Yankee manager Joe Girardi won his 600th game in pinstripes on Tuesday. Only five other Yankee managers have managed the feat, Joe McCarthy (1,460), Joe Torre (1,173), Casey Stengel (1,149), Miller Huggins (1,067) and Ralph Houk (944). It doesn’t seem like Girardi has been around that long and it certainly doesn’t seem like he should be the sixth most successful regular season manager in team history, but there he is.
Girardi has not had an easy road in the Bronx. He was hired over fan favorite Don Mattingly before the the 2008 season to replace Torre. Torre, who will be enshrined in Cooperstown next month, was leaving the organization on strained terms after the longest, most successful, and most stable managerial run in half a century. Torre won six American League Pennants, and four World Series titles with the Bombers during his reign between 1996 and 2007. Whoever was going to replace Torre had big shoes to fill.
Girardi missed the playoffs in his first year in 2008. It was the first time the Yankees finished on the outside looking in since the 1994 player’s strike. In 2009, Girardi came back to guide the team to its record 27th world championship. The Yankees would lose in the ALCS in 2010 and 2012, and ALDS in 2011. Last season, Girardi missed the playoffs for a second time in five years, something Torre never did once his tenure.
But Girardi has never had a losing season. and has managed to enjoy the longest tenure of any Yankee manger (other than Torre) in 50 years. So it is little wonder that wins have piled up, and Girardi has snuck into the elite of Yankee mangers with just a single World Series title to his credit.
Where Girardi goes from here is uncertain. The 2014 Yankees have been consistently inconsistent all season. They are a flawed team. They are probably good enough to stay in the postseason race all season, but probably not good enough to do anything should they get there.
They are at least a power bat and a starter short of being a legit contender, and perhaps more depending on the aging and injury prone lineup that Girardi has to work with. That said, a second straight season of playing golf instead of baseball in October will probably mean that Girardi can hope to climb no further on the Yankee all time wins leaderboard.