Season Review: Joe Girardi & Coaching Staff


(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Evaluating a manager and his coaching staff is a very difficult thing for outsiders. The vast majority of their work takes place behind the scenes, so we’re left looking for clues in places they might not be. That pitcher learned a changeup? Great job by the pitching coach! That hitter is only hitting .250 when he usually hits .280? Fire the hitting coach! We have no idea what clues we dig up are actually attributable to the coaching staff, so we end up guessing.

Because of that, I don’t want to review Joe Girardi and his coaching staff in our typical “What Went Right/What Went Wrong” format. This review is almost entirely subjective and we can’t really pin anything (good or bad) on the coaching staff specifically. We know Curtis Granderson essentially revived his career after working with Kevin Long two summers ago, but having a specific example like that is very rare. Instead, we’ll have to take a broader approach.

Joe Girardi
I think 2012 was Girardi’s worst year as Yankees’ manager. Every manager makes questionable in-game moves during the season, but I felt Girardi made more this year than he had in any year since 2008, and it all started in the very first inning on Opening Day with the intentional walk to Sean Rodriguez. That still bugs me.

Girardi has long been considered a strong bullpen manager given his ability to spread the workload around and squeeze water out of scrap heap rocks, but this year he leaned very heavily on Boone Logan, David Robertson, and Rafael Soriano. Working Soriano hard wasn’t a huge deal because he was expected to leave after the season, but Logan made more appearances in 2012 (80) than any other reliever under Girardi, including his time with the Marlins. Robertson appeared in 65 games despite missing a month with an oblique injury. Part of it was a lack of alternatives (blame the front office for that) and the tight race, but this was something that started before the Yankees blew their ten-game lead.

Girardi also had two notable meltdowns (for lack of a better term), lashing out at a fan following a loss in Chicago and then getting into a shouting match with Joel Sherman after calling him into his office. Maybe my conduct standards are too high, but that kind of stuff is a major no-no in my book. It stems from pure frustration and there is zero good to come from it. Girardi didn’t have a bad year as manager, he did a fine job guiding the team despite an overwhelming about of injuries, but I feel that he’s had better years in the past.

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Larry Rothschild & Kevin Long
When the Yankees hired Rothschild as pitching coach two years ago, he came to the club with a reputation of improving both strikeout and walk rates. That is exactly what has happened overall, and we can see it specifically with someone like CC Sabathia (strikeouts, walks). Obviously the personnel has changed over the last few years, but the Yankees managed to get productive seasons from scrap heap pickups like Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia last year while getting better than expected production from Hiroki Kuroda and even Andy Pettitte this year. We don’t know how much of a role Rothschild played in all of this, but the team’s pitching staff has exceeded expectations the last two years.

Long, on the other hand, came under big-time scrutiny following the club’s offensively-inept postseason showing and Mark Teixeira‘s continued decline from elite all-around hitter to pull-happy, one-dimensional slugger. At same time, he remade Granderson and helped Robinson Cano go from good to great. Long does preach pulling the ball for power and apparently that contributed to the team’s poor postseason, but the roster overall is built around guys who pull the ball for power. Outside of Cano and Derek Jeter (and later on, Ichiro Suzuki), the Yankees lacked hitters who could hit to the opposite field. Like Rothschild, we don’t know how much a role Long has played in all of this, and I’m not even convinced preaching power these days is a bad thing given the decline in offense around the league.

Tony Pena, Mike Harkey, Rob Thomson & Mick Kelleher
Not really much to add here. Thomson, the third base coach, does have a knack for being a little overly-aggressive with his sends in tight games while at other times he will hold guys who would have clearly been safe, but every third base coach does that. The Yankees have had an above-average stolen base success rate in recent years (77-79%), so I guess Kelleher is doing a fine job of reading moves and relaying that info over at first base. Other than that, we have very little basis for which to judge these guys on. Despite the whole “everyone should be fired because there are obviously better coaches available!” mentality than can fester following an embarrassing playoff loss, all indications are the entire staff will return fully intact next year.

Categories : Coaching Staff
  • Rich in NJ

    I think Long got too much credit and now is getting too much blame (it’s the makeup of the roster). That said, I don’t think any one hitting coach’s approach works for every player, and can even be counterproductive for some players, as we may have seen with Jeter’s resurgence when he worked with Denbo.

    • derek hitter

      Cano does not hit the ball the other way as much as he used to. He has become too pull happy. I’d like to see his spray charts from last year.

  • Alex

    P.S. Although I do like the new stadium.. I really miss the old one!

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’m guessing we consider this an open call for potential managers and coaching staff who’ve gone unnoticed all this time by front offices, yet happen to be commenters on here?

    IBBing Sean Rodriguez bugs everyone, Mike. It’s the itch you can’t stop scratching.

