Though he had his critics, things were good for the Yankees under Joe Girardi. After showing him the door, the front office better have a plan in mind for its next manager.
After a surprising postseason run in which the New York Yankees came within one win of a trip to the World Series, few expected the team to be looking for a new manager less than a week later. The Yanks sent shock waves through the baseball world yesterday when it was announced that Joe Girardi would not return as manager in 2018.
A decade after Joe Torre‘s unceremonious exit, it’s strange that we’re back here again. Sure, Torre had four world championships under his belt at the time of his departure, but Girardi built a legacy of his own as the skipper in New York.
In 10 seasons under Girardi’s watch, the Yankees never had a losing record. They made the postseason six times, including three AL East Division titles and a World Series championship in 2009. Granted, he’d make a decision every now and then that made you scratch your head. (What manager doesn’t?) And everyone has an opinion about the binder.
This year’s playoff journey was essentially a microcosm of Girardi as a manager: some notable flaws, but a whole lot of good as well. His infamous decision not to challenge the hit-by-pitch in Game 2 of the ALDS was a painful example of his occasional tendency to overthink things. Fortunately, it didn’t come back to bite him.
Girardi pushed all the right buttons with the bullpen in October, particularly when he needed to get 26 outs from his relievers in the Wild Card Game. The Yankees – pegged as a team in transition by most this spring – were brought to the brink multiple times this postseason, but made it to Game 7 of the ALCS. That doesn’t seem like a situation where the manager should be on his way out.
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In the aftermath of the news, there have been varying reports concerning what led to Girardi’s dismissal and where the Yanks go from here. ESPN’s Ian O’Connor says the club was frustrated by Girardi’s supposed lack of a “human touch.” Jon Heyman claims they want to bring in an “analytical guy” from outside the organization, while Jack Curry of the YES Network believes it will be someone general manager Brian Cashman knows well.
Some names are already being thrown around. Current Yankees coaches Tony Pena and Rob Thomson have been mentioned. Triple-A skipper Al Pedrique could receive a look because of his past connection to many of the team’s young stars. Maybe they take a chance on a former player without prior experience, like Raul Ibanez. There are also several veteran managers still on the market if they’d prefer to go that route.
Whatever they decide, one thing is certain: The only way it makes sense for the Yankees to let go of Girardi is if they already have a candidate lined up they feel very strongly about. Fans should hope that’s the case.
All things considered, the Yanks had it pretty good under Girardi. It’s easy to imagine that bringing in a new manager will erase all the shortcomings of the old one. But can you point to a potential new skipper right now who’d be a slam-dunk choice? One who’d be able to handle the unique pressure and expectations of New York?
The Bronx Bombers are a team on the rise. If they’re going to switch pilots mid-flight, the new man in charge must be someone who can get up to speed quickly and keep the program moving in the right direction. The best case scenario? A redux of Joe Torre replacing Buck Showalter in 1996. Whether the right man for the job is out there remains to be seen.