One good Joe deserves another
Cryptic Yanks apparently favor Girardi as next skipper
Posted: Sunday October 28, 2007 1:28AM; Updated: Sunday October 28, 2007 1:28AM
DENVER -- There is, of course, Manny being Manny. But this is a case of the Yankees being the Yankees.
They aren't saying boo about their managerial machinations; they're not even dropping hints. That is their way. But if I had to guess now, I'd say it's going to be one Joe in for another. The stars could be aligning for Joe Girardi to get the job.
I talked to many Yankee people on Saturday (most, in fact), and not a word either way from anyone. Plus, Girardi was at the World Series, and so was Don Mattingly's spokesman, Ray Schulte, and neither of them heard a word, either.
"I hear what you guys write,'' is how Girardi put it.
OK, well in that case, here's what I think...
This is like reading tea leaves (a course I failed at Northwestern, maybe Girardi did better); and call me crazy, but the two biggest reasons I think the call could be Girardi are: 1) General manager Brian Cashman is making the call, and while Cashman is characteristically noncommittal, I have always believed that given the choice he'd hire Girardi, and 2) the 10-hour interview is said to have been vital, and while Mattingly was thought to have been "passionate'' and "impressive,'' I envision Girardi, a professional broadcaster and fellow Northwestern alum (we were there together, but he's three years younger -- no cracks about my picture), acing that interview.
I am not reading anything into Hank Steinbrenner saying he wants a leader, not a "father figure,'' following leader/father figure Joe Torre. Both men would make great leaders, in my estimation. Neither has any experience to speak of. But both are leaders. And so is Tony Pena, the long-shot candidate.
While there are differences -- for instance, Girardi is more intense -- the two candidates are more alike than you'd think. Both were leaders of their teams, both coached under Torre and neither has very much managing experience to speak of (zero in Mattingly's case). In fact, Pena has far more managing experience, having managed Triple-A New Orleans before managing the Royals.
Girardi won Manager of the Year his only year in Florida. But the reality is none of them is Torre in terms of experience. And Florida and Kansas City ain't New York.
Cashman declined comment except to say that he's not ready to say anything, which I got from the fact he declined comment.
The other Yankee people also declined comment or claimed ignorance. The ignorance part is quite possible, since Cashman spoke to the nine other baseball operations people individually and apparently didn't tell them who he was favoring.
Either way, it's not an easy call. If Cashman picks Girardi, the storied franchise surely loses Mattingly, a beloved, iconic figure, only weeks after Joe Torre took a powder. Mattingly prepped for the job and appeared to be the heir apparent, with a nod from club owner George Steinbrenner, one of Mattingly's biggest fans.
But you have to wonder now what Steinbrenner's involvement is. Elder son Hank, a horseman by trade, appears to have taken the reins and has apparently handed the call off to Cashman. There are all sorts of theories as to why the GM is finally going to get to pick the manager after all these years as a bystander in the process; but I tend to believe the most obvious, which is that Steinbrenner's sons aren't haughty enough to think they know more about this than Cashman. If so, good for them.
If Cashman picks Mattingly, he loses the hottest commodity in baseball in Girardi, the master strategist who is at/or near the top of everyone's managerial wish lists. Girardi has turned down Baltimore at about $1.3 million a year, turned down an interview in Washington. He may have turned down the Royals and may now have a chance with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The buzz going around the World Series is that Girardi's alternative possibility is indeed the Dodgers, and not the bench job as has been speculated. ("Hell no,'' responded one Dodgers person, as to whether Girardi would make sense as bench coach.) Dodgers GM Ned Colletti couldn't be reached on Saturday. While Dodgers owner Frank McCourt gave a vote of confidence to manager Grady Little after their dreadful season, it appears that something may have happened in the interim to make them consider a change.
The Dodgers person I talked to said Little is the manager "for now,'' which wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement.
The Yankees will make a more enthusiastic endorsement, probably by Tuesday. My guess is it will involve Girardi.