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Thursday, May 2, 2013
First Pitch: Girardi deserves his due

By Andrew Marchand

If you are the manager of the New York Yankees, you are never really going to be in position to receive a lot of credit. With a $230 million payroll, critics will usually say it is money more than moves for the franchise's success.

But here in 2013, there is is that rare circumstance that the manager could receive his due -- and Joe Girardi deserves it so far. The Yankees have overcome their injuries and the manager has led them to a 17-10 record.

Girardi is not some big personality that this city generally loves. From Casey Stengel to Billy Martin to Joe Torre, it is much more entertaining if the manager is a headliner. But as Rex Ryan is proving, you have to win consistently.

Girardi does everything in his power to avoid headlines. In fact, he purposely seems to avoid details to prevent them.

Girardi also isn't the type of guy that necessarily inspires people. But baseball is different than other sports and that characteristic is not as vital of a manager compared to a coach in football or basketball.

Over 162 games, a steady hand proves important, along with putting players in their best position. This is where Girardi excels. Girardi is good at leveling with players and making sure they understand their role. Players appreciate this and thrive on it.

During games, we sometimes kid Girardi about the Binder, but almost always statistical fact to back up decisions beats gut impulses. There is a rhythm to the game, for sure, but most times, it is smarter to play the math.

So one month in, Girardi doesn't make the grind of 162 more fun like a Stengel or a Martin did, but if he continues to win, no one will care about that.

ON-DECK: I will be writing a column about how Brian Cashman's tore a page out of the small market A's book. I spoke with Billy Beane and Cashman about it.

IN THE HOLE: The Yankees are off Thursday and then have a three-game series with the A's. On Friday, the CC Sabathia velo watch will continue. Sabathia (4-2., 3.35 ERA) will be opposed by A.J. Griffen. Game time is 7:05 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the Yankees play at 1 p.m. It will be Phil Hughes (0-2, 4.67) vs. Bartolo Colon (3-0, 3.38). On Sunday, it is Andy Pettitte (3-2, 3.86) vs. Dan Straily (1-0, 6.35).

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you think Girardi can win manager of the year?