    I don’t think he did a terrible job with the bullpen. I just think he couldn’t teach RapaEppley how to play LF in order to pull the game-long double-switch.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      I agree terrible is an overstatement, but he did a bad job IMO. I can’t tell you how many times during the season it felt like a Torre-managed bullpen, in all the ways that’s bad (Scott Procter says hi).

  • Upstate Yanks

    Mike, I dont think it’s fair to blame Girardi for his interactions with the Fan and Sherman. The Fan was out of line yelling at Joe about his family and frankly I’m sure Sherman just wanted to push buttons to warrant a lashing. Also, Joe invited JS into his office to yell it out, it’s not like he made it public.

    That said, I have a love/hate with Joe. But I don’t base any of my opinions on those 2 incidents. Joe is an even keeled guy…perhaps too much at times.

    • Rich in NJ

      I don’t think it’s about blame, I think it’s about Girardi’s inability to brush things off when he is stressed.

      • gc

        Two incidents in a relatively calm career dealing with the fans/press, I’m more than willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt. These are human beings, after all, and the context of both these events have never been made perfectly clear.

        • Rich in NJ

          Again, it’s an observation not an indictment. Some people would laugh off a heckler and not take Sherman so seriously. It is what it is.

          • JLC 776

            Am I the only one who kind of wish he punched Sherman? I’m a little sick of the extreme egos that go with the NY media…

            • Rich in NJ

              It would make Sherman a sympathetic figure. If you laugh in his face, you disarm him.

      • jjyank

        An inability? Two instances in several years is an inability to brush things off? Girardi has his faults, but he’s one of the most even keeled guys I’ve seen. Sometimes he appears too even keeled.

        Those two instances don’t change that at all for me.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          To his credit, he walked back some of he said above. I’ve since stopped my search for his mental health credentials.

          • Rich in NJ

            Irony from the stalker.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Ironic that the person with actual mental health credentials is the one who least pulls mental health related comments out his ass. Yes.

    • Herby

      If you’re inviting a reporter into your office to yell it out, it’s going to become public…Why do you think they call them reporters’.
      I do wish he’d show a little more of that fire with the umpires though, he lets a little too much slide on lousy calls, and although I know he’s not going to get any call changed, I think that attitude is put into an umpires head in subsequent calls. I think an umpire knows he’s going to have to be on his game if he’s got Maddon or Showalter in the other dugout.

      • gc

        Not that it means much, but Girardi got ejected from 5 games this year. Maddon got tossed 4 times and Showalter twice.

        • Herby

          Both Maddon and Showalter go out to argue calls more often though, it’s not a matter of getting thrown out of games.

          • gc

            As I said, getting ejected doesn’t mean much, but it does point to the fact that Girardi can indeed be very fiery with the umpires when he needs to. As for how many times all three of these managers go out to argue calls, where are the numbers on that?? Do they even keep stats on those things? Unless you watch every single game for all three teams (or ALL the teams in baseball in order to gage how often Girardi does it in comparison to his peers), how would anyone know the number? And would it tell you more about their fiery nature in more of a substantial way than getting tossed would? If so, I don’t think it’s by much. I don’t think any of it really tells you all that much.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              If you actually ran some sort of correlation study of team performance before/after a managerial ejection, I wonder what you’d actually find.

    • Rick in Philly

      I like Joe, and at least he stays awake during games, but he does have a history with yelling at people. He and the Marlins owner exchanged words during a game while he was managing in Florida.

      • Steve (different one)

        Yes, and history hasn’t exactly proved the owner of the Marlins to be a figure of great character. Entirely possible, probable?, that Girardi’s anger was 100% justified.

        • Rick in Philly

          Oh, agreed. Maybe Joe just has a history of stooping to the level of his hecklers.

    • TomG

      I think meltdowns probably had something to do with his father’s illness; I’m willing to give him a pass on it.

      • Darren

        Meltdown? Billy Martin & Earl Weaver are all turning in their graves at the misuse of the word meltdown. And Sweet Lou is laughing his ass off.

        It’s fuckin baseball man, that shit is barely worth mentioning. Way way way hypocritical.

  • JLC 776

    I know there’s Girardi haters and Girardi apologists and I probably fall more towards the latter, but I honestly thought this year was one of his better campaigns from a ‘keeping the ship afloat’ point of view.

    I agree that his coaching decisions may have slipped from years past, but I have to think there’s a lot of behind the scenes managing with the personalities (players and media) he has to deal with to the building up of espirit de corps on the team. The team overcame a lot of injuries and a pressure-packed pennant race to make it all the way to the ALCS. As the leader of the team, I have to give him some credit for that!

    • jjyank

      Agreed. I also don’t think we have any clue how losing his father played into all this, too. It was a rough year for Girardi to handle in a number of different ways. I give him the benefit of the doubt for keeping that ship afloat.

  • The Moral Majority is Neither

    Yankees should be in on the two new Cuban free agents – shortstop and OF.

