Welcome to a new running feature on The Outside Corner, The Bad Spring Training Roster Decision of the Day. It was never our intent to have such a feature, but, well, our hands have been forced.
We’ve already seen the Mariners inexplicably promise the third base job and leadoff spot to Chone Figgins and the Angels commit to giving Bobby Abreu 400 plate appearances. MLB managers just can’t seem to stay out of their own way, giving us no choice but to address these questionable decisions.
Our nominee for BSTRDOTD (that acronym might need some work) for today comes from Joe Girardi and the New York Yankees. According to Girardi, the only two pitchers locked into the rotation are C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. You’ll note that Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova are excluded from that very short list of names. Here’s Girardi’s explanation as to why Pineda specifically is fighting for a rotation spot:
“I mean, he’s got to pitch,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you. He’s gotta stay healthy. He’s gotta pitch. Nothing’s given to you in life. Nothing. You expect to write a story tomorrow. There’s no guarantee. You still have to do your work and do a quality job. And we’re not just handing things over. They gotta do their work.”
This just smacks of “old school manager” talk. Those pesky young whipper snappers Pineda and Nova have to “pay their dues” before they earn the right to be in the Yankee rotation. Girardi insists that Michael has “got to pitch.” As it turns out Pineda has pitched. In fact, he pitched so well last season that the Yankees gave up elite prospect Jesus Montero to acquire him, but what does that matter? It isn’t like Pineda was an All-Star last season or anything. Oh wait, he was. He also posted a 3.4 fWAR which would’ve been the second-best on the Yankee staff last season. The same goes to a lesser extent for Ivan Nova who posted a fWAR of 2.7 and actually finished ahead of Pineda in AL Rookie of the Year voting. What exactly have either of them failed to prove? What additional dues must they pay?
Clearly last year’s performance should be cast aside in favor of a decision based solely on six weeks worth of practice and exhibition games.
At least Girardi is being consistent in his decision making in the way he is handling Kuroda. Or not:
“That’s kind of what we’re looking at,” Girardi said. “You sign Kuroda to start. You sign all these guys to start, but Kuroda has a big track history. There’s so much talk about Phil, but this guy was a dominant reliever in 2009 and a very good starter in 2010. Sometimes we focus on 2011 — and I understand why, because it was the most recent — but what if he’s an 18-game winner again? We’ve got a competition here. We have to iron out five spots, and sometimes the five you leave with aren’t the five you end up with. We’ve got time. There’s no rush.”
Keep in mind that Kuroda has a guaranteed spot even though he had an inferior fWAR (2.4) to Pineda and Nova.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with handing Kuroda a spot, it is what should happen. What should also happen is giving Pineda and Nova spots to start camp too since everyone knows they are going to win them barring injury. Suggesting they are in an open competition with Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia is disingenuous and insulting to the youngsters. But, hey, Girardi got to flex his tough guy manager muscles, so that makes up for it, right?
And now, a word from our sponsors:
(h/t LoHud Yankees Blog)