New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi deserves the utmost credit for this team having an even record, regardless of your opinion of him.
Some fans call him “binder Joe” and think he goes by the book just a tad too much. Some call him “clueless Joe” as they assume he has no idea what he’s doing but far few in between see New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi as one of the best managers in the sport.
Before we get started on how he has one of the worst Yankees’ teams we’ve seen in over twenty years playing .500 ball, let’s take a look at what he’s done since succeeding Joe Torre in 2008.
In his nine years as this organization’s manager, Girardi has an overall record of 779-605 (.563) for an average seasonal win total of 91 including five trips to the postseason and a World Series title.
Compared to some of the most prominent managers in the game, his career .551 winning percentage is better than that of Bruce Bochy (.506), Joe Maddon (.529), Clint Hurdle (.491), Ned Yost (.489) and Mike Scioscia (.542).
For starters, Girardi is statistically one of the best managers in the game today. You cannot dispute those numbers or what he and his binder have done while sporting the Yankee pinstripes.
Next, consider how difficult it is to manage in New York. To be honest, there’s nothing that can compare to what it’s like managing here. Girardi doesn’t nearly receive a sufficient amount of acknowledgment for what he does with the egos, the aging roster handed to him, and the market he is surrounded by.
But there are deeper elements of Girardi’s style that separate him from your everyday baseball manager. He fights for the team.
Take this incident in 2013 as a prime example. Alex Rodriguez was appealing his suspension for PED use and many opposing pitchers, like Ryan Dempster were not fans of the appeal and took it upon themselves to bring “justice.”
Dempster threw three pitches far inside on A-Rod before plunking him on the fourth, and Girardi did not hesitate to defend his third baseman and show frustration over the fact that Dempster was not tossed.
Even when A-Rod returned in 2015 from a year away from the game, Girardi handled it like a sorcerer as there were no incidents in what could have been a mess of a situation.
Again, most of you are going to scroll to the comments section and write a novel on how he needs to be fired but put yourself in a ballplayers shoes.
Wouldn’t you want a manager who’s willing to put up a fight in order to defend you not only against an opposing player or umpire but to the media? Joe Girardi naturally goes beyond a “player’s manager.”
Another part of Girardi’s style that goes unnoticed by his critics is the fact that he got the most out of porous Yankee teams in 2013 and 2014 when they had no right to smell postseason baseball.
With guys like Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, Kevin Youkilis, Brian Roberts and more out-of-style veterans on the team, Girardi somehow led both those teams to 85 and 84 wins after both of their preseason Pythagorean expectations both being at 79 wins.
Let’s not forget that the man that wears his goal on the back of his jersey has dealt with numerous pitching injuries in that time that would have desolated other clubs, but his Yankees’ have never had a losing season.
However, this is a new year. Another year with Girardi haters putting the blame on what is a mediocre 2016 season when in reality he’s the only reason why they have a chance to climb back into relevancy in these next few weeks.
Why? Because, like my statement above, the Yankees haven’t seen this bad of a team in a long, long, long time and Girardi deserves all the credit for managing beyond their apparent talent level.
This team’s tiresome offense with the capability of curing sleep apnea ranks 20 in average runs scored per game and their average with runners in scoring position ranks second-to-last across the sport.
The starting rotation, that can be best described as irregular, ranks 22 in earned run average and has given up the fifth-most home runs across all of major league baseball.
Aside from the three-headed monster, the Scranton Shuttle – which acted as a saving grace in 2015 – has broken down leaving Girardi with little to no confidence in any arm in the bullpen that’s not named Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, or Aroldis Chapman.
To say the Yankees are only good at closing out an occasional late lead is a full-fledged understatement. Now, their record sits at an even 44-44 entering a pivotal time for the Bombers.
If they can take it to the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and San Francisco Giants during this upcoming 10-game homestand, they could avoid a massive sell-off of their valuable assets.
The only reason why they can do this is because of the man who has kept this sinking ship of a Yankees team afloat.
Sure, you have objections towards his binder but the pages in there represent a plan and I never see a problem with mapping out the best situation to put your team in. Particularly when the man responsible for putting those plans together goes against the binder on a daily basis for the better of his team.
Let’s throw it back to last Saturday, in what arguably was a must-win game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Betances came in during the sixth when the binder may have told him to Richard Bleier or even Kirby Yates.
Instead, he went to Betances to help the Yankees shut down the Indians for the rest of the ballgame in order to force extras. Then, in extras, he decided to go to Chapman for more than two innings (2.1) of work when his cheat sheet binder may have suggested Chasen Shreve.
By the way, the lowly Yankees won that contest against the second-best team in the American League.
Point to overuse but the man who he succeeded, whom you all want back so very much, had Scott Proctor and Ron Villone combine for 242 appearances in 2006 and 2007. He abused arms out of the ‘pen almost every game and no one seems to have a concern in regards to that.
So here’s the question to those critical of Joe Girardi: What do you want him to do?
Perhaps maybe you want to see the kids be called up and be played more often. However, that’s not Girardi’s choice. Do you want the whole lineup to bat ninth? Would you like him to clone Didi Gregorius and Carlos Beltran and teach Miller how to be dominant over nine innings?
Welcome to reality. The Yankees have an even record and any fan you talk to would discuss their beloved Yankees as if they were a team well below .500. Those words reflect what this team should be and what this team isn’t because Joe Girardi has made this team refrain from the depths of irrelevancy.