An insight into Girardi’s managerial style


In my younger and more vulnerable days, also known as high school, I was a catcher for my school’s baseball team. It wasn’t an easy job, but I loved it. I would go over the game plan with my pitchers and work with them through lineups we would see multiple times over the course of a season. By the end of my stint playing baseball in high school, I had a pretty good sense of how the other players in the league liked their pitches and how they didn’t, and I certainly could tell which pitchers preferred throwing what pitches in certain situations.

In professional baseball, the job of a catcher is far more complex. Although catchers have to be aware of the scouting reports and their opponent’s strengthens and weaknesses, they have a whole slew of pitchers they must shepherd through a grueling 162-game season. The preparation that goes into catching is immense. Backstops scour scouting reports and are often the manager’s and pitching coach’s eyes and ears on the field during games.

It is, then, little wonder that so many catchers become managers. In fact, three of the four teams currently left in the playoffs are helmed by former catchers, and a few days ago, Marc Carig explored just why catchers make good manager. As field generals, the catchers are just supposed to know baseball (which is why Jorge Posada‘s gaffes last night were a bit surprising).

Carig’s piece on the whole is well worth the read. I want to highlight a selection concerning Joe Girardi:

Indeed, when looking back at his own experience, Girardi said catching helped prepare him for what he considers one of the most important parts of his job: handling pitchers. “As a catcher, that’s what you’re trying to do,” Girardi said. “You understand what you have in the bullpen, you understand which guys you’re going to use for which outs, how far you have to get your starter, who your starter matches up against, who you can’t let beat you.”

Dealing with pitchers, he said, developed the same skills he uses when handling the players on his roster.
“Different backgrounds, different nationalities, different personalities,” Girardi said. “You have to learn to handle all of them, relate to all of them. Learn to get the best out of them and that’s what you’re doing with your players.”

Over the last few days, Joe Girardi has come under fire for seemingly overmanaging his bullpen on Monday. He used David Robertson for all of 11 pitches in the 11th inning of a tie game and replaced him with the inferior Alfredo Aceves. Two batters later, the Angels had their first win of the ALCS.

But that game was Girardi’s first bullpen mistake of the postseason. In fact, he has now used relievers 30 times over the Yanks’ seven October games with fantastic results. In 23 innings, the Yanks’ pen has a 1.96 ERA. The bullpen has walked 10 and has struck out 21. As the Yanks go for the series win tomorrow, all pen hands will be deck.

Girardi, I believe, enjoys going to pen so much because, as a former catcher, he has confidence in his relievers. As he said, he knows which guys he wants to use for which outs and who can get certain opposing hitters out. It might infuriate us as fans to watch him use a lefty for one pitch only to replace him for another lefty, but so far, it’s worked. His approach may be a bit unorthodox, but the former catcher in Girardi certainly knows his pitchers.

Categories : Musings
  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    You know how you know a manager is doing well?

    You know a manager is doing well because it is his mistakes, and not his successes, that get the attention.

    It means he’s been so successful that we simply expect it.

    103 wins will do that to you.

    • Mike HC

      I trust Girardi. If he makes a move, I know there is a good reason for it. I won’t necessarily agree with it, but I know that the move has been thought through and Girardi has confidence in it.

      • Mike HC

        sorry, messed the reply up.

        • jsbrendog

          girardi does not trust your replying.

    • Tom Zig

      Interesting point. Never thought of it like that

  • MattG

    On Monday night, I thought I saw him sprinkling salt behind him as he walked back and forth from the dugout.

  • jsbrendog

    this still does not justify bringing joba into any important games. he should be the second to last guy out of the pen before gaudin. he was an inconsistent starter. i thought there were rumblings the fo thought he seemed to have a sense of entitlement and would have sent him down had it not been for lack of depth….

    if that is the case this only baffles me even more. he should not be pitching in important spots unless robertson, hughes, aceves, mo, coke have been used because they have proven themselves. i find myself yelling at my tv every time joba is jogging out first out of the pen in a tie game/1 run/2 run game. ugh

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I disagree. Joba should not be starting postseason games, because he can’t be trusted to go 6 innings.

      He can absolutely be trusted to retire 1, 2, or 3 batters in an inning. Because he’s a good pitcher. He struggled and hit a wall down the stretch, and that means he should have a short leash, but he’s still a good pitcher and as long as you monitor him closely to be sure he has his A stuff (or frankly, even his B- stuff), he’s a good pitcher and can absolutely be used as an elite situational reliever.