    And I like Sherman’s column.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I know we ran out of concievable names in Cuba in about the late 80′s, but I don’t think their mama named them “shortstop” and “OF.”

      “Oye, aqui tenemos a mis hijos, Shortstop Ramirez y Ofsito Gonzalez….”

  • stuart a

    Maybe the Yanks can sign a couple of 50 year olds to drive down the average age on this team.

    so a team that had limited athleticism, swung for the fences every AB, terrible with RISP, is going to get a year older across the board infuse no new talent and expect to go to the WS!!!

    Not happening… this cost cutting, 1 year deal, keep hanging on to the old guys is a formula of running in place…


    • Robinson Tilapia

      D Minor?

      • gc

        It IS the saddest of all the keys.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Damnit. I was trying to make a “chord” joke, but may have may a “key” joke instead. Those piano lessons I gave up when I was 14 didn’t get me far.

          • jjyank

            I’ve always been fond of the “C Add 9″, myself.

            • Cris Pengiucci

              I’ve always favored perverted 4th’s, demented 5th’s and augmented 13th’s myself. (I highly doubt anyone on this forum will know what this is in reference to due to age and musical tastes, but I would be thrilled to hear that someone knows I got this from. It does have a Tri-state area tie-in.)

              • Robinson Tilapia

                I sense some 60′s, Dr. Demento type stuff here.

                • Cris Pengiucci

                  No, not Dr. Demento (that I’m aware of). I know this from somewhere else. If you weren’t there regularly (and it happened in many places for many years in the Tri-state area), you won’t be able to guess it.

                  • Robinson Tilapia

                    No clue. I’m now imagining the Haunted Mansion in Long Branch or something.

                    (no clue that burnt down until recently. I just remember the ads from when I was a kid)

  • MB

    “Long does preach pulling the ball for power and apparently that contributed to the team’s poor postseason”


    • MannyGeee – $189M ain’t gonna cut it

      #EddardWolrd dont need no stinking sources!

  • Elton Cod

    As usual I see Robinson Tilapia defending Girardi with his usual method of “I’m going to ignore all the obvious things wrong with the team/a player/the manager right in front of everyone’s eyes and then moralize and mock anybody who criticizes that team/player/manager because they aren’t a fan if they criticize”.

    “Girardi is a good bullpen manager” kind of sounds like “Curtis Granderson is a reliable contact hitter”. And “Girardi made a few bad decisions this year” kind of sounds like “Curtis Granderson struck out a few times this year”.

    It happened all year, but the playoffs really highlighted Girardi’s inept bullpen management. He threw away at least 1 game possibly 3 with his love for giving away close games by putting in Lowe/Eppley/Rapada. Because if it’s not the 8th inning and they’re not tied or up you can’t put Robertson in, god no. It goes against the rules of managing baseball – which are printed in very large font on the very first page of Girardi’s binder. (That is the only page he actually reads. The rest are blank, he just has them in the binder for show.)

    • Robinson Tilapia

      “I don’t think he did a terrible job with the bullpen. I just think he couldn’t teach RapaEppley how to play LF in order to pull the game-long double-switch.”

      What I wrote, which is about a hundred words shorter than your complaint.

    • Get Phelps Up

      As usual I see Elton Cod complaining.

    • MannyGeee – $189M ain’t gonna cut it

      “It happened all year, but the playoffs really highlighted Girardi’s inept bullpen management.”

      Except that the Yankees didn’t hit AT ALL in the playoffs, so “bullpen management” wasn’t really the problem. but hey, whatever you can do to keep the narrative cooking…. Girardi sucks!!!!

      • Robinson Tilapia

        ….if you smell-la-la-la what the Cod……is COOKING.

  • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM)

    I agree that this season was Girardi’s worst as a manager. Up until this season he was great at feeling out how a bullpen was doing, and who was hot in the bullpen and tended to push all the right buttons. This season however he stayed too long with the likes of Wade, Epply, he even put Chad Qualls(!!!) in way to many close situations. When it comes to the line up, there isn’t really much you can fault him on, except maybe keeping Alex in the middle of the order, but that has as much to do with having to manage personalities as well as talents.

    • Rich in NJ

      Cashman on lineups:

      Cashman said the lineup decisions were made collectively among him, Girardi and the entire coaching staff, and that many factors were taken into consideration. He acknowledged the difficulties the moves could pose if they failed and the players who were benched were resentful.

      That was in the playoffs, but it’s possible there was a similar decision-making process in the regular season.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      How much of that, Plouffers, is the the actual available buttons versus the guy pushing them, though?

      I have a co-worker (true story, no lies in my comments) whose office keyboard has an “S” key that doesn’t work. Drives me batshit when I have to use her keyboard. Am I necessarily a bat typist because of that keyboard?

      That busted “S,” of course, represents Cory Wade.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        No, you’re a “bat” typist beacuse you are. :-)

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Now that was awesome.

        • I am not the droids you’re looking for…