Last night’s loss to Tampa Bay marked Joe Girardi’s 189th game as the Yankee skipper. Since replacing Joe Torre, Girardi has gone 102-87, good for a .540 winning percentage. For Yankee standards, that’s not exactly a stellar start.
As this is New York and as Yankee fans are known to be fickle, as the Red Sox’s Tuesday night victory over the Yanks reached its conclusion, the few remaining fans in Yankee Stadium took up a chant. “We want Torre,” they yelled as Joe Girardi walked to the mound to remove an ineffective Mark Melancon from the hill.
It is, of course, the logical response for many fans. The Yankees find themselves under .500 on the season. They’ve managed to lose games by getting shelled and by failing to come through in the clutch. They’ve found no success out of the pen and are 0-5 against Boston. In another era, Joe Girardi would be out of the job for, as David Pinto noted, failing to deliver the goods.
For a real perspective on this issue, though, the man with the green tea had the smartest statement. The L.A. Times asked Joe Torre his take on the situation in New York, and Joe had a perfectly rational and calming answer. No wonder the fans on Tuesday wanted him back.
“Those fans are impatient. I enjoyed the 12 years. They weren’t always happy with me,” He said. “I feel for Joe because this kid’s a good manager and he’s going to be a better manager. We’re still talking about the first month of the season. There’s so much baseball to play. There’s a lot of talent on that club and they’re going to win their share of games.”
It does not look good in New York right now. The Yankees are 5.5 games out of first place after just 27 games of the season, and they are setting themselves up for yet another mid-season comeback. But the Yankees are playing now without their starting third baseman, their starting catcher and their Opening Day right fielder. The team’s setup man is out indefinitely with an elbow problem, and the number two starter is trying to build up strength in his legs. Guys on the roster who have no business being here — Angel Berroa, Francisco Cervelli — have been pressed into action, and that just isn’t Joe Girardi’s fault.
In one day, the Joe Girardi Job Watch can begin in earnest. When A-Rod returns, a big missing piece of the 2009 puzzle will be in place, and as much of a headache that A-Rod can be, he makes the rest of the team better. The bullpen is still an issue, and Brett Tomko certainly isn’t the answer. With A-Rod around, though, the Yanks should put their mediocre play behind them. If they’re still under .500 come June 7, then we can talk about Girardi’s job.