  • JM

    I feel that Girardi always makes a great move or a terrible move, and never anything in between (even though you kinda can’t really be in between depending on your perspective and situation). All in all, however, I think he is a well-above-average manager and like most good managers, he will have is off-days. Nobody is perfect. Disclaimer: Mo is not a person.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Every decision made is either a good or a bad move. But, there are necessary or unnecessary moves. The Aceves move was a unnecessary one that turned out to be a bad move. If he would got the third out, it would have been an unecessary move that turned out good.

      My head is dizzy.

      • JM

        That’s what I was trying to say that was in between a good and bad move. Thanks, now my head hurts too.

  • The Lodge

    Managerial mistakes are largely subjective – sometimes they bite you in the ass and sometimes they don’t. Either way I don’t mind the mistakes, every manager makes them. Even Joe McCarthy made mistakes.

    Hopefully in a few years we will be able to say that Girardi has grown as a manager and doesn’t make the same mistakes he makes now.

    I think my man Joey G is young enough and smart enough to be that guy.

    • jsbrendog

      of course everyone makes them and as long as he learns from them it will be ok. unfortunately, he will never stop making mistakes, no one will, so we all have to just hope he limits them/the situations they occur in.

    • Joe McCarthy

      No, sir, I did not ever make mistakes.

      I, as a defender of truth & decency, hereby announce that The Lodge is nothing more than a card-carrying Communist!!!

      • The Lodge

        Actually, I’ve misplaced the card…

  • steve s

    Joe Girardi is the full package as manager. He has the right baseball smarts, he was a fair to good blue collar player on championship teams with a Yankee pedigree, he’s book smart and an articulate speaker with a broadcasting background and has a developed a public demeanor and communication style with the media that exudes leadership, class and good citizenship. Win or lose, the Yanks are lucky to have him and due to his age he should be leading the Yanks to playoff victories for years to come.

    • jsbrendog

      so how long you think he lasts as manager?

      • whozat

        He’ll be fired before Thursday’s game.

  • Tony

    even in the aceves move he had legit reasons. (replacing a fastball pitcher with a off-speed pitcher – for a hitter who hits fastballs well)

    Girardi has a gameplan & he seems to stick to it. If he fails – it will not be because of lack of preparation but because of lack of execution on the players part.

    • Joe McCarthy

      D-Rob has probably the best non-fastball in the pen.

      Hughes’ hook is close, but his dominance comes from hitters having to react off of 94-96 to the hooks, whereas D-Rob is 91-93.

      i just don’t like this argument that Aceves was > K-Rob for Howie Kendrick because K-Rob is a “fastball pitcher”

      • TheLastClown

        Oops…name re-assumption fail.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Which is why you should just sign things “Sincerely, Joe McCarthy” so you never forget to change your name back and so we know whom to laud with praise for your clever wit.

      • Tony

        This is not my argument – This was Girardi’s rational based on his scouting reports.

  • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

    Some idiot called up WEEI the other day saying that “managers are useless” and “the players win the games…the managers deserve absolutely no credit.”

    Even the WEEI nitwits weren’t understanding the diarrhea that was shooting out of his mouth.

    • Tony

      those are interesting call letters – why not woo-hoo

      • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

        They immediately brought up Grady Little…everybody laughed (but the guy who called) and he studdered his way off the line…lol

  • mustang

    The other thing here is Girardi’s youth as manager. One year with Florida and two years with Yankees plus this is his first playoff run. I think we lose track of that that sometimes. He is still learning the art of being a manager and how many managers has been this successful in the pressure environment of New York with only 3 years of experience under their belts.

    • TheLastClown

      This isn’t discussed enough, at least not when I’m reading.

      Joe T. had parts of 15 seasons as manager before the dynasty run, and was actually about to retire before he took the gig.

      I think that the manager’s value is a bit overblown when he makes a bad call, and understated when he makes a good one.

      There’s a reason that the players make much much more than the managers.

      Also, even as a relatively inexperienced manager, Joe G. has all the tools he’s needed to succeed, and to his credit, he really hasn’t messed around with it all that much.

  • ds

    Do you remember that line in Bull Durham: “Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose, and sometimes it rains.”?

