Joe Girardi: A Season In Review
By Billy Brost
I’m going to premise this piece by sharing my personal opinions right out of the gate. I don’t like the man, I don’t like how he handles the team, and I think he should’ve been fired after the 2013 season, not this one. Okay, now that my personal thoughts are out of the way, it’s time to review Joe Girardi‘s 2014 season as manager of the New York Yankees, and let you, the audience chime in with your thoughts.
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1. He’s too robotic. I like my managers to have some fire, and manage with their gut. The whole “Binder Joe” approach absolutely makes me crazy. Sure, it’s a great thing that he reviews all of the information available, and attempts to make the best decision based upon the law of averages and such, but to make EVERY SINGLE DECISION based upon what a black binder full of analytics tells you? That’s not a field manager, that is a systems analyst.
2. He does handle a solid bullpen. Whether I want to admit that or not is beside the point. Compared to the one-man wrecking crew that was Joe Torre and his handling of the Yankees bullpen, Joe Girardi looks like a virtual genius. Sometimes I think he overthinks the room, and makes moves when he doesn’t have to, but I’d say 8 out of 10 times, he makes the right call. I have to give credit where credit is due.
3. He rests his guys too much. Baseball isn’t an excruciating game to begin with, and asking guys that the team pays millions and millions of dollars to, to play 145 or more games, shouldn’t be asking too much. Girardi babies these guys like they are fine China. As we’ve seen in each of the past two seasons, resting guys hasn’t helped. Injuries have dominated the Yankees’ roster for two years now. Perhaps it’s a conditioning and age thing more than a rest thing. If I’m Girardi, and I believe for one minute that my job might be on the line if the team misses October baseball for a third straight season, I’m riding these guys like rented mules–basically until the wheels fall off.
4. He needs to get tough with his starting pitchers. Instead of allowing them to get thumped, and going out to encourage them, he needs to morph into a combination of Billy Martin and Buck Showalter. If a pitcher isn’t doing his job, go out to the mound, and make it an A-conversation. Girardi talks, the pitcher and catcher listen. Hell, he was a catcher, so he has a better understanding of the pitcher/catcher relationship than anyone. He needs to hold his pitchers accountable.
5. He can’t be afraid to get in someone’s face. The problem with the Yankees, is that they are oftentimes emotionless. They go out, do their thing, ho-hum, done deal, let me cash my check. The genius of Martin and Showalter, is that they never allowed their players to get completely comfortable. If a veteran isn’t getting the job done, regardless of contract, you sit his ass down in favor of someone who might. Yes, that even means perhaps clashing with your GM, and demanding a youngster who might be ready for the Show, be given his chance now, rather than later.
6. When he protests calls, he’s one of the best. Unlike many other skippers around the game, Girardi does an extremely good job at determining when a play should be questioned, and thus getting it overturned in the Yankees’ favor. It seemed like every other time or so, when Girardi would leave the dugout to have a play reviewed, he was right. That is an extremely valuable asset to have in a field manager.
Girardi, as much as I don’t like him, is indeed one of the better managers in today’s game. He’s got things he needs to work on, but it’s tough to manage the egos and the contracts. Regardless, they should still be held accountable to their manager for underperforming or being soft. That’s a Girardi issue. He needs to demand his team’s respect, and if they choose to do their own thing, get their attention. With the long-term deals and big money already on the roster, a third missed October will be HE will be the one to go. Joe Girardi needs to manage this team with a sense of urgency, and not let off the gas pedal even if he survives 2015.