Yankees’ Joe Girardi Will Take Fall If Loyalty To C.C. Sabathia Proves To Be Foolhardy
One of New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi’s best attributes is his undying loyalty and support of his players no matter what happens. It is rare that Girardi will ever say anything negative about a player in a post-game press conference without issuing some sort of qualifier.
For example, if a starting pitcher has a bad outing, Girardi’s typical response would be, “He just didn’t have it today. It happens. You can’t be perfect every time out there.”
The players surely appreciate the support from Girardi, now in his eighth season as the Yankee skipper. But when that support becomes rooted in stubbornness, or in refusing to make changes that would help the team win, that’s when it becomes problematic.
Arguably, it occurred last season when Girardi kept the fading Derek Jeter in the No. 2 spot in the batting order all year, clogging up the top of the lineup, and resulting in a mediocre team offensive performance that cost the Yanks a playoff berth for the second straight campaign.
It could be happening again this season – and this time it will likely cost Girardi his job if the Yankees fall short of the playoffs. Last week, he elected to keep struggling C.C. Sabathia, saddled with a 3-8 record and a 5.59 ERA, in the starting rotation over Adam Warren, 5-5 with a 3.52 ERA. Despite having the lowest ERA among all the New York starters, Warren was thrown into a crowded bullpen to make way for the return of Ivan Nova, who had missed 14 months because of Tommy John surgery to his elbow.
Although the team skipped his most recent start, the former ace will likely have about 15 starts the rest of the year assuming he’s healthy and no trades are made. In the tight A.L. East race with four teams within 2 ½ games of each other, a game or two could prove to be the difference between winning the division or losing it.
It’s not the time to make critical decisions based on loyalty or C.C.’s team-high $24 million albatross of a salary. Although General Manager Brian Cashman appears to be on board with the move, it will be Girardi who will take the fall if it doesn’t bear fruit.