The two most oft-heard reasons why the New York Yankees decided to let go Joe Girardi after 10 years were 1) he wasn’t connecting with people, especially some of the younger players, and 2) he wasn’t connecting with Yankees GM Brian Cashman, as there were differences of opinion related to personality and the analytics-driven front office.
Here are my thoughts:
1) It took 10 years to realize the wooden Girardi wasn’t exactly a bon vivant (one well-known New York writer famously said Girardi “is the only man who’s never told an anecdote.” And 2) Why would it take 10 years?
Girardi is very prepared and hard working, and the team beat expectations, so I understand why he was surprised by the firing. (“Surprised and disappointed” he told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.)
While he was only one of three managers fired after 90-plus win seasons, joining Dusty Baker and John Farrell, I can see why he’d be stunned. Cashman, whose power has increased with the miracle of the successful few-month rebuild, is also a marvel as a secret keeper. Team owner Hal Steinbrenner always had been a fan (Girardi presumably can muster some charm for the boss), and Cashman had always made the call to bring back Girardi, who got only two years fewer than Joe Torre, who got to six World Series and won four of them.
But everyone wants their own man nowadays, and Cashman, after a decade, probably wants someone who’s easier to talk to (that could be almost anyone). There were hints of a fraying in their relationship this year, as some were saying Girardi’s mood was souring (it’s unclear how they could tell, though) until a rebirth during the middle of the playoffs this year, though his early mood was interpreted here as a sign Girardi might decide to step away.
Girardi bolstered that speculation when he told Yankees writers that he’d have to talk things over with his family. Though, after the firing, he told Rosenthal the real story, which was that, of course, he wanted to come back.
As for his rapport with the kids, it’s hard to imagine it was great, and it turns out it was indeed less than great. Gary Sanchez and Dellin Betances generally have been very good for him, but they each had some difficulties this year, and word going around now is that they didn’t “connect” with Girardi. To say they disliked Girardi, as I’ve heard, wouldn’t be right. But apparently they just didn’t connect.
Anyway, word is the two kids went to veterans like Todd Frazier and Brett Gardner instead. And the veterans in turn went to Girardi to suggest he try again with the kids. But the connection never happened. And now Girardi is gone.