Sep
25

Is Joe Girardi right for the Yankees?

By

When the Yankees and Joe Torre parted ways after the 2007 season, the team lined up only three interviews for a replacement. The Yankees said they had only those men — Don Mattingly, Tony Pena, and Joe Girardi — in mind for the job, but even if they wanted to look outside the organization they might have found few takers. Who wants to follow Joe Torre, he of the dynastic late 90s Yankees? When the Yankees named Girardi, they handed him the universal task: win now.

It wasn’t an easy first season in pinstripes for Girardi. Not only was his team falling apart on the field, but he had troubles dealing with the media to explain it all. Fans and media, used to the stoic Torre, didn’t take to Girardi’s rigid ways. Add in a few gaffes, such as lying about injuries, and it’s an instant bad reputation. By season’s end, when the Yankees were headed home for the first time in 14 years, many fans wondered if this would have happened to a Joe Torre team.

Girardi still gets plenty of crap from fans, but it’s mostly in the form of second-guessed bullpen and bunting decisions. His handling of the media has improved, and I haven’t heard many, if any, complaints about him this season. He takes the blame and deflects it like his predecessor. Oh, and he allows ice cream in the dugout.

Tyler Kepner wrote an excellent profile of Girardi that dives a bit deeper into the changes he’s implemented this season. There haven’t been many, but the ones he’s made have made a difference. While Kepner spends a lot of time on the family-like atmosphere Girardi has built in the clubhouse, there’s one bit at the end which strikes me as pretty important:

Girardi has worked on other faults, improving his relationship with the news media by being more honest about injuries. He solved that problem by telling players what he planned to tell reporters, and finding that most understood.

Emphasis mine. This seems like it should be standard operating procedure. Why say something to the media that hasn’t already been said to the player? The player is the more important part of that scenario (sorry, beat writers), and should know what’s going on beforehand.

While it feels like Girardi just got here, the subject of his next contract will loom this off-season. As Tim Smith of the Daily News says, any extension talks will depend on how the Yanks do in the playoffs. A first-round exit will probably preclude extension talks, meaning Girardi will head into the 2010 season as a lame duck. While football teams tend to avoid the lame duck coach, it doesn’t seem to be as big an issue in baseball. It would probably take a World Series appearance to earn Girardi another two or three years.

iYankees wants to see the Yankees let Girardi’s deal expire and let him walk. I’m not too sure. Then again, I wanted to bring back Torre for 2008 and beyond. Regardless of what we want, the Yankees will probably consider an extension if they make the Series. If not, it’ll be a lame duck 2010. I wouldn’t really mind that. It’s fun to say. Lame duck.

Categories : Front Office

94 Comments»

  1. Bob Stone says:

    I wanted Torre to stay in 2008. I wasn’t thrilled with the choice of Girardi. He’s been better all around this year vs. last (part of which is a looser clubhouse due to the additions of Shwisher, Burnett and CC). But I also don’t mind him being a Lame Duck. I wouldn’t mind an extension but I wouldn’t mind a chnage to another manager either (unlike my feeling of grave disappointment when Torre left).

    • whozat says:

      I won’t bring the Torre arguments back, there’s no point in that. But, why does anyone think that there’s any hope that a different manager would be any less of a by-rote manager? Late innings, down by one? Bunt the runner over! Lefty coming up? Bring in Phil Coke, even if David Robertson is rolling. Is Phil Hughes a reliever? Throw him one inning at a time.

  2. Salty Buggah says:

    The team winning would get you good reviews no matter who you are. He might not have been all bad as described by the media last year, he was just the sacrificial goat for missing the playoffs.

    If only A-rod didn’t make his job harder with his clubhouse rants (thats what a cancer is, right?)…

  3. Omar says:

    I like Giradi, his bullpen management isn’t the best but better than Torre’s was. I like the way he uses the bench, he bunts a bit too often for my tastes but on the whole I like him.

    • Bob Stone says:

      Even though I am a Torre fan, I agree that Girardi has managed the bullpen better than Torre.

      • RustyJohn says:

        The grass is always greener…I’m amazed at how many people long for Torre despite his obvious deficiencies…all I can think about when I think of Torre is him sitting in the dugout while midges swarmed Joba.