    To some degree Girardi has been good, to some degree he has been bad, and to some degree he has been lucky. He can’t keep burning through his bullpen the way he has, using them so much for 1 batter.

    If there is no one left in the pen, you probably loose. It easily could have cost the Yankees 2 games if they hadn’t pulled it off at the end. A good, hot pitcher is better than a theoretical matchup. Girardi is relying too much on the walk-off win.

    • baravelli

      I think relying on the walk-off win is the correct strategy when you are in an extra-inning game at home. Just saying…

      • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime


        Joe Girardi is using home field advantage to manage home games. That’s what you should do.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
      • Esteban

        that website is great

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


  • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

    I just kind of wish Girardi had some of the gusto he had as a manager on the Marlins…

    I know it must be awkward managing a good amount of players that you used to be teammates with (as well as against)…but when it was first a decision between Mattingly and Girardi…I immediately wanted Girardi. I love Mattingly, but he was basically an inexperienced Joe Torre. Why would you let a Hall of Fame extremely experienced Joe Torre go…for an inexperienced Joe Torre?? Wouldn’t have made any sense. Girardi, at first, looked like the “General” type that would have been different.

    These first two years…he’s looking very Joe Torre-esque. I can’t say I’m complaining about it either…I don’t mind it one bit.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Girardi is a far more active manager than Torre. By the mid-2000s in New York and now in Los Angeles, Torre just sort of lets the game play out with little thought to strategy. Girardi is pretty much the opposite, and he’s toned down the hot-head act that got him into trouble in Miami. I’m ok with that.

      • Tom Zig

        I did think it was pretty cool that he told Jeffrey Loria to shut up.

        • Tony

          Cool maybe – but not a good strategy to keep your employment..

          He should have spoke to Loria privately.

          • Joey

            …and told him to STFU

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Getting fired from the Marlins allowed him to get a job managing the Yankees.

            Advantage: Joe.

            (Also, Loria is a well-known asshat. Screw that nutjob, Girardi was absolutely right to bitch him out publicly and get fired. He was a talented manager then and everyone knew it, so it’s a smart move to force the owner’s hand to either give Girardi more power or fire him and let him go get a better job.)

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      The Yankees have scouted Dante Giardi, and they like what they see. Right now Dante has more upside than Preston Mattingly. So, I think Giardi over Mattingly will end being the best move ever.

      /extreme randomness’d

      • JMK aka The Overshare

        He’s what, seven years of age?

        • TheLastClown

          Yup, & he can’t even make the JV squad….total bustola.

    • Mike HC

      Like you mentioned, you can’t go all “General,” on guys like Jorge, Jeter, Pettitte, Mo, Arod, Damon, CC, etc … You will lose the entire team if you try that. And you have to treat every player on the team more of less the same, so he can’t be all “General” with Cano, Melkya and the other young guys.

      I like what Girardi has done. He has toned down the outward “General,” but can still make the hard decisions. Molina will start AJ’s starts, and Jorge can cry to the press all he wants, but that was a decision that needed to be made. No way Torre upsets his WS boys from years ago by pulling a move like that.

      • Mike HC

        Just to be clear, I think Jorge should start every postseason game, but if Girardi does not think so, it showed resolved to tell Jorge he was benched. I respect that. Manager has to manage in game decisions regardless of how the players will feel, especially in the playoffs. Sometimes that is easier said then done.

  • phil O’neill

    he needs to stop using so many pinch runners, he leaves too many holes in the lineup.

    • mustang


    • andrew

      So far none of our pinch runners have had an impact, if Gardner or Guzman gets to 2nd base with no outs, a lot of those games end earlier than they would have otherwise. The holes in the lineup won’t be there when they are celebrating at home plate after Gardner scores the winning run.

  • mustang

    Thinking about Girardi’s manager resume if he leads this team to a championship:

    1 year with the Marlins (success with a small market team).

    2 years with the Yankees (arguably the hardiest managers job in the league) won a Championship in my second year.

    If I’m a baseball owner I’m like when do you want to start?

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      And let’s not forget that the Yanks did win 89 games, more than some playoff teams, and did this without Posada, Matsui, most of the starting rotation and for all intents and purposes, without Cano or Cabrera, either.

      I might have a problem with decisions he makes on rare occasion, but I don’t have a problem with him being the manager.

      • mustang

        So agree .

