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Mussina annoyed with intentional walk

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Jun 21, 2008 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Mike Mussina was not thrilled with being told to intentionally walk Jay Bruce with two outs in the fifth inning. Jolbert Cabrera ripped the next pitch for a two-run double and a 3-1 lead. Against Edinson Volquez, who is a stud, the Yankees were toast.

It was an interesting decision by Joe Girardi. Let’s examine the particulars:

Situation: It was 1-1 with two outs and a runner on third.

Jay Bruce: The rookie had driven 12 runs in his first 23 games and was 7 for 19 with RISP. However, Bruce was 8 of his last 43 with one RBI as he came to the plate. He had yet to be intentionally walked. He was 1 for 2 against Mussina in the game, hitting the ball hard both times.

Jolbert Cabrera: He was 2 for 2 against Moose to that point and 3 for 5 in his career. One of the hits last night was a bunt, the second a clean single. But he had only 15 ABs against RHPs all season. He had not yet had an AB with RISP.

Other factors: Bruce is a lefty. Lefties are hitting .235 against Mussina this season. Cabrera is right-handed. They are hitting .308 against Mussina.

It’s tough call. In a 1-1 game in the fifth inning, I don’t think you intentionally walk a rookie with 88 career ABs. Moose is tricky enough to get him. I’m generally against putting runners on base unless it’s stone-cold masher and you’re protecting a lead. The pitcher almost always has an advantage. But I really didn’t have a problem with it at the time. Cabrera has far more experience than Bruce but is a middling player at best.

The deeper issue is that Mussina would prefer to manage his own game. At 39 and with 260 victories on his resume, he believes he has earned that right. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, that’s just how it is. Girardi let him decide whether to walk Manny Ramirez on April 12. But he took the Jay Bruce decision out of his hands.

“I didn’t get to choose. It was the path they chose. That was it,” Mussina said. “You saw what I saw. Held up four fingers; I throw four balls.”

Mussina was terse with the media but didn’t go into details about what specifically was bothering him. “A couple of things, but I’m not going to elaborate on it,” he said. “I’m not talking about it.”

You didn’t need to be Jim Rockford to figure it out. Mussina even make a point to exonerate Johnny Damon for losing that ball in the lights, which started the whole mess.

Mussina will get over it, what other choice does he have? But how he and Girardi work together will be worth keeping an eye on as the season moves on.





57 Responses to “Mussina annoyed with intentional walk”

  1. Rebecca--Optimist Prime--Mission 2708 June 21st, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Bad decision by Girardi there, then. I’m not sure what Girardi was thinking, but it was a bad idea.

    Guys, I’m totally wearing my LoHud shirt to tomorrow’s game =D.

  2. V June 21st, 2008 at 12:08 am

    I don’t get Girardi’s choice there at all.

  3. Brandon (Jose Tabata stays) (Johan Santana HR count: 13) June 21st, 2008 at 12:08 am

    Ok and still I would have walked Bruce, I rather Jolbert try to beat him instead of having Bruce Almighty’s face in the headlines tomorrow.

  4. RustyJohn June 21st, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Is Moody Moose back? And he had made such great strides in overcoming his “blame everybody” attitude…take away his ice cream and candy…jerk.

  5. munchabuncha June 21st, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Seems that things aren’t all that rosey in the Girardi Clubhouse.

    As a veteran pitcher, I can see where Mussina would get miffed at not calling his own chances in this case. If he gets beat, then its on him, no one else to blame. In this case I can see where he would have preferred to face Cabrera as a lead off. Better chances to keep them from scoring.

    Sometimes Intentional Walks work out. Far too many times it burns you. It also adds another runner on base which could spell disaster for that game. In this case it did.

    I think Girardi gets a little too controlling at times, and that has to get under the skin of a veteran player.

  6. CaptainsCorner June 21st, 2008 at 12:11 am

    Mussina was right I think he earned the right to decide who he wants to pitch to. BUT lets not get crazy he still threw 2 meatballs right down the middle to Cabrera and the next hitter, Griffey I believe. So who is too say that he wouldn’t of thrown a meatball to Bruce. Sometimes Girardi likes to over manage and that situation was 1 of them. I know it is still early but I hope Girardi’s managing skills get better real quick.