        Girardi is a solid manager- last year is more the fault of the rotation and the aging, defensively deficient players such as Giambi and Abreu. If they lose in the playoffs the fault will be the rotation. Outside of CC, who do you trust to take the ball in the starting rotation?

    • Edwantsacracker says:

      The players seemed to complain that Girardi changed the lineup too often. He hasn’t done that as much this year either.

      • Salty Buggah says:

        Really? I dont remember anyone complaining. Either way, I think he was forced to do so because of bad play and injuries.

        • iYankees says:

          Johnny Damon sort of complained after being benched—or rested, I should say—in favor of Justin Christian. They were facing a lefty at the time, but Damon had a hit streak going on and, based on what he told reporters after the game, I don’t think he agreed with the decision.

          • Pasqua says:

            That game was in Minnesota and happened to coincide with Damon being on a torrid hot streak (and he was just about the only guy hitting at the time). I remember it vividly. Playing Christian b/c he was a righty and benching the hottest hitter on the team was really assinine, and I think Damon felt the same way.

  4. J.R. says:

    I think it was time to shake things up and get a new manager. The Yankees could have handled it better, but I think it was needed.

    Giardi has clearly done a better this job with the media and communicating to his player.

    Plus he’s on pace to win 100 games, you cant argue with those results.

  5. Moshe Mandel says:

    He’s done a good job, and has changed a lot in one year, which is what you want to see from a younger manager. I would lock him up. The little decisions that we quibble with you get from every manager. Believe me, I live in Boston, and Francona gets ripped regularly despite being a very good manager.

  6. TheLastClown says:

    He doesn’t have to be a “lame duck.” Does the lack of a contract extension this offseason preclude the possibility of one next offseason?

    If they make the 2010 ALCS, and don’t get embarrassed *likely*, why wouldn’t they stick with Girardi? If they can play to the best record in MLB with him at the helm, this year, he’s probably not one of the problems.

    If he makes some sort of questionable postseason call, different story, but if it’s the players that lose, why risk further tumult by bringing in a new manager?

    • TheLastClown says:

      To clarify, “questionable postseason call” = decision leading directly to a Yankee loss

    • Chris says:

      His contract runs through 2010. If they don’t get a deal done this offseason, then he will be a lame duck.

      That doesn’t preclude a deal after (or during) the 2010 season, but he would still be a lame duck next year.

  7. J.R. says:

    Giardi also has one of the easiest in game managerial jobs (outside the game maybe the hardest).

    SP-CC
    SP-AJ
    SP-Andy
    SP-Joba
    SP-whoever has sucked the least recently

    C-Jorge
    1B-Tex
    2B-Cano
    SS-Jeter
    3B-Arod
    LF-Damon
    C-Garbretta
    RF-Swish
    DH-Matsui

    There I just did what he does 4 outta 5 games.

    • RustyJohn says:

      Wow, that’s insightful, but, um, I could do the same thing with every other team because, they like have only a certain number of players that play only certain positions too…

      Unless every other team has a revolving door on their roster or 25 utility players.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

        quick: name the next closer for the phillies.

        yeah, that shit is tough right there!

        there are some jobs i really wouldnt want…what AAAA player on the Pirates do you trot out there today?

        “and today’s starting pitcher for your pittsburgh pirates, number 113, Anthony Clagget-t-t-t-t…..”

        i’d totally take that job–at least until they fired me…

    • The Artist says:

      No manager has to deal with the expectations he does, and only Francona has to deal with a media that is as big and as critical as NY.

      The notion that the Yanks HAVE to make the WS this year or any other is borderline irrational. It shows almost zero consideration for the other team, their talent level and desire to win. I understand that winning it all is the goal, but no matter how much you spend on talent it’s still tough to win games. Look at what happened to the Mets this year, who had the highest payroll in the NL. Then once you get to the playoffs, in a short series anything can happen. Bad teams beat great teams all the time.

      Mike Scioscia’s Angels won 100 games last year and lost to the Sox, I didn’t hear one word about firing him. Actually, they just gave him an insane extension of 10 years or something. In NY, everyone would be calling for Girardi’s head. If the Yanks were to lose in the ALDS this year.

