Over a month ago, the New York Yankees following the club's loss to the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Yankees went into the 2017 season as fringe contenders, and wound up winning 91 games and getting to within one win of the World Series. That wasn't enough to save Girardi's job.
"I want to thank Joe for his 10 years of hard work and service to this organization," said GM Brian Cashman in a statement after Girardi was let go. "Everything this organization does is done with careful and thorough consideration, and we've decided to pursue alternatives for the managerial position."
Cashman made it clear it was the team's decision to move on from Girardi, not the other way around. Girardi's contract expired after the season and there had been rumblings he would step away to spend time with his family and recharge his batteries a bit. That's not what happened though. Cashman recommended the Yankees move on from Girardi and owner Hal Steinbrenner agreed..
A few days later, Cashman said the Yankees parted ways with Girardi over concerns he did not "communicate and connect" with the players, which is pretty much the most important thing a manager can do. Especially with the Yankees going young and building around players like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino. Communication is important, and the Yankees want to make sure they have someone who can connect with their players. They didn't believe Girardi was that guy.
So far the Yankees have interviewed five managerial candidates, and according to multiple reports, more interviews are forthcoming.
Cashman did not provide a firm timetable for hiring a new manager -- "We'd love to have a new manager ASAP, but we have a healthy process involved with every decision we make, and the most important aspect is steps we take rather than time frame," he said during his annual end-of-season chat with reporters -- though of course this is something they want to wrap up sooner rather than later.
So, now that we know the Yankees will indeed interview more managerial candidates, here is an update on where things stand with the managerial search. Consider this a State of the Yankees update, only focusing on the manager and not hot stove news.
Who have the Yankees interviewed?
Like I said, the Yankees have interviewed five candidates so far. Here are the five with their interview dates:
- Nov. 8: Rob Thomson, Yankees bench coach
- Nov. 10: Eric Wedge, current Blue Jays player development advisor and former Indians (2003-09) and Mariners (2011-13) manager
- Nov. 16: Hensley Meulens, Giants bench coach (and former Yankees player)
- Nov. 17: Aaron Boone, ESPN analyst (and former Yankees player)
- Nov. 18: Chris Woodward, Dodgers third base coach
Wedge is the only candidate with big-league managerial experience, though Meulens has managed in winter ball and during international play. He and Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius are close. They've worked together quite a bit with the Dutch national team over the years.
Thomson is a Yankees lifer. He joined the organization in the 1990s and has held a variety of coaching and front office positions, so he knows the team inside and out. That said, Thomson is covering all his bases. He interviewed for the Twins bench coach position earlier this offseason and will soon interview for the Phillies bench coach position.
Boone, who hit a rather important home run during his time with the Yankees, has no coaching or managerial experience. He joined ESPN immediately after his playing career ended in 2009. Woodward retired as a player in 2012 and has quickly risen up the coaching ranks with the Mariners and Dodgers. As many teams have shown, managerial experience is not necessarily a requirement. Teams are hiring zero experience candidates more than ever.
Who are the new candidates?
So far we only know one: Carlos Beltran. , who played with the Yankees from 2014-16, .
Sources indicate that Carlos Beltran next to be interviewed for Yankees’ managers job. Sixth candidate to be considered.— Steve Phillips (@StevePhillipsGM) November 28, 2017
Beltran has made it no secret he wants to manage one day. Cashman danced around the question when asked about Beltran's candidacy at the GM Meetings two weeks ago -- "I am aware of his interest in managing in the future. I'll leave it at that for right now," he said -- though obviously he is now a candidate. Right now, Beltran is the only new candidate we know of.
Who is not among the new candidates?
We don't know who else the Yankees will interview aside from Beltran (Tigers manager Brad Ausmus ...), but we do know who they will not interview next. Several potential managerial candidates have been ruled out for one reason or another. Among them are former
Yanks reached out to Brad Ausmus, but it seems they got the same answer as the mets. He'd like to take a year off from managing.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 13, 2017
... former Yankees player and current YES Network analyst John Flaherty ...
John Flaherty has not heard back from the Yankees after expressing his interest in the managing job— Anthony Rieber (@therealarieber) November 14, 2017
... former Yankees player and current Dodgers special advisor Raul Ibanez ...
... former Yankees player Jim Leyritz ...
Jim Leyritz called Brian Cashman to inquire about a Yankees coaching position and said Cashman told him he didn’t have enough experience.— Anthony Rieber (@therealarieber) November 14, 2017
... and former Tigers first base coach Omar Vizquel.
Got all that? Furthermore, Yankees third base coach Joe Espada and minor-league catching coordinator Josh Paul are not candidates for the managerial job either. Espada (Astros) and Paul (Angels) took bench coach positions with other teams earlier this month. They were speculated as possible managerial candidate soon after Girardi was let go, though neither was given an interview, which is likely why they moved on.
