I was a strong supporter of Joe Girardi coming into the season. Now that we’re a bit into the season, I thought I’d take a look at some of the pros and cons of his managerial style.
Defensive Placement: Multiple times this year, opposing batters have hit line drives up the middle that when they left the bat, I assumed were base hits. But lo and behold, there was Jeter to make the play. Could the Captain suddenly go to his left? Well, come to find out, Girardi is a fan of a more progressive style of defensive placement, so Jeter is now lining up in different locations depending on the hitter. This is certainly a positive.
Bullpen Management: The bullpen has been doing it’s job for the most part and I think Girardi deserves some of the credit. He has instilled more confidence in Bruney and Farnsworth (though Bruney is now out) and with the possible exception of Ross Ohlendorf, everyone has a reasonable role. I am confused about Ohlendorf, as I’ve mentioned before. He doesn’t pitch well over multiple innings so he’s the longman? He’s a young pitcher, what is his innings limit? Hopefully, Girardi figures these things out as the season moves along.
Aggression: Weird category, I know, but Girardi has helped to repair the Yankees soft and business-like image. They throw at people and fight back.
Lineups: There seems to be little rhyme or reason to Girardi’s lineup changes. Last night when I saw that Melky was out of the lineup, I quickly took a look at all the Yankee player’s numbers against Kenny Rogers. There was really nothing there to justify the lineup Girardi used. Maybe I just don’t understand, but I can’t imagine that 24-year old Melky Cabrera needed a rest this early in the year. He’s been one of the Yankee’s hottest hitters and having Damon’s spaghetti arm in center cost the Yankees at least one run. This may be nitpicking on just one lineup, but I often don’t understand Girardi’s methodology here. If anyone can provide further insight, please do.
Situational Hitting: Alright, I know it’s hard for the manager to control this. But under Joe Torre, it always seemed like the Yankees were failing to get runners home (which I know is an absurd statement since the Yankees ultimately got more runners across home plate than any team in baseball). Bases loaded, nobody out, and the Yanks would strand ’em. My personal opinion was that this problem was caused by a passive team. I thought Girardi’s fire and enthusiasm would help. Well it hasn’t. The Yankees are still leaving an immense number of runners on base. Just last night they left the bases loaded twice. Most stats-people will tell you it’s a product of luck and that may well be. But if so, the Yankees are definitely due for some major good luck soon.
The Media: I have no problem with how Girardi has handled the media, so this isn’t really that much of a con in my book. But a decent amount has been made regarding how Girardi won’t divulge information about injuries and the roster. I know that after having “tell-all Torre,” this seems dishonest to reporters. However, Girardi is being told by the front office not to comment on injuries, so he is doing what he is supposed to. If injuries are known by everyone right away, Cashman could lose leverage in trying to acquire someone to fill the injured player’s position. As far as roster moves, I’m not sure what people expect. When Kennedy has a bad start and immediately afterwards Girardi is asked if he’s still in the rotation, the best he can really do is to say “yes, as of right now, he is.” Because before he would be removed, Girardi would have to conference with his staff as well as with the front office to see what the other options are. So really, I think people should give Girardi a break and just talk to him about the game.