2010 free agent: Joe Girardi

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With the core of the 2010 already in place, and with few interesting names left to discuss on the free agent market, we’re all looking forward to actual baseball. That’s a wonderful thought. Players swinging the bat, rather than us wondering how they’re going to swing the bat. But, because we’re still in the off-season — and still have plenty of it to go — we’re still in off-season mode. Instead of looking at the scraps left on this free agent market1, let’s take a look forward to next off-season. The Yankees have three key free agents on deck, but the only real decision on what to do lies with the manager.

During his first two years as Yankees’ skipper, Joe Girardi has had his ups and downs. Strangely enough, judging by reactions from people on this site, it seems that he met a more favorable reaction in 2008, when the team missed the playoffs, than in 2009, when the team won the World Series. Maybe Girardi got a break in ’08 because it was his first year. He not only had to follow Joe Torre, but as the season wore on he had to deal with injuries to key players. In ’09, after missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, fans became less forgiving.

Riffing on a Pinstripe Alley post, Kevin Kaduk of Big League Stew wonders what it would take for the Yankees to let Girardi walk at season’s end. As he notes, “it’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario where the Yanks miss the playoffs and a shot at a 28th title.” I wouldn’t quite go that far. It’s quite easy to imagine a scenario in which any of the three AL East powerhouses loses a key guy or two to injury and falls behind the pack. That can happen when three teams vie for two playoff spots.

What’s nearly impossible to imagine is a scenario where the Yankees miss the playoffs because of something Girardi did. If the Yankees end up the odd man out in 2010, it will likely be because of injuries or off years from key players. It won’t be be because Girardi put his lineup in the wrong order, or used the wrong reliever in a certain situation. Those might hurt, but they aren’t cause for a 95- to 100-win team to miss the playoffs, even with the Red Sox and Rays ready to take advantage of every opportunity.

Even if the Yankees did decide to fire Girardi, what are the chances they hire someone that fans like better — or who is, on the field and off, a better manager than Girardi? Yankees fans have a tendency to blame the manager for many things. We complained about Girardi throughout 2009, up to and including the World Series. We grew tired of Joe Torre, despite the prominent memory of the late 90s run (and perhaps because he couldn’t bring back that magic). But will an alternative really be better? Would the Yankees be better off with, as escape at PA notes, Lou Piniella, Tony Pena, or Willie Randolph? Hardly.

Because it’s the Yankees we discuss, I wouldn’t put any money on their managerial decision. But I do think it would take not only any catastrophe, but one that could be blamed solely on Girardi, for him to get the axe after this season. It’s hard to argue with a World Series title during your first contract.

Photo credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip


1With all due respect to Johnny Damon. (Up)

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  • A.D.

    It won’t be be because Girardi put his lineup in the wrong order, or used the wrong reliever in a certain situation.

    Unless it is a real strong 3 way race the AL East, no significant injuries, and the Yankees lose out. Then I could see the manager being blamed. That said after only 3 years & already at least 1 championship, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to re sign him. The main idea with Torre was it was time for someone new, but after 3 years you can hardly say that about Girardi.

  • http://yanksdraftsandprospects.blogspot.com/ Jake H

    Joe gets probably a 2 year contract extension is the Yankees fall just short because of injuries. If they go deep I could see them going to 4 years.

  • Hughesus Cristo

    So you’re saying that Joe Girardi doesn’t matter either way? In that case, why should we care if he sticks around after 2010?

