The Yankees sure looked awful early in the season and there was a point where they were last in the league in all pitching categories. The wolves started circling and the naysayers started drooling. But since then, the Yankees have powered their way to the division lead and hold that spot for the first time since the last game of the 2006 season.
The Fan has to admit that Joe Girardi was viewed as suspect as the Joe Torre era ended in New York. The thing about Joe Torre is that he just kept the team on an even keel through the worst of situations. There was much hoopla about his book before the season started. Most of the fanfare was concerning his remarks about A-Rod, Wells and Damon. But to this reader, the most potent argument of the book is the way Torre continued to win when the front office made one bonehead move after another. The book was a real testament to the smarts of the Red Sox versus the doltish moves of the Yankees.
And then Torre is unceremoniously allowed to walk and Girardi takes over and the Yankees miss the playoffs for the first time since 1994. Again, the Fan has to admit that Girardi was suspect. But he really didn't have enough cards in his deck to win. The starting rotation was a complete mess.
Well, the rotation was dealt with by obtaining Sabathia, Burnett and another year of Pettitte. But they started terribly and Girardi was in the cross hairs.
But the evidence is starting to show that he's pretty good at what he does. Mark Teixeira has been quoted as saying that Girardi is the best manager he's played for. If you look back at Teixeira's teams, he played with some great ones. There was a story earlier in Spring Training where Girardi did something really creative and pulled the team from practice and took them to a pool hall for a day of fun and unity building. These are all great signs that he's a real guy and is doing a fine job.
Time will tell if the Yankees will stay in first. But they have a great lineup, much better defense than last year and the horses they need in the pitching staff. It will be interesting.