      It’s the hardest job in Baseball, period. The nature of the sport and the expectations of the job don’t coincide with each other.

    • Chris says:

      That lineup (counting all games whether Gardner or Cabrera played CF) was used 25 times this year. That leaves 128 games where something was changed. Not quite 4 out of 5…

      • Bo says:

        I think every mananger would rather deal with the media than run out a substandard team.

        Running out HOF makes a managers job a little easier.

  8. PinstripesForeverDougie says:

    I always wondered how anyone blamed Joe Girardi for mssing the playoffs last year. How can any team expect a club to make the playoffs when:

    1)losing their best pitcher, Wang, for 4 months of the season
    2)dealing with 2 of his most productive hitters (Matsui, Posada) being lost for most of the year.
    3) Nearly, every healthy hitter having a poor season- especially Cano, Melky, Alex & Giambi-
    4) No one expecting the rise of Tampa Bay to elite staus last offseason and that extra elite team pushed the injured & underperforming team to the brink of no 2nd half return.

    In short- I can’t see how anyone could blame him for last year. Also, if anyone seriously believes St. Torre could have done any better, well I have bridge to sell ya.

    P.S. I personally don’t believe Torre would have “coached” last year’s team to 80 wins. In my opinion, Girardi did a tremendous job last year keeping that team professional enough to win nearly 90 games and quietly set the framework for this year’s powerhouse team.

    • Kiersten says:

      This. The Yankees wouldn’t have made the postseason last year no matter who was managing them. They had 19 wins and 200 RBIs on the DL for most of the season.

      • The Artist says:

        +1

        That was an aging, broken down Torre team that needed to be reworked. I was amazed he got 89 wins out of that group, considering the injuries and Hughes/IPK winning 0 games.

    • Omar says:

      If Torre were managing last season Wang wouldn’t have been hurt, he would have been pulled for Proctor before his first AB.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      Well, also remember that Alex (almost a month) and Jeter (2 weeks) missed some time to the DL last year. Also, add Jeter to the list of players having a sub-par season (bad defense with only a 102 OPS+, in other words a league average bat)

    • leokitty says:

      Giambi had a good season. 32HRs, .373OBP, 128OPS+ is in no way poor.

      A-Rod also had a good season. 35HRs, .392OBP, 150OPS+.

      Saying those too had poor seasons is pretty ridiculous.

    • Will says:

      Arod’s OPS+ of 150 was a poor season? Even Giambi was pretty good with an OPS+ of 128. Also, if he had given Cano a kick in the pants and challenged Melky earlier, maybe they would have improved? Furthermore, Girardi has to bear some responsibility for Wang’s injury. When you have a key starter on the bases, you have to instruvt him to take it easy and DEMAND that your moron 3B coach not wave him around on a close play when you are leading by 4 runs! Sometimes, “accidents” happen for a reason.

      • The Three Amigos says:

        Did you just blame Girardi for Wang injuring his foot? Did Girardi have a remote control in the dugout and is wang a robot?

        • Will says:

          It doesn’t take foresight as a manager to tell your 3B to not send your ace pitcher into a close play at the plate. Even if he didn’t hurt his foot running, Wang could have been injured in a number ways on a close play at the plate. A good manager needs to anticipate things like that (and since the incident, Girardi said he has in fact instructed his pitchers and coaches to be very cautious on the base paths).

      • dudes says:

        this is beyond ridiculous.

  9. Kiersten says:

    Girardi >>>> Torre. I like my managers awake in the dugout during games thank you.

    • gc says:

      No, you like your managers to win playoff games and world championships. Unless you were making these complaints about Torre and lobbying for his departure when the team was winning, which I highly doubt. Torre’s managerial style and demeanor remained largely unchanged during his tenure here. But they stopped winning the big games and that’s when fans started turning sour on him. That’s fandom for you. It happens.

      • LosingOurHeads says:

        I was. He annoyed me then. I think Girardi is a big improvement, the team has the winningest record in baseball and he has made some good decisions in close games.

