On Spring Training Eve, the pressure is on Girardi

Oliver wins case against NCAA
From the last row, a pole

Joe Girardi hasn’t really had an easy job since taking over the managerial reins in Oct. of 2007. He had to face Joe Torre’s legacy, a raft full of injuries, the first non-Yankee October since 1994 and now the Alex Rodriguez mess.

On the flip side, though, 2009 is a manager’s dream. The Yanks landed three of the top four free agents this winter and head into the season with their best rotation since 2003 and one of the game’s best lineups as well. If all goes according to plan, Girardi’s toughest decisions this year will focus around the nine hole in the lineup and the center field spot. He may also have to determine who pitches the eighth.

At the same time, Girardi acutely feels the weight of expectations. Somehow, he has to right this PED-tainted ship his third baseman is on, and he has to manage against the on-field expectations his bosses, his fans and the media have. To that end, he knows that his job could be on the line if the Yanks head home after their Oct. 4 game in Tampa. Reports Ken Davidoff:

What interested me most was when Girardi agreed with a reporter’s question/assertion that he probably wouldn’t be invited back for 2010 if the Yankees failed to qualify for the postseason. That’s probably right, unless there’s a complete slew of injuries

“I don’t necessarily think about those things,” Girardi told the reporter who asked the question. “But as you stated the question, you’re probably right.” Then he laughed.

He can laugh at it, and he can joke about on Feb. 12. But Girardi is right. He was supposed to be the Next Great Yankee Manager, and while he did an admirable enough job last year, he has to do better this year. Better, of course, means a playoff berth.

It’s tough to manage in New York. With so much money spent on the on-field product, it’s not unreasonable for the those signing the paycheck to demand excellence every year. But when the fans hop on that bandwagon and the media follows suit, the pressure can be overwhelming. Girardi isn’t a rookie anymore. Now we get to see what he’s made of, and no one knows the pressure and potential success that awaits him more than Joe.

Oliver wins case against NCAA
From the last row, a pole
  • andrew

    I’m in the camp that believes firing a manager after 2-3 years is too soon (especially in the NFL). I would hope that if the Yankees were again on the cusp of making the playoffs Girardi would be given another shot. That being said, this is the best Yankee team in quite a few years and somebody will need to be blamed(for the media’s sake) if they don’t make the playoffs.

    • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

      I agree. Girardi inherited an aging, Torre type team. It will take 2-3 years for him to incorporate his types of players, who can execute his style of play. I think Teixiera is a step in that direction, Swisher is a step in that direction and Brett Gardner is a step in that direction. He wants guys who can field their position and run the bases as well as hit. He wants an offense that can score runs in different ways, create a run when necessary. He also likes guys who care about winning and each other, and will form a bond toward a common goal. That’s something that has been very lacking since the late 90’s core has faded.

      Another reason to keep Joe is the pending shift away from Posada to what will likely be a rookie catcher. No position on the field requires more schooling than Catcher, and Joe was a good one.

      Two years would be pretty knee-jerk by the Yankees IMO, unless he has a disastrous season this year and self destructs with the clubhouse and/or the media. But I don’t see that happening.

      • radnom


        Unless there are RIDICULOUS injuries, if this team misses the playoffs the manager must be held accountable. There is way too much talent here.

      • Jay CT

        I was so high on Girardi, and still am. I think he will get the job done. Considering he got wacked by injuries and still worked the bullpen to perfection to manage a solid season was a strong indicator that he can do this job. Its almost like Girardi added CC, Burnett, Tex, Swisher, Posada, Joba and Wang while losing Abreu and Giambi. If he doesn’t make the playoffs with this team, I do think he gets fired, which is too bad… I am pumped and think this is the year.

  • John

    There is no way Girardi should fail…

    • anonymous

      This team is unsinkable. Not even God could keep this team out of the post season.

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

        Yeah. That won’t jinx it or anything.

        • John

          only if you believe in a jinx..

  • John

    Does he get fired if we (god forbid) dont win the WS but make it?

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

      No. Not unless he shows blatant incompetence when he manages the games.

      • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

        Oh, you mean like pitching Jeff Weaver instead of Mariano Rivera in a sudden-death situation?

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

          And not bunting on Curt Schilling with a bum ankle because that’s not the “right way” to play the game.

          • whozat

            Do we actually know that that’s why, or do we just assume because that’s the kind of “old fashioned baseball man” Torre is?

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

            I don’t think that, or the Jeff Weaver Incident are nearly as bad as Joe Maddon letting JP Howell hit with a man on first and one out in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the WS with his team down 3-2 in the game and 3-1 in the series.

