Add another team to the obits, as the New York Yankees got eliminated by the Houston Astros Tuesday evening. Dallas Keuchel -- pitching on short rest -- and the Astros bullpen did so handily in fact, shutting out the Bronx offense. As a result, Joe Girardi's decision-making is being criticized.
The justification for discussing Girardi's future with the Yankees mostly revolves around his decision to bench all-star centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Jon Heyman published a particularly-scathing criticism suggesting that the boos heard at Yankee Stadium "should have been reserved for Yankees manager Girardi, who inexplicably benched the $153-million Jacoby Ellsbury in favor of Gardner and right-handed reserve outfielder Chris Young."
Brendan Kuty of NJ.com couldn't help but poke the bear as well:
Ellsbury, by the way, was a postgame clubhouse no-show. #Yankees— Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) October 7, 2015
Under Girardi's leadership over the past five seasons, the Yankees have gone 5-10 in the postseason, which for anyone familiar with the Yankees standards, knows that's unacceptable. Joe Sheehan also jumped in the fray by questioning Girardi's managerial acumen:
A jillion-dollar payroll, and the Yankees are starting two guys back-to-back who made maybe $300K and have <250 career PA.— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) October 7, 2015
However, to Girardi's credit, Young had a .409 wOBA against left-handed pitching this season whereas Ellsbury generated a wOBA of just .295 while still recovering from injury down the stretch. Similarly, the amount a player gets paid does not necessarily predispose them to start in the lineup or play better in the playoffs. Despite commentary that will really just amount to revisionist history, the Yankees sights should be set on next season.
Moving forward, Girardi is going to have difficult decisions to make in 2016 with somewhat of a logjam of talent. Greg Bird, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Chase Headley will all be competing for playing time, but with not enough positions to go around.
That makes one of those four players the starting first baseman (Bird or Teixeira), one of them the designated hitter (Rodriguez or Teixeira), one the third baseman (Headley or Rodriguez), and leaves a big question mark for the other. Not to mention, Aaron Judge could force his way into a crowded outfield as well.
The Yankees are going to have to get creative, and if Girardi can't lead them to a deep playoff run, it's fair to wonder if he could ultimately find himself on the way out of New York.