Update: Yankees interview Aaron Boone, Hensley Meulens for managerial job

Bam Bam. (Getty)
Bam Bam. (Getty)

Friday: The Yankees interviewed Meulens yesterday and Boone today, the team announced. I’ve seen a few beat writers on Twitter say Meulens was impressive. Impressive during his conference call, at least. Thomson, Wedge, Meulens, and Boone are the four candidates so far. Supposed the Yankees are only going to interview five or six. Chris Woodward is rumored to be another candidate.

Monday: According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees will interview both Aaron Boone and Hensley Meulens for their managerial opening. There’s no word on when exactly they will interview. Also, Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees asked the Athletics for permission to interview their manager Bob Melvin, but the A’s said no.

Boone was first mentioned as a managerial candidate last week. He played for the Yankees briefly in 2003 — you may remember that home run he hit — and has been working as an analyst for ESPN since he retired a few years ago. Boone has no coaching or managerial experience, but these days teams aren’t shy about hiring rookie skippers. It initially wasn’t clear whether he’d actually get an interview, but now we know he will.

Meulens, 50, was a top prospect with the Yankees way back when. He’s one of the most famous busts in franchise history, in fact. Following his playing career Bam Bam gradually worked his way up the minor league coaching ranks before joining the Giants. He was their hitting coach from 2010-17 — Meulens was on the coaching staff for their three recent World Series titles — and was named their bench coach this offseason.

In addition to his MLB work, Meulens has also coached and managed in international competition over the years. He and Didi Gregorius are close. They work together each winter and were both part of the The Netherlands’ World Baseball Classic squad earlier this year. Like just about everyone from Curacao, Meulens speaks multiple languages: English, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, and Papiamento. That is an obvious plus for a manager. Meulens has been considered a future manager for several years now.

So far the Yankees have only interviewed Rob Thomson and Eric Wedge for their managerial opening. Brian Cashman told Mark Feinsand the next interview is set for Thursday — things are on hold while Cashman is at the GM Meetings the next few days — though he declined to say who it’ll be with. Could be Boone, could be Meulens, could be someone else entirely. We’ll find out soon enough.

Pros and cons of the Yankees’ prolonged managerial search

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

Three weeks ago today, the Yankees parted ways with longtime manager Joe Girardi, supposedly because there was concern he didn’t “communicate and connect” well with players. That’s kind of a big deal. Managers need to be able to communicate with their players, especially young players who are still learning the ropes in the big leagues. The Yankees have plenty of those.

In the three weeks since Girardi was let go the Yankees have only interviewed two managerial candidates: Rob Thomson and Eric Wedge. Brian Cashman has a third interview with an unknown candidate today — the Yankees will reportedly interview Aaron Boone and Hensley Meulens at some point, so maybe one of them is interviewing today — and I’m sure more interviews are scheduled in the coming days and weeks as well.

The GM Meetings this week put the managerial search on hold for a few days, though even considering that, it sure seems this whole process is moving slowly, doesn’t it? The Yankees named Girardi their manager eleven days after parting ways with Joe Torre back in the day, but, to be fair, it was an open secret Girardi would get the job. This time around the Yankees didn’t go into the managerial search with a favorite, at least not that we know of.

Cashman admitted last week he has a list of 20-25 candidates, which is an awful lot. He’s not going interview 20-25 candidates though. Hal Steinbrenner told Bryan Hoch they will interview “less than ten.” The Yankees started with a list of 20-25 candidates, pared it down, and are interviewing who they consider the best options. Going through 20-25 interviews would be nuts and take a very long time. For reference, here’s how long it took other teams to name new managers this offseason.

  • Mets: 22 days
  • Nationals: 9 days
  • Phillies: 30 days
  • Red Sox: 11 days
  • Tigers: 19 days

The Nationals and Red Sox hammered through their managerial search in under two weeks. The Phillies needed a month. On average, it took those five teams 18.2 days to find a new manager. The Yankees are at 21 days right now, and don’t seem particularly close to a resolution. Could the Yankees have a new manager in place by this time next week? Absolutely. Do I think they’ll have a new manager in play by this time next week? Nah. Thanksgiving is going to throw a wrench into things, if nothing else.

For whatever reason the managerial search is moving slowly, at least relative to the other teams that hired a new manager this winter. And, honestly, I have no idea whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I mean, it seems like a bad thing. It makes the Yankees seem indecisive and unprepared. But who knows? Let’s talk this out a bit.