  7. bill brasky June 21st, 2008 at 12:11 am

    i think moose has a right to be moody after this game. its the same story this whole season, pitching has kept the games close, the offense doesn’t seem to deliver unless its a overwhelming sea of destruction.

  8. JoeT 28 in 09!! MO FOR CY YOUNG!! June 21st, 2008 at 12:13 am

    I gotta agree with the moose here – 260 wins you should have a say. On the other hand last time Manny destroyed him… nevermind… I don’t know – i’ll let everyone else debate it lol

  9. munchabuncha June 21st, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Brandon, you would blow a game for being able to keep “Bruce Almighty” off the back page? Really? Not for anything, but Bruce Almighty is already turning back to human form. The Yankees have the scouting reports and know how he has been hitting lately. Cabrera already had a history with Mussina as well. That was not in Mussina’s favor.

  10. MikeEff June 21st, 2008 at 12:14 am

    i don’t blame moose one bit. they played horribly behind him tonight. one of the ugliest i’ve seen

  11. JoeT 28 in 09!! MO FOR CY YOUNG!! June 21st, 2008 at 12:15 am

    haha Rebecca – I forgot about the LoHud t-shirts – i want one!! where’s the LoHud store link?? lol

  12. DOC June 21st, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Pete, did Moose make any mention of simply not executing his pitches after the intentional walk? I would hope so.

    First of all, I’m a huge fan of Moose. Anyone could see that Damon should have caught that “double.” Also, to some extent, I’m glad Moose sounded annoyed after the game. It shows he cares.

    On the other hand, though, I would hope that he sees he bears quite a bit of the blame by serving up an easy pitch to a .250ish hitter.

    Damon’s play and the IBB were out of his control, but the Cabrera at-bat was within it.

  13. Wangawa June 21st, 2008 at 12:16 am

    hey moose, maybe you should have just sucked it up and gotten cabrera out, instead of throwing the first pitch right down the middle

  14. Wang IS Taiwan June 21st, 2008 at 12:17 am

    I think we’ve seen enough evidence to understand that Girardi is a micro-manager. Taking candy and ice cream out of the clubhouse? Come on. They’re not children.

    I have to say that thus far I’m unimpressed with Girardi’s in-game management, as well.

  15. munchabuncha June 21st, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Some batters just don’t make pitchers comfortable.

    In the case of Manny, I think it was a pride thing. In this case it would have been smart baseball. Its almost like Girardi was showing lack of trust in Mussina making the right decision. He took some flack for allowing Mussina to pitch for Manny. That is a way different situation.

  16. munchabuncha June 21st, 2008 at 12:20 am

    The only real stat that matters between a batter and a pitcher is what that batter has hit off him. Any pitcher will have certain batters that they just can’t seem to pitch well to.

  17. Brandon (Jose Tabata stays) (Johan Santana HR count: 13) June 21st, 2008 at 12:21 am

    munchabuncha your talking like that batter Jay Bruce is some sort of scrub, That guy for rookie is a dangerous slugger, Jolbert Cabrera is not, prior to tonight’s AB Jolbert was a .214 hitter w/ 14 AB and none of his 3 hits were for xtra bases. None.

  18. munchabuncha June 21st, 2008 at 12:22 am

    To be fair, Girardi has been showing some decent bullpen management. Then again, Torre wasn’t exactly the best at that, so anything would seem an improvement.

    I really wonder how well things are within the clubhouse. When people joke about things, as Mussina has about some of the things going on, it is more often than not covering up for discord.

  19. Steve O June 21st, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Let’s see. Walk Jay Bruce but pitch to Manny. Girardi has really made some poor choices with Moose on the mound.