    • Steve H

      Not that I got any of that from the article, but let’s say Joe Girardi doesn’t help at all, at least we know he doesn’t hurt (see 2009 WS Title). If Girardi doesn’t matter either way, maybe the new guy would matter, but in a negative way. That’s why we’d care if he sticks around, because the grass isn’t always greener.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    You know, I know it’s a results-driven business, but I don’t think there are any managerial options who I trust more to get the process right than Girardi. Even when I disagree with his moves, which last year was more often than I expected, I have faith that he’s thinking critically about what he’s doing and using the information available to him, and that’s really the most important thing. Of course none of that would matter if he didn’t have the ability to choose the right tacts and strategies, but he does more often than not, and when he errs, I don’t think he’s too proud to realize it and I think he’s able to understand why and work on fixing whatever problem he might have. He’s a really smart guy who seems to have a good relationship with and the trust of the front office, he seems to not only think critically but also be open to learning and changing his ways, and he showed a marked improvement in one area of weakness, dealing with the media, that’s important for a manager of this team. It’s all about the process, and I have faith that he’s the right guy to get that right and keep it going.

    So, yeah… I’m a Girardi-backer.

    • http://theyankeeu.com Moshe Mandel

      “You know, I know it’s a results-driven business, but I don’t think there are any managerial options who I trust more to get the process right than Girardi. Even when I disagree with his moves, which last year was more often than I expected, I have faith that he’s thinking critically about what he’s doing and using the information available to him, and that’s really the most important thing.”

      Bingo. He rarely makes a move where I cannot conceive of a rational thought process behind the move. He may be mistaken at times, but he always thinks about what he is doing and tries to be logical.

    • http://theyankeeu.com Moshe Mandel

      I hope you dont mind, I used your comment in my post on this topic, going up at 7.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Not at all, that’s awesome.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

      Great comment. My feelings exactly about Girardi.

      Honestly, I think he’s a great manager. One more WS and a few more playoff appearances he’s a surefire HOF’er.

      Think of this. In Mr. Girardi’s young career he already has a 100 win season, a WS, AND a MOY.

      Pretty damn impressive.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Thanks.

        I disagree about his HOF case, though. It’ll take more than one more title and a few more playoff appearances to get him into the HOF.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

          I’ll have to look up previous mangers who’ve made the HOF. I don’t really know the criteria.
          In any case 2 world series titles, a MOY, and a good amount of playoff appearances has to get you considered, right?

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Eh, I guess it’d get him considered. I’d think he’d have to manage for at least 10 years and have a ton of success, I just think it’s a bit premature to say that he’ll be a “surefire HOFer” with one more title and a few playoff appearances. The guy’s got three seasons under his belt, he’s going to have to manage for a long time to get into the HOF.

            Also… I disagree with this line of thinking… But a ton of writers are going to hold him to a higher standard if all or almost all of his titles and playoff appearances come with the Yankees.

    • http://YankeesForever Frank

      Great comment!!! My sentiments exactly

      I believe Girardi did an awesome job in 2009. Girardi handled games, media, players, front office and even umpires excellently.

      No one can argue with success but a manager will always be judged on a “what have you done for me lately” basis.

      I recommend new contract talks after 2010 season with:

      5 years for 2010 WS Championship
      3 years for 2010 AL Championship
      2 years for 2010 Regular Season AL East win

      Anything less reevaluate circumstances and alternatives

  • Klemy

    “Yankees fans have a tendency to blame the manager for many things.”

    This doesn’t need to be “Yankees”. :)

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      ““Yankees fans have a tendency to be irrational annoying jerkface assholes while blaming the manager and ARod for many things.”

      Fixed.

      • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

        I actually think Klemy has a point.

        ALL fans blame the manager. And honestly, all fans can be irrational jerkface assholes when doing so. It’s just that we have so many fans it’s glaringly obvious.

  • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

    Tom Tango for manager.

    • jsbrendog

      tango and cash

      • Steve H

        IETCVM

  • Nugent’sEmails

    Edited by RAB: Damn you guys for replying to this. Now I have to edit it rather than delete it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

      No thanks.

    • Steve H

      Are you going to pay me to click that link?

    • Colombo

      I suggest you read the commenting guidelines.

      • A.D.

        Whats great is doesn’t even put the blog as his URL for his name.

        OAKTAG

        • Jack

          That would have blown his cover.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Wow. This is really, really not close to being on topic.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      WE WANT THE BOOT! WE WANT THE BOOT!

  • pete

    I am a big supporter of Girardi – he plays the percentages, which, over the course of the regular season, turn into reality, and he always seems to be making his decisions with long-term (or full-season, at least) goals in mind, a prescience that eludes many a manager today (cough **torre**cough).

    I do, however, believe that managerial roles will become the next big market inefficiency to be exploited, though I can’t point to when that will happen. When FOs realize that managers do not need to be former players, and that there is even, in all likelihood, a less impressive intellectual crop coming out of professional athletes to begin with, they will begin finding people so excited to play a role that they’ll take lower dollar values. Unlikely this’ll happen by next year, but I do believe that someone like Dave Cameron or, yes, Tom Tango, could in fact run a team at least as well as (and likely better than) Joe Girardi. And at the price he’d come at, it may be worth fixing something that ain’t broke.

  • http://www.lennysyankees.com lenNY’s Yankees

    I really hope this topic doesn’t spread around the Yankees blogosphere. I don’t think this is even worth discussing. As much as some people hate Girardi at times, he’s also made some really good decisions (like switching Jeter and Damon in the lineup). He’ll get another contract at some point (I don’t know when the Yankees like to negotiate with managers) unless the Yankees miss the playoffs this year with a fully healthy team (not likely).

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “I don’t think this is even worth discussing.”

      You just discussed it. Just sayin’.

    • pete

      I actually think his best decisions are the ones most often disagreed with, like when he’ll put in a lesser reliever when he has a better one available. While he may be increasing the chances of losing the current game, he’s increasing his chances of having a deep and effective bullpen throughout the year by not overusing anyone, and by getting every pitcher in the BP regular innings. It seems like just about everybody out there, regardless of how hot or cold he was, was getting into 2-3 games a week. There were no Edwar Ramirez circa-July 2007 circumstances.

      • Ed

        It seems like just about everybody out there, regardless of how hot or cold he was, was getting into 2-3 games a week. There were no Edwar Ramirez circa-July 2007 circumstances.

        Melancon never really got used. There was a month where Hughes only got rare appearances, and I think one like that for Aceves as well.

        Girardi didn’t seem to overuse pitchers the way Torre did, but he would occasionally underuse pitchers. Under use, while still an issue, is far less of a problem than over use though.

        • pete

          that’s true. It just seemed like he often made decisions that were more geared towards long-term success than short-term.

          • Ed

            Yeah, I agree with most of what you said, just not the little bit I responded to.

            Avoiding overusing pitchers was a huge thing and probably one of the biggest reasons the bullpen has improved since Torre left.

    • A.D.

      I don’t know when the Yankees like to negotiate with managers

      I think it’s generally after the season, since the manager doesn’t have that much pull.

      What’s interesting is I’d think some coaches could have more pull than managers. If you’re a Cardinals fan would you be more crushed by LaRussa leaving or Dave Duncan? Duncan might have the bigger impact over the course of a season.

      • Ed

        I kinda wonder how much truth there is to all the stories of Dave Duncan being amazing.

        Remember when Leo Mazzone was the Braves pitching coach? We all talked about how pitchers improved drastically when joining the Braves, then got a lot worse after they left. We all credited Mazzone.

        Then Mazzone left to coach for the Orioles. The Orioles pitching got worse, and he got fired after 2 seasons.

        • Steve H

          I’d give more credence to the Duncan being awesome than Mazzone. I think Duncan has turned more pitchers into chicken salad than Mazzone, with Pineiro, Looper, Lohse all in the just the last 3 years. Mazzone had Glavine/Smolt/Maddux for a decade plus, and they just had to fill in around those guys, definitely not the task Duncan has had to complete.

  • larryf

    A blessing for Girardi:

    “May his uniform # go up by one every year”……

    RABbis everywhere

    • JGS

      I don’t know. I think it was a fine publicity stunt when he took the job, but it has gotten old fast. Just pick a number and stick with it

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        Stop at 48.