  10. Jersey says:

    It’s also worth noting that the Yankees have so far outperformed their Pythagorean record by ~6 games. Girardi likely deserves a portion of the credit for that.

  11. Mike Axisa says:

    I think Girardi has done a good job this year, but I’m alarmed at how he shows a lack of feel for the game at times, especially as a former catcher.

    Sometimes the game does the managing for you, you just have to sit back and watch. No need to make moves just to look like you’re paying attention. Example A: bunting with Nick Swisher. Sure, he’s supposed to be able to do it, but he obviously can’t, and that means you stop asking him to do it.

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      I can’t entirely disagree, but I think this is more a matter of him using conventional wisdom, something most managers do. Also, I think that we have gotten a bit caught up in sabermetric precepts about game situations, when dealing with the players directly may actually give managers an edge in knowing what the right move might be. I think he does a great job with the macro stuff, and isn’t much different from 99% of managers on the micro things.

    • leokitty says:

      It sucks that Swisher can’t bunt because he should know how, but let’s face it in his baseball career it’s unlikely that it’s come up a lot. So even if Nick Swisher was an amazing bunter in little league, how much has it come up since then? Not very often.

      So a situation comes up where the team is playing for one run and he’s asked to bunt. It doesn’t turn out right.

      I’m fuming because bunts aghh!! but I do understand the reasoning behind it being called for the manager. You’re playing for one run and it’s hard to get away from conventional baseball wisdom sometimes.

      The hope then is that after the horrible failure it doesn’t come up again. All I ask is that people learn from mistakes.

    • Chris says:

      Example A: bunting with Nick Swisher. Sure, he’s supposed to be able to do it, but he obviously can’t, and that means you stop asking him to do it.

      That’s wrong.

      Whether Swisher should have bunted or not is certainly debatable, but this argument that he can’t bunt is ludicrous. This year, he has bunted 6 times. In those 6 bunts, he has 2 hits, 3 sacrifices and one failure.

      This is a perfect example of people’s memories failing them. Why does everyone dwell on his supposed inability to bunt when he’s been successful 5 of the 6 times he’s tried this year?

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

        nice use of statistics there. did you look that up for this response, or did you know it already from something else?

        comments like these cost me $25,000 a year in productivity, cause i’m here instead of calling clients…so, in reality, SCREW YOU CHRIS!!! YOU’RE MAKING ME BROKE!!!

        nice comment though :)

      • dudes says:

        Sample size alert!

        based on only 6 attempts this year, you cannot possibly deduce whether or not swish can bunt.

    • crawdaddie says:

      I agree with your comment about Girardi lacking a feel for the game or instincts in certain situations. Sometimes, you just have to let the players on the field decide the game like that Swisher situation against Texas.

  12. J.J. says:

    I really believe Girardi is right for the job. Especially because he is a nice contrast to Torre. He’s not a polar opposite, like most writers suggest is best for a team. Which I don’t believe is true because if a manager is way too different there will be a long adjustment period to his style and they may need to get players that fit Girardi’s management style better. He is similar enough where the adjustment period is short, but different enough where you know it’s not the same clubhouse anymore.

    Torre most faltered as a manager in the bullpen. Pitching wins games and you need your whole staff to pitch well to be able to win consistently. Girardi does that very well. He lets a lot of the different talent shine too. He also doesnt abuse guys till their arms fall off and then keep riding them some more. Aceves and Robertson this year went from probable Scranton Shuttle members to 2 of the most reliable middle relievers they have. I dont know if theyre just simply more talented or that Girardi knows how to manage his bullpen better; but the success over the past 2 years he’s had with the pen and all the different guys over one year makes me think it’s Girardi brings out the most talent for a bullpen.

    He’s also great at setting up lineups. Swapping Jeter and Damon was huge for us this year. That was one of the best moves this season. It helped the team out tremendously and I don’t believe Torre would’ve put Derek Jeter anywhere other than 2nd.

    • J.J. says:

      Me propose? I doubt I’d have any say in the matter at ALL. But I would imagine it would probably come down to: Pena, Mattingly, and Willie Randolph.