1. It’s good to be thorough. Managing the Yankees is unlike any other managerial job in baseball. The media demands are different and the expectations are different. Even when the Yankees openly admitted 2017 would be a rebuilding transition year, there was still that expectation to win. The new manager won’t have to deal with the never-ending Alex Rodriguez saga — Girardi doesn’t get enough credit for handling all that as well as he did — but things will pop up. That’s baseball in New York.

The Yankees want to nail this. They don’t want a stopgap manager — remember when Jeff Pentland was the stopgap hitting coach? that was weird — they want someone who will be here for the next decade. The Yankees have had only two managers in the last 22 years, which is insane. They want whoever they hire this offseason to still be the manager when Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino are in their mid-30s.

And, to do that, they need to be thorough. The interview process is grueling — Thomson and Wedge both described it as a 5-6 hour ordeal — and very in depth. Candidates meet the front office, the analytics folks, hold a conference call with reporters, the whole nine. The Yankees are trying to get as much information as possible to make sure they can make the best decision. Rushing to a decision could lead to a very bad result, and the Yankees definitely aren’t doing that.

2. There’s no competition. The Yankees are the only team looking for a manager right now. One of the reasons the Red Sox and Nationals had to wrap up their managerial searches quick is because other teams were looking for a manager at the same time, and they wanted to make sure they got their man. Alex Cora interviewed with several teams, so the Red Sox had to act quickly to get him. Same with the Nationals and Dave Martinez.

The Yankees have no such concerns. They’re not competing with any other teams. They can interview all the available managerial candidates without worrying another club will swoop in with a job offer. Maybe they’ll lose a candidate to a coaching job elsewhere, like Joe Espada. Espada presumably didn’t want to wait around for the Yankees to complete their managerial search and possibly lose out on the Astros’ bench coach job, so he took it. I guess something like that can happen.

Point is, the Yankees are the last team standing. Any candidate who wants a managerial job has one place to turn. That affords the Yankees the time to be thorough and go through a prolonged interview process. The Red Sox and Nationals and Mets didn’t really have that luxury. They had to make quick decisions or risk losing their top choice to another team. That isn’t the case with the Yankees.

3. Could it hurt free agent pursuits? It might. It very well might. Tough to make a good pitch to a free agent when you don’t know who the manager will be, right? What if Shohei Otani gets posted sooner than expected and begins the process of interviewing teams and whatnot? Tough to make a good impression if you show up with no manager.

For what it’s worth, CC Sabathia said he wouldn’t have a trouble re-signing with the Yankees before they hire a new manager — “I trust those guys that they’ll hire somebody that we can play for,” he told Dan Martin — but Sabathia is a special case. He’s been a Yankee the last nine years and is comfortable with the organization. This is his home and he’s made it clear he doesn’t want to leave.

Trying to lure free agents away from other teams could be an issue for the Yankees if their managerial search continues for several more weeks. Players want to know who they’re going to play for. That’s human nature. Especially pitchers. Wouldn’t you want to know whether your manager has a history of abusing arms? The Yankees aren’t going to hire someone like that, but who knows what gets said behind the scenes.

Right now, the Yankees can’t tell any free agent targets who will manage the club next season, and that’s a bad thing. Sabathia’s a special case. He’s the exception, not the rule. The hot stove hasn’t yet started to heat up, but it will soon, and until the Yankees have a new manager in place, they’ll be at a disadvantage. I can’t imagine not knowing who your manager (and coaches!) will be would be a fun situation to walk into.

* * *

“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,” said Cashman last week when asked about a timetable for hiring a new manager. It’s good to be thorough and the Yankees don’t have to worry about losing candidates to other teams, but players want to know who they’ll play for. That includes both players already on the team and free agents who are considering joining the team.

Is the prolonged managerial search a good thing or a bad thing? Right now, I think it’s neither. I think it’s just a thing. Needing three or four weeks to find a new skipper is not terribly unusual. What I do know — and I think we can all agree on this — is the longer the managerial search goes, the worse it looks. It’ll look like the Yankees are having trouble finding a candidate they like. Looking bad and being bad are not the same thing though. For now, things are fine. But the sooner the Yankees can wrap this up, the better.