  20. munchabuncha June 21st, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Brandon, you are talking like Bruce is the next A-Rod. When a rookie comes up and hits a ton it gets attention. He has been in a BIG downslide since. Which seems the better match up to you, a guy who is batting like Cano or Damon against you? Yes, if he connects he can hurt you. Guess what though, a guy who has hit you hard twice already as opposed to a guy who has done nothing is not a hard choice.

  21. munchabuncha June 21st, 2008 at 12:27 am

    With two runners on, all it takes is a single to drive in a run or two.

  22. CaptainsCorner June 21st, 2008 at 12:27 am

    Or how about Girardi coming out to the mound and talking it over with Moose. Girardi could of said I recommend walking him it is up to you. If it was Kennedy or Hughes on the mound then it would be a no brainer that the manager makes the call but not with the veteran Moose out there. I also would expect Moose to call Damon out because he has ALWAYS does that. Someone makes an error and instead of just saying I didn’t make my pitches after that ofcourse he has to blame it on the fielder instead of picking up his teammate. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Moose told Girardi that next time he would like to make his own call.

  23. James O. June 21st, 2008 at 12:31 am

    uh oh, more bad news, the new Stadium may not last long

  24. Rebecca--Optimist Prime--Mission 2708 June 21st, 2008 at 12:33 am

    JoeT: Ask Pete, he’s got to have tons of extras.

    Anyway, I’ll be in the first row (omigod can you tell I’m excited) so when you see me on tv, be sure to wave! :-P

  25. Brandon (Jose Tabata stays) (Johan Santana HR count: 13) June 21st, 2008 at 12:35 am

    The real problem here wasn’t the walk it was Moose’s location, he misses like that to Bruce and he crushes it. Maybe some of you don’t know this but that Jay Bruce is a franchise player, he hits LHP and RHP and I can’t believe the stupidity on here sometimes, so if Bruce hits a 2 run shot what do you say ? The same thing Girardi pitches to Manny and now pitches to Bruce w/ first base open because he was afraid of Jolbert Cabrera some ML scrub.

    You know what I’m going to step out for a minute..stupidest thing I ever heard pitch to a power hitter w/ RISP instead of a scrub punchy judy hitter.

    The real issue is Moose missed location so one way or another same s… happens.

    The immortal Jolbert Cabrera

    Adios hasta luego.

  26. munchabuncha June 21st, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Brandon, you also have to look at who is hitting and who is not. Bruce has a long way to go before he is a franchise player. He has been struggling lately and hitting like Cano.

    If a player is in a slump and you have 2 outs already you go after him. If he crushes it, he does. As soon as Mussina walked him I had a bad feeling, and reading through the during the game posts, so did a lot of others.

    Go ahead, step out, while you are out there think about what the game of baseball is about. Its about working with the odds and trying to play it to your favor.

    Frankly, I think its far more stupid to pitch around a guy who is in a big slump to get to a guy batting .700 against you.

  27. Josh June 21st, 2008 at 12:59 am

    : Rule 6.14 Ambidextrous Pitchers

    In the rare occasion of an ambidextrous pitcher, the pitcher and batter may each change positions one time per at-bat. For example, if the pitcher changes from right-handed to left-handed and the batter changes batter’s boxes, each player must remain that way for the duration of that at-bat (unless the offensive team substitutes a pinch hitter, and then each player may “switch” again one time).

  28. Other Pete June 21st, 2008 at 1:03 am

    Good post, Pete. This kind of situational analysis gives us fans interesting insight into the decisions. Keep ‘em coming.

  29. Timmy Lupus June 21st, 2008 at 1:33 am

    Please people stop comparing the Jay Bruce situation to Manny situation. Manny is a first ballot hall of famer with over 500 HRs. He’s also one of the best pure hitters of all time. Not to mention clutch. Jay Bruce is a 21 year old rookie with 92 ML at bats. He’s also batting .247 in the month of June. Lets not anoint the kid a “franchise player” or the second coming of Ruth just yet. Not saying he won’t have a great career, but he’s basically still a prospect at this point. Lets see where he is with a full year under his belt.