        “I might have a problem with decisions he makes on rare occasion”
        That can be said of every manager.

      • JMK aka The Overshare

        Cano wasn’t great last year, but he wasn’t exactly Jose Molina with the bat.

  • Joe D.


    Joe Girardi: Best bullpen manager of 2009, and it’s not even particularly close. Even one of the light knocks on him in this piece — that Phil Coke might have been seeing higher-leverage situations than he should — is mitigated by the fact that Girardi’s using Coke typically for very few batters and getting the matchup advantage.

    I’ll take the occasional mistake in exchange for the well-above-average deployment of RPs over the last two seasons…a vast improvement over Torre.

    • pat

      True. Bullpen management is the one area where a manager has an absolute impact on how the game is played out. If Joe is largely proficient at that it’s good enough for me.

    • larryf

      things have gone better with Coke….he’s given the Yanks gas when needed….

    • Januz

      I am not a huge fan of Girardi’s managerial style (He seems to have a lack of trust in the younger pitchers such as Robertson and in particular, Melancon). In fact, you can make a strong argument that he is the WORST manager of ANY playoff manager: LaRussa and Torre are Hall Of Famers, Francona stands a chance, Manuel and Scioscia are World Series winners and Gardenhire proved how good he is (Getting the Twins in the playoffs WITHOUT Morneau).
      That said, the managing ability of Girardi vs the others is not the central theme of the playoffs…… It has been Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia. However, I happen to think that if they get by the Angels, the key match-up in the World Series will be Howard, Utley, Ibanez, Werth, Rollins etc vs Mariano Rivera in the big spot. Rivera can make any manager look good, and other teams look real bad (Ask Torre about Rivera vs Broxton sometime), and his ability to succeed may very well determine the World Series Champion.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        In fact, you can make a strong argument that he is the WORST manager of ANY playoff manager: LaRussa and Torre are Hall Of Famers, Francona stands a chance, Manuel and Scioscia are World Series winners and Gardenhire proved how good he is (Getting the Twins in the playoffs WITHOUT Morneau).

        All of those are horrendously retarded ways of evaluating who is the best manager.

  • bk

    joe girardi may eventually make new york forget joe torre

    there, i said it

    • TheLastClown


  • dkidd

    i love girardi and think he’ll be our manager for a long long time. if he has a weak spot, it’s his need to impact each game. it’s a smart person’s weakness (theo epstein has the same problem). we all want to be recognized for doing our jobs, but sometimes the managers job is to sit back and watch david robertson throw curve balls to howie kendrick.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Over the last few days, Joe Girardi has come under fire for seemingly overmanaging his bullpen on Monday. He used David Robertson for all of 11 pitches in the 11th inning of a tie game and replaced him with the inferior Alfredo Aceves. Two batters later, the Angels had their first win of the ALCS.

    But that game was Girardi’s first bullpen mistake of the postseason.

    I have nothing to add, I just wanted to repeat that louder to make sure everyone heard it.

  • Joey Boots

    I do not agree with this article. How about the fact, the more pitchers you go to, the more likely that one pitcher will not have it that day. Robertson had it. Leave him in for two innings. Then Aceves gets 2 or 3. Girardi was awful in Game 2 as well.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      How about the fact, the more pitchers you go to, the more likely that one pitcher will not have it that day.

      This is an old baseball saw that I have yet to seen verified with any type of rigorous statistical survey. If you know of one, please point me to it. Until then, I take this idea with a GIGANTIC grain of salt.

      We THINK that the more pitchers you throw, the more likely you are to end up with a pitcher not pitching well in a big spot. We don’t KNOW that. That idea may very well be totally false. I’d bet that having more pitching substitutions or fewer pitching substitutions probably has no appreciable effect or change on a team’s chances of winning.

      Strategy backed by demonstrable statistical research >>>>>>>>> strategy based on unverified age-old anecdotal narrative

      • Joey Boots

        Well if a pitcher is pitching well like Robertson had been, then you can only go downhill by making a change.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Again, this is not necessarily true. The heart of your point, that you should continue to ride your guys that are out there and attempt to make as few pitching changes and necessarily possible is not a verifiably true precept. It’s very dubious and unproven.

          DRob was pitching well. That does not mean that he shouldn’t have been lifted for Aceves. I tend to agree with you, I personally would have let DRob keep going, but not simply because there’s any type of demonstrative likelihood that Aceves will pitch worse because he’s the nth pitcher used that day.

