Joe Girardi in Trouble as Manager of New York Yankees?

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Joe Girardi in Trouble as Manager of New York Yankees?
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FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal listed the managers who might be in trouble come the end of the season in a column posted this morning.

Among the managers on his list were Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers (in the last year of his contract), Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels, embattled Bobby Valentine of the Boston Red Sox, underachieving Ozzie Guillen of the Miami Marlins, Manny Acta of the swooning Cleveland Indians and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves.

But at the top of Rosenthal’s list? The New York Yankees’ very own Joe Girardi, and it’s a point worth exploring.

As Rosenthal points out, Girardi isn’t the guy who put the roster together. That falls on Brian Cashman, who assembled an aging team (baseball’s oldest with an average age of 32.7 for the 43 players who have appeared in at least one game in 2012, according to Baseball-Reference.com).

Among the regulars, only catcher Russell Martin and second baseman Robinson Cano are under 30 as of July 1 and both were 29 on that date. The roster is dotted with players older than 35, including shortstop Derek Jeter (38), third baseman Alex Rodriguez (36), outfielder Raul Ibanez (40), outfielder Andruw Jones (35), outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (38), pitcher Andy Pettitte (40), pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (37), pitcher Freddy Garcia (35), pitcher Derek Lowe (39) and closer Mariano Rivera (42).

Of that group of baseball senior citizens, only Jeter and Kuroda have seemed impervious to the ravages of age. Ibanez and Jones are struggling to hit their weight, and Rodriguez, Pettitte and Rivera have spent significant time on the disabled list (in fairness, none of the injuries to Rivera, Pettitte or Rodriguez can be attributed solely to age).

Should the Yankees fire Joe Girardi?

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Rodriguez and Suzuki are shells of their former Hall of Fame candidate selves. Garcia, Ibanez, Jones and Lowe are not the All-Stars they once were—not even close.

None of that falls on Girardi.

But here’s what does land squarely in his lap: The Yankees had a 10-game lead in the American League East in mid-July, a lead that began to melt away over a 15-13 August and disappeared early in a September during which the Yankees are just 6-6 and only 29-29 since the All-Star break.

Rosenthal cites the oft-heard reports that the Yankees’ managing partner, Hal Steinbrenner, is not the same quick-trigger firing machine that his father, the late George, was. And the younger Steinbrenner told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post 10 days or so ago that while he was frustrated with his team’s struggles, neither Cashman nor Girardi were in danger of losing their jobs.

On the other hand, should New York fail to reach the newly expanded postseason after having such a huge lead, bearing in mind that the team is spending more than $200 million in payroll this season, that might give any owner pause to consider a change in direction.

In fairness to George Steinbrenner, it should be pointed out that while he burned through Ralph Houk, Bill Virdon, Billy Martin (five times), Bob Lemon (twice), Dick Howser, Gene Michael (twice), Clyde King, Yogi Berra, Lou Piniella (twice), Dallas Green, Bucky Dent and Stump Merrill from 1973-91, the only managers of the club over the last 20-plus years of Steinbrenner’s life and tenure as owner were Buck Showalter (1991-95), Joe Torre (1996-2007) and Girardi (2008-present).

After Friday night’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees are 81-63, tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the division lead/second wild-card position, three games ahead of the Rays.

Girardi’s career record is 543-411, including a 465-327 mark during his five seasons in New York. He’s won a ring, in 2009, and taken the team to the playoffs three straight seasons.

For most franchises, that would be enough to almost write a lifetime ticket. But the Yankees aren’t most franchises. After all, when a club spends more on personnel than any other organization in baseball, the expectations bar is understandably considerably higher than it is for most franchises.

Do I think Joe Girardi deserves to go? If the Yankees gag away a playoff berth, I think it’s worth looking at, at the very least.

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