  30. bdog375 June 21st, 2008 at 1:36 am

    We all love this site, and Pete does a great job. However, I do wish that posts like this would be withheld. We do not need: A) Fans questioning Moose’s emotions in a post game interview. B) Girardi’s every move dissected.

  31. Raven June 21st, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Moose should be annoyed.
    He’s 2 wins away from donuts.
    Now he has to wait for at least another 10 days.

  32. mel June 21st, 2008 at 1:54 am

    Moose has every right to be annoyed, but did he really have to throw the staff under the bus?

    If he had gotten the next Cabrera out, would he still be annoyed with the IBB?

    Seems like there’s a little an accountability issue.

    That being said, he should call his own game. He can take the credit when he does well, and accept the blame when he doesn’t.

  33. myrtlebeachfan June 21st, 2008 at 1:55 am

    Ok you guys are ridiculous. The question isn’t whether Moose should have pitched to Bruce or Cabrera. There’s no question at all.

    You want the least amount of baserunners. There were two outs. You don’t give the opposition a chance to score more than they already have a chance to score. Walking Bruce ended up bringing in 3 runs. He had a 70% chance of getting Bruc eout, that’s the bottom line.

    You let him pitch. He was doing very well.

  34. mel June 21st, 2008 at 2:02 am

    Okay, so it was the wrong call. Have we pinpointed Moose’s fatal flaw? When he gets annoyed with a call from the bench, an error by the defense, the catcher shaking him off, or flaky officiating, he lets it affect his pitching?

  35. WangFan88 June 21st, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Just to give you a heads-up Pete, I’m guessing at least 70% of your readers can’t define the word “exonerate”.

  36. mel June 21st, 2008 at 2:07 am

    Of course all pitchers are affected by such things. But it really seems to affect Moose.

  37. mel June 21st, 2008 at 2:16 am

    exonerate (origin: Yankee Stadium) verb: To refrain from throwing a teammate under the bus. The grizzled veteran made a point to exonerate his teammate, having learned his lesson after throwing the third baseman under the bus.

  38. MRC June 21st, 2008 at 2:21 am

    I’m no manager, but I would never walk someone to get to a batter who is 2 for 2 on the night. Think about it, obviously they’ve been seeing the ball better and its not like you think oh hes due to ground out. You have to suck it up and throw to who is at bat (Thats unless your facing ARod or Chipper.)

  39. americanbear June 21st, 2008 at 2:24 am

    WangFan88, there are for the most part, level headed considerate readers here. You make it sound like this blog is visited by a bunch of high school drop outs. Strange post.

  40. mel June 21st, 2008 at 2:29 am


    Was a joke. Because there is no such word as “exonorate”.

  41. stuart June 21st, 2008 at 2:48 am

    yeah Bruce is struggling to a tune of 318.

    Morons Cabrera is a scrub, Moose grow up you finicky baby..

    You gave up a double to a scrub…

    the yanks made no plays last night and therefore lost.. damon 2 bad plays in the filed, giambi and cano’s adventures did not hurt but just more poor play..

  42. stuart June 21st, 2008 at 2:51 am

    again clowns moose gave up a 2 run double to a guy who is not as good as miguel cairo…

    and it would have been 1 run if damon did not throw like my wife………..

  43. Nick in SF June 21st, 2008 at 2:56 am

    The important thing is that no one is whining about it, right stuart?

  44. nick June 21st, 2008 at 2:57 am

    the ibb is just an overused play, cause managers wanna be able to say they did something and didn’t let the other guys’ best player beat them–the ibb can be justified if it sets up the inning-ending double play, or if the run it puts on doesn’t matter–ibb in the 5th, with two outs, tie game? I’m not crazy about it…..

  45. raymagnetic June 21st, 2008 at 3:03 am

    Intentional walks are stupid and Moose crying about it is just as stupid. Moose get the next man out.

    I personally don’t believe in giving the other team extra outs. Seriously though, Moose has a 70% chance of getting any batter out, might as well let him pitch.

    Overall though, fine effor by Moose. 4 runs in eight innings will get Moose wins if he pitches like that the whole year.