  13. Tom Zig says:

    If Girardi gets the boot, who would you propose?

  14. Jamie G. says:

    I could care less if Girardi is the manager as long as they win…if they arent winning the series, I would rather them have a manager I like. Mattingly, Randolph, Pinella are three guys I would rather see back in pinstripes managing the Yanks than Girardi. If he wins the Series I dont mind if he stays.

    • Stryker says:

      mattingly and randolph, i feel, would actually be a downgrade. the closest to girardi is randolph, but mattingly is just torre jr. loved him as a yankee but nooo thanks.

      • gc says:

        I don’t think anyone really knows what Mattingly would be as a manager. Just because he went with Joe to LA doesn’t mean he’d be a carbon copy of him as a manager. I love Mattingly, but I wouldn’t want him as manager until he gets some experience doing that job.

  15. pat says:

    I was going to make a joke about wanting Bobby V as manager if something terrible happens and Girardi gets booted because Bobby was able to bring a shitty Mets team to the WS in 2000.
    Then this happened-

    Mike Piazza: 155 ops+
    Edgardo Alfonzo: 147
    Benny Agbayani: 123
    Todd Zeile: 110
    Jay Payton: 98
    Derek Bell: 98
    Robin Ventura: 98
    Mike Bordick: 76

    Mike Hampton: 142 ERA+
    Al Leiter: 139
    Glendon Rusch:111
    Rick Reed:108
    Bobby Jones:88

    Armando Benitez:171
    Turk Wendell: 124
    John Franco: 131
    Rick White: 117
    Bobby Jones:107

    That team was actually pretty good. Not quite the 2009 Yanks but still pretty decent. So my joke about the Mets sucked but Valentine is still the man and I’d love to see him back in NY.

  16. Dela G says:

    Girardi shouldn’t go anywhere

    his bullpen management alone makes him worlds better than torre. Plus, he doesn’t keep pitchers in teh doghouse after one bad outing, which has helped pitchers like melancon, bruney (at times), marte, mike dunn et al have a second chance to prove that they are worth their weight.

    I love his managerial skills and actually like the bunting when it is to move runners INTO scoring position (even though you guys will crucify me for that statement).

  17. Will says:

    Without knowing exactly how his players feel about him and his contribution to the “clubhouse”, I would also like to see the Yankees let him go. He has proven to be a subpar game manager (to be kind) and I don’t see why the Yankees should be accepting of that.

  18. The Artist says:

    Don’t be surprised when Girardi wins 2009 Manager of the Year. There really isn’t another AL candidate (except Ron Washington) and winning 100+ games in NY should do the trick. Tigers aren’t that good, Angels/Sox had good, but not outstanding years.

    If he does, that will be his 2nd MOY in his 3rd season of managing. Which is not bad for a guy who some think ‘has no feel for the game’ or ‘anyone could manage this team’.

  19. Riddering says:

    I want Girardi back. I like his in-game management (especially with the bullpen) and I like how he handles the players in the clubhouse and with the media.

    Plus, he started both seasons with steroid drama and handled it well. I shudder to think of Torre manning the helm with the A-Rod revelation this year.

  20. Bill says:

    It amazes me how much criticism Girardi receives on some of the blogs.The Yankees have the best record in baseball and are inching closer to winning the pennant.The guy deserves some credit. He has done a good job this yr.

  21. Bill says:

    Will,
    He was fired because he didn’t get along with mgt in Fla.He must have done something right to win mgr of the yr.

  22. crawdaddie says:

    Whether Girardi is given an extension will depend on how this season plays out in October and hopefully, November. It might not come down to him reaching the WS and actually winning it. Instead, it will depend on how the Yankees lose if they fail to win the WS this season. Whether he made managerial decisions that directly affected playoff games in which the Yankees lost which caused their downfall in the 2009 playoffs.

    In the next six weeks or so, we’ll find out if Girardi deserves an extension or not.

  23. Rob in CT says:

    As always, this sort of question is incomplete without also asking “who would be the replacement?” Would that replacement be better? This was my question with Torre, and I thought the answer was no until 2007 (though I was wavering in 2006).

