The Yankees had a feel-good year. They won 91 games, advanced to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, and have a team that should be a factor for years to come.
I was surprised to hear last Thursday that the Yankees decided to part ways with longtime manager Joe Girardi.
Despite what his critics say, Girardi distinguished himself on the job for ten years.
In his tenure as Yankees manager, there is not one season where you can make the case that Joe Girardi did not get the most out of his talent.
He appeared in the postseason six of his ten years at the helm, and won the 2009 World Series.
He dealt with aging players on the decline and controversy, and ushered in this new era of Yankee baseball.
There’s no debating whether or not Joe Girardi as manager can get you to the top of the mountain, because he’s already proven he’s capable.
I understand the argument that being in charge of a team for ten years is simply too long.
That said, did anyone get the sense in 2017 that Joe Girardi’s message was growing stale to this young group of New York Yankees?
The Yankees had an over/under win around 82, and were not expected to be a legitimate contender.
I don’t want to hear about player concerns or the challenge that wasn’t in Game 2 of the ALDS; the team rallied and played for this manager.
With the way the 2017 season played out, it is a rather peculiar time for the organization to make a managerial change.
So why exactly are the Yankees deciding to go in a different direction?
It’s a million-dollar question that will have much more clarity once the World Series comes to an end.
I don’t get the sense the Yankees decided the minute the season ended that they were going to move on from Joe Girardi.
I get the sense this was a decision that was in the works for quite a while.
There are reports that there was a fracture in the relationship between Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman.
In this day and age where the front office holds more power than ever before, a power struggle with the front office was going to be an unwinnable battle for Girardi.
The Yankees want a manager who is going to be in lock-step with the front office, and they want the next guy to be somebody they can mold.
The front office can say whatever they want, but they want to have an active role in running the day-to-day operations of the team, from writing lineups to aligning pitching rotations and beyond.
The days of the larger-than-life figure running a baseball team in the dugout are long gone.
In the coming days, the Yankees will try and sell you on hiring a manager who has the soothing presence of being able to work with the younger players and has the ability to connect with the front office.
It’s possible they find that guy. In fact, if I was writing this column in 1995, I would’ve criticized the idea of firing Buck Showalter for the unproven Joe Torre.
One can only hope that the next managerial hire can be as successful as the move to bring in Torre 21 years ago.
However, I hope the next Yankee manager will be as good at his job as Joe Girardi, because for ten years, the Yankees had a damn good one.
Let the search begin.
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JJ’s Week 9 Unlocks of the Week (18-23 on the year)
• Buffalo -3
• Seattle -7
• Carolina -2
• Cincinnati +5
• Oakland -3