It’s May, the Yanks have dipped a game below .500, have slipped 3.5 games behind Boston, and crotchety mainstream sportswriters’ thoughts turn to firing managers. Is it time for Joe to go? Is it his fault that the Yanks are slightly underperforming to this point? Let’s face facts: the Yankees are only slightly underachieving thus far. With no A-Rod, no Nady, and a beastly Wang early on, you probably only expect to be maybe 15-12 instead of 13-14. That’s only two games difference. As galling as it is to lose all those early games to the Red Sox, the Yanks are not in awful shape at this point. Even so, let’s look at the main problems with this team to this point to see if Girardi is actually the underlying issue:
- A-Rod injury & late diagnoses. A-Rod’s injury happened LAST season, yet the Yankees brass and medical staff inexplicably waited until this Spring to have him fix it. A-Rod is the most expensive property in the sport, the Yankees have more money than anyone else and local access to the best doctors in the world, yet this happens – completely asinine. FAULT: Cashman for not working well with his medical staff or not hiring the best doctors.
- Wang injury: Repeat much of what was said for #1, but also add pitching coach, Dave Eiland, into the mix. Eiland should be closely monitoring Wang coming off the injury to see if he’s actually ready to pitch. That it took three of the worst consecutive pitching outings in baseball history to figure out there was something wrong is an absolute travesty. FAULT: Eiland and Cashman
- Bruney and Nady injuries: No fault – freak injuries. If you have the pathological need to assign blame – it’s on Cash for trading for Nady with his history of nagging injuries. FAULT: no fault
- The Bullpen: The Yankee relievers seem to be passing the goat horns around at random, with one guy always allowing the game to be blown wide open (in a bad way). There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why they’ve been so bad, and it’s never the same guy twice in a row. The Yanks are 12th out of the 14 A.L. teams in bullpen ERA – unacceptable, especially because there are some very good arms out there. FAULT: Joe has to take the heat for this one. Though he was superb at handling his pen last year, whatever he’s doing this season isn’t working. Though pens are difficult to manage, and there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to what’s currently going on, ultimately it falls on the manager to figure out who is going to be successful in each situation.
- Scoring in bunches. The Pinstripers will blow out a team with 10 runs one night while going softly into that good night the next. It’s a pattern that has dogged them for several years, now. FAULT: tough to say. Maybe Cash picks up too many boom or bust type guys, or he’s allowed the team to age and there’s not enough athleticism and little ball type players. The length of the lineup has surely taken a hit without A-Rod and that might have a lot to do with it. A Melky (despite his hot streak), Molina, Pena bottom of the order doesn’t scare anyone. A longer lineup should alleviate some of the inconsistency.
Conclusion: Den of Lions release I just don’t see much specific fault with Girardi, here. He rallied the team the other night with a fiery argument and has pushed the right buttons with Melky and Swisher. Ultimately, though, it all falls on his shoulders. If this team wins less than 90 games this year, he has to go, but I don’t see any reason that his job should be threatened in May.
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