Herman Edwards Defends Joe Girardi

by Bryan

Yankees manager Joe Girardi had an unlikely defender Wednesday: former Jets and Chiefs coach Herman Edwards.

Girardi was second-guessed by several outlets for pitching A.J. Burnett on three days’ rest instead of using fourth starter Chad Gaudin on four weeks’ rest. New York Magazine’s Joe DeLessio writes:

With a 3–1 cushion, though, Gaudin versus Lee isn’t nearly as crazy. By starting Gaudin last night, the Yankees would probably be conceding the game, since you can’t realistically expect much from a guy who hasn’t started in over a month. (Lee wasn’t particularly sharp last night, though, so who knows?) But Girardi would have been making a trade-off: Greatly weaken their chances in Game 5, but strengthen the rotation down the line, especially for Game 6.

In such a scenario, A.J. Burnett could have pitched tomorrow on full rest, and Girardi would even have an option for a potential Game 7: Andy Pettitte on full rest, or Sabathia on short rest. As it stands now, Pettitte — who’s 37, by the way — will likely start on three days’ rest for the first time since doing so with Houston in 2006. Girardi could have weakened the team for just one game; now, he’s weakened them for the final three.

I was sitting next to Herm when I read this on my MacBook Air (I own several of them), and I passed it over so he could see it. He had been smiling, but now his face was scrunching, and he looked at me with that familiar, disgusted look:

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“Bryan!” he said. “Didn’t I solve this problem a long time ago? Didn’t I say the one thing that matters in this situation?”

I stammered, trying to make some excuses for DeLessio, but he wasn’t having it.  He continued.

“Give up a World Series game?” he asked, incredulously. “You…” he started. “You play…” he started again, a little unsure. “You play to…” He fumbled for the words. He clearly couldn’t remember them, and was hoping I could help him out.

“Win the game?” I suggested.

“Exactly!” He said. “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!” Now he was getting aggravated. He looked at me again…

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… and continued. “HELLO?” he asked. “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!”

He was right. The thought that the Yankees should have given up a game in the World Series to “increase” their chances of winning other games is ludicrous. Remember when Bob Brenly pulled Curt Schilling in game four the 2001 World Series so that he could start a game seven, if necessary? The Diamondbacks lost that game—and there was a game seven—only because he pulled Schilling, who gave way to a man named Byung-Hyun Kim. Herm’s lesson is clear and unmistakable: you play to win the game. The real reason the Yankees lost, per Baseball Prospectus‘ Joe Sheehan: “A.J. Burnett didn’t allow six runs in two innings because the Yankees started him on three days’ rest. He allowed six runs in two innings because he’s A.J. Burnett, and he sometimes shows up with nothing, and the Phillies will kill you if you show up with nothing.”

That’s about as concise as you can say it, and I was going to show it to Herm until he tossed my MacBook Air across the room, scattering it into hundreds of little pieces. This is what happens when you take a man away from the game—unresolved tension. He immediately realized what he had done and looked at me, sheepishly, and offered to buy me a new one. “It’s okay,” I said, “I got a million of’em.”

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