Kepner clarifies the managerial logjam

Tim McCarver is just plain wrong

Usually, I’d just post an aside to this article by Tyler Kepner about the three Yankee managerial candidates, but there are a few things I wanted to share. Allow me to quote the relevant parts, and discuss away in the comments.

On Don Mattingly:

Don Mattingly came in as the favorite of the principal owner, George Steinbrenner, and he made a strong impression on Steinbrenner’s son Hank in his interview Tuesday.

“He gave them more than what they expected,” a person who spoke with Hank Steinbrenner said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no decision had been announced. “They liked his aggressiveness and his strength. They saw some fire, and they liked that. He came across as real.”

…Mattingly apparently convinced the increasingly powerful Hank Steinbrenner that he could be more than the quiet leader he is perceived to be. In doing so, Mattingly cleared what is thought to be his biggest hurdle in getting the job. Hank Steinbrenner did not know Mattingly the person, but now he does…

It is doubtful Mattingly would return to the coaching staff if he does not get the managing job.

On the Steinbrenners’ leaving the decision up to GM Brian Cashman:

The feeling among ownership is that Girardi, Mattingly or Peña would all be acceptable choices. Hank Steinbrenner said that he would essentially leave the final call to General Manager Brian Cashman and his staff.

“If the baseball guys are unanimous or near it, that’s the way you’ve got to go,” he said, adding that there were no more interviews to be done.

On Larry Bowa and Seattle:

Bowa has been offered the Seattle Mariners’ third-base coaching job, but he said Wednesday that he was still undecided about whether to accept.

Bowa, Kepner notes, could become the Yankees’ next bench coach. I hope Larry sticks around the Bronx, especially if Mattingly is the next manager.

Reading in between the lines o the article, my money is now on Don Mattingly. I think the Yankees are leaning that way due more to PR reasons than anything else. Losing Mattingly after losing Torre would be a big blow to the public perception of this team, and that is not something the Steinbrenners want to face right now. Public relations aside, Joe Girardi would be a better choice based on baseball acumen. We’ll know soon.

Tim McCarver is just plain wrong
  • Dan

    Interesting. It should be really exciting to see what happens, I’m glad the announcement will be coming tomorrow. I was honestly pulling for Girardi and Pena, but each candidate is solid and they have a great team to work with.

    I’m a huge Bowa fan too.

  • Steve S

    All I know about Mattingly is that when that guy was a player he was extremely intelligent and understood the game of baseball. I dont agree with the whole concept of he needs more seasoning. In all honesty Girardi got his shot in Florida at virtually the same level of experience. I wouldnt mind either but I think Mattingly is the way to go.

    • steve (different one)

      what do you mean about Girardi? he “got his shot” and was Manager of the Year. the owner of the Marlins is a total scumbag, are you saying that we should dismiss Girardi b/c he clashed with Marlins’ ownership?

      • Rob

        He’s simply saying that Girardi became a manager with as much experience as Donnie has now.

        • steve (different one)

          ok, i see what you mean. i read it differently at first. i agree with that.

  • Rob

    I absolutely think Mattingly is the better choice, and whatever baseball acumen he lacks can be supplemented by a strong bench coach (Bowa or Pena). Folks seem to forget that the 1996 dynasty really formed in Don’s image. He set the example as a player for Jeter, O’Neill, Posada, Bernie and I see no reason why he’s not perfect to do that again. These Yankees were his Yankees, and they’ve gone soft with Papa Joe. Donnie Baseball’s fire is raging, and lest we forget he still doesn’t have a ring. Torre started with similar baggage in 1996.

    From Pena’s comments, I think he’d be amenable to the bench coach position. And that combination is a much better fit for this team than Girardi. I’m calling it …

  • Rob

    By the way, why does no one bring up the fact that it took Girardi leaving, and Pena coming aboard, for Jorge to significantly improve as a catcher? If he couldn’t help THAT, then really what makes him so great? Because he overachieved in Florida for one year (and as Steve notes) with the same amount of experience as Donnie has now?

    • steve (different one)

      Posada had a good year throwing out baserunners in 2006. and conventional wisdom has Pena getting all the credit for this. yet in 2007 he had his worst year throwing out runners since he was a rookie and Pena was still here.