  46. bullwinkle June 21st, 2008 at 3:11 am

    Jolbert Cabrera is 4th on the Reds SS depth chart behind Gonzalez, Keppinger, Hairston, and Janish. Jay Bruce is the top hitting prospect in baseball. Girardi made a good call. Mussina should have been able to get Jolbert out.

  47. bullwinkle June 21st, 2008 at 3:13 am

    sorry, I meanth 5th on the depth chart

  48. Mike L June 21st, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Moose should quit complaining this is a team sport remmeber and if the guy in chage says walk him than walk him and do the BEST you can after that. If it goes bad than DON’T through the guy under the bus, very bad. There is so much second guessing that it’s a joke. Have any of us been in charge of anything? Don’t you want the support for at those times. Moose should talk about it with Joe but with the tone that it is a team. I supported Moose’s call the last time and I supprt Joe’s call this time. Bad to do otherwise, thats only my opinion.

  49. Shirley June 21st, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Moose should have been given the chance to make his call. He did have a chance to get the win last night. No wonder he was annoyed.

  50. 86w183 June 21st, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Withone out you walk Bruce, with two out you go after him. Yes, he’s very talented, but on this night Cabrera had better at bats against Mussina. If you prefer not to pitch to Bruce, make a pitching chance for Cabrera who was obvously reading Mussina quite well.

    None of this matters if Damon can make a play most high schoolers could handle. It’s absurd you credit a guy with a hit because the fielder lost the ball in the lights. Isn’t it his job to play the angles and avoid that? Do fielders get a free pass with the wind? rain? No. Then why do they get it for sun and lights?

  51. Annie Savoy June 21st, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Typical pitcher/catcher situation – however, now that Girardi is the Manager, I think he feels that Mussina must do what he says. However, nobody gets away with telling Mike what to do these days…….

  52. yankee2123 June 21st, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Bad move on Girardi’s part, but it didn’t really matter since the Yanks couldn’t hit Volquez anyhow. Moose will bounce back, the big question is what will they get out of Giese today.

  53. rover June 21st, 2008 at 9:47 am

    As to moose, well thats baseball,but i do believe in the case of moose he should be given some latitude to make his own call, still he will lose some and win some. making his own call at least shows some confidence, either way he is the one who lives or dies with it. he has earned the right to die with dignity. thinking the correct call would have been pitch to bruce carefully if he doesn’t bite he draws a walk. if bruce beats you then it boils down to he just beat you. that happens cause the other guys are pros too. there are times when an ibb is the logical thing, not so sure last night was one of those. moose may have been upset by the ibb but it didn’t change his pitching the rest of the game. the loss was squarely on the defense and offense, moose ibb or not, did his job.

  54. Chris June 21st, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Its been said 50 times already, but I’ll say it again – Micromanaging by Girardi yet again. Let the man with 10 wins already this season, and 260 wins in the book – have a chance. I didn’t see the game, did they even talk about it on the mound? (Reading Moose’s quote, it doesn’t sound like it.)

  55. Kill-Schill(ing) June 21st, 2008 at 10:09 am

    How many times does Girardi need to get burned with intentional walks before he realizes he’s no longer managing in a league where the pitcher bats.

  56. Reno June 21st, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Do you guys really not understand why Girardi wanted Moose to face Jolbert Cabrera? The guy’s career line is .260/.307/.363 in the majors and .267/.329/.353 in the minors where, at 35, he’s spent the majority of his career. He’s a terrible hitter and definitely the guy you’d rather face. A few at-bats against Moose in the past and going 2 for 2 last night don’t change the fact that Jolbert Cabrera sucks. I’d imagine this was actually one of the rare situations where an intentional walk was statistically justified (Cabrera is just that bad), but sometimes these things don’t work out. No fault of Girardi’s.

  57. Jonathon June 21st, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    This is why Mussina will never be a great pitcher…he is such a baby…

    So what if he disagree with the decision?…just bear down and do your job.

    Also, absolutely no doubt in my mind that Mussina was going to give up runs after Damon lost the ball in the lights.

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