While Hal breaks traditional Yankee business rules to start contract negotiations with Robinson Cano, it bears reminding that there is another key piece of the puzzle entering this season in the final year of his current contract- manager Joe Girardi. This season will be Joe's sixth at the helm of the Bronx Bombers and other than the one post I wrote on the subject a while back, there doesn't seem to be much discussion anywhere about his future with the organization and where the front office should put re-signing him on the priority list.
Joe's status in 2013 isn't a lame duck one in the truest sense of the phrase. He's got a 479-331 record, won three division titles, an American League pennant, and a World Series championship in his five years as Yankee manager, so his body of work definitely doesn't merit a position on the hot seat. If the Yankees don't make the postseason this year, it will have more to do with injuries and the step back the team took in overall talent this past offseason than Girardi's managing. Things would have to get REEEEEEEEEEEEEEALLY bad for Joe's head to roll after this season, like last place in the AL East/losing the locker room a la Bobby V. last year/actually punching Joel Sherman's lights out in the locker room kind of bad.
That being the case, it is a tad strange to see the Yankees let Joe get to the end of his current contract and add one more storyline to the upcoming payroll crunch transition. Like it or not, next season is going to have a rebuild-y feel to it if ownership sticks to their $189 million guns and Joe, having experienced the stress of managing the Yankees, is a better choice than anybody else to handle that situation. Say what you want about his decision making when it comes to using relief pitchers and putting on the sac bunt, but Joe has done a pretty damn good job of managing the personalities and maintaining a calm, cool head when things start to fall apart. I give him a tremendous amount of credit for the way he handled all the injuries last year to navigate the team to 95 wins and for how well he kept his professional composure during the postseason offensive disappearing act while dealing with the death of his father.
Again, I don't think there's anything worth reading into when it comes to Joe entering this season as a lame duck manager. I'm sure it's just a matter of the Steinbrenners focusing their efforts on the payroll plans. But I do think he's the right man for the job next year when the going will get even tougher and I think he's earned another contract extension.
(Photo courtesy of Rick Osentoski/US Presswire)