Unsurprising news time? Unsurprising news time, courtesy of Ian O'Connor at ESPN New York, who talked with Brian Cashman yesterday:
We'd like to have Joe Girardi back. We have a great interest in keeping him, and hopefully Joe will be here... I think there's really no reason to believe Joe won't be here.
We picked the right guy in Joe Girardi. It's an almost impossible to task to replace Joe Torre; just look at what happened in Los Angeles when they had to replace Phil Jackson. It's hard to replace iconic, Hall of Fame people, but Joe Girardi came in and did it without being Joe Torre, media darling, and that's a huge feather in his cap.
We'd like to have Joe back if he wants to stay. He's a lot like a football coach who looks at a lot of videotape, verifying everything by watching it. He's been terrific ever since he's been here.
Although it seems unclear when the extension will happen, Cashman pointed out that Torre often received new contracts after his current deal expired, even though there was no doubt he'd return. When Girardi was last re-upped, it occurred on October 29, 2010, after the final season under his initial three-year contract ended; he was given a three-year extension that expires after 2013. Girardi is Cashman's guy, so it's hardly shocking to see him give Girardi a ringing endorsement.
Can you blame Cashman for his support though? Girardi stumbled in his first year with an injury-laden club that was the franchise's first team to miss the playoffs since 1993, but since then, he has managed the Yankees to the playoffs four years in a row, winning three AL East titles and the World Series championship in '09. To date, the Yankees have gone 510-356 in his tenure, a mark that ranks sixth in team history among managers with more than two years at the helm. The 510 wins rank seventh, and barring a complete disaster, he will pass Billy Martin's 556 for sixth by season's end.
It's difficult to argue with success like that, especially since Girardi causes minimal off-field distractions as well. The players like him, he rarely has problems with the media, and for as maddening as the infamous Binder can be, it's good that he and Cashman appreciate the advent of modern baseball statistics (unlike his predecessor). Sure, he has his irritating quirks in his over-reliance on veterans, occasionally curious bullpen moves, and head-scratching intentional walks, but so do most managers in baseball.
The bullpen use in particular can be bizarre at times, but the numbers tell the story. Since Girardi took over in '08, the Yankees lead the American League in bullpen fWAR (29.2), ERA- (82), WPA (39.67), WPA/LI (25.70) and strikeouts percentage (22.5%). Those leads in WPA and WPA/LI are ahead by a considerable margin, too. They are second in FIP- (90), third in ERA and FIP (3.55 and 3.87, respectively), and second in walk percentage (9.0%). Bullpens are where managers most often make the most impact on the game, and Girardi has kept his men fresh and effective.
They say "the enemy you know is better than the enemy you don't know." I wholeheartedly agree with this stance and hardly consider Girardi much of an enemy anyway. There are /headdesk/ moments, but those are inevitable. Girardi is who he is, and I am completely fine with the Yankees giving him a few more years at the helm.