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Joe Girardi's indecision leads to Kendry Morales' game-icing homer

Apr 26, 2010, 8:12 AM EDT

Kendry Morales homer.jpgA curious thing happened in Anaheim yesterday, as Joe Girardi decided to
have Damaso Marte pitch to Kendry Morales in the bottom of the seventh
with two on and two out, the Bombers down by one.  Fair enough. I hate
intentional walks anyway, but especially hate them when first base isn’t
open or when the pitcher isn’t coming up to bat. And especially when
you have a favorable matchup such as a lefty facing Kendry Morales. Good
job going after it, Joe!

Except in this case there was only one
problem: Girardi’s decision to pitch to Morales came after he had first
decided to walk the guy, with Marte already having delivered intentional
ball one.  Really, Girardi just changed his mind mid-walk and said
“forget it.” The outcome of the at bat: Kendry Morales homered, Angels
took an 8-4 lead which would hold up.

That this was a poor
decision was clear even before the homer, as Marte — now actually
trying to get Morales out — threw two additional balls, running the
count to 3-0.  Take
it away Joe Girardi
:

“He got to 3-0 and I could
have put four (fingers) up again,” Girardi
said. “I probably should have put four there.”*

But
he didn’t, Morales had the green light and he deposited a fat 89 m.p.h.
fastball over the wall.  The Angels already had the lead, but at that
point the game was over.

To Girardi’s credit he totally owned the
decision after the game, but that doesn’t make things any better. 
Pitching to Morales may or may not have been a good idea in an absolute
sense, but once the decision was made to walk him, you have to stick
with it. Ask yourself: ever have some work taken off your plate at the
office, only to have the boss come back a few minutes later and say
“Know what? I’m going to need you to do that anyway.” It’s deflating. It
would have been better if the guy had never told you that you didn’t
have to do it in the first place.

Damaso Marte probably felt that
way too, having cleared his mind, however temporarily, of his plan of
attack for Kendry Morales. Then Giradi plopped that file back on his
desk.

*I know managers have been calling for intentional walks
forever, but the whole notion of the manager calling each individual
pitch in an at bat grinds my gears. While the outcome could have been
better if Girardi had put the free pass back on when it was 3-0, I
almost would have been more angry if he had, at least on a philosophical
level. Make up your mind and let your pitcher and catcher get the job
done.  If an idiot like Terry Bradshaw was able to call his own plays,
certainly Frankie Cervelli can call a pitch or two, can’t he?

  1. Patrick - Apr 26, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    Someone really needs to go back and analyze the collective BAA for the AB straight after an intentional walk (with the exception of the pitcher batting), because I’m convinced it’s at least no better than the norm.

  2. RobRob - Apr 26, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    Makes you wonder if there wasn’t some miscommunication for which Girardi was covering. It makes a lot more sense if someone issued the call for an IBB, then realized that first base wasn’t actually open and called it off.

    Given the NY press corps, that’s exactly the kind of in-house mistake that a manager ought to be putting on his own shoulders to protect his guys.

    captcha: delegation sedating

  3. YankeesfanLen - Apr 26, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    Whew! Except for two games the week after the All Star break, we’re done with the Angels for the year..500 vs Angels is almost clear sailing. Girardi shouldn’t even have considered pitching to Morales after theweekend Kendry had.
    This will not look good on this afternoon’s power rankings, but it’s on to Bal-CHW-Bal. 7 out of 9.

  4. Joey B - Apr 26, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    I’m a confirmed NYY hater, but changing your mind after one pitch is perfectly acceptable. Have you never changed your mind about an article you started? Pitching to Morales 3-0 is a terrible decision, probably took him about a split second to realize it was a mistake, owned up to it, and EOS.
    FWIW, it seems like you are pounding on Joe for changing his mind after pitch 1, and pounding on Joe for NOT changing his mind after pitch 3, though obviously the circumstances changed.

  5. Craig Calcaterra - Apr 26, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    Of course I’ve changed my mind after an article has started. But I’m paid to write coherent articles, not make decisive tactical decisions. I just have to get it right. Girardi has to get it right the first time. Thus the differences in our salaries and stuff.
    To be clear: I’m pounding on Girardi for changing his mind after pitch one. Girardi is pounding on himself for not changing his mind after pitch three. I’m rather ambivalent about that, and as evidenced by the footnote, I’m not a fan of managers managing pitch by pitch to begin with.

  6. Patrick - Apr 26, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    If you change your mind on an article you can just delete it and start over, but you can’t start over when you’ve just put your pitcher behind in the count with runners on base.
    It’s not a firing offence or anything, it’s just a silly mistake you make when you have the mindset of being an over-intervening manager.

  7. Joey B - Apr 26, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    I’m not defending the ball 1 decision as much as defending the right for Joe to change his mind. I think the single worst thing a person can do in life is to refuse to consider alternativs and refuse to change their minds. If you come to a decision that your previous decision was a mistake, you have to act on that.
    And while it’s not clear here, it’s entirely possible that Joe changed it from a IBB to a pitch-around. It’s entirely plausible that he decided that he didn’t want to pitch to Morales, but then decided to throw a couple of pitches off the plate and hoped to catch him fishing.

  8. scatterbrian - Apr 26, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    “To be clear: I’m pounding on Girardi for changing his mind after pitch one. Girardi is pounding on himself for not changing his mind after pitch three.”
    It’s kind of like when your kid is sorry for doing something after he got caught, and you wanting your kid to be sorry for doing it in the first place.

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