The last time the Yankees had a lame-duck manager was 2007, when Joe Torre was in the final year of his deal. Torre’s contract was a distraction all year, the Yankees lost (again) in the first round of the playoffs and we all know how the winter went from there.
Now it’s Joe Girardi going into the 2010 season in the final year of his contract. Since today is the day that the manager of the year awards are being announced, I thought it was fitting to discuss Girardi. Does he deserve some security?
The Yankees have recently shown zero inclination to do deals ahead of time with anyone. A-Rod, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera played out their contracts and it certainly looks like Derek Jeter will do the same (something I’m sure we’ll discuss more as the winter goes on). If Girardi is a lame-duck manager, it would seem to be only fair.
But managers are not players, and history has shown that an extended losing streak or a slow start in this city can put the cross-hairs on a manager/coach very quickly – do the Yankees want to open themselves up to that kind of potential distraction if they stumble early next year?
With players, I get the philosophy. The Yankees have the money to over-pay for a player once he hits the open market, so they aren’t fearful of that happening. They can afford to let a player finish his contract, be sure he doesn’t hurt himself in that final year and then compete with the rest of the league for that player content that they have the resources to make the best offer regardless. They don’t need the exclusivity window that comes with negotiating during the deal.
With a manager, though, there isn’t the threat of a career-ending injury or (usually) drastic change in ability. If they like Girardi and like his approach, why not lock him up? It rewards him for bringing a title back to the Bronx and it removes the inherent “Fire him!” response that often comes with a lame-duck manager who hits a rough patch. I’m not saying give him five years; I’m saying give him an extension and take the immediacy of 2010 off the table.