Friday, December 30, 2016


(July 28, 2015 - Source: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)
With the daily tales of Jose Quintana sounding more and more like a byproduct of Jose Cuervo and little else, I got to thinking some more about our big splash re-signing of Aroldis Chapman.

(May 8, 2016 - Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)
It was exactly a year ago the Yankees first signed him to create the super bullpen combo with Dellin and Andrew known as No Runs DMC. The word 'rebuild' wasn't even in our vocabulary yet, and the word 'prospects' still referred to our chances for a postseason run.

From blockbuster trade piece for a potential playoff contender, to trade piece for a bunch of kids we hope have a future in the Bigs... and then back again to a team stripped of it's top draws and more question marks than when he left. What a difference a year makes, huh?

Looking back at Aroldis's dizzying journey also made me realize that this winter marks the end of the third year of Joe Girardi's four-year deal, and as we enter it's final season -- the extra one Joe extracted from the team by leveraging interest from his hometown Cubs, I wonder where all the turbulent change his team is undergoing may send Joe's career careening next.

I'm a fan of Joe. I really am.

(May 19, 2016 - Source: Getty Images North America)
I know about all the handicaps he's had to overcome and the better-than-expected finishes he's performed. But I also know that if the team is truly evaluating all its assets and liabilities moving forward, the manager's position has an impact on the daily success of the product on the field. That can not be ignored.

It seemed to me that Joe would stick with a cold bat way too long or sit a hot one way too fast...OR keep a dead arm in the rotation and send a live one to the pen, based more on the number of zeros in their contract and their years of MLB service than their numbers on the score card!

And was it really beyond his authority to order two of our leading base stealers to actually try and steal a bag a little more frequently when they both underwent mid-career psychoses and decided it was more comfortable for them to remain glued to their bases until the next hitter moved them over?

And what about all those phony spring training "competitions" for the starting rotation and catchers when everyone knew the outcomes in advance -- especially the youngsters who invariably were the losers, despite often being the winners in the scorecards? Does "Competition always brings out the best" ring a bell?

I bet that was great for morale. The stories those kids brought back with them to the farm when they got sent down must've been priceless.

(Aug. 29, 2015 - Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)
Heck, maybe I'm just not privy to the proprietary metrics that informed him Stephen Drew really was the best option at second base in the entire organization, for the entire year. Meanwhile we all saw he was the worst hitting second basemen in the league.

Maybe a good players' manager does these things. Maybe there's old-school wisdom to his play-it-safe strategy. Or maybe he was only following orders from Brian and Yankee brass. I've given him a pass for years using that one myself.

(Oct. 1, 2016 - Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America)
But you know what? Joe's always saying: My job is to manage the guys in the room.’’ I think he's telling the truth. It's one of his go-to lines whenever he's asked if he's being ordered to play stiffs over warm bodies or whenever he's asked to pontificate about rumored trades.

So in this, his final year, that pass is rescinded. From now on whenever Joe says things like that -- and particularly whenever he manages like that -- I'm taking him at his word. It's his job. His choices. His wins. His losses. Period.

(Sept. 16, 2014 - Source: Brian Blanco/Getty Images North America)
Three years ago this winter, Joe signed a four-year extension with the Yankees rather than jump to an almost certain gig with the Cubs because he "absolutely" believed the Yankees would win another World Series before his deal expired. And here we are three years later, the Cubs have their ring and the Yankees are having dreams about a pitcher named Quintana who likely still wouldn't be the final piece in their championship puzzle.

Joe's loyal, I'll give him that. Funny thing about that "competition always brings out the best" thing, though. It can also bring out the worst.

The heartbeat of the next Yankees dynasty will be the young bloods who start coming up this season. Whether Joe hears it or not, I believe, will decide if he'll be allowed to compete with them any further.

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