Joe Girardi signed a four-year, $16 million dollar contract extension on October 9. This will make him the second highest paid manager after Mike Scioscia, who is the manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Schiocia’s contract pays him about $5 million a season.
It is a positive sign for the Yankees that he accepted their contract and did not hold out to see what the Cubs or Nationals would offer him at the end of October when his previous contract expired. He has proven that he has been able to manage talent since he led the team to win the World Series in 2009, and also is able to manage well during adversity since the team had a total of 21 players spend time on the disabled list, some more than once, while handling the situation with the media well during the Alex Rodriguez biogenesis controversy and in turn guiding the team to a respectable 85-77 record based on everything the team went through.
The Yankees were remarkably only one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild-card spot on September 12. They would have 15 games left in the season and the lack of talent would catch up with them. However, Girardi was able to lead the team to be in great position to make the playoffs with two weeks to go even though Derek Jeter only played 17 games, Mark Teixeira only played 15 games and Curtis Granderson only played in 61 games.
Before Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup in August, Lyle Overbay had to hit cleanup for much of the season. The Yankees were counting on players such as Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner to perform offensively for them. They hit better than expected in April and then faded after that. This proves how Girardi was able to mix and match with a lineup that lacked major league talent for much of the season.
Chris Stewart, who had always been a back-up before this season, was the starter for the Yankees, which proves the lack of talent they had at the catcher position. Stewart did play well compared to previous seasons, but he faded down the stretch of the season based on playing in 42 more games than he had in any other season. Rookie Austin Romine showed some promise at the catcher position.
Further proving that Girardi got the team to overachieve this season was that Jayzon Nix, Zoilo Almonte, Luis Cruz, Chris Nelson, Brent Lillibridge, Alberto Gonzalez and Melky Mesa all started games for the Yankees this season. Vernon Wells was even called on to play the ninth inning of a game at third base because of an injury to Eduardo Nunez. The Yankees were not expected to make the playoffs easily before the season started, but to be so close based on all of the injures and AAA players that had to play is a tribute to Giarardi’s managing.
Some criticize Girardi for going by his binder too much meaning that he decides on the pitcher that will come into the game or the hitter that will start too much on previous match-ups. He definitely should sometimes continue to play a streaky hitter or leave a starter in a few more batters. However, it is always possible that if the starter would have stayed in he would struggle based on too many pitches.
The Yankees obviously should not have been swept by the Mets or White Sox if their quest to reach the playoffs were to come to fruition. If they would have won two games against the Mets and White Sox that would have greatly increased their chance in September, but that is what happens when so many “second string” players were on the field. Girardi has his drawbacks, but at the end of the day, the team would have been worse of if the did not return.
He handled the return of A-Rod well, in addition to handling the retirement of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte with poise and professionalism. He could not have made a better decision in the moment when he let Mariano Rivera’s longtime teammates and members of the Core 4, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, take Rivera out of the game at Yankee Stadium for the final time. Here is video footage of the ceremony of Pettitte and Jeter coming to the mound.
Here is an interview that Jack Curry did with Joe Girardi and his wife after he signed the contract extension: http://web.yesnetwork.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=31139627