The Mariners asked Lou Piniella to come back and manage. He said no.

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I can’t imagine why the Mariners would want Lou Piniella to come back and manage. I mean, sure, nice associations with the past and a great personality and all of that, but when you’re trying to build with young players and your competitive horizon is still measured in terms of multiple years, I don’t feel like hiring a 70 year-old manager who has been out of the game for a few years makes a ton of sense.

But the Mariners do a lot of things I don’t quite understand, and this was just the latest. From Rosenthal:

The Seattle Mariners recently contacted Piniella about the possibility, asking him to come out of retirement to manage their team again. One source with knowledge of the discussions described the Mariners’ pursuit of Piniella as “a full-court press.”

Piniella, however, declined the Mariners’ overtures.

Can’t blame him. He’s got a nice part-time job with YES Network, can fish or do crossword puzzles or scrimshaw or build ships in bottles or whatever the heck else he wants to do with very little pressure but while still having at least some contact with the game. The guy spent 23 years blowing his top as a manager. He’s entitled to a little relaxation now and sounds like he wants it.

But back to Seattle: if the idea is to just bring back a face the fans would like to see, I have to question their plan overall because “manager-as-p.r.-initiative” is a pretty dumb idea.  If the idea, however, is to hire an experienced manager with a notable media profile and some color and fire, why not go with someone who is less obviously retired? I’ve joked about it before, but heck, go get Ozzie Guillen. He’d fill most of the Lou Piniella qualifications. And it’d be a lot of fun too.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.