Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Girardi made the right call; Did the Yanks?
By Wallace Matthews
NEW YORK -- It was almost four years ago that Joe Girardi walked into the manager's office at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago and was greeted by the sight of his own unmistakeable silhouette on the back page of the Sun-Times under the headline "The Only Man for the Job.''
The paper was talking about the thankless task of managing the Chicago Cubs, who as we all know, have not won the World Series since before even a single brick that went into the construction of Wrigley Field had even been forged.
Joe Girardi played two stints for the Cubs for a total of seven seasons.
Girardi's contract with the Yankees was expiring at the end of the season and the Yankees were following their World Championship 2009 season with what would prove to be a good, but ultimately disappointing 2012 season that ended with elimination by the Texas Rangers in the ALCS.
It seemed like the right time for both sides to make a switch.
But it never happened. The Cubs came hard for Girardi in 2010, and again at the end of last season, and both times, Girardi spurned a return to his roots -- he is from E. Peoria, Ill., grew up rooting for the Cubs and wound up playing seven big-league seasons for the over two tenures -- and re-signed with the Yankees.
There will be no such greeting this week, when the Yankees play two games against the Cubs at Wrigley followed by four against the White Sox at The Cell, but no doubt, when Girardi's current four-year contract expires after the 2017 season, his name will come up in conversation with the Cubs job, which seems to be always available.
In the three-plus seasons since, the Yankees' record is 300-229 (.567). They have won their division twice, finished third once, and in spite of losing 60 percent of their starting rotation to injury, lead the AL East by a half-game. They haven't fared as well in October, losing 2 of 3 playoff series and nine of 14 playoff games, and of course missed the post-season entirely last year.
Meanwhile, the Cubs have changed GMs (from Jim Hendry to Theo Epstein), been through three managers (Mike Quade, Dale Sveum, and currently, Rick Renteria) and have played .403 ball, with a record of 213-315, including this season's 15-27. Obviously, there have been no post-seasons, and worst of all, with the Houston Astros moving to the AL, are now perennial bottom-feeders in the NL Central.
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Clearly, Girardi made the right call when he decided not once, but twice, to spurn the Cubs.
The question for Yankee fans is, did the Yankees make the right call in bringing Girardi back with a new four-year deal following last year's collapse?
My opinion is that they did. It's certainly not the manager's fault that the club was beset by injuries last year and this year, or that he was saddled with an aging, overpaid roster and little to no immediate prospects in the farm system. Still, he has kept the Yankees winners, and in contention, for the past three years and is in the process of doing it again this year, despite many of the same problems that brought the Yankees down in 2013.
Do you agree? Disagree? Weigh in in the comments section or via my Twitter feed, @ESPNNYYankees.