Don’t Feel Sorry For Joe Girardi, It Was Time to Move On

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Joe Girardi. New York Yankees. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Joe Girardi. New York Yankees. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Yankees got this one right, it was time to move on from Joe Girardi.

The New York Yankees announced Thursday that manager Joe Girardi won’t be returning for his 11th season and to be quite honest….. good riddance. You may ask why? Why would Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenners let go of a man who led their franchise to the winningest record of all major league clubs in the last ten years?

Why would they let go of someone who exceeded way beyond expectations of the 81-81 record and 4th place finish that was predicted for them by several experts and Bleacher Report prior to the 2017 season? Why would they let go of someone who came within three wins of an American League East title?

Lastly, why would the Yankees dare let go of someone who came within one win of another American League Pennant with an opportunity to add the 28th championship in the illustrious history of the Yankees? Well, the harsh answer to the reality in sports, including baseball is it’s a business. Truthfully, Girardi put the Yankees in holes more times than they should have been in with his over usage of the bullpen and not making the proper adjustments that were necessary to allow his team to succeed and reach its fullest potential.

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The Yankees blew 23 games after the 6th inning in the 2017 regular season, tying them for 3rd in the Major Leagues. It can be a direct correlation of Girardi not having faith in his starters and being quick to pull the plug and go to his bullpen too often. Despite being the strength of the team at times, it was susceptible to becoming mortal due to the slumps witnessed by star relievers Dellin Betances and Aroldis Champman.

During his slump, Aaron Judge never hit lower than 5th in the batting order. To relieve pressure and allow him to get his mind right during the slump, instead of tweaking the lineup, allowing hotter hitters to take his place in the order by dropping him to the bottom half, Girardi left Judge in the 2-4 hole where he struggled tremendously for over a month and a half.

When Alex Rodriguez had a horrendous slump of his own in the 2006 ALDS against the Detroit Tigers led by Justin Verlander, the superstar was moved to 8th in the order by then-manager Joe Torre. Even though there was potential backlash Torre went with his gut and did what he felt was necessary to put his team in position to win. Sometimes you have to be unafraid to ruffle some feathers and do what’s right for the betterment of the club despite what numbers or analytics may say.

Astros manager Aj Hinch was asked why he allowed Justin Verlander to continue pitching against the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALCS and his response was:

"“I would have had to rip the ball away from that man if I was going to take him out. And sometimes you have to combine what you know with what you see. And that’s really hard to do in this job, obviously, it’s a results-oriented game. When it works out you feel great about it; if it didn’t work out I would have felt terrible about it. But when you see him finish games the way that he finishes, it’s really hard to take him out of that moment. He had plenty in his tank. I asked him a couple innings prior, I keep checking in with those guys so it’s not the major drama at the end of an outing, I usually start around the 5th and 6th just checking in with them. And he’s always honest with me in terms of giving me sort of a gauge, but he was locked in and ready to finish that game as long as it took”."

This is a true testament of how crucial it is to have a player-manager relationship and have faith in your players that give them the confidence necessary to perform knowing their manager believes in them. Not only that but by allowing Verlander to go the distance Hinch was able to preserve any bullpen arms that may have been used in that game for a later game in the series.

Sometimes that is the difference between winning and losing; having faith and confidence in your group. The Yankees were 11-8 against the American League East Division Champion Boston Red but that record is misleading to how dominant the Yankees were against their arch-rival due to several games that were blown against the Red Sox.

In the postseason the Yankees were on the brink of being swept by the Cleveland Indians due to Girardi not wanting to challenge a hit by a pitch to Lonnie Chisenhall from Chad Green in Game 2 of the ALDS which proved vital as the Yankees would go on to lose 9-8 in extra’s.

When he was asked why he didn’t challenge the call Girardi stated, “There was nothing that told us that he was not hit by the pitch, By the time we got the super slo-mo, we are beyond a minute. It was too late. They tell us we have 30 seconds. I think about the rhythm and never want to take a pitcher out of rhythm and have them stand over there to tell me he wasn’t hit”.

A perfect situation that called for Girardi to go with what he sees instead of what he knows almost cost the Yankees their season. If there was no indication that Chisenhall wasn’t hit then why not challenge? Why not warm up other reliable arms in the bullpen despite Chad Green’s rhythm even though he loaded the bases with one out and risked blowing a five-run lead?

Green’s loading of the bases was far from a pitcher who had “rhythm” so it’s understandable why Girardi’s inability to go with his gut and just admit his wrongdoing is what ultimately lead to his crucifixion by fans in Game 3. Thankfully, the “Baby Bombers” were able to regroup and eliminate the Indians in five games.

Granted, this young Yankee team led by Girardi did some astonishing things but there’s no telling what heights and potential this group can reach with a manager that will consistently put them in positions to be successful, CONSISTENTLY.

Torre, who guided the Yankees to four World Series titles, six American League pennants and a postseason berth in all 12 seasons as manager was constantly under pressure to lose his job. Girardi, in 10 seasons had only one World Series title and missed the playoffs three times.

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So let’s not be so quick to shed tears now that Girardi is out the door but simply say thank you for your contributions. Championship or bust has always been the mentality in Yankeeland. The minute anything less than that is acceptable then there’s a problem.

The young core of Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez allows the next Yankees manager to have the pieces necessary to contend for World Series titles for years to come. Now it’s time to make it happen.