The New York Yankees shocked the baseball world Thursday, letting go of manager Joe Girardi. While Girardi has his faults — all managers do — he’s still considered one of the better skippers in the game. He pushed a Yankees team everyone thought was rebuilding to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
For the Yankees to make such a bold move, you would assume there are some highly qualified replacements on the market itching to take Girardi’s spot.
That’s not really the case.
Some established managers have hit the market, but they may not be a fit for what the Yankees are looking for. That means we could see someone new — and relatively unknown — get a shot to manage the most popular team in the game.
We don’t know who that will be just yet, but we can speculate on potential candidates for the position. Below, you’ll find 10 guys whose names could come up during the Yankees’ managerial search.
Let’s start with the biggest name currently on the market. Former Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker has a lengthy history of winning, and is lauded for uniting clubhouses. Some of the murmuring about Girardi has mentioned he was emotionally distant to players, so Baker would help there.
But … it’s not going to happen. The Yankees are reportedly looking for someone who will embrace analytics. While Baker is often unfairly criticized, even the staunchest Baker defenders would admit that’s not his strength. His quotes to the New York media would have been amazing, so we all lose there.
It would be a fun narrative if John Farrell went to the Yankees after being fired by the Boston Red Sox and led them to five straight division titles. But it’s tough to see that happening too. Farrell was questioned for his in-game management in Boston, so the Yankees won’t go that route if they are going to stress analytics. Like Girardi, Farrell was often questioned for his bullpen decisions. It would be tough to call him an upgrade.
Probably not. He falls into the same category as Farrell, without the winning track record. In an effort to stop repeating ourselves, we’ll just say that it sounds as if the Yankees want to bring someone new into the fold. Retreads don’t seem to fit what they are trying to do. So Ausmus is unlikely.
The Yankees are reportedly looking for candidates familiar with the organization, and Kevin Long fits. The former hitting coach spent eight season with the Yankees, and was with the team during the 2009 World Series run. After getting passed over for the New York Mets‘ opening for Mickey Callaway, it’s assumed Long will go elsewhere. He’s familiar with some of the players still on the team, and has a relationship with Brian Cashman and others in the front office. He has never managed in the majors, so we don’t have a strong grasp on his in-game tendencies and willingness to embrace strategy and analytics.
Rob Thomson is the Yankees’ current bench coach, so he’s familiar with the organization and has a relationship with Cashman. He was also mentioned by both YES Network’s Jack Curry and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand as a candidate for the position, and that’s tough to ignore. Curry mentions he’s highly respected, and if that’s true, Thomson could be the most logical hire. Letting him take over wouldn’t upset players, and fans would feel comfortable with a guy who knows the situation and is already liked by the team.
Former Red Sox player, and current Yankees front-office member, Tim Naehring has emerged as a dark horse candidate for the position. Both Jon Heyman and Bob Nightengale mentioned him, so that makes you start to wonder. Then, you stumble upon articles like this, which suggests Cashman leans heavily on Naehring’s opinion, and you start to see how it makes sense. In that article, Cashman even says Naehring could be a manager some day. Naehring gets high marks for his scouting acumen, but knows the organization values statistical analysis. He already communicates well with Cashman, and the two could probably avoid clashes when they don’t see eye to eye on things.
We haven’t seen Gabe Kapler connected to the Yankees yet, and considering his current role in the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ front office, perhaps he’s not really a candidate. But he’s the one guy who comes to mind when you think about analytics. In his brief time as a television analyst, he tried to teach viewers about sabermetric concepts. He even interviewed for the Dodgers job a few years ago, but lost out to Dave Roberts. He’s probably happy and has no plans to leave the Dodgers … but he was a hot managerial candidate a few years back and has the stat background the Yankees seem to crave.
HAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH, No. It’s fun to think about, though, especially after A-Rod has turned into a tremendous broadcaster who is clearly knowledgeable about the game. And, hey, he knows this Yankees team well. But Cashman is looking for someone he can get along with, and we all remember some of the quotes he gave on A-Rod during his suspension. Not only that, but Cashman once called the idea of Rodriguez coaching “[expletive] crazy.” It would make for a great reality show, but that’s about it.
If you want to consider a former Yankee player, Jason Giambi might be the better choice. Giambi tried to make the shift to manager late in his career, and even interviewed with the Colorado Rockies. While he has a controversial past — including some steroid use — he’s apologized and emerged as a well-respected veteran late in his career. His name hasn’t come up for openings in a few years, though, so it’s a long shot.
It’s not fair to lump a bunch of names together, but the Yankees could go a number of ways here. If they are looking within the organization, the team could considering Triple-A manager Al Pedrique. Jay Bell managed the Class A club, and was the Florida State League manager of the year. Catching coordinator Josh Paul could get a look as well. We would expect a number of coaches in the system will be considered for the job.
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