Change is coming to the New York Yankees.
After missing the postseason for the second time in their last 19 seasons with a core of stars that’s literally falling apart at the seams, and as the team’s head honchos continue to move towards bringing the team’s financial commitments down from less stratospheric levels going into the next era of Bronx Bombers baseball … let’s just say it might be a bit of a tumultuous ride for the Yankees going forward.
Yet, amidst all that might change about the franchise as soon as next season, there’s one element that clearly needs to stay the same: the guiding hand of manager Joe Girardi.
You know the general baseball wisdom about managers getting too much blame when the team does poorly and not getting enough credit when the team succeeds? Well, in Girardi’s case, I’m not sure if you could possibly give him too much credit, even though 2013 turned out to be a disappointing, playoff-less campaign for the crew in pinstripes.
That said, it was far from a disaster — though it had every single reason to be.
Imagine if, for example, Bobby Valentine circa 2012 (or any year, really) had managed the Yankees this season given the circumstances? Could you see him handling the numerous injuries, C.C. Sabathia‘s disappointing season, and the whole Alex Rodriguez-Biogenesis scandal and suspension without it all ending up resulting in of the worse Yankees team in the last couple of decades?
Instead, thanks to Girardi’s deft sense of how to deal with each of these issues both with team personnel and in the media, the Yankees wound up being overperformers all season, and were competitive right up to September when they had no business of being anything other than a total debacle — and it’s for this alone why the team’s first and most important move in the offseason will be to re-sign him to a new deal.
Yes, that is to suggest that having the skipper back at the helm is more important than trying to talk down Robinson Cano from his 10-year, $300 million initial asking price.
Though I’m sure many fans will disagree (and for good reason — Cano is a special talent), the Yankees’ front office are well aware of a fact that is quickly becoming apparent in the baseball world: you don’t really need a team full of stars to excel. Though the Los Angeles Dodgers might beg to differ, the Los Angeles Angels serve as a stark example of how a couple of unreasonable contracts could irrevocably affect a team’s future.
Meanwhile, New York has seen managerial wunderkind Joe Maddon lead his Tampa Bay Rays to yearly contention on a roster that seems content to shed a star player as a yearly ritual, how Terry Francona took a group of misfits in the Cleveland Indians and turned them into a playoff squad when they probably shouldn’t have been, and the Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, etc …
As it turns out, having the right manager leading the right team can make all the difference; and while not every good manager will fit into the culture of Yankees baseball, it’s hard to argue that few fit better than Girardi.
In fact, considering that the Bombers themselves have survived on a rag-tag crew of over-the-hill veterans and temporary players like Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds, Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells … they’ve already seen first-hand just exactly how they can still be competitive without the star power (and thus big payroll).
So despite what you might have read about Girardi being a potential option for another team (sorry, Chicago Cubs fans), the only reasonable conclusion if that he’s going to remain in New York.
Should the Yankees fail to complete this move, you might even say that any other personnel move they could make to bolster the team this offseason would be made in futility.