          • Joey Boots

            Okay good point. I should alter my point by saying in this one particular situation I would like to have a guy with Robertson’s stuff in the game for more than 2 batters. Kendrick is not Bonds.

            • misterd

              Part of the problem we’re going to have with this argument is that we don’t have Girardi’s reports, and they aren’t going to give them away for free.

              Girardi said that DRob’s fastball looked lacking, and his stuff didn’t match. That’s what he saw, and what he chose to focus on. We saw a pitcher who had been successful recently and was pitching well again. What do you trust? Do you trust DRob to overcome the matchup and a fastball that may not be up to par that day? I probably would. I’m not sure I can damn Joe for choosing otherwise, especially when Ace has done well for us this season.

              I am more baffled by him bringing in Marte and Coke. Now, I am all for getting Marte out as quickly as possible, but in this case I don’t se why he didn’t just bring in Coke in the first place.

              However, if we compare this to other moves he made like bringing in Mo early, or subbing Hairston in game 2, or starting CC on short rest, I think the balance is still heavily in Joe G’s favor.

      • misterd

        Actually the argument is statistically indisputable IF you believe that there is a pitcher in the pen who doesn’t “have it” that day. It is essentially the same as saying if you have a bag with 6 white and 1 black marble, the more marbles you draw, the more likely you are to pull the black marble.

        Now, the big IF there is, again, if there is a player that isn’t going to be able to perform that day. That’s a pretty big IF to assume, but given the guys who often sit in bullpens (Veras, Marte, Farnsworth) it is also not an unreasonable one.

    • Tony

      That is a defeatist attitude. If you think like that you will never make a move. You have to have conviction that your player will succeed – otherwise why would you make the move??

      • Joey Boots

        Exactly- why make the move- I want Robertson there in that spot. When a guy gets the first two outs of the inning, I do not believe he should ever be taken out for a pitcher who throws with the same hand. Unless that pitcher is Mariano. Plus- let these guys go a couple of innings- I do not want to rely on Gaudin for 5 innings.

        • Tony

          I agree that “I” would have liked to see Robertson longer. However there was a valid reason why he made the move. He felt that Aceves soft stuff would work better than Robertson’s hard stuff. We can disagree with the move – but it was well thought out beforehand.

          As for the other innings – Girardi is not thinking about those innings – he is just worrying about surviving this inning & then going for the win now.

  • Tank Foster

    Maybe this sounds stupid, but I’m not sure you can judge the merit of a managerial move by the result. The result is far more dependent on execution of the player. To connect the two, you have to look at more than 8 or 9 games, and you have to compare it to a proper standard. In this case, the proper standard is the typical level of excellence of winning playoff teams. If you take playoff series winners through the years, you are going to see some pretty good bullpen numbers. The winners are the guys executing, so they have good stats.

    I realize it’s a chicken-egg argument…could they be executing because Girardi is using them in the situations where they are most likely to succeed? I don’t think so. At least I wouldn’t conclude this based on short series stats.

    I think Girardi is good – no, excellent – at long-haul, season-wide management of pitching staffs, but his in-game decisions sometimes seem wrong to me.

    To use a military analogy, his strategy is excellent, but his tactics are sometimes questionable.

  • misterd

    Oldest story in the book – when the moves work,he’s a genius, when they don’t, he’s an imbecile.

    I would argue Joe G has handled his bullpen as well as anyone over the last two seasons- and remember, outside Mo and Marte, these are mostly kids going out on the mound, not Wetteland, Stanton and Nelson. It seems awfully presumptuous of us to sit back here and claim that in the postseason he’s just been lucky.

  • Januz

    The Phillips and Letterman cases are ugly and honestly do not belong in a baseball discussion (The Yankees have had plenty of moral stains as well (Including Leyritz, steroids, and the Peterson and Kekich wife swapping incident years ago)). In addition, I am the first on to agree that Phillips is an awful announcer and a worse commentator (Although not as bad as John Kruk). But again the Yankees have Sterling and Waldman (Not exactly Vin Scully in the broadcast booth). All I care about is seeing the Yankees join my Steelers and Penguins as Champions. The lack of morals and abilities of Phillips should be of little interest to Yankee fans, when we are FIVE wins away from Title 27.