BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo creditL Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Joe Girardi being fired by the Philadelphia Phillies last week has made me play revisionist history with the Yankees.
I recalled ripping the Yankees for firing him after the Yankees lost in seven games to the Houston Astros in the 2017 American League Championship Series. He actually had them overachieving with a roster that is old yet a roster that had young players such as Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andjuar and several others. This may have been his best work as a Yankees manager, especially after the Yankees rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Cleveland Indians in the AL Division Series that year.
It wasn’t just me. It was Yankees fans and the New York media that questioned the move. It was the year that Girardi won the fans over.
You can debate whether Yankees general manager Brian Cashman got it right in hiring Aaron Boone to replace Girardi, but there’s no debate whether the Yankees baseball boss got it right about firing Boone’s predecessor.
The Yankees thought Girardi did all he could as their manager. It wasn’t going to get better. They felt there comes a time a new voice could be needed to get over the hump.
Girardi has a history of grating on players and wearing them out. He also tends to run afoul with management on disagreeing on how to use certain players. It was obvious he didn’t learn how to adapt from his Marlins and Yankees managerial days.
With the Phillies, his teams played lifeless under him. There was a report by Philadelphia Inquirer’s Alex Coffey about Kyle Gibson and Nick Castellanos talking about their parents noticing the players aren’t having fun on the Phillies roster. That report basically sealed Girardi’s ticket out of Philadelphia. It was likely then that he lost his players altogether. It’s hard to get it back.
Losing makes it hard for players to have fun, but despite all that, it’s Girardi’s job to get his players ready to go and be engaged. That wasn’t happening. Look at the Mets under Buck Showalter. These guys grind out at-bats to get on base and score, and they play with a contagious energy that is required to win games. The Phillies lacked that.
Several Phillies fans suggested Girardi seemed disengaged and wanted to be fired. I won’t buy that one because I find it hard to believe a manager wants to be fired and lose games. This isn’t the Girardi I followed as a player and a manager.
Certain managers like Showalter and Girardi have their expiration dates. That’s just the reality of sports and life. People get tired of hearing the same voice after a while. It got to the point with Girardi and the Phillies.
This is what Cashman meant when he let Girardi go. He thought the players grew tired of hearing Girardi and wanting a more of an upbeat and energetic guy in Boone. In a long season and the pressure of the postseason, the Yankees benefit from a guy like Boone more than an uptight Girardi.
Cashman knows what goes on in the locker room. He has a good feel for the players. He certainly didn’t fire Girardi just for the sake of making a move. He had his reasoning. We may have disagreed with it, but now it makes more sense after Girardi fizzled in Philadelphia.
You know it had to be bad that he would have been fired even if the Yankees won the World Series in 2017. The Yankees know this is a manager that reached his expiration date.
With several years off, the thought was Girardi would figure out what he did wrong and apply those lessons in Philadelphia. It never happened. Even Showalter knew he had to adapt to today’s players for him to do well in his next managerial shift.
Girardi likely will get another managerial job. He has connections with people in the baseball industry. His resume looks good. Like Showalter, he’s a baseball lifer and he brings gravitas. He is a guy that can change a team quickly.
But if Girardi insists on not changing his ways in his next job, his next managerial stop will be his last, especially in a sport now where general managers have more control of the dugout than the manager when it comes to making out a lineup and using relievers on a certain day.
It’s something he should have remembered when Cashman let him go.
The Yankees have made Girardi just another guy that was replaceable with their regular-season success under Boone. The Phillies’ sweep of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this weekend showed how liberated they were with Girardi’s firing. Former Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen mentioned he wanted to work with a manager whom he can breathe and relax after a game in an unsolicited shot of Girardi.
Girardi should think about it this more now that he has plenty of time for himself after proving to the Yankees that they got it right in firing him.
Oh, and he should stop relying on a binder of spreadsheets to use his players and use his head the next time he manages an MLB team again.