Daily Archives: September 5, 2012
The Yankees officially lost their lead in the AL East after last night’s 5-2 loss to Tampa . The Yankees have held sole possession of the AL East lead for the last 84 days before last night. They have gone 19-25 since July 18th, including loosing 10 of their last 13 games. That is how they have managed to lose their 10 game lead. If this trend continues the Yankees could not only lose the division, but their playoff spot all together. If that occurs there is likely to be a scapegoat. Since it is always easier to fire the manager than the players Joe Girardi could be atop of that list. However, with the hand he has been dealt there is very little if anything he could have done to stop this slide.
It is probably still too early to be writing about this because with 27 games remaining anything can happen. The Yankees have had similar bad stretches to end the season in 1996 and 2000 and went on to win the World Series both years, so there is still a lot of season left to play. However, at this point everybody understandably wants to point their frustration at somebody. Based on the reaction I have seen on Twitter a lot of people want that person to be Girardi. Girardi is by no means perfect, but he is not the reason for this collapse right now.
No matter whom the manager is fans will always try to play armchair manager. A lot of people see managing a baseball team as something that could be done by anybody. This is obviously not true and the biggest issue is when fans second guess manager after the fact. This is not to say people aren’t allowed to have opinions or disagree with a decision, but if you do not first guess the move you are off base. It is easier to criticize something after you already have seen the result. I and everybody else has disagreed with Girardi at times, but that would be the case with any manager.
The other problem when people criticize the manager is that they don’t consider the alternative to the decision. For example, do you think Girardi really wanted to bat Steve Pearce 4th and Russell Matin 5th against the two in the Toronto series? What were his alternatives? Curtis Granderson? Jayson Nix? Andruw Jones? None of them are much better. Another example was on Sunday. Girardi was heavily criticized for leaving Phil Hughes in to face Mark Reynolds in the 6th innings. Hughes was showing signs of tiring, but with the state of the current bullpen can Girardi really be blamed for wanting to get everything he could have out of him? Once again the alternative of turning to somebody like Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada, or Cory Wade is not anymore endearing in a close game. The fact that Girardi does not have many good options to turn to is due to injuries and the fact that Brian Cashman has not given him good enough replacements.
With the platoon heavy roster Girardi has been handed there is nothing he could have done to stop the egregious hitting the last couple of weeks. He is also not responsible for not upgrading the outfield or bullpen situation enough at the trade deadline when there were obvious signs that they needed to be. It may not be Cashman’s fault either, because he might have been under a mandate from ownership not to add significant payroll. However, he is responsible for the talent on the field and it has just not been good enough lately. Injuries are a huge factor that should not be dismissed. I am not using them as an excuse, but it is just a reality that they have killed this team. The only teams who you can say have endured the kind of injuries the Yankees have are Toronto and Boston and looked at what happened to those teams this season. However, Cashman should have gone to some younger guys quicker while the veteran replacements were floundering.
People get frustrated when Girardi says the same thing after every loss, but it is the right approach to take in the media. The complete opposite has taken place in Boston with Bobby Valentine and the results have been disastrous. If Girardi changed his approach now and started to rip players in the media he would just create more commotion then there already is. A perfect example is how Girardi defended Robinson Cano after he did not hustle on Monday. The right approach was to rip Cano privately about it but downplay it to the media so it does not become an even bigger issue. We have no idea what happens privately, so it is wrong to say Girardi does not have enough sense of urgency based on his media comments. I learned by reading Girardi: Passion in Pinstripes by Kevin Kernan how much the players really appreciate how he goes to battle for them. They love the atmosphere he creates in the clubhouse and a lot of them would run through walls for him.
Hopefully that relationship between Girardi and his players can get them through this tough time. Girardi is not one of the top managers in baseball, but he is far from one of the worst. At this point he is the least of their issues. People should be focusing more on the flaws of the roster than the flaws of the manager.