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There are few jobs that have a more outsize disparity between perceived impact and actual impact than baseball manager.
Much is written and said about how a manager influences whether or not his team wins on a day-to-day basis, but the truth is that the talent available to a manager has a lot more to do with the results than his strategic brilliance or lineup construction.
In fact, you could make a pretty compelling argument that managers have a lot greater ability to do their teams harm through their decisions.
That argument got some good supporting evidence from Joe Girardi on Tuesday night. He made two big calls against the A's and each of them directed the team to their eventual 6-5 loss.
The first came in the seventh inning when Girardi sent Bartolo Colon back to the mound with the Yankees behind by a 3-0 score. Colon had done a decent enough job to that point and he'd only thrown 92 pitches, but Girardi should have been paying attention to a different number.
When Colon completed the sixth inning, he had pitched 130.2 innings on the season. That is the most he's pitched since 2005 and Colon has shown many signs of being a fatigued pitcher over the last few weeks.
Girardi has a strong bullpen to play with and he has an interest in staying away from work that will make it less likely that Colon can contribute to the Yankees come October. That would be true if Colon struck out the side in the seventh and it is true after watching him give up two hits that eventually led to runs when Boone Logan gave up a double to Scott Sizemore.
That move was defensible, at least it was until Girardi admitted to having concerns about Colon running out of gas after the game. This isn't the time of the season to push players further than you think they can handle, this is the time to make sure you are as strong as possible once the playoffs get underway.
Macro decisions like that can be difficult because you are measuring many different factors against each other. In-game decisions that impact only the five feet in front of your face should be easier, but Girardi botched one of those as well.
Trailing 6-3, the Yankees started the bottom of the ninth with a Jorge Posada homer, a Russel Martin double and an error that put Brett Gardner on first. Derek Jeter was up next, the same Derek Jeter that has been one of the hottest Yankee hitters since the break, and A's closer Andrew Bailey was desperate for something to help him out of the inning.
Girardi gave it to him in the guise of a bunt. Jeter laid down a sacrifice to hand a struggling pitcher his first out of the inning, something Bailey used to eventually get out of the inning when Nick Swisher flied out deep to center with the bases loaded.
Girardi chose to play for one run when he needed two and he chose fear of the double play over placing a bet on a bat that has been producing a lot of runs for the Yankees of late. We can't know what would have happened if Jeter swung the bat, but we can know that the result couldn't have been any worse for the Yankees than it was by laying down a bunt.
There's a pretty good chance the Yankees would have lost on Tuesday night if Girardi did nothing but play solitaire on his phone during the game. Maybe he should try that next time and see what happens.