Joe Girardi

Great moments in small ball: Joe Girardi

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It’s not my intent to mercilessly rip Joe Girardi here. I think he does a good job overall, especially when you realize how many critics he has and how much scrutiny he’s under. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t find, oh, I dunno, teachable moments in his managerial decisions.

Down by two in the ninth inning, A’s closer Andrew Bailey gave up a homer to Jorge Posada.  It’s written on ancient scrolls that if you give up a homer to Jorge Posada, you don’t have your best stuff.  Russell Martin and Brett Gardner then reached, putting runners on first and second, the Yankees down by two. Derek Jeter then comes up. The same Derek Jeter who has been hot of late and who had reached base four times in this game alone already.  This is a recipe for a big honking inning.

Except Joe Girardi had him lay down a bunt. And the Yankees only scored one more time, leaving the bases juiced in their one-run loss. If only they had one more out to give.  In fact, let’s go to Pinstriped Bible’s Steven Goldman who can tell us exactly what the odds were of scoring two runs if the Yankees had that one more out to give:

[T]eams that have put runners on first and second with no outs have scored an average of 1.4 runs … Teams that have runners on second and third with one out see their expected runs go down to 1.3 … I leave it to you whether eliminating the double play was worth trading that fraction of a run as well as the possibility of having three chances to score those two runs instead of two.

Joe Girardi gets mocked by writers for using his famous binder which sets forth this strategy and that strategy for him.  In this case, however, he should be mocked for not using his binder. Or at least for having a binder that didn’t have all of the information he needed in that situation to make the right decision.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.