season premiere.

Why don’t you trust Dellin Betances?
Right now the bullpen pecking order (with David Robertson), according to Joe Girardi is:

1. David Robertson
2. Shawn Kelley
3. Adam Warren
4. David Phelps/Matt Thornton
5. Dellin Betances

The problem here is that after Robertson, Betances is the best reliever the Yankees have and actually has the best stuff and velocity of the entire bullpen. In eight innings, he has has allowed ONE hit, that’s ONE hit, while walking six and striking out 14.

The bullpen pecking order should be:

1. David Robertson
2. Dellin Betances
3. Shawn Kelley
4. Matt Thornton
5. David Phelps
6. Adam Warren

Over the weekend, Betances entered a game the Yankees were winning 8-2 in the eight inning and pitched the last two innings of the eventual 10-2 win. Then two days later, Betances entered a game the Yankees were losing 12-1 and was asked to get five outs. Is it possible the best non-closer reliever on the Yankees is viewed by his manager as an innings eater?

According to the way he was used this weekend, it is, but in reality, Betances has been used inconsistently because Joe Girardi likely doesn’t “trust” him yet. And the only reason he doesn’t “trust” him yet is because Betances has pitched enough under Girardi for him to. He hasn’t blow enough games the way Kelley and Warren and Phelps have last season and this season to gain the trust of Girardi and earn a spot in high leverage situations.

So for now, Betances will be asked to throw 41 pitches in a game the Yankees lose by 15 runs and will be unavailable to pitch in a 12-inning game, leaving Girardi to ask just-called-up Preston Claiborne for two scoreless innings, the same Preston Claiborne, who wasn’t good enough in spring training to make the Yankees three weeks ago, because his only other option to close out the game was just-called-up Bryan Mitchell from Double-A, who has a 5.14 ERA and 1.571 WHIP for the Trenton Thunder this year.

Who is going to take Ivan Nova’s rotation spot?
The answer should be Vidal Nuno. Here is what Nuno has done in four career starts:

5/13/13 at CLE: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K

5/25/13 at TB: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

5/30/13 vs. NYM: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

4/20/14 @ TB: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

It’s devastating that Ivan Nova isn’t going to get a full season to either build on what he had become last year or at least show the Yankees what they would be getting for the future, whether it’s a potential front-end starter or the new poster boy for inconsistency now that Phil Hughes is with the Twins.

Now that Nova won’t be back until next year, Nuno should be the one to fill the rotation spot. He has earned the right to and has proven he can win as a starting pitcher in the league. I trust Nuno more than I trust David Phelps and more than I trust Alfredo Aceves or Shane Greene if the Yankees decide to dip into the minors to make a move.

The job should be Nuno’s until he proves he can’t and so far he hasn’t.

Do you know what year it is when it comes to Mark Teixeira?
Mark Teixeira hit fifth on Sunday because his name is Mark Teixeira and because Joe Girardi apparently thinks it’s 2009 still. Because five years ago, the name “Mark Teixeira” held enough stock to get someone in the heart of the order on name alone, but in 2014 it should take a little more than that. But it’s not surprising when you realize that Girardi used to hit Teixeira third and Alex Rodriguez fourth and Robinson Cano fifth long after Cano had proved himself as the best hitter on the team. I’m not shocked that Teixeira hit fifth on Sunday because part of me thought Girardi would hit him fourth as if it were April 20, 2009.

All along the if Teixeira can hit his home runs and drive in his runs and be Jason Giambi 2.0 and play his Gold Glove defense that I wouldn’t matter if he hits .240 or still can’t hit a changeup or pops up to short with runners on third and less than two outs and is the last person you would want up on a big spot despite making $23 million per yaer. But not only is Teixeira not even Giambi 2.0 at the plate, he apparently can’t even play defense anymore as shown by his three errors in not even five full games this year.I ranked Teixeira fourth in The 2014 Yankees’ Order of Importance before the season and said the Yankees couldn’t handle losing him for a significant amount of time, but the Yankees went 8-6 in 14 games without him using Kelly Johnson, Francisco Cervelli, Carlos Beltran and Scott Sizemore at first base, none of which have any real experience at the position. Teixeira is never going to be the player the Yankees signed five years ago again and he has made that clear, but please Teixeira, at least be average.

Can you please stop being overly cautious with the lineup since it hasn’t gotten you anywhere in the past?
Joe Girardi has been out of control since becoming Yankees manager with the way he handles lineup decisions and the amount of rest he gives players. It might be unrealistic to think Derek Jeter can play all 162 games at shortstop in the season in which he will turn 40 after missing essentially a year and a half. But Jeter is still the Yankees’ everyday shortstop and not a catcher who needs day games after night games off or a day off every four games for necessary rest. And he should already be well rested after missing that year and a half I mentioned. There is a countdown clock on Jeter’s baseball life and for a guy who has spent a lot of time avoiding days off since 1996 despite injury, I’m sure he doesn’t want to watch games he won’t get back after 2014 pass him by because Girardi doesn’t believe in a Farewell Tour. But does Girardi know that sacrificing games in April could be the difference between the Farewell Tour ending in September or October or the difference in playing in a one-game playoff or getting into the ALDS without having to play in Bud Selig’s gimmick? Injuries can happen at any time and they are going to happen or not happen whether or not Girardi believes he can control.

And Jeter hasn’t been the only guy with unnecessary rest early in the season, he has just been the one with the most. Girardi gave Jacoby Ellsbury a day of in the third game of the season in Houston and gave Carlos Beltran a day off in Tampa after falling over the outfield wall (though that might say more about Beltran’s toughness after he sat out a World Series game last year after spending his whole career trying to reach the World Series). I don’t expect this kind of managing to end from Girardi, I only wish it would.