The Yankees are facing the expiration of the contracts for both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi at the end of the 2017 season.
While Cashman and his new golden boy status among general managers would appear to be in line for an extension, the situation for Girardi is not as clear. A fair question to ask is if Girardi is the right man for this Yankees team of budding young stars.
Until this year, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has proven himself to be the right person for the teams the Yankees have had. Basically, regarding who’s playing and who’s not, all he has needed to do was report for work, check with team physicians and trainers for updates on injuries, and post a lineup that nearly always was the same as the previous day.
He inherited a clubhouse that was filled with veteran players who went about their business in a professional manner, not requiring any micro-managing or hand holding. With a few exceptions, that is a luxury he no longer has. What he has is a team composed of several young and talented players who are likely to get their first real test of the big leagues over the course of the 2017 season. And there are more on the way.
Joe Girardi may or may not be a players manager. It’s hard to tell at times. But we do know that the breed of successful managers in the majors is forever evolving, and those who are succeeding are the ones who, like a Joe Maddon, can relate to their players at all levels and at all times. And, as Maddon is proving, it has nothing to do with the age of the manager.
Whether he means to or not, Girardi gives off vibes that suggest aloofness and stoicism. To use a poor example but to make a point at the same time, how many times can you recall seeing a smile on his face. Just about none, right? So the question becomes how he will relate to the young players who are forging their way into the lineup, and maybe, even more, telling, how will they relate to him.
“I know when Chapman came back to us for the Yankees this year, Dellin and I were kind of up in the air about what order we would pitch,” Miller said. “And in some instances it created a mess because we were both warming up next to each other. “I think all managers, Joe, Tito [Terry Francona], I’ve been lucky to have some that really handle the bullpen well. But you hate to have two guys warming up at the same time. It seems wasteful in a sense.”
The story is relevant because it points to the fact that (apparently) Girardi never moved from the dugout to stroll out to the bullpen or the outfield during batting practice to only say, “Hey guys, how’s it going. Anything we need to talk about?”. Now again, you could point to Miller and tell him, “Why didn’t you take this up with your manager yourself?”. But that ignores the fact that the manager is supposed to communicate and manage his players simultaneously. That’s his number one job in today’s game. And that’s why the term “Field General” when referring to managers has gone the way of the hula hoop (and the stolen base I might add).
The Yankees will never fire Joe Girardi. He doesn’t deserve to be. But the Yankees might want to begin taking a serious look at whether or not he meshes with the new look team that is developing, with an eye to replacing him at the end of the upcoming season. A graceful way out for everyone might be to kick him upstairs in some other baseball capacity that would help the team.
On the other hand, maybe this season will turn out to be one that allows for Girardi to follow in the footsteps of the young players he is guiding and to grow himself into a position where he does figure it out and becomes the Yankee’s personification of Joe Maddon.
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Stay Tuned; Next up we’ll take a look at some of the potential managerial candidates the Yankees could be interested in if indeed this is Girard’s final season at the helm.