Underrated? A manager who has the full-backing of ownership and a seemingly unlimited payroll can be underrated? Despite the injuries across the board, erratic pitching of AJ Burnett, depleted bullpen, and the accompanying egos that encompass the Yankees, Joe Girardi has done a hell of job with his first place ball club. New faces have risen to the occasion and the entire pitching has been essentially rebuilt. Given these facts, Joe Girardi is proving that he’s not only underrated, but the top manager in baseball.

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Life should be easy for a manager who has the full support of ownership, All-Stars at seemingly every position, and the best ever just waiting to take the ball in the ninth inning. However, Girardi has been without his ‘bullpen formula’ for over a month now. The lockdown combo of Jo-So-Mo was supposed to shorten games. But that was before Joba had season ending surgery and Rafey Soriano hit the DL. Girardi wasted no time, sliding strikeout specialist David Robertson (1.15 ERA) into the eighth. Spring training after thought Luis Ayala has been great in long-relief¬†situations¬†(1.48 ERA). Don’t forget about Cory Wade and surging Boone Logan (1 ER in his last nine appearances). Don’t forget that Pedro Feliciano was supposed to be a big part of the pen as well. The bullpen has been rebuilt and used accordingly due to Joe’s diligence and confidence.

An even bigger issue has been the performance and health of the rotation. CC is CC, but after that, the Yankees don’t have any other true bankable options. Bartolo was great, but it was only a matter of time before the wheels fell off. Burnett continues to be erratic and Phil Hughes can’t seem to maintain his velocity. Freddy Garcia has been a pleasant, over achieving surprise (3.28 ERA). Say what you want, but this rotation has been a patchwork unit at best. Girardi, however, has shown faith and that’s why this team has won 13 of 17 and is in first place.

It’s easy to see how Girardi’s management gets lost in the shuffle. Fans are concerned about Derek Jeter’s return and 3,000th hit, Hughes’ return, and the on-going sentiment for another arm in the rotation. Fans will get all over Girardi for his micro-management at times, but he has won a championship with this organization and has this team playing above current expecations. Girardi deserves more recognition for his work this season and hopefully more fans realize that.