Joe Girardi is Doing His Best Managerial Job Yet
People will never have much in the way of “sympathy” for a coach or manager of a New York-based team, because there is the perception that all of the teams in the area spend wildly to acquire big-name players, while having a stacked deck by comparison to the other coaches and managers in sports. There is no managerial job where this sentiment is more evident than the New York Yankees. Beginning in Spring Training (and including injuries from last season), the Yankees had more payroll dollars on the disabled list to begin the season than most teams’ entire payrolls combined. With so many star players on the DL, and the Yankees being in the thick of the AL East race, Joe Girardi is arguably doing the best managerial job of his career.
The Yankees have been known for the past 40 years as the ultimate free-spenders in Major League Baseball, and in particular, from the mid-1990s until 2010, the Yankees routinely outspent everyone else in baseball, and often overpaying the biggest named free agents. Several of those big named free agents are the players who landed on the disabled list, including 1B Mark Teixeira, LF Curtis Granderson, and 3B Alex Rodriguez. Additionally, SS Derek Jeter, who injured his ankle in the ALCS vs. Detroit last October, is still working back from his rehab assignment. Rodriguez injured his hip in 2012, and had to undergo surgery early in 2013, which could sideline him for the entire season (if a potential performance-enhancing drug violation suspension does not). Teixeira suffered an injured sheath tendon in his wrist (which was the same injury that cost Toronto Blue Jays’ RF Jose Bautista the second half of the 2012 season). Teixeira not only injured the tendon in spring training, but injured it once again in June.
To add insult to injury, Granderson was beaned in spring training, and suffered a forearm fracture. He was out for nearly two full months, and lasted all of one week before being beaned once again, and breaking a bone in his hand. He is due to return sometime just before the All-Star break in July. SP Andy Pettitte has been in and out of the starting rotation at times with an assortment of nicks and bumps, ranging from a bad back, and a pulled trapezius muscle, to arm troubles.
It is expected that the Yankees win 95-100 games annually and be in contention for the World Series in the process. Anything less is designated as failure by fans and media critics, when most teams would take such a fate annually. With most of the aforementioned injuries taking place before the regular season began, many people wrote of the Yankees as a team that would not make the playoffs, and would be well below .500 all season. For a good stretch of April and into May, the Yankees had at least a share of first place, if not outright ownership of the spot. Following an uneven ending to May that lasted throughout June, the Yankees found themselves in third place in the division, albeit only 2 ½ games out of 1st place, despite some of the worst hitting that the team has demonstrated in a quarter of a century.
With all of the injuries, the Yankees had to receive timely hitting, as the offense was going to be hindered in its run-scoring ability, while getting top shelf pitching. For the first six weeks of the season, that was indeed the Yankees’ recipe for success. The hitting became sparse by late May, and the pitching buckled under the pressure of having to be virtually perfect quite often. Nevertheless, the Yankees find themselves well within striking distance as baseball is heading towards its annual mid-summer classic, the All-Star Game. The break could not come any quicker, as the Yankees expect to know more about Teixeira’s injury (and whether he will require surgery) before the break, should get Granderson back shortly before the break, may get Jeter back shortly after the break, and will also have a new addition to the pitching staff, with Michael Pineda coming off a year-long break from shoulder surgery rehab. The Yankees have buoyed the ship with players such as Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and others who were brought in to replace the injured players. They each ended up playing more extensively than expected, but helped keep the Yankees in the race. Despite winning a World Series in 2009, this may be Joe Girardi’s best managerial job yet.
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