Yankees: Girardi is moving from the front seat to the hot seat

Manager Joe Girardi (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Manager Joe Girardi (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

The Yankees 25-man roster will decide the future of this 2017 team on the field, as it should be. But in baseball, a manager’s future often rides on the success of the team. This season is no different, and the Yankee’s manager knows it.

The Yankees have a manager in Joe Girardi whose contract will expire at the end of this season. On any given day over the first half of the season, you could have taken bets either way as to whether or not he will be offered an invitation to manage again next season, and perhaps even beyond.

Unknown to everyone except Girardi himself is if he would even accept an invite. A devout family man, deeply religious, it would not be surprising to see him take his ball and go home.

But one thing is certain. Girardi faces a challenge in resurrecting this team from the depths of an 8-17 finish to the first half. And aside from what goes on in the field, it’s his job and responsibility to ensure that the team is ready to play at a high-level day in and day out.

Leave the excuses at the door

Trades that didn’t happen don’t matter, slumps don’t matter, and injuries don’t matter. Fair or not, Girardi will be measured by whether or not his team earns a spot in the Playoffs, and to a lesser extent, how far they get after that.

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His counterpart across the Triborough Bridge, Terry Collins, took a ragtag bunch of Triple-A players and fill in as you go “replacements” for injured players to the Playoffs in 2016. If the trend continues for the Yankees, as with the news today that Michael Pineda is having Tommy John surgery and will be lost for the remainder of the season, so be it. Deal with it.

Girardi is capable of doing exactly that. He may look as stoic and relaxed as the Mona Lisa in the dugout, but rest assured there is a fire burning inside.

Witness, for example, his comments to Newsday following not one, but two baserunning errors on the same play. Girardi’s take:

"“Two poor reads and you have to make sure [Headley’s grounder] is through,” Girardi said. “You can’t make those mistakes. You have to go over things in your head before they happen. You can’t run into outs. And then we compounded the problem by running into two outs. You can’t make those mistakes.”"

And those comments were made publicly, not privately with Gregorius (the other culprit) and Headley in the clubhouse.

Recall also the; we’ll call it, “exchange” between Girardi and Gary Sanchez that was caught on YES cameras when Girardi was irked by Sanchez’s inability to hustle and move his body to block splitters thrown (purposively) in the dirt by Masahiro Tanaka.

So clearly, Girardi is not afraid to lay the gauntlet down when it’s needed. The problem, though, is why it is necessary in the first place? Because the question can easily be asked, why didn’t Sanchez have a fear of God in him that his manager would call him out if he didn’t go all-out on every play?

No one is God

Joe Maddon has risen almost to the title of God as a manager. Any yet, he did it in the face of several suspect calls he made during the season, one of which caught the attention of a national audience when he brought Aroldis Chapman in the seventh inning of the seventh game of the World Series.

Yet, he survived because his team and Chapman made look like a Champion. And today, the Cubs are mired in second place behind the Division leading Brewers, two games under .500. Is Maddon any different than he was last year, or is his team underperforming on the field?

Joe Girardi, like all managers, is at the mercy of the team he fields on any given night. Having said that, though, he does hold power to withhold presence on the playing field. And therein lies the magic and the responsibility of a manager in the major leagues.

Next: The unpopular choice, Verlander puts the Yankees over the top

Deciding as he did to start Jordan Montgomery instead of what should have been the natural choice of Tanaka is the kind of decision that a manager is paid to make.

And it’s also the kind that will decide his fate at the end of the season.