In a look at managers on the hot seat in 2009, Jon Heyman of SI.com has this to say about Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees.
Girardi's $200 million Yankees team won 87 games despite injuries and underperformance. Yet, it was the first empty October after 12 straight year of postseason play under his legendary predecessor Joe Torre (and 13 straight playoff appearances overall). And while Girardi has two years to go on his three-year, $6.8-million contract (chump change compared to what Torre turned down, but still pretty good money), he knows he better make the playoffs this year to return for the final year of his deal.
"There's a mandate every year for the Yankees (to make the playoffs), and I understand that. I understand if you don't win, you don't usually stay," Girardi said. "It's win or go home. You understand when you accept this job that if you don't win there's a good chance you won't be here. That's the nature of this job."
The nature of the Yankees' Boss was well known, but George Steinbrenner isn't running the day-to-day operations anymore, and it remains to be seen what kind of temperament and patience are shown by Steinbrenner's sons. Younger son Hal, who seems to be the one in charge now, is more circumspect and even-keeled than his father, while his older brother Hank, who talks a big game and last spring compared Girardi to Billy Martin and other great Yankees managers before he managed one game for the storied franchise, appears publicly invested in Girardi.
And yet, with the payroll again near $200 million, a second straight quiet October presumably would still put Girardi in peril.
Presumably? Change that to undoubtedly. No playoffs means no third season at the helm for Girardi.
- Brett Gardner is clearly off to a fast start in his bid to win the center field job. But Girardi says he is looking at more than who gets the most hits this spring.
"You look at what guys are doing now. But you remind yourself it's early. What you have right now is probably going to be totally different from what we see in four weeks. So don't make too much out of it," he said.
"Pitchers aren't throwing all their pitches now, so you're not getting a true test. I used to love hitting early in spring training because you see all fastballs. So you don't make too much of it. To me, it's how they go about their work and the way you watch guys prepare than the numbers. You watch how a guy grinds out an at-bat."
Base hits, stolen bases and good defense can't hurt, though. C'mon Brett, win that job!
Nick Swisher's role on the field with the Yankees is uncertain. He has already has a positive impact in the clubhouse, though.