Is there a favorite right now?
Nope. Not really. And if there were a favorite, the Yankees probably wouldn't be looking to conduct more interviews, right? For what it's worth, Jack Curry of the YES Network believes Boone is the current leader in the clubhouse.
Aaron Boone the next Yankees manager?— YES Network (@YESNetwork) November 27, 2017
One of our Yankees Hot Stove panelists thinks so. pic.twitter.com/PEe7uMamoQ
Curry has covered the Yankees for decades and is one of the most plugged in reporters in the game. His speculation tends to be informed rather than guesswork. That is the closest we have to any sort of indication about which way the Yankees are leaning, and that's not much at all. Right now, this managerial search still seems wide open.
How many candidates will the team interview?
Cashman told reporters he started the managerial search with a list of 20-25 candidates, and that's an awful lot. The Yankees are not actually going to interview 20-25 people, however. They started with a list of 20-25, whittled it down, and are interviewing the best candidates. Both Cashman and Steinbrenner indicated fewer than 10 interviews will take place.
The Yankees will interview "less than 10" managerial candidates, Hal Steinbrenner said.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) November 15, 2017
With five interviews already in the books, not too many more will take place.
Interviews will be a two-step process
According to NJ.com's Brendan Kuty, five people are conducting the managerial interviews in New York: Cashman, senior vice president and assistant GM Jean Afterman, assistant GM Michael Fishman, vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring, and assistant professional scouting director Dan Giese.
Once the first round of interviews are complete, the Yankees plan to select their two of three top candidates, and fly them to the home base in Tampa to meet the Steinbrenners. Hal is the sixth person involved in the interview process. So once the Yankees complete their first round of interviews in New York, a smaller second round of interviews will take place in Tampa. Needless to say, this process is not particularly close to wrapping up.
The new manager will get to pick his coaching staff ...
Not surprisingly, the new manager will have some say into his coaching staff. That is pretty standard for new managerial hires.
Expectation is new Yankee manager will select some coaches. Yankees will likely retain some coaches, but want new guy to have say on staff.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) October 27, 2017
The contracts of the entire Yankees entire coaching staff, including Thomson and Espada, expired after the 2017 season along with Girardi's contract. The coaching staff is completely empty right now. It's not just a manager the Yankees have to hire. They have to hire coaches too.
... except for the pitching coach.
The new manager will have some say into his coaching staff with one exception. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild will return no matter who the Yankees name manager, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman says the Yankees "always (have) valued Rothschild's ability to blend analytics with hands-on work with the staff," so he's sticking around. His contract expired after the season, but a new one is coming.
It is not uncommon for a new manager to inherit a member(s) of the coaching staff. Joe Torre inherited third base coach Willie Randolph and bullpen coach Tony Cloninger when he joined the Yankees in 1996. Girardi inherited hitting coach Kevin Long and first base coach Tony Pena when he took over in 2008. Also, White Sox pitching Don Cooper has stayed on through four managers (Jerry Manuel, Ozzie Guillen, Robin Ventura, Rick Renteria) and Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt has stayed on through four managers as well (Grady Little, Torre, Don Mattingly, Dave Roberts).
Rothschild has been New York's pitching coach since 2011, and he is highly regarded within baseball and considered one of the top pitching coaches in the game. The Yankees aren't about to let him get away. Rothschild appears to be the one coaching hire the new manager will not have a say in.
Isn't this taking unusually long?
Yes, it is. For sure. It has been more than a month since Girardi was let go and the Yankees aren't even done with their first round of interviews, nevermind the second round. Five other teams changed managers this offseason. Here's how long those five teams went between firing their old manager and hiring their new manager:
A few things to keep in mind here:
- Those teams were all looking for managers at the same time, so there was some competition. Alex Cora interviewed for several of those managerial openings, in fact, so the Red Sox had to hire him quickly to make sure they got their man. Right now, the Yankees are the only managerial opening in the league. They can be patient.
- Some outside factors have delayed the managerial search. Example: Thanksgiving. The Yankees and the various managerial candidates were all home with their families last week, not conducting interviews. Also, Cashman and his staff were in Orlando for the GM Meetings two weeks ago. Tough to hold managerial candidate interviews in New York when you're in Orlando for league meetings.
Cashman and his staff will be back in Orlando for the Winter Meetings in two weeks. Until then, their schedule is clear. The Yankees have all this week and all next week to conduct interviews. Could they wrap up their managerial search before then? Of course. But given the current pace of things, the Yankees don't seem to be a huge rush to name a new manager.