  • http://amonthoffundays.blogspot.com Phil in LA

    He can’t and won’t fail this year. With a healthy team, knock wood, his bullpen management augers great success.

  • http://thebronxzoo.wordpress.com iYankees

    If Girardi fails this year, then it is his fault. I’m sorry, but the team is too good.

    • John

      well, unless something really drastic happens

      • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

        Yes, like a plane crashing into Yankee stadium, killing half the roster.

        • DP


        • Mike Pop

          Don’t go there.

  • Rich

    Managers usaully get way too much credit for wins and blame for losses, so if the team underachieves for reasons other than injuries, it likely won’t be because of anything Girardi does or doesn’t do.

    That said, all things being equal, this team is going to make the playoffs, and with a little luck, or perhaps merely the absence of bad luck, they have the kind of dominant starting rotation and deep pen to do damage.

    Girardi’s most important contribution, beyond bullpen management (which appears to be a strength), needs to be an ability to get the players to relax and let their talent takeover.

    • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

      Ture, but its also true that little things can often make the difference between winning and losing.

      A manager’s job is to put his players in the best position to be successful. You have to know their strengths and weaknesses as players and adjust accordingly. You also have to pay attention to statistical match ups. That was one of my main criticisms of Torre, he paid little to no attention to the numbers, and got himself into predictable trouble as a result.

      Playing Matsui on a bad knee in the 2007 ALDS vs Sabathia comes to mind. He wasn’t hitting lefties for about a month and a half, much less a tough one like CC. Pitching Wang in that same series over Hughes, who was great all September. Wang was pitching on fumes all September, then he asks him to go on short rest.

      Its like he wasn’t even paying attention.

      • steve (different one)

        come on, i am not a huge Torre fan, but you thought he should have handed Phil Hughes the ball over Wang? i don’t see how that is a reasonable thing to ask of any manager. bumping your ace for a rookie with 75 major league innings?

      • Jay CT

        I do not like Torre. However, NO ONE was going to throw Hughes over Wang in that spot, especially after he came in for Clemens.

  • Scott of 3 Kids Tickets

    … an not lie to the press/public when you’re going to get caught.

    Maybe they can bring back Billy Martin if Joe fails…lol


  • jim p

    “decide who pitches the 8th”… ?

    It’s gotta be Joba! Look, you put Joba, CC, & AJ in the bullpen with Mariano, then mix and match the whole season for who pitches the 8th and the 9th innings.

  • http://ranger2709.blogspot.com Old Ranger

    I keep hearing Joe G lied to the reporters about this or that…so what! If anyone out there (not picking on you Scott, just came up) really thinks all the Managers and Gms don’t lie about things…you are kidding yourself. The difference was, Joe and Cashman were not checking with each other on how they were going to play or say anything to the reporters.
    When one of the players asks the manager not to say something, the manager should honer his wishes…don’t you think?
    When a player is injured slightly, you don’t let the other team know about it.
    We could go on but, the point being he will say things like; I am not sure, we think, I haven’t received the report yet, etc., the one thing he will do is…check with Cash to get the story right, before he talks.
    Well, off to the lake for some good fishing…see ya!

    • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

      Lying to the media is part of his job. He just has to find a way to finesse these things. Maybe doing a minute or two off the record, and then he can do the coach-speak when the cameras are on.

  • Phil McCracken

    If Torre was removed for not making it past the ALDS, then how does just a playoff berth keep Girardi at the helm?

    After adding Sabathia, Teixeira, and Burnett anything less than ALCS/World Series should be unacceptable.

    • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

      Reguardless who the manager was, I think whoever was managing gets another chance after this past year. There is nothing you can do about all the injuries that happened.

      • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

        Yeah, he could be in a Tom Coughlin situation. Going into the final year of his deal with mixed results. He won’t get a new deal, but could be retained.

    • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

      What if the team they play in the ALDS is the CLE Indians, who won 118 games in the regular season and go on to sweep to the World Series?

      What if the Yanks have a playoff rotation of Wang/Pettitte/Aceves/IPK due to injuries?

      Can we wait to see how things play out before we make these statements?

    • JohnnyC

      Uhh…3 years in a row.

    • sevrox

      Phil McCracken says:

      February 13th, 2009 at 4:35 am

      “After adding Sabathia, Teixeira, and Burnett anything less than ALCS/World Series should be unacceptable.”

      Perfect example of the problem with many Yankee fans. Baseball is a marathon – not a sprint and that it would be unacceptable to not win the WS is sheer idiocy. BlahBlahBlah

      Well at least no steroids are being spoken here.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Well at least no steroids are being spoken here.


  • Joe R

    If the Yankees win like 93-95 games and they somehow still dont make the playoffs. Think he still gets the axe?

    • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

      No. This line of thinking assumes that Hank and Hal are the same as their father. I see little evidence in how the team is being run to back that up.

  • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

    For all the people who are bringing up Girardi’s dismissal, you then have the obligation to name a candidate for his replacement. Somebody has to take the job if not him.


    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Joe Torre.

      • PapelBum

        Tony Pena.

        • Mike Pop

          Larry Bowa.

    • A.D.

      Donnie Baseball

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        [ head explodes ]

  • Januz

    Joe Giradi knows the pressure is on. There are certain teams where winning is expected and this is one of them (Throw in the CC, AJ, & Tex, and the new Stadium, and it is more than ever). What they do in the regular season does not matter, only the playoffs (Ask the Seattle Mariners when they won over 100 games but failed to reach the World Series).
    Right now, you just want to make the playoffs, in this division (The Yankees & Boston are the two best teams in baseball). I think it is close between the Yankees and Sox (I think Tampa takes a step back). Looking at the rosters, I prefer the Yankee infield and catcher (Except 2nd), and the Red Sox outfield. I prefer the Yankee starting pitching and Boston’s bullpen. Neither bench is that good (It is probably a wash). The key will be the return of injured players, such as Matsui, Wong and Posada for the Yankees, and Ortiz, Lowell, Baldelli, and Smoltz for Boston. Plus the return to form of Swisher and Veritek, for each team.
    Since I did a quick analysis of the Yankees and Red Sox. It makes a nice lead in to my pre-season predictions:
    AL East:1 Yankees. 2: Boston. 3: Tampa 4: Baltimore 5: Toronto.
    AL Central:1: Cleveland. 2: White Sox. 3: Minnesota. 4: Detroit 5: Kansas City.
    AL West:1: Angels. 2: Oakland. 3: Texas 4: Seattle.
    NL East: 1: Mets. 2: Philadelphia. 3: Atlanta. 4: Washington 5: Florida.
    NL Central: 1: Cubs. 2: St Louis. 3: Milwaukee. 4 : Houston. 5: Pittsburgh.
    NL West: 1: Dodgers (Assuming Manny). 2: San Francisco. 3: Arizona. 4: SD.
    Wild Cards: Boston and Philadelphia.
    World Series Yankees over Cubs.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I love all your parentheticals. I read all your posts like you’re Kevin Nealon, Subliminal Man.

      • Januz

        I had to look up Kevin Nealon (I have to admit I never heard of him before). One major reason, I use a lot of partentheticals is the help to avoid run on sentences, while trying to make my various points. It also saves time, because less editing is needed (Although I do reread what I write, to avoid spelling, typing, and bad grammar as much as possible).

        • Mike Pop

          Doing the Bull Dance, feeling the flow, working, working.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Dude, I know; just needling you a little bit. It’s humorous to me for some reason to see you nest a parenthetical inside another parenthetical… like you’re talking about one thing, then you go off on an aside, then you have an aside for your aside. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just a unique writing style.

          (but, on the grammar nitpick tip, you should consider cutting back on the commas. You’re quite gratuitous with them.)

    • kunaldo

      i agree w/ most of your sentinments…except that you chose boston’s bullpen over ours…ours was SICK last year(and bostons was OK out side of papelboner, remember how many games the MRs blew?)…so our MRs are better(plus we have great depth), i’d say marte is better than okajima, or at least a wash…and Mo is better than pap smear.

      oh and varitek will return to what form? if you mean the crappy declining catcher who was never all that offensively then i wholeheartedly agre

  • Count Zero

    Regardless of whether I think it’s right or not, I would say Girardi definitely gets the axe if they don’t make the playoffs — barring catastrophic injury of course. In fact, I would go one step further and say he won’t last the season if the Yanks are sub .500 in say…June.

    Somebody will be held accountable with this roster, and he’s first in line. It is what it is.

  • Jim

    Does anyone know when people with ticket plans will find out their seats? or when tickets go on sale for the exhibition games? Thanks!

  • PapelBum

    Girardi sounds relaxed..for a change. Now that’s something different from last year.

  • http://asportsaddictneedsdivineintervention.blogspot.com/ E-ROC

    Who would ya’ll have the Yanks hire, if Girardi is fired?

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Pat Riley.

      • PapelBum

        Eric Mangini. Can’t wait for that Press confrence! “IF YOU IMPROVE THE PROCESS THE RESULTS WILL IMPROVE” will be the answer to all the questions.

    • OmgCake

      Tom Verducci

  • barry

    No way was last season Girardi’s fault. Wang, Posada, Matsui, the whole team broke down. Look at who we had starting for most of the season, it’s a miracle that we came within a few of a playoff berth.