Sports

Yanks, Girardi part ways after 9 years

On Oct. 26, the New York Yankees announced that they will not re-sign Joe Girardi as their manager. The Yankees were just one win away from the World Series this year, but it was not enough for him to keep his job.

Girardi became the Yankees manager back in 2008, after winning the 2007 Manager of the Year award for his season with the Miami Marlins. The Yankees won the World Series with Girardi at the helm in 2009. Girardi has led his team to the playoffs in six of his 10 seasons, and never had a losing record. He finishes his tenure as the Yankees manager with a win-loss record of 910-710.

From 2013 to 2016, the Yankees fielded their weakest teams since Buck Showalter managed the Yankees in the early 90s. Girardi was given an aging roster that could not stay healthy, with no depth in the minor leagues. Despite this, Girardi managed the team into the playoffs in 2015. They fell to an up and coming Houston Astros team, which just won its first World Series this year. In the other seasons, he kept the team competitive late into September. Girardi got more out of less than perhaps any manager in baseball during this span.

He was then presented with a new challenge, to lead a young rebuilding team in the final year of his contract. It was probably not the position he envisioned when he signed a four year contract before the 2013 season. However, he took the opportunity in stride. Drawing from the knowledge he acquired from managing a young and inexperienced Marlins team in 2007, Girardi led the Baby Bombers into the postseason in year one of the “rebuild.”

Once in the playoffs, the Yankees faced the two best teams in the American League, the Cleveland Indians and the Astros. Girardi’s young team overcame a 2-0 deficit against the Indians, and nearly overcame a 2-0 deficit to the Astros. In the end, he once again led a team that was not supposed to do much, and made them a force to be reckoned with.

It seems the Yankees plan was not to re-sign Girardi all along. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and letting Girardi go while the team was years from contention made sense. However, the team well exceeded expectations and made it a lot harder for the front office to explain why Girardi was not re-signed as the manager.

There is precedent for this move, as it has happened several times in Yankees history. Most recently, Brian Cashman did not re-sign Joe Torre after the 2007 season. Like Girardi, Torre made what many saw as a managerial mistake in the playoffs against the Indians. Other managers who were not re-signed after a strong season include: Casey Stengel after a Game 7 loss in the 1960 World Series, Ralph Houk after the Yanks got swept in the 1963 World Series and Yogi Berra after a game 7 loss in the 1964 World Series.

The reason why Girardi was not re-signed is unknown. Cashman recently said that it is because Girardi fails to connect with the young players. If that was the case, that should have been noticeable early in his tenure, when he had young players such as: Robinson Canó, Joba Chamberlain, Iván Nova and David Robertson. While it is fair to question if he connected well with those young Yankees early in his career or with the current Baby Bombers, it is not fair to suggest that Girardi being Girardi was the main reason he was let go. After all, they were fine with that style of leadership for 10 years.

Besides the reasons being unknown, it is also unknown who the Yankees are considering for the job. They should have little trouble finding interested candidates, as they have a team that can contend for a World Series. Only time will tell if they made the right decision and if they will hire the right candidate.

Some words of advice to the future manager: the Yankees’ win-first culture does not take kindly to mistakes, so do not make too many of them.

November 13, 2017

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