I’m sorry if this offends, but it’s true: Joe Girardi is one of the best managers in Yankees history. We may quibble with the day-to-day managerial decisions, but the overarching results make this clear. There are only four managers with more wins than Girardi: Miller Huggins, Casey Stengel, Joe Torre, and Joe McCarthy.
If he stays for another five years, it’s almost guaranteed he finishes second all-time. He has a World Series victory, four playoff appearances, and 21 playoff wins. He managed several teams—the 2006 Marlins, 2013 Yankees, 2014 Yankees, 2016 Yankees—past expectations and into contention. In that 2006 year, he won Manager of the Year (even while being fired—thanks Loria!).
So regardless of what you think of this era, this team, or this manager, there’s a good chance we look back on Joe Girardi’s tenure as a net positive in Yankees history, and he’ll fit into the pantheon of managers above. You can disagree, but that would also require you to argue that those teams from 2013-2016 were actually true talent 90-win teams, which they weren’t. You’d also have to argue that playoff losses were directly attributable to him, which is maybe arguable in some cases but mostly specious.
I wrote recently about Brian Cashman’s chances at a return in 2018, and that one is likely. Cashman looks to be in the middle of a rebuild that he started, and one would imagine ownership allows him to finish the job he started. Girardi’s contract expires at the end of this year as well, so it’s fair to ask the same question: will Joe Girardi be the manager of the Yankees in a year?
The answer, of course, depends on the course of the season. There are quite a few factors, as there always are. Based on bullpen management, which I referenced in a previous piece, there are metrics that argue that Girardi is the best bullpen manager in the game. This has a positive effect on a win total/Pythagorean record differential, which one would hope is positive in 2017. If it is, there’s a good chance the team outplays expectations, and he likely secures an extension.
A lot of that is out of his hands. If they under-perform such that they go from 85 wins to 80, that’s no big deal. But if that dips below 80 wins, the chair gets a bit more wobbly.
Of course, all of these scenarios revolve around the Yankees not making the postseason. And I guess the larger question is, do we punish a manager for many things that are out of his control, like a team very much in transition?
There’s also the argument that as a manager ages, they become more and more out of touch with young players, and there’s some truth to that. But considering the fact he’s only 52 years-old, it’s not like he’s that removed from many of the players on the team. One wonders if that changes in the next five years.
What do you think? Do you think Joe Girardi gets an extension? If not, how poor does the team have to be to warrant a dismissal?