I can see it starting already. I'm talking about the excuses for Joe Girardi. We're going to start seeing quotes from the team and stories written by apologists spelling out the myriad ways Joe's hands were tied this season. There will be lists like this one:
- Chien-Ming Wang
- Phil Hughes
- Joba Chamberlain
- Jorge Posada
- Hideki Matsui
- Johnny Damon
- Alex Rodriguez
- Derek Jeter
All the players on that list have missed some time due to injury, some more than others.
Then we'll have another list
- Ian Kennedy
- Phil Hughes
- Melky Cabrera
- Robinson Cano
That's your under-achievers list.
Excuses, excuses, excuses. There will be more to go around than we know what to do with, but none of them will explain away the failure of this team. The headline on this post is appropriate. The injuries and the under-performing explain why a team with a payroll north of $200M didn't win 110 games this year, they don't explain why this team is trailing the White Sox in the Wild Card race and might struggle to finish above .500.
Take away the salaries of Posada, Wang and anyone else who's been out on any given day and the Yanks still have a higher payroll than the teams who are beating them. By no means is Girardi fighting the odds on a daily basis. He has the most expensive team every time they take the field, he has the most talented team every time they take the field.
The Yanks have lost 10 of their last 15 games, I realize a stud starting pitcher can neutralize a good offense on any given day, but who have they faced? Let's take a look
The guys in italics are the pitchers who can be considered upper-tier. Guys who could possibly shut down a good lineup, on a good day. The rest of the guys are not. Out of the 15 games the Yanks were 1-4 in games pitched by those potential aces, 4-6 in the others. That's unacceptable any time of year, unforgivable when you're supposedly in a playoff race.
This isn't a matter of Girardi's hands being tied by injury, this is a case of his entire roster losing games they shouldn't be losing. The clutch hit has been absent, that's not something you can pin on Girardi, beyond the fact that he doesn't put his best lineup out there day in and day out. But when you have the better team on a daily basis and you still can't win the blame has to fall on the manager. Maybe he doesn't do a good enough job of preparing his team. Maybe he doesn't give his team the best possible chance to win. Maybe he doesn't motivate them. Whatever the case, something is missing.
With this roster, the Yankees should be in the playoffs. They should be beating these teams. They should be murdering these pitchers. At the trade deadline Brian Cashman went out and got a starting left fielder with a great bat to put in the middle of the lineup, a starting catcher and a lefty specialist. He's done his job. Girardi hasn't found a way to put the pieces together and properly motivate them.
The way things look right now, Girardi should be one and done as the manager of this franchise.