Before Joe Girardi was the manager who led the Yankees to the 2009 World Series and before he was the manager who dealt with the departure of veterans like Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, Girardi was the young manager leading a young team.
Ten years ago, Girardi managed the Florida Marlins to a 78-84 record, good for fourth place and good enough for Girardi to win NL Manager of the Year. All Girardi knew that spring training was that Dontrelle Willis would be his Opening Day starter and Miguel Cabrera would be the everyday third baseman.
After losing 31 of it’s first 42 games, the Marlins knocked on the door of the wild-card before falling off in the final weeks of the season. Despite being fired because of problems with the front office, leading the young Marlins can help Girardi 10 years later.
Most of the Yankees teams have been filled with veterans but now there is a youth movement. Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin and Gary Sanchez are some of the names that Yankees fans can get used to. Girardi’s time in Miami let him learn how to deal with younger players.
“I think you find that each player is different,” Girardi said. “And I think you have to find a way to handle each player, in a sense, because I think their personalities are different.”
One difference between the situations, other than the New York market and expectations of Yankees fans, is the time that the manager got to know some of his players.
“The interesting thing there was I had a chance to know them through all of spring training, April, May, June, July,” Girardi said. “Where these kids I’m seeing really, saw them in spring training a little bit but the first time I’m seeing them is in August, so you have to find out and you have to rely on your people below that have had them for years, what do they need? What do they need from a physical standpoint, what do they need from a mental standpoint, and as I said, you have to be there for them.”
Aside from the game itself, which is tough enough, there are also all the distractions that come into play.
“There’s so many things that you have to deal with that you didn’t necessarily have to deal with when you’re in the minor leagues,” Girardi said. “As simple as tickets. All the people that were your friends growing up, all of a sudden you’re in this city and they’re up, and then this city and there’s a lot of things.
“I think the biggest thing is that they understand you believe in them and you have to show them that.”