ESPN – Joe Girardi will not be back next season as manager of the New York Yankees, the team announced Thursday.
Girardi just completed the final season of a four-year, $16 million contract. Sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recommended to owner Hal Steinbrenner that the team change managers.
In an email to local media outlets, Girardi said: “With a heavy heart, I come to you because the Yankees have decided not to bring me back.” He went on to thank the Steinbrenner family and Cashman.
This is a ballsy move by Brian Cashman and I love it. I understand that this year’s Yankees team exceeded pretty much everyone’s expectations and came within one game of the World Series. But if you think your team needs new leadership in the dugout and in the clubhouse, why would you wait to take make the move?
What did the Red Sox gain by keeping John Farrell around for an extra year? Nothing. The Red Sox once again departed the playoffs in the first round in 2017 while the heir apparent, Torey Lovullo, helped the Diamondbacks win 24 more games than they did in 2016. I’m sure glad Theo didn’t keep Grady Little around just because he won 188 games in two seasons.
It took Ron Gardenhire four-straight god-awful 90-loss seasons to get fired in Minnesota. Why, because he won a few division titles and went 6-21 in the playoffs? That dude should have been given his walking papers at least two years sooner, if not three. Four 90-loss seasons in the first five years of a new ballpark is not a great way to reenergize a fan base.
If I had to choose between the Minnesota method of hiring managers or the George Steinbrenner method from the 1980s, I’d take the Steinbrenner method every day of the week. If you can’t be good, at least be interesting!
That being said, letting Joe Girardi go is not a vintage George Steinbrenner move. Girardi managed the team for ten years. The team has only had two managers since Bill Clinton’s reelection in 1996. This is not like the days when Billy Martin was coming back every other year like the Olympics. This is a conscious decision by Cashman to move in a new direction.
When Girardi was brought on board in 2008, the team was in a much different place. It was an aging collection of superstars and the average age on the team was 31.5. The Core Four was still in place. A-Rod was coming off of his third (and last) MVP season. Hell, Bobby Abreu played 156 games for the Yanks in 2008. Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia were still a year away from joining the team.
The average age of a Yankees player this season was 28.7. The team is more focused on building than on signing the top free agent every off-season. Maybe Cashman sees Dave Roberts (45 years old), A.J. Hinch (43), and Alex Cora (42) and believes that the best path forward for the Yankees is to also get younger in the manager’s office, and to install a manager that can better relate to today’s younger players.
Bringing Girardi back for another go around wouldn’t have been a bad move. It would have been a safe move. But ten years in the Bronx is a long time for anyone. With a new nucleus of young players set to play together for many years to come it makes sense to want a manager who will be in place for more than just the next few years. The next Yankees manager could easily be in place in 2022. It’s hard to imagine Girardi sticking around that much longer. As Bill Belichick has demonstrated so often, it’s always better to move on a year too early instead of a year too late.
So maybe it’s not be a popular move today, and it surely won’t be an easy vacancy to fill. But you know what’s easy? Being the Minnesota Twins. Championships don’t come easy. And they don’t hang up
division Wild Card champions banners in the Bronx.