      Girardi was the bench coach in 2005. Posada was better in 2005 than he was in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004.

      so it’s possible that 2006 was just a good year for Posada.

      i don’t dismiss that Pena helped Posada, but it seems like Girardi also helped him too. and if Posada improved in 2006 at blocking balls, it was certainly gone in 2007.

      of course he is a year older, but i think a lot of this is a myth created by Michael Key talking about Pena working with Posada twice a game for 2 years.

      • Rob

        Sorry, I disagree. Jorge, himself, has given Pena a lot of credit for improving his footwork and for coming up with exercises that improved his overall defense while motivating him to do the work. My only point: How is that even possible unless Girardi isn’t as advertised. He had many more years to detect and improve Jorge’s flaws and didn’t.

        I don’t doubt that Girardi is a good manager. But many in Yankeeland seem to think he’s obviously the best choice based on “baseball” reasons. I just don’t think it’s all that obvious.

        • steve (different one)

          and i am saying Posada was not good defensively this season.

          • Rob

            I understand that. But if anything he fell back to where he was pre-Pena even while his offense improved dramatically. I suspect that with his bat going so well, he didn’t want to put in the extra work behind the plate for fear of it hurting his offense. The two may not be related much at other positions, but for catchers they absolutely are.

            • steve (different one)

              fair enough.

  • Adam L.

    “Public relations aside, Joe Girardi would be a better choice based on baseball acumen. We’ll know soon.”

    How do we know this to be true? I mean Girardi didn’t gain a reputation as a particularly great or terrible tactician in Florida, and we know very little about Mattingly in that regard, and certainly less than those in Tampa asking the questions.

    • John

      Everything we know about the way Girardi acted with the Marlins suggests he’s the wrong man for the job.
      Yes, he could be different in NY because the front office and the players know his personality, and because he has a team of veterans rather than rookies, but that seems to be as much of a stretch to me as trying to forecast Mattingly’s performance.

  • Count Zero

    In the end I’m good with any of the three. I agree that making Bowa the bench coach would be a good idea, though – with Mattingly anyway.

  • usty

    I think a big thing in Donnie’s favor that hasn’t been brought up, is that for all intents and purposes, he was the superstar of the Yankees in the 80’s. So he knows what it can be like to be the focal point of the New York Yankees. Albeit, the the team was nowhere near as good nor faced as much pressure, but having that superstar in NY experience can’t be a bad thing when dealing with A-Rod, Jeter, etc.

    • Rob

      And he was a superstar that the city absolutely loved. He was Jeter without the rings and women but with the defense and respect. And better, Jeter learned to be a ballplayer based on Donnie’s example.

      I honestly don’t see how DB doesn’t become the manager. It’s really a no-brainer unless you want to significantly ding him for no managerial experience while vastly inflating that of Girardi.

      Nah, let them hire Donnie for Friday and work out a very good staff over the next few weeks:

      Bench – Pena
      3rd – Bowa
      Hitting – Long
      Pitching – Mazzone (or any chance to reunite Righetti and DB?)
      Bullpen – Eiland

      And let Donnie pick his 1st base coach.

  • E-ROC

    Girardi please, still. Is there any chance? Probably not, but one can still dream. I hope all of the coaches comeback with Mazzone and Eiland only being the new faces.

  • http://GulfSouthConference Eric SanInocencio

    I just have a hard time handing the keys to a corvette to a guy that doesn’t have a driver’s license. Great players, not matter how loved they were, don’t necessarily make great managers.

    In this instance, you have three resumes in front of you. Two of them have managerial experience, including being named the Manager of the Year of both leagues (AL and NL).

    Then you have a third, that has years as a hitting and bench coach. That’s it. His playing ability or history as a NY icon should not factor into the decision.

    While we all like and respect Mattingly, this is a business. I view Girardi and Pena and 1 and 1A, with Donnie Baseball a distant third. You have to go with the best manager in this situation, and not let your heart interfere with your mind.

    Also, if here were to fail (which is possible), it would tarnish that legacy forever. It’s just not DB’s time.

