Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Is Joe Girardi a Yankee Manager-for-Life?

The greatest proof that Hal Steinbrenner was adopted shows up in his treatment of managers. Wait... that's a typo. It's the way he treats his manager. While old George sculpted the original Trump persona on Celebrity: Apprentice, young Hal has never fired anybody above cabana boy (no doubt, for swiping brie.) So it's hard to imagine the boy owner holding Joe Girardi accountable for what seems likely to happen in 2017:

The Yankees will have gone four years on Joe's contract... with nothing to show but crumbs of brie.

Girardi, now 52, signed the four-year deal in 2013, making him the second-highest paid manager in baseball behind the Angels Mike Scioscia. His greatest achievement: A home Wild Card game, where we were basically dead by the third inning.

Over Joe's 10-year managerial career - nine with NY, one in Miami - his winning percentage is .554. That's Wild Card. (Last year, Baltimore and Toronto tied for the WC at .549.) Of course, he does own a ring for 2009, when we won 103 games, thanks to an overwhelming outlay of money - George's last hurrah - which later became Hal's all-purpose excuse for five crapola seasons. So does Joe become Manager-for-Life?

Let's make a few things clear. Girardi is a great leader and a great man. Driving home early in the morning after the Yankees won the 2009 series, he pulled over to help a motorist in distress. For that moment alone, the guy goes into heaven, first-ballot. Over the years, the Yankees have avoided scandals and internal controversies, even though they had volatile characters - Sidney Ponson, anyone? - because of the respect Girardi commands. I believe he could beat the living shit out of any Yankee, except CC, with whom I don't think anybody would want to wrestle. And Joe stood with CC during an alcoholic breakdown, a powerful act of loyalty and compassion. Again - straight to heaven, first-ballot.

But does that make him Manager-for-Life? Because here's the deal: 2017 will define the Yankees for the next decade. Hal doesn't fire managers, so if Girardi does leave, his replacement will be here for a while. And if Joe stays, he'll probably turn into Walter Alston and run the team into his sixties. Would it be fair to demand that Joe wins in 2017, after the Yankee front office punted on short-term goals last July? Then again, how many Yankee managers in history - or managers for any teams - have gone 0-for-4 and kept their jobs?

Obviously, I have no answers. But here's a thought: Girardi - the former catcher - came to the Yankees with a reputation for skillfully handling pitchers. (That was Joe Torre's undoing.) But over the last two years, something seems to have happened to his touch - especially with bullpens. Last  year, with arguably the best pen in baseball, he stuck to a tired, cast-iron blueprint for wins that never happened. Also, it's a running joke among Yankee fans that if a hitter goes 4-4 today, he'll sit tomorrow, because Joe saw something in his notoriously overused binders. They serve as an excuse for decisions that go bad.

I believe that to keep his job, regardless of where the 2017 Yankees finish, Joe needs something he hasn't had in two seasons: Confidence from the fans. He needs a perceived good year of decisions.

This will be the test. The Yankees will chase the Wild Card this year. Right now, they look to be a couple players short. Joe must hold everything together. Will he be the guy who pilots the team through the next decade, after whiffing on the last one? At least we know one thing: There's a motorist near White Plains who will always be on his side.

6 comments:

John M said...

The problem with Girardi is he relies on those stupid binders and when he doesn't, the binders were right. Plus, he whines and never takes the blame for being an idiot when the press holds his feet to the fire.

These are not Yankees character traits. If he birddogged naked women from the roof of hotels and showed up for a game with a massive hangover...then said he just plain blew it...then he'd fit our history. Or maybe he could just eat 20 hot dogs between innings.

The boy is wound way too tight.

Tom said...

I think we're stuck with him, sort of like the A's were stuck with Connie Mack -- for-fucking-ever.

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

He could meet with a sudden, unexpected, inexplicable accident. At any time.

Alphonso said...

With the current roster of starting pitchers, this team is headed nowhere.

An injury or two, a stray martini, a needy waitress, and it could all blow up.

As the roster now stands, we are looking at 2018. Wait. What?

Who on our pitching staff are we waiting to see develop, due to 2017? Luis? Maybe. But so far, he has proven to be a spot reliever.

I see between 70-80 wins, tops. Mostly, not against the red sucks.

And Girardi will dodge the bullet, because Cashman dodges the bullet, because Hal is in Trump's camp.

A world gone mad.

Local Bargain Jerk said...


Wait. What's this you say about a needy waitress?

Maybe here's hope...

Anonymous said...

Always with the negative waves, Alphonso