Friday, September 23, 2011
Joe Girardi should win the AL Manager of the Year
You might be thinking this is a sarcastic title or I am going to write a snarky piece about Girardi and the Yankee payroll.
I am totally serious. I think he deserves the award this year.
Now I know he doesn't have a hope in hell of ACTUALLY winning it. The Manager of the Year almost always goes to a team that wasn't expected to contend or had some strife in the middle of the season to overcome.
Chances are Jim Leyland is going to win his fourth manager of the year or perhaps Ron Washington will win his first. Unless of course the Rays surge gives Joe Maddon his second.
Girardi will probably not get it.
And I can hear the arguments against Girardi already.
"ANYONE can manage a $200 million payroll."
"He's a failure if he DOESN'T finish in first place!"
"How much skill does it take to manage the Yankees?"
I would argue A LOT! Especially after this season.
Going into this year, virtually nobody was picking the Yankees to win the Division. This was the Red Sox division to lose. And lose it they did.
Now the Yankees were helped by the Red Sox 2-8 start and (so far) 5-16 September.
But remember this was a Yankee team that was snubbed by both Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte in the off season.
This was the Yankee team that went into the regular season with four question marks in their rotation. Remember how everyone (including me) kept snickering "How long can they go with Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon in their rotation?"
Evidently the whole season.
And remember how much a disaster Rafael Soriano and Phil Hughes were the first half of the season? Remember what a mess A. J. Burnett has been all year long?
How Joba Chamberlain is lost for the season?
And somehow the Yankee bullpen has become their strength.
The Yankees won despite getting only 16 homers and 61 RBI from Alex Rodriguez in less than 100 games.
The Yankees won despite having a grand total of one regular player batting over .300.
The Yankees won despite a mediocre injury plagued first half from Derek Jeter.
The Yankees won despite the Jorge Posada debacle in Fenway Park.
The Yankees won despite getting clobbered consistently by the Red Sox in the first half.
The Yankees won despite having Eduardo Nunez in their starting lineup nearly half of their games.
With all of those lumps in the regular season, AND playing in an insane media market where losing the World Series in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 means the season is a complete failure AND every single managerial move is picked apart the second it happens.
Throw in the fact that nobody is sure how the power structure operates in the Bronx anymore. Is Hank in charge? Hal? Brian Cashman? Mike Francesa?
And despite all of that, the Yankees not only won the Division, they did so with a week to go. And if they win one more game, they will have clinched the best record in the American League.
At what point do we give Girardi credit for what he's done?
I am not convinced ANYONE could have managed this Yankee team to the best record in the American League. Remember in Girardi's first season managing in the Bronx that injuries, strife and a powerful Red Sox and Rays team put the Yankees in third place. That was all the way back in 2008.
I am convinced that many managers would have folded like a tent with this Yankees team.
I am convinced that given the circumstances of the first half of the season, the Red Sox surge in mid season and a mediocre stretch in mid August would have sent some managers spiraling.
And the fact of the matter is Giradi has kept the Yankees focused and now they are in a position that most people felt wasn't going to happen this year.
I think that should be enough for him to win Manager of the Year.
He won't. They'll give it to a manager with a smaller payroll. But take heart Joe. That's how you won your 2006 National League Manager of the Year with the destitute Marlins.
I guess things even out.