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Joe Girardi is deserving of more respect

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The angry crowd shows up with their pitchforks when they feel Girardi makes a mistake. When he makes the right move, we hear crickets.

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

With every bullpen hiccup (and there have been plenty lately), there is an outcry for Joe Girardi’s job on social media shortly after. You can’t seem to have one without the other. Throughout Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman’s struggles, there has been a bashing of Girardi’s ability to manage a game, and some even question if the Yankees should bring him back after the season when his four-year deal expires.

How about when Girardi pulls the right strings, which happens much more often than people like to give him credit for? Where are the “job well done” remarks for the skipper when the bullpen closes the door on a victory? Can we give equal attention to the positive instead of salivating at the chance to crucify Girardi when anything goes wrong?

Take this weekend for example. The Yanks were in a great position to take the first game of the series before Chapman fell flat on his face and blew the game, which prompted plenty of bullpen criticism (well-deserved), with some confusing Girardi hate peppered in. Chapman came into Friday night having struggled recently, but the Yanks are paying the guy $86 million to be the closer, so who else should he trot out there?

Then, suddenly, the bullpen corrected itself. Girardi sent out eight different pitchers during their 16-inning victory in game two of the series, and the bullpen combined for nine scoreless innings to help the team grab a victory that was so badly needed. Where were the kudos for Girardi after that game?

Girardi then decided to go with CC Sabathia in the first game of the Sunday doubleheader, who promptly tossed a six inning shutout, while the bullpen was flawless once again. You could say that the Yanks were one cleanly fielded grounder away from taking three out of four in this series. Instead, many overlook the job Girardi did to salvage the weekend and keep the Yanks two back in the loss column in the division.

Of course managers deserve some criticism when the team is sliding. However, they also should receive some praise when the team is clicking. Considering the plethora of injuries Girardi has had to work around this season, it could be a lot worse. After all, Girardi has managed through countless injuries in seasons’ past (2013) and kept his teams in contention somehow. Considering who else is out there, the Yankees won’t do better than Girardi right now.

Bullpen struggles are strongly linked to managerial performance, given the chess match of pitching changes and finding the right matchups. Still, when guys like Betances and Chapman are struggling with their command, there’s not much else you can do besides trust that they will return to form. Betances was an All-Star again this season, and Chapman was just given a bunch of money to get the job done. Who else are you sending out to the mound in the late innings?

Relievers go through struggles all the time, but it looks a whole lot worse when an entire bullpen collectively struggles. It looks even worse than that when relievers struggle as badly as Tyler Clippard, who looked great earlier in the year. Girardi did what any manager would have done and brought Clippard in during lower leverage situations. Just because it immediately didn’t work out doesn’t mean we should call for Girardi’s head.

Look, there are times when Girardi makes a move that prompts some head scratching. There are times when Chasen Shreve enters the game while a very effective Chad Green lingers behind the bullpen wall. Every manager will sometimes make a decision that you don’t agree with, and it’s fine to voice that. We should also voice some words of encouragement when the right moves are made.

Girardi went with Aaron Judge over Aaron Hicks to start the season: good move. He also chose to put Jordan Montgomery in the starting rotation: another good move. Let’s give Girardi a pat on the back for his successes as much as we slam him for when things don’t go right.