        /wishful thinking’d

        • A.D.

          David Robertson’s wishes aside, the jig would be up at 32.

      • thurdonpaul

        i agree, this is the major leagues and if years down the road Girardi is in monument park or say he gets in the HOF as a manager, what number does he go in with ?

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals

          His last one. 56.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      See, I thought only Mike, Ben and Joe were called “RABbis”, and the regulars were called “RABids”.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Just a clarification… As I understand it, there are only 3 RABbis.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Scooped by Andy in poop-filled Florida. Dammit.

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          Don’t Mess with Texas Daytona Beach.

        • jsbrendog

          he called the shit poop

          ::buys ticket to florida::

          \fecophiliac’d

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Ew. I find it disturbing that you even know that word. lol

    • Bob Stone

      I’d like to see Joe keep #27. It was lucky enough. Why mess with success?

  • http://media3.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/gallery/091102/GAL-09Nov02-2999/media/PHO-09Nov02-185373.jpg Drew

    Pay the man.

  • larryf

    To all these RABbinical issues I can only say:

    Oy

  • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

    Girardi + Wordekemper for King Felix. Make it happen, Cash.

    Seriously: I like what Joe has brought to the team and the easiness that seems to exist between the front office and the team–both being on the same page when it comes to long/short-term goals and the use of players. A-Rod’s workload was the only issue that came up during the season and after Miami it worked out fine with the day of rest.

    So I want him back and, since I speak for Cashman and Hal, it’s going to happen. Pretty sure.

    • jsbrendog

      that’s the best part, the fact that the FO can talk to their manager and say, hey we think you might be overworking arod, can you try to rest him? and the manager going, you know what, that actually sounds like a good idea that makes sense.

      it creates a much better environment when both sides can it down and listen to eachother instead of having to trade the manager’s go to guy to force him to use a different reliever. you know, or put hard iron clad rules on a young pitcher so the manager doesnt dusty baker him. but those things never happen anyway so whatevsies

    • Steve H

      You have to throw Melky (Mesa) in there as well though, right?

      I agree with you, zero concern that something will come up keeping him from being back.

  • Bob Stone

    I’d like to see Joe get and extension. He’s done a good job for two years. He made good pitching decisions for the most part and managed the bullpen well. The best part is that he didn’t make too many mistakes.

  • JMK aka The Overshare’s Garden Apartment Complex

    No way we should have Girardi come back.

    Nick Swisher for player/manager. It would be awesome.

    • Steve H

      Would going 173-0 really be that awesome though? It would take any and all suspense away from the games.

    • thurdonpaul

      Swisher for player/manager and Cy Young winner.

      • JMK aka The Overshare’s Garden Apartment Complex

        He’d be a Triple-Triple Crown candidate (Cy Young, MVP, MoY).

        • thurdonpaul

          damn, imagine what he will get in his next contract, unless he plays for free :)

  • http://theyankeemanager.blogspot.com/ Francis Isberto

    It will depend on Girardi’s coaching success in 2010. We all know his strengths and weaknesses. It will all come down to how the Yankees perform in the season.

    If the Yankees did not make the post-season, look for the Yankees showing Girardi the door……

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “The name’s Francis Soyer Isberto, but everybody calls me Psycho. Any of you guys call me Francis, and I’ll kill you.”

      You have to change your name to Psycho, dude.

  • keith

    With Jeter, Mariano, and the frenzy for Joe Mauer coming up, it should be no surprise as to why the Yankees didnt go nuts in this off-season. They will sign Jeets and Mo, but they need to make a serious run at Joe Mauer. With a young, switch hitting catcher and a young switch hitting first baseman, both who hit for great power and great average…THAT combo, for the next 5-7 years, is dizzying to think about!

    • http://YankeesForever Frank

      Mauer will re-up with the Twins. It would be like Jeter leaving the Yankees… not gonna happen.

      Yanks will focus next off-season on Lee, Crawford & Werth.