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Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Countdown: 13 days to spring training

By Wallace Matthews

Less than two weeks to go before the day we have all been waiting for -- Feb. 12, the day pitchers and catchers report to Yankees spring training camp in Tampa -- and each day between now and then, Andrew Marchand, Mark Simon and myself will present a list dealing with a specific issue facing the Yankees this season. Today, we take a look at the man with his hand on the tiller of this ship: Commander Joe Girardi.

SIX REASONS WHY JOE GIRARDI IS THE PERFECT MANAGER FOR THE YANKEES

1. HE FITS THE CURRENT MOLD

This isn’t the Bronx Zoo anymore. If you think Billy Martin had a tough time keeping his job with The Boss around, can you imagine how his headline-grabbing schtick would play with buttoned-up Prince Hal? GI Joe is a perfect representative of the current Yankees regime: Quiet, conservative, business-like -- and, quite frankly -- booooring.

2. HE AND THE GM SEE EYE-TO-EYE

As close as Brian Cashman and Joe Torre were for the first half of Torre’s tenure, the two began to move apart later over a generational issue: Cashman’s desire to incorporate more of the advanced baseball metrics coming into vogue in the mid-90s -- the "Moneyball" philosophy, only with plenty of money -- while the old-school Torre preferred to manage by the seat of his pants. Now, Cashman has found a soulmate in Joey Looseleafs, who doesn’t do anything without consulting his own Magic 8-Ball, The Binder, first.

3. HE’S A MASTER AT HANDLING THE BULLPEN

Some of his in-game machinations can leave you scratching your head, or even tearing your hair out, but you must admit that on balance Girardi is pretty good at bringing in the right guy at the right time, even if his endless trips to the mound often make the games drag on endlessly. And unlike the rap permanently attached to Torre -- that he burned out many of his relievers -- Girardi is careful to rest his guys, even if he did have to use Boone Logan 80 times last year due to injuries to other guys.

4. HE WILL NEVER EMBARRASS THE ORGANIZATION

There won’t be any brawls with marshmallow salesmen or airport declarations that his boss is a crook or a liar coming from Girardi. This makes him a horrendous interview for those of us who cover him -- sometimes it seems as if he is reluctant to admit Sunday comes before Monday, because what if this week it doesn’t? -- but at least the owner and GM can sleep soundly without worrying about what the next day’s headlines might hold for them. Besides, they already have a third baseman for that.

5.THERE IS NO DANGER THAT HE WILL EVER VIOLATE THE CLUB’S GROOMING POLICY

The only place I have even seen a trace of stubble on Joe Girardi is on his head. Barbers love a guy like him because it looks like he gets his hair cut three times a week, minimum. No beard, goatee or mustache ever need apply for a home on his Spartan countenance.

6. HE IS WHAT HIS RECORD SAYS HE IS

Under his guidance, the Yankees are 479-331 (.579), have won a World Series, three division titles and made the postseason in four of his five seasons. In his one season with the Florida Marlins, he won NL Manager of the Year. Your honor, the defense rests.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you agree that Joey Looseleafs is the perfect manager for this team and this organization? If not, who would be better?