Yankees Taking the Right Approach On Joe Girardi’s Contract

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

Entering his tenth season at the helm of the New York Yankees, manager Joe Girardi must motivate his players like never before if he wants to continue wearing pinstripes.

819-632. That’s Joe Girardi’s record as manager of the Yankees. In nine full seasons, Girardi has finished in the top six for AL Manager of the Year voting eight times. A .562 winning percentage, with an average AL East standing of 2.1 — Girardi’s most telling stat since leaving ESPN to take over for Joe Torre in 2008 is the one that reads one pennant win and one World Series title.

For a team not located in the Bronx, it wouldn’t be much of a question as to whether or not a manager with this type of pedigree would stay employed following the conclusion of a 4-year/$16M contract.

As a comparison of sorts, Ron Gardenhire, who managed the Twins for 13 years, compiled a 1068-1039 record, 6-21 in the Postseason, a .507 winning percentage, a 2.5 average division standing, and finished top three in AL Manager the Year voting seven times during his tenure — even winning the award in 2010.

Different organizations have different standards.

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Whether you agree with Girardi’s managerial style — including the use of that giant binder, he’s done an incredible job with what he’s been given over the past few years. Aside from the championship season of 2009, his most comprehensive job of leading his men was in 2015. That season, the Yankees finished 87-75, entering the playoffs with a banged up team before falling to the upstart Astros. If you remember correctly, Masahiro Tanaka only gave up three runs in that Wild Card play-in game, but the inept Yankees offense failed to produce.

Then in 2016, in the midst of a total teardown, Girardi managed to steady his remaining veterans and plug-in enough kids to keep the club in playoff contention well into September.

The two schools of thought about Girardi staying on board as the organization strives for championship No. 28 are this: 1) He’s very good at motivating young upstart teams — which is what the Yankees are trending towards. In his first season as a professional manager, he guided the 2006 Marlins to a 78-84 record and won the NL Manager of the Year Award. 2) Going into his tenth season in New York, Girardi is tired. His mishandling of the A-Rod situation last year proved this to be true. He’s gone full gray with all the changes undergone at 161st Street. Yes, Girardi’s given all he has to the cause, but now that the team is headed in a new direction, a change in a dugout tactician would be wise for the next generation of great Yankees teams to get accustomed to.

On Wednesday afternoon in Tampa, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner was asked by multiple media outlets about where the organization stood on potentially approaching Girardi about a contract extension.

"“We love Joe,” Steinbrenner said. “Joe is one of many people in this organization that have contracts. I treat all of them the same. I don’t deal with it until the contract is close to up or up.”"

This sound bite wasn’t much of a surprise considering the Yankees have a pretty standard no contract negotiation stance during the season policy. Especially now, it’s a smart decision. Let the season play out and reconvene in November before making any rash decisions.

Next: Three Lineup Ideas for Girardi to Use This Season

Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman have spoken at lengths this offseason how competition is a good thing for the prospects vying for future jobs, and how solid play will dictate how quickly they rise through the ranks of the minors. They’re wise to take the same approach with Girardi and see where the chips lie after year No. 10.