It’s hard to know what to make of Bob Klapisch’s latest on Joe Girardi. On the one hand, it’s a rather obvious piece exploring how Girardi may lose his job if the Yanks don’t get off to a good start in 2009. On the other, it’s something of a hack job designed to rile up the anti-Girardi factions among us.
While much of the piece focuses around some non-existent conflict between Joe Girardi and Manny Ramirez that may not even be an issue, Klapisch fires some blanket warning shots Girardi’s way. Take a look:
This is bad news for Joe Girardi, who’s already facing a difficult 2009 agenda. Despite the apparent imbalance in the Yankees’ roster — terrific pitching, questionable offense — the manager is expected to get the Bombers to the playoffs or else lose his job.
Of course, the front office hasn’t issued a win-or-else edict to Girardi. But officials are aware that his leadership style was too rigid and too intense for a veteran clubhouse. It’s hard to believe Girardi can loosen up in the span of one off-season, but he’d better: If the Yankees are playing .500 ball in mid-May, the clock on his dismissal will be ticking loudly.
This is the same pressure that Willie Randolph faced early in 2008, and look how the Mets responded: They got their manager fired as they sunk under .500. Girardi is getting one more chance to undo last year’s mistakes, including his over-reliance on team meetings, his inability to digest and process tough losses and his ill-advised policy of banning junk food in the clubhouse.
Got that? We have “questionable offense,” Girardi’s “inability to digest and process tough losses,” and an “ill-advised policy” designed to encourage healthy eating in the clubhouse. I can’t help but wonder what the agenda is.
In truth, Girardi probably will face a tough 2009 if the Yanks falter. The brass seemingly gave him a pass on 2008. The Yanks were facing some growing pains as they tried to determine how their young arms would fit in, and the teams had to overcome far too many injuries to make the playoffs. A poor start in a few months will land Girardi in the hot seat whether he deserves it or not. It won’t be over some junk food ban or Girardi’s inability to cope with losses. It will be because the team just doesn’t perform up to anyone’s expectations.