Assessing Joe Girardi

At long last, Andrew Brackman
Game 161: Moose for 20

Ed Price, Yankee beat writer for the troubled Star Ledger, has been one of the more reliable reporters this year. He’s consistently offered up what I feel are fair assessments of the team through thick and thin. If The Star-Ledger goes under, as has been rumored around the New York media circuit recently, I hope Price lands himself a good gig with another paper.

Today, Price tackles a topic bound to come up over the off-season: Joe Girarid’s effectiveness in his first season as Yankee manager. The piece is both a fair and blunt assessment of Girardi’s shortcomings this season. Compiling some info from anonymous clubhouse sources, Price writes:

Girardi’s shortcomings this season have been a lack of communication with players and some of his coaches, an inability, at times, to create a productive atmosphere, a lack of a deft touch with the media (no small issue in New York) and an occasional disregard for players’ egos…

The media skills of Girardi — who has worked as a television analyst — became a topic again last week when Girardi, at Mariano Rivera‘s request, tried to hide Rivera’s shoulder issue. In the aftermath, Girardi wound up apologizing for his handling of injury news over the course of the season.

The same tension that often comes across in Girardi’s interview sessions also affects the players. He has been described as “tight” from about an hour before the game through its duration, and players feed off that.

So as the team dug itself a deficit in the standings, the players found it hard to relax.

Price also notes that Girardi relied too heavily on Bobby Meachem and Mike Harkey, coaches of his from the Marlins, and did not do a great job with talent evaluation, including decisions regarding Morgan Ensberg and the center field role.

In the end, we’ll all have a lot to say about Joe Girardi this year. He has his flaws; he has his strengths. The real test will, of course, come next year when we find out if Joe learned anything from his first year in New York.

At long last, Andrew Brackman
Game 161: Moose for 20
  • pete

    I think Girardi has been very strong with the bullpen, but thats really the only true bright spot on his resume this year.

    • http://yankeesfuture.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

      I think his willingness to stick with the young guys is admirable as well. Joe Torre would never have left Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Brett Gardner, and David Robertson stay as long as they did with the struggles they had. Building their confidence after their respective demotions has really helped this team, and all except Kennedy have contributed upon their return.

  • Patrick T

    Joe’s pluses: Bullpen management, some willingness to play kids, willingness to platoon, not Joe Torre

    Joe’s minuses: Bizarre over-platooning, not cutting bait soon enough on some players who clearly either needed to be sat down or who needed to be let go (Ensberg, Melky, Cano – let Matsui play with nothing for too long.)

    I’ll never find a manager I really like, they’re all too close to the action to make a lot of the tough calls. Best thing a manager can do for a ballclub is build a bullpen though, and Girardi has shown he can do that, so I can live with the rest of it to not have to watch Torre kill veteran retreads and bury every kid who comes up and has one rough outing.

    • radnom

      Ugh I had forgotten about some of the ridiculous platooning. I think he started getting better with that towards the end of the season. (or when Cash finally axed Sexson, heh)

  • Steve H

    It was also only his 2nd year ever managing, so I think he’ll smooth out some of his rough edges as we go along. Do all of the Torre lovers that post here remember that Torre was a failure in all of his stops before he got here. I know that “time” isn’t an option for the Yankees and several of their fans, but I really think Girardi just needs some time. Like posted above, he does a great job with the pen, he plays and trusts the kids (which he was forced to do in Florida, but it worked). Who cares how he handles the media, that doesn’t win or lose ballgames.

  • Old Ranger

    As we (fans) don’t have the personal contact with the team others (news) do, it is hard to evaluate his job. Things we see happen are sometimes a bit like taking a statement out of contact.
    All (I think) agree he has a tenuous relationship with the media; whose’ fault is it…the media, Joe Ts’, Joe Gs’ or just because of frustration? He has done wonders with the BP and the young guys, but had trouble with some vets. We (I) have been waiting all year for some; hit and runs, steeling bases, bunts and SFs. There may be a reason for part of this; when was the last time you saw Johnny, Bobby, A-Rod, Jason, Cano BUNT? Yes, they are paid to hit the long ball but, if one is not hitting well…everyone can bunt, right? Wrong, bunting is an art (just as hitting) that they have all long lost…so, what is Joe to do in a bunting situation?
    One can go on finding reasons for not doing some of the things he may have wanted to do , or were appropriate. But, was it his fault or the people he had to work with…I don’t know, for sure, but I do think it was partly the team.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      You should check out this blog post by Paul DePodesta: http://itmightbedangerous.blogspot.com/2008/09/organizational-consistency.html

      To me, DePo’s post dovetails quite nicely with the theory espoused by many here that a long-term organizational rehab has been needed for a while now. I believe this long-term rehab has begun, led by Cashman’s front-office and with Girardi as his chosen MLB manager. It can be hard (clearly) for a lot of fans to stomach, but these things take time. It’s easy to say “ok, this might take a few years and young players are going to take their lumps,” and then when you actually go through it and (gasp) miss the postseason, it’s very easy to freak out and call for major changes… but the long-term plan must be adhered to. Cashman’s rehab of this organization has really barely begun, and Girardi has been around for one season. I, for one, am all for letting these guys have a little time to make things work here. There are much larger issues at stake here than just the employment of a GM and a manager, this organization needs to adhere to a long-term philosophy including the rebuilding of a powerhouse player development system. While some (writers, mostly) may not like Girardi’s handling of the media (which admittedly, and obviously, could use some improvement), or his in-game strategy, or certain of Cashman’s moves over the last couple of years, I think that taking these guys out of the equation does much more damage, on a macro, organizational development level, than it does good. The new guys would just have to start all over, at this point, in a relatively chaotic atmosphere. If after a few years things just aren’t working out and the organization isn’t taking the next step with these guys at the helm, then I’m all for changes, but that should only be done once a viable, lasting organizational philosophy is in place.

