I was surprised when I heard the news come down as official despite all the rumors and speculation saying the move was coming. Surely after ten years managing the club, a World Series title in 2009, six playoff appearances and the massive over-achievement of this New York Yankees team this year getting within one game of reaching the Fall Classic again to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers the Yankees skipper was going to be back. However, the team announced this morning Joe Girardi will not return as Yankees manager next season after concluding his four-year contract with the pinstripes where he earned $16 million.
The former Yankees catcher and World Series winning manager is now out in New York after a season in-which almost everyone around the club and the sport agreed that the Yankees massively overachieved this season. Girardi is intense, focused and prepared and I believe one of the brightest minds in the sport. The strained relationship with the front office and the fans no doubt did-him-in. Despite how bright and sharp Girardi is, how tightly wired and intense he can be rubs people the wrong way and many inside the organization wanted a change.
I understand why the Yankees made the move. In this highly analytical-driven era, the emphasis on an old-school manager is mitigated as less emphasis is on the manager and more about the skipper being able to communicate with the front office and put their plans to action on the field. The relationship with the players is very important in this day and age, and while I think Girardi did a remarkable job working with his players and getting the most out of them, apparently New York did not.
If you’re going to fire a World Series winning Manager, you better have a great reason behind it and a suitable replacement. The problem with the Yankees is that there is no home-run candidate out there and Girardi may be the sole reason this Yankees team beat Cleveland and advanced to the American League Championship Series. The work he did with that bullpen all October long was fantastic. Good luck following up that next season with a first-time manager and the New York media ready to jump down your throat at every little bump in the road.
The Yankees and Red Sox will have new managers for the first time since 1991 after both teams fired their managers after being defeated by the Houston Astros in the postseason. For the Red Sox and John Farrell, it was never a great fit under Dave Dombrowski, but in New York he had worked with Brian Cashman for a decade and the two have won together and worked together successfully for years.
“I want to thank Joe for his 10 years of work and service for this organization,” said Brian Cashman in a just released statement. Meanwhile Girardi released a statement of his own, “With a heavy heart, I come to you because the Yankees have decided not to bring me back.”
The 53-year-old Girardi may not manage again next season as he could opt to spend more time with his family. If he wants, I’m sure a team like the Washington Nationals with a great championship contending team already would be interested in his services. He could opt to work in television, work for a team in a front office role or even work in the commissioner’s office like his predecessor Joe Torre.
Either way, the Yankees overreacted and are moving on from a passionate, intellectual and great manager. Good luck finding the next Girardi because there’s not one out there. A major mistake by the Yankees front office.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank