COMMENTARY | Joe Giradi has shown that it takes more than a Trapper Keeper full of printouts to win ballgames this season.
The New York Yankees' skipper, known as The Binder, has proved that, regardless of whether his team will play October baseball, he deserves to be named the American League Manager of the Year.
Despite losing Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez to injuries, Giradi has managed to win close games this season without abusing the Yankees' bullpen, something his predecessor, Joe Torre, was often criticized for doing. Yes, Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell has taken the Sox from worst to first, but he's done so with a healthy and young squad.
As aging All-Stars piled up on the disabled list, Giradi collected wins and kept his team in the playoff chase despite a negative run differential -- a statistic shared by only a handful of playoff teams. (The 1987 Minnesota Twins are the only team to have won a World Series despite a negative run differential.)
Tuesday, in a game with playoff implications, the Yankees' ninth-inning infield against the Baltimore Orioles included Mark Reynolds at first base, David Adams at third base, and JR Murphy -- who began the season with Double-A Trenton -- at catcher. In all, Giradi has managed a team-record 54 different players this season and, after Tuesday's win, the Yankees signed another player -- shortstop Brendan Ryan.
On top of handling an offense that is among the bottom five in the American League in doubles, home runs, total bases, RBIs, batting average, and on-base percentage, Giradi has somehow kept his clubhouse from being contaminated by Rodriguez. Most commentators thought the A-Rod saga would become a distraction for the team yet, somehow, Rodriguez has proven his worth and contributed to the club since returning from the disabled list.
As for handling the team's pitching staff, Giradi has dealt with the struggling Phil Hughes, the atrocious Joba Chamberlain, and oftentimes inconsistent CC Sabathia while finding roles for Ivan Nova, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, and Preston Claiborne.
If Giradi wins the Manager of the Year Award, he'll join Tony La Russa, Lou Piniella, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland, and Bobby Cox as managers who have won the award in both leagues. The Binder won the National League Manager of the Year in 2006 after leading a rookie-filled Florida Marlins club to a surprising 78-84 record. However, Giradi was fired before being named winner. According to reports, Giradi butted heads with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and other front office over a variety of personnel issues.
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.
- Sports & Recreation
- New York Yankees
- Alex Rodriguez
- Joe Torre
- Curtis Granderson
- Mark Teixeira
- Kevin Youkilis
- American League