      • Old Ranger

        I don’t have much of a problem with what you say…
        I was showing the liabilities of having players that have forgotten the basics of baseball; get’um on, get’um over, and get’um in. How this happens, I don’t care, but when one is in a slump (or one run will do the job) why try for a HR (with runner on 3rd) when a SF or hit to right will do the job?
        Just basics, that’s all. Look at the enthusiasm Brett brings with a man in scoring position…people know he will move the guy over or score him with much more optimism then over 1/2 the rest of the team.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          “I was showing the liabilities of having players that have forgotten the basics of baseball…”

          I know my post wasn’t a direct reaction to you, but I linked to DePodesta’s “Organizational Consistency” post in connection with your comments about bunting, etc. I think things like that are more the responsibility of the organization, top-to-bottom (the developmental philosophy), than they are the responsibility of the manager.

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            My “comment,” not my “post.” My bad.

          • Old Ranger

            Yup, it is the org. responsibility…but, also, the players’ responsibility to be prepared and able. And thanks for the DePodesta post.
            Again, thanks!

  • pounder

    Clipboard Joe is a college coach.Northwestern is awaiting his inevitable firing.

  • MJ

    I’m not too sure about how he handled the bullpen or the starting staff.

    He shows no confidence in anyone that goes on the mound. Rasner would come up and pitch one of his gems for 6 straight solid innings. Go in the 7th and have 1 out left to go and then you’d see him give up a hit or a walk and all of a sudden he’s quickly calling to the bullpen. He needs to show confidence more in some of his starters that they can finish an inning. Allowing a walk with no one else on and 2 outs is perfectly fine, let him finish.

    There are times where the pitchers still look great and Michael K will also state so(among other announcers of the game), then here comes Girardi pulling out the starter way to prematurely. Many times pitchers were pulled out with great performances after only going 70-80 pitches.

    He’s also not really trusting of the bullpen. He’ll go through phases were he has no trust in anyone and uses 3 pitchers, sometimes 4, to get 3 outs. He panics too often when someone allows a potential run on the base.

    The Yankees bullpen is solid, not because of Girardi. But, because we have some good talent.

    I think my opinion is somewhat fair and accurate. I have watched over half of the regular season games on mlbtv, not just an inning but the entire games.

    I wish him the best of luck, but I don’t think he deserves credit for the bullpens success. Sometimes you wonder if this guy will ever chew players out for doing something stupid or just kiss them on the cheek and say nice try.

    • Ban Bud

      Your criticism of Giradi is that he doesn’t trust Darrell Rasner enough? Yikes. In the scenario above I’d think you should be tickled pink with your quality start and cut bait at the first sign of trouble. This is DARRELL RASNER!

      It’s funny too, because my perception of Giardi’s approach to pitching was quite different. I thought Giradi always tried to give his pitchers a chance to get out of a jam, trusting them more than Joe Torre would typically do. My criticism is thus quite different – he would allow pitchers to sink or swim, but seemed slow to write a pitcher off when, like Rasner or Sidney Ponson, they repeatedly showed little ability to get out of these jams. I found myself wondering why Giradi couldn’t see what seemed so obvious to me – that every passable inning from these two was living on borrowed time.

    • Steve H

      Come on, after watching Torre mishandle the bullpen the last few years, you have to give Girardi credit. Edwar, Farnsworth, Bruney, Veras were all better this year. Some of the same guys Torre had performed better with Girardi using them, and that’s fact.

  • 1996 Yankee Alumni Society

    Girardi’s best qualities were his realization of the potential greatness of Brian Bruney and getting all those ABs for Wilson Betemit!

    sorry – had to throw that in.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Bruney actually was very good this year. Betemit, eh, who cares?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Again, name me 3 better utility infielders than Betemit.

  • 1996 Yankee Alumni Society

    Good points. Bruney seems to be combining his pitches instead of trying to heave only fastballs.
    Betemit seems only an occasionally useful bench player.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Just curious: Have you looked at Bruney’s numbers this year? 33 IP, a baserunner per innings, 33 K, and opponents hitting .155/.259/.241 off him. Sure, it’s a small sample, but it’s pretty hard to complain about that level of production.

    • Old Ranger

      Cody seems much more reliable on defence then Wilson, both have power.
      As for the BP, almost everyone did a good job without being overworked…with exception a couple players (Marte for one).
      Looking forward to the off season action.

      • Steve H

        Cody is a CAREER MINOR LEAGUER for a reason. Let’s put him into perspective. 32 years old, less than 200 major league at bats, let’s not compare him to Betemit.

      • whozat

        Ransom is a vastly inferior hitter to Betemit. I mean…Betemit is hitting .320 this month and slugging .640. September numbers are pretty meaningless. Betemit’s actually hit a bit against non-scrub pitchers.

  • Joey H.

    Girardi did a great job considering this was a transition year where we relied on young SP and alot of guys that are leaving. we didnt leave him with a team where he can be the girard-genius . there is 1 man in that lineup that can lay down a quality bunt, quality hit and run ect.. and that man is derek jeter. we need to get people who can assume roles and people who dont say ah if i fuck up then ill let the next guy do it. cuase that was exactly the problem this year.