    I think Girardi is a solid manager. Not great, but solid and obviously he’s improved on the media relations part of the job. I don’t see the point of replacing him.

  24. pete says:

    I like Girardi, and what he has done. He has the rare gift of not being shortsighted, which allows him to maximize production from the bench and bullpen. His infatuation with bunting is bothersome, but that is pretty much the only quarrel I have with him. Still, I think I’d like to see Coney in that spot.

  25. Pasqua says:

    I feel much more comfortable with Girardi this year, if only because he’s lost a lot of that Bill Belichick-like stand-offishness with the media. Maybe he realized (unlike a former Jets head coach) that you need clout before you act like a demigod.

    And here’s a blast from the past: Anybody remember last spring, in KC, when Girardi started Brian Bruney and then brought in IPK (who was supposed to start) to pitch (I believe) the 3rd inning? If I recall, it was kind of rainy and he was trying to protect the young’un. I remember thinking that the move was a little “too cute” for my taste.

    Long story longer…I like this year’s Girardi a lot more.

  26. cr1 says:

    Girardi, a smart, ambitious and hardworking guy, had had just one year of managerial experience, and in a very different situation, when the Yankees hired him. Not surprisingly, it was a very steep learning curve for him in his first year here and he stumbled around trying to catch up. This year he’s significantly better, although his in-game management still leaves plenty of room for improvement.

    Why is he better? Well, for one thing FO forced him to close down the BFF club at his house and work with an experienced bench coach. I attribute part of the improvement to Pena’s influence.

    For another thing Girardi showed a willingness to make adjustments and learn from his mistakes, a great quality in a young manager.

    I say it’s too soon to talk about extensions, and I can’t imagine NYY FO doing it unless the postseason is spectacular and they are overcome with good feelings about that.

    But it’s also no time to give up on a guy just because he still has plenty to learn. They knew that when they went with rookie potential in their hiring process. And it’s hardly fair to compare him with managers who have as many decades in the job as he has years.

  27. Bo says:

    Yankee managers dont get extensions for winning 98 games. They get extensions for winning in october. His season starts next week.

    And lets face it. He wont have the chance to go to the scrubs in the pen because they wont be on the roster. So if he leaves the bunting at home and goes to his big guns in the pen he really shouldnt have a problem. Let him earn his extension.

    • jsbrendog says:

      see but the playoffs is when you should be bunting for that one run becaues in theory you are playin the teams with the best starting pitching and bullpens so runs are mroe often than not at a premium, unlike the regular season.

  28. Stryker says:

    after 2007 (hell, even going all the way back to ’04) i thought baseball was changing and the yankees needed a change as well. it was clear, to me at least, that torre’s time was up. i was originally going to write a comment about how i really like girardi and how different he is from torre. but the more i see him, the more i see some similarities – having his “trusted” bullpen guys is probably the biggest example. then i was going to add something about how i wish he did things differently – but really, what else could we want? sure sometimes you’d wish he’d stop bunting or it seems like he has no feel for the game but some of the moves he makes – compared to what torre used to do – are aggressive moves. and he doesn’t just sit there on the bench chewing on a peach pit half-asleep. he’s on the top step of the dugout conferring with his pitching and bench coaches for the entire game. that alone makes all the difference in the world. mattingly would almost assuredly be the biggest disciple of the torre school of managing. pena would’ve been solid but i think out of the three candidates for the job girardi was the best fit.

    the last few years of the torre era were full of aging players with no versatility. in the last 2 years cashman has given girardi a younger, athletic and more versatile team than the yankees have had in a long time. yes, it was time for a welcome change but given the caliber of this 2009 team, could torre really do a worse job?

  29. cr1 says:

    Happily, both the Yankees and Torre are doing fine apart, and both will be right where they belong in October — playing baseball.

  30. RCK says:

    I don’t want Girardi to come back. I think that his relationship with Posada (and therefore Jeter) is somewhat frought and will only get worse as Jorge has to catch less and less. I want a manager who hasn’t played with the veteran guys and therefore will have more authority over them.

  31. LosingOurHeads says:

    I think Joe Girardi has pretty much earned the extension right now but it’s better to see how he does in the playoffs.

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