Three weeks ago, the Yankees somewhat surprisingly parted ways with longtime manager Joe Girardi. The Yankees were a surprise success story in 2017, going from being considered a fringe contender before the season to winning 91 games and getting to within one game of the World Series. And yet, Girardi was let go.
Last week general manager Brian Cashman said the Yankees moved on from Girardi due to concerns about his communication skills and his ability to connect with players. The Yankees have a young roster, so communication is important. These kids are just learning the ropes and the team wants to make sure they're in good hands going forward.
At the owners' meetings on Wednesday, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner took it one step further, and said he would've made the change at manager even if the Yankees won the World Series. Here is what Steinbrenner told reporters, including ESPN's Jerry Crasnick:
"As I told Cash, I wasn't following his recommendation: I agreed with it. He and I have had these discussions for a considerable length of time, over and over again. This isn't something we just decided we wanted to sit down and do at the end of the season. We've had a lot of discussions through the years.''
In the aftermath of Girardi's firing, Cashman cited Girardi's "communication and connectivity'' issues with players as the main reasons for the change. Steinbrenner indicated that the issues were of sufficient concern that the Yankees might have switched managers even if Girardi had led the team to a World Series victory.
"I'm sure there would have been more pressure,'' Steinbrenner said. "It would have been maybe a more difficult decision to make. But I would have made it because I felt like that was best for the organization moving forward.''
Firing a manager after winning the World Series sure would've been unprecedented. Well, technically Girardi wasn't fired. His contract expired after the season and the Yankees chose not to bring him back. It's essentially the same thing though. The Yankees determined Girardi was not the right man for the job and are making a change.
Three postseason managers were let go this year: Girardi, former Red Sox manager John Farrell, and former Nationals manager Dusty Baker. It's the first time ever three postseason managers were let go in one season. Similar to Steinbrenner and Girardi, Red Sox president of baseball operation Dave Dombrowski said no level of success could have saved Farrell's job.
It seems these days clubs are not letting on-field performance dictate their managerial decisions, which is smart, I think. The best manager for the team in 2017 is not necessarily the best manager for the team in 2018 and beyond. That's the decision the Yankees (and Red Sox and Nationals) came to this year.