Manager/Coaching Staff Search Updates: Woodward, Beltran, Rothschild, Ausmus, Flaherty, Ibanez

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
Woodward. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

It has been two weeks and six days since the Yankees parted ways with Joe Girardi, and so far they have interviewed two managerial candidates (Rob Thomson, Eric Wedge) and have two more interviews scheduled (Aaron Boone, Hensley Meulens). Hal Steinbrenner told Bryan Hoch today that once the list of candidates is cut down, they’ll be brought to Tampa to meet the Steinbrenners for a second round of interviews. Here’s the latest on the manager and coaching staff searches.

Woodward a managerial candidate

Dodgers third base coach and former big league utility man Chris Woodward is a candidate for the manager’s job, report Mark Feinsand and Joel Sherman. An interview is not scheduled yet but is likely to happen. Sherman says the Yankees intend to cap their interviews at five or six candidates. Thomson, Wedge, Boone, and Muelens are four. Woodward would make it five.

Woodward, 41, was in camp with the Yankees as a non-roster player in 2008. He jumped right into coaching after his playing career ended in 2012. Woodward went from Mariners minor league infield coordinator in 2013 to Mariners infield coach in 2014 to Mariners infield and first base coach in 2015 to Dodgers third base coach from 2016-17. He’s said to be highly regarded within baseball and has been considered a future manager for a few years now. John Lott wrote a feature on Woodward last year.

Beltran wants to manage one day

Soon after announcing his retirement earlier this week, Carlos Beltran told Feinsand he would love to manage one day. “With the experience that I have in the game of baseball … I would love that opportunity, for sure,” he said. Feinsand asked Beltran specifically about managing the Yankees. His response:

“I would not discount anything; you’re talking about the New York Yankees. You’re not just talking about any team in baseball. Not taking anything away from any other organization, but the Yankees are a team that anyone would love to put on that uniform and manage that ballclub.”

Sherman says Beltran reached out to Brian Cashman to let him know he wants to manage — Cashman danced around the question when asked about Beltran as a managerial candidate the other day, telling Andrew Marchand, “I am aware of his interest in managing in the future. I’ll leave it at that for right now” — though it doesn’t sound like he’ll get an interview. I think Beltran would benefit from spending a few years as a coach just to see how the other half lives before diving into managing. He’ll manage one day though. For sure.

Rothschild will return in 2018

According to multiple reports, pitching coach Larry Rothschild will return next season no matter who the Yankees hire to be the next manager. A few weeks ago we heard the new manager will have a say in the coaching staff, but apparently that doesn’t apply to the pitching coach. This isn’t that unusual. Both Joe Torre (Willie Randolph, Tony Cloninger) and Girardi (Kevin Long, Tony Pena) inherited coaches when they joined the Yankees. Pitching coaches Don Cooper and Rick Honeycutt have been through multiple managers with the White Sox and Dodgers, respectively.

Rothschild, 63, has been New York’s pitching coach since 2011, and during that time Yankees pitchers rank third in ERA- (94), third in FIP- (93), and second in fWAR (+139.6). Sherman says the Yankees like Rothschild’s “ability to blend analytics with hands-on work with the staff,” plus he is widely respected around the game, so that’s why they’re keeping him. I’ve said this before and I’ll said it again: I think the impact of coaches is overstated. They’re important! But they’re not miracle workers. Rothschild has a great reputation within baseball and that’s enough for me.

Quick Notes

Got a couple quick notes on managerial and coaching candidates. Here’s a roundup:

  • The Yankees reached out to Brad Ausmus. Like every other team that reached out this offseason, they were told Ausmus is going to take a year off to spend time with his family. [Jon Heyman]
  • John Flaherty, who threw his hat into the managerial ring last week, has not heard back from the Yankees yet. Not even a callback? Ouch. [Anthony Rieber]
  • The Yankees did reach out to Raul Ibanez about managing, but he’s not ready for that big of a commitment and will remain with the Dodgers as a special advisor. [Ken Davidoff]
  • Jim Leyritz reached out to the Yankees about a coaching position. Cashman told him he didn’t have enough experience. [Rieber]
  • The Yankees have not reached out to Omar Vizquel. He was the Tigers’ first base coach under Ausmus the last few years. [Brendan Kuty]

Can’t say I blame Leyritz for trying, but yeah, that was never going to happen.

