Joe Girardi is pretty lucky that George Steinbrenner has faded into retirement. The recent disappearance of the Yankee hitting probably has as little to do with the manager as their earlier hot bats did, but you can be sure that Girardi would be feeling increased pressure if Big Stein was still looming over the franchise.
The sweep in Boston, series losses in Washington and Florida and last night's shutout loss to Atlanta would have been met with at least one missive from the owner's office. The note would have apologized to fans while informing the team that their play is unacceptable and, by proxy, the manager that he served at the pleasure of the ownership. His blustery ravings would have drawn mockery and scorn, they always did, but they also tended to get different results from the team.
It's easy to argue that with all the talent on the Yankees, Steinbrenner was setting himself up to look good by issuing demands that would inevitably be followed by good play. It's harder to keep coming up with excuses for a Yankee offense that's taken the better part of a month off. They've grounded into nine double plays in the last five games, been shut out three times in the last three weeks and there's not one good explanation for the collapse.
Which brings us back to Girardi. He may not be the reason for the offensive issues, but one of the fringe benefits of a managerial job is that they don't much matter. This season is unfolding in a dangerously similar fashion to the 2008 campaign, and there's only so long Girardi can hang onto his job while the team returns disappointing results.
There's no Big Stein anymore, though, and it's not particularly clear who would be walking him off the plank when and if the moment comes. For now, that's keeping Girardi's seat from getting too warm, but his players need to stop giving everyone reasons to wonder when it will heat up.