Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘Grady Little’

Girardi agrees to manage Yankees

Posted by Fred on October 30, 2007

Let us all now have a moment of silence for Joe Girardi, your newest Steinbrenner minion.  Girardi joins a long tradition of ex-Yankee players turned managers, although it hasn’t always worked out for the best (of the previous 19, only 11 left with winning records, with Joe McCarthy and Billy Martin the standouts).  Girardi will have his work cut out for him.  Unlike Torre, Girardi enters with heightened expectations.  It’s easy to forget, but the Yankees prior to Torre were in a definite down state. They won 79 games and made the playoffs in Buck Showalter’s final year, but before that, they won the World Series twice since 1962 and hadn’t sniffed the postseason since 1981 (and were Octoberless entirely from both 1981-1995 and 1964-1976).  The run under Torre made Yankees fans think the Stengel years were here again, and Steinbrenner is certainly unlikely to support a rebuilding process.

But rebuilding, not reloading, is what Girardi may face.  The Red Sox just won their second championship in four years with a $143 million payroll, so Joe G. won’t have the luxury Torre did of winning the division with 92 wins (in 1996) or with the fifth-best record in the AL (in 2000).  His best hitter just opted out of his contract, and his catcher and closer are free agents who may be gone as well. There are some fresh young arms to put into the rotation, but 60% of last year’s starters are over age 35.  The AL is also stocked with good teams that don’t play at Fenway.  Cleveland tied Boston for the best record in the majors in 2007, and returns essentially the entire roster for 2008.  Detroit already filled one hole by trading for Edgar Renteria and moving Carlos Guillen to 1B.  The Angels were considered by many to be a better team than any of them if healthy, and may be poised to sign A-Rod (I’d bet the cross-town Dodgers are more likely, however).  Girardi has his work cut out for him.

Girardi is a good guy and a former manager of the year.  Steinbrenner will spend what it takes to compete.  But Girardi couldn’t work with Jeffrey Luria, and there’s no telling whether he’ll get along with his new bosses.  Mattingly may be the real winner here – go with Torre to LA, get the Dodgers back to the playoffs (improving on the Grady Little years in a tepid NL West should be manageable), then take over when Torre retires.

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