So the New York Yankees have cut ties with manager Joe Girardi after ten years at the top step of the Bronx Bombers’ dugout. When the former MLB catcher took over for Joe Torre‘s Yankees in 2008 it was kind of a big deal. The Yankees managerial spot is one of the higher-profile positions in all of sports, and Girardi was coming into it with only one year of experience. That one year was with the (then) Florida Marlins, a team Girardi helped push into Wild Card contention despite their $15 million payroll. Girardi lead a team that saw the talent of Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Dontrelle Willis, and Josh Johnson lead the pack for the ’06 Fish. The Marlins just missed out on getting into the postseason with a 78-84 record, Girardi won National League Manager of the Year award for his leadership, but was fired shortly after the conclusion of the season.
The 2008 Yankees were in a tough spot. Their 89-73 record would have seen first place any other year but the competition in the division that season pushed them into third place with no playoff appearance for the first time since 1993. In 2009 Girardi’s Yankees earned their 40th American League pennant and beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series to bring home their 27th championship and the first since 2000. Girardi signed a three-year extension in 2010 and then a four-year extension in 2013. Now, after the Yankees lost to the Houston Astros in seven games in the American League Championship Series, the New York front office has decided not to offer a new contract to Girardi and will instead look elsewhere for a new manager.
White Sox fans across social media are already foaming at the mouth to see Rick Renteria booted and Girardi given the reins, similar to Renteria’s stint on the North Side. Of course when a big name becomes available fans are going to want to see a guy like that take the lead but what the White Sox have with Rick Renteria should not be messed with, and Girardi isn’t the guy for this team.
When Robin Ventura left and was replaced by Renteria you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from White Sox fans. Ventura spent six years with the White Sox with literally nothing to show for it. A career losing record (375-435, .463) and zero playoff appearances. People questioned the decision when he first came on and every year after 2012 was just more fuel for the fire. The Sox claimed second place in the Central division in Ventura’s first year but plummeted afterwards. 30 games back of first in 2013, 17 in 2014, 19 in 2015, and 16.5 in 2016. Enough was enough. The team was stripped down, star players were traded for prospects, and Ventura was fired. It was exactly what Sox fans had been calling for and it felt great to see a normally laissez-faire front office do something. Rick Renteria was brought in to lead whatever players the White Sox had left after the overhaul and he did just that.
Sure the White Sox finished with a 67-95 record but that was expected going into the year. Nobody thought they would finish the year above .500 with all of the changes to the front office, coaching staff, and on-field talent. But the team felt different. Players were smiling, they looked relaxed and ready to play, there were no more dugout tirades or clubhouse distractions. If there were it didn’t get out to the media, it was handled privately as all things should have been. (The fact that Drake LaRoche’s name became familiar among White Sox fans last season should never have happened.) Sox fans joked about 2017 being “The Tank Season” where the team wasn’t afraid to lose games in order to obtain a higher draft pick, and while that may have been the case for the majority of the season the Sox actually played great baseball from about mid-August through to the end of the season.
Avisail Garcia had a career year, Tim Anderson battled through personal issues that I’m sure the team helped him with, utility players were given time to shine at the plate and in the field, the young guys were actually given playing time and performed well in pressure situations because their manager instilled confidence in them. Everyone on the roster got multiple looks. For once the White Sox are looking like they have a legitimate shot to be something great in the next couple of years. Even looking back to the 2005 championship team it wasn’t quite the same feeling. The team was comprised of older players, there was no sense of “something great could be happening soon” looming in the years prior to the ’05 run, but the White Sox managed to pull off an amazing season regardless. One of those “right place at the right time” deals that baseball sometimes allows to happen. The team the White Sox have built right now, though, does have that looming feeling. Fans can feel the energy and the excitement, even after a losing season.
Girardi became the sexy name out there. In reality would I love for him to be the White Sox skipper? If the timing was right, of course I would. But this is Rick Renteria’s team. I don’t want the Sox front office to blindside Renteria for the second time in his managerial career by bringing him in, naming him as “the guy”, then cutting ties at the drop of a hat because a bigger name became available. Bringing in a different manager at this point would throw a wrench into everything that the team has accomplished so far.
Joe Girardi is not what the Sox need. Stick to the plan, let Girardi’s name pass by, and keep moving forward.