The binder might make you crazy. Every time Tyler Clippard fails in a high leverage situation you want to scream (which many of you probably did Monday and Tuesday nights). Sometimes a pitching change seems to be made for the sake of making a change. The bottom line is that no manager is perfect, including the Yankees’ Joe Girardi. However, Girardi is proving this season that he deserves a new contract to stay on for an 11th season and beyond.
Over the winter and during Spring Training, there weren’t a lot of people who would have predicted that the Yankees would be 14 games over .500 after 62 games. Or that they would have a three game lead over the highly-touted Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
While managers get far too much credit when the team wins and far too much blame when they lose, Girardi deserves a lot of credit for this year’s success to date. With an up-and-down rotation, a questionable bullpen (made more so by an injury to Aroldis Chapman), and a bunch of unproven youngsters, Girardi has kept the ship steady and on course. He is sometimes loyal to a fault but, more often than not, that loyalty has led to success.
He and his pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, have done a fine job getting the most out of Michael Pineda and youngsters Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery. Girardi stuck with temporary closer Dellin Betances despite his early struggles, and it has paid off. He has also stuck by Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, who have had uneven seasons.
Girardi and coach Tony Pena, both former top-notch defensive catchers, have helped Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine work well with the pitching staff while Aaron Judge has blossomed under Girardi’s tutelage.
The skipper’s contract runs out this year, but Yankees’ principal owner Hal Steinbrenner stated early on that no contract negotiations would take place during the season. That’s the policy for players and the manager as well…which is unfortunate in Girardi’s case.
The Case for Girardi
First and foremost, Girardi is a decent guy, a good family man that knows baseball isn’t the be-all end-all. He’s also someone who knows how to win in New York, having collected three World Series rings as a player and one as manager. Since his hire prior to the 2008 season, he has learned on the job and transformed himself over the years.
His rookie season as the Yankees’ skipper was the final year in the old Yankee Stadium, and it was a rough one. The team didn’t make the playoffs for the first time in a non-strike season since 1993. He clashed with reporters, especially when it came to discussing the players’ injuries. However, the following season he was the man in charge when the Yankees won their 27th World Series title.
Since then, the Yankees made it back to the ALCS twice, although they haven’t made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons. That was likely among the reasons the front office was in no hurry to work out a new deal, though the team ownership and GM Brian Cashman are more responsible for missing the playoffs than Girardi.
Girardi didn’t have much to work with from 2013 – 2016. The turning point, hopefully for the franchise, came at the trade deadline when the Yankees moved Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran for blue chip prospects.
Entering Thursday’s play, Girardi has a .563 winning percentage as Yankees’ manager and has never had a losing season. That last stat speaks volumes, considering the makeup of some of the teams he has managed. With so much talent either heading to the Bronx in the near future or possibly traded for top-notch veterans, Girardi has the right demeanor, ability to teach, and track record to be the right leader moving forward.
Here’s a quick look at the status for the remainder of the American League East managers:
Red Sox: There have been some rumors out of Boston that the front office isn’t enamored with John Farrell anymore. In fact, Ken Rosenthal reported in May that Farrell nearly lost his job then. The Red Sox have a great lineup, a dominant closer, and a shaky starting staff. They also have a great chance to get to the World Series. If Boston feels Farrell will impede their goals, he’ll be gone.
Orioles: Buck Showalter is as frustrated as any manager in baseball. His top two pitchers, Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman have been injured and/or completely ineffective. His Top-5 closer, Zach Britton, is hurt. Mark Trumbo led the AL in home runs last season but has barely dented the baseball this year. And, Top-10 all-around player Manny Machado has stunk all season. But, Buck’s job is safe.
Blue Jays: John Gibbons‘ roster has looked like a season of “The Walking Dead”. Pitcher Aaron Sanchez, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, third baseman Josh Donaldson, pitcher J.A. Happ, pitcher Francisco Liriano, outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, pitcher J.P. Howell, second baseman Devon Travis, closer Roberto Osuna, catcher Russell Martin, outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce, outfielder Darrell Ceciliani, outfielder Dalton Pompey, and outfielder Anthony Alford have all spent time on the disabled list this season.
Throw in a slow start by Jose Bautista and the departure of Edwin Encarnacion via free agency, and it’s understandable that the Blue Jays are a game under .500 and in last place after 65 games. But, Gibbons is safe – he was given a two-year extension through 2019 with a club option for 2020.
Rays: In the second year of a five-year deal, Kevin Cash directed his squad to a mere 68 wins. It was a major disappointment for a team that had won 80 games the previous season. This year, however, the Rays are two games over .500 after 68 games. Unless the Rays have a monumental collapse, Cash’s job is safe.