  • Giuseppe Franco

    On the other side of that coin, how many great players got their chance to manage in the bigs?

    That list really isn’t very long because it’s a small sample.

  • Rob

    I just don’t understand this logic. Girardi was talked about as a manger for the Yanks before he left for FLA. And then he had the same experience as DB has now. If you want to give the job based on experience, Pena gets it hands down. Girardi is less experienced than Pena and less Yankee/NYC savvy than DB. I seriously can’t see the Yanks goingg wrong with a bench of Donnie AND Pena.

    And I’m really not sure why folks worry about Donnie “failing”. He’s not worried about it so why should you? And further, I’m much more psyched by the possibility that he’s successful in getting that ring. That would be a fantastic story. The 80’s Yanks were led by his example (if only they had pitching). The 90’s Yanks were led by that example (via those he imprinted upon). Why not the 00 Yanks too?

  • http://GulfSouthConference Eric SanInocencio

    I said I had Pena at 1A, and wouldn’t at all mind if he is given the job. The more I think about, having a Latin manager in New York would be a wonderful thing in my opinion. Two have both NY managers be minorities would be special.

    I still feel Mattingly is the worse choice because of the lack of running a team at all. Girardi may have been talked about, but then went to Florida and proved he was a quality manager. He’s managed one year and won Manager of the Year, what more can you ask for in that market?

    He excelled off the charts in his only opportunity. Granted that’s a chance that DB hasn’t had, but we can’t assume because we love him as a person and player that he’d do that good a job right off the bat. Anyone who says so isn’t being realistic, they are being a fan.

  • Rob

    By the way, Donnie has had MORE coaching experience than Girardi did when he got hired – 4 years versus 1 and 18 years with t he Yankees versus 5 years for Girardi. Furthermore, Girardi was managing a completely different type of team. There’s nothing to suggest he can manage a team full of veterans and manage a huge media market at the same time. People assume that because Girardi was successful in FLA he’d certainly be in NY. And I think that’s far from certain. Instead, I think it’s much likelier that he’s rub the players and media the wrong way much sooner than Donnie ever would (especially because the Donnie has a very long leash). Any short-comings Donnie has can be easily addressed with a strong staff. Girardi’s short comings could kill him in the first three months regardless of who’s on the staff.

  • Thomas

    I agree with Rob. Also, one reason that Posada learned more from Pena instead of Girardi at the catching position is that Girardi was a fellow player and Pena was not. There is difficulties when a former co-player is named a coach or a manager over you which leads to less listening of them by the players. It is part of life no matter how many millions of dollars you make and ow professional these players are suppose to be. That is why I think that Girardi is not the best choice.

    Unless you played or coached you may not understand this dynamic!

  • Rob

    I agree with that assessment, Thomas. Problem is, one could say the same thing of Mattingly, except for the fact that the leaders on the team grew upon idolizing him and his approach.

    I really don’t see how any Yankee fan could be against Mattingly, unless they’re letting the fear of the unknown gnaw at them. They don’t know what they’d get with Mattingly so they’d rather the known commodity. Problem is, they should know exactly what they’d get with DB – a hard worker, leading by example, universally beloved, and NY savvy.

    It’s Donnie Baseball, people!

  • Rob

    PeteAbe reminds us today that Mattingly once threatened to kick Mel Hall’s ass if he didn’t leave young Bernie alone.

    Somehow I don’t see Girardi (or Torre) doing that – ever.

    We’re going to love having Donnie Baseball back (and you doubters will be ashamed). I can’t wait really. It’s exciting.

  • Thomas


    When Mattingly was last a player, Pettitte pitched that whole year with him but it was his first year. Jeter played in only 15 games. Posada played one game. Rivera pitched in 19 games.

    Mattingly was a Yankee hero and was in his last year. These 4 guys were rookies and may not have felt as full members of the team yet since it was there first year and were kind of unknowns.

    Girardi played three full years with those guys and Posada was his replacement. Girardi was a good player but not a Yankee hero.

    Those are two very different situations.

  • Rob

    I agree, Thomas. I was just playing devil’s advocate. Somehow I remember Jeter saying though how much of an influence DB had on him.