Managerial Search Update: Wedge, Boone, Flaherty, Cone

Wedge. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
Wedge. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

Two weeks and one day ago, the Yankees parted ways with longtime manager Joe Girardi. They’ve just now started interviewing managerial candidates, at least as far as we know. Here’s the latest.

Yankees interview Eric Wedge

The Yankees have interviewed former Indians and Mariners manager Eric Wedge for their managerial opening, the team announced earlier today. He joins Rob Thomson as the only candidates who we know actually interviewed for the job. Wedge, 49, managed the Indians from 2003-09 and the Mariners from 2011-13. He famously ripped the Mariners after resigning, accusing the front office of “total dysfunction and a lack of leadership.” Zoinks.

Wedge, who managed CC Sabathia for a number of years with the Indians, has spent the last few seasons working with the Blue Jays in their player development department. He was well regarded for his work with young players during his time in Cleveland, and he has a reputation for being a players’ manager, though he will get on his guys if he feels it is necessary. Wedge has made it no secret over the years he wants to get back into managing. I do like the idea of Wedge as a candidate, though he has been out of the managerial game for a few years now.

Boone a candidate for managerial opening

According to Buster Olney and Andrew Marchand, former Yankee and current ESPN television analyst Aaron Boone is a candidate for the team’s managerial opening. He of course played for the Yankees in 2003, and hit one of the biggest home runs in franchise history. The Yankees have reached out for an interview. Also, Marchand says David Ross, another ESPN analyst, may be a managerial candidate as well. Hmmm.

Boone, 44, last played in 2009 and he joined ESPN immediately after retiring. He has no coaching or managerial experience. Boone did grow up in MLB clubhouses as a third generation big leaguer, and he spent the last few seasons of his career bouncing around as a role player who received praise for his leadership. Based on his broadcasts, Boone is into analytics. Can he be an effective manager? Your guess is as good as mine.

Cone, Flaherty interested in manager’s job

Cone. (Al Bello/Getty)
Cone. (Al Bello/Getty)

Both David Cone and John Flaherty, two former Yankees turned YES Network broadcasters, have reached out to the team to let them know they’re interested in the manager’s job, reports Mike Mazzeo. “I just wanted (Brian Cashman) to know I’m at a point in my life where I would be interested in it. My agent and him have had a conversation, but it hasn’t gone any further than that,” said Flaherty. The Yankees have not gotten back to either Flaherty or Cone about an interview.

Neither Cone nor Flaherty has any coaching or managerial experience, and as fans, it’s tough to separate our opinions of them as broadcasters from their potential as managers. Just because Flaherty comes off as old school on television doesn’t mean he’d be a bad manager, the same way Cone reciting FIP and WAR doesn’t make him a good manager. Cone has been a staunch pro-labor guy throughout his career and he was heavily involved in the MLBPA. I wonder if that’ll work against him. Ownership might not love the idea of him running the clubhouse.

Thomson wants to remain with Yankees

Even if he doesn’t get the manager’s job, Thomson would like to remain with the Yankees, he told Erik Boland. “I’m a Yankee. I’ve been here 28 years and if didn’t get this job, I would certainly want to come back because this is what I consider my home. I love it here, I love the players, I love what’s going on here,” he said. Thomson, who interviewed earlier this week, has been with the Yankees since 1990 and has done basically everything there is to do in the organization. Given his existing relationships with the young players on the roster, I think Thomson is worth keeping around in some capacity.

Manager search begins: Yanks reportedly interview Thomson

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

It has been nearly two weeks since the Yankees parted ways with Joe Girardi, and we finally have our first report of the team interviewing a managerial candidate. The candidate: Rob Thomson. Ken Rosenthal reports Thomson interviewed today. Earlier this week Brian Cashman said each candidate hold a conference call, though I’m not sure whether that actually happened.

Thomson, 54, is a Yankees lifer who has been with the team since 1990, and he’s done everything over the years. Coached and managed in the minors, worked in the front office and in player development, and of course coached at the big league level. Thomson served as Girardi’s third base coach (2009-14) and had two stints as his bench coach (2008, 2015-17).

During the postseason both Alex Rodriguez (during a FOX pregame broadcast) and Girardi went out of their way to praise Thomson for staying on top of the team’s young players. “Rob Thomson, he stays on these guys all the time to make sure they’re in the right place and ready to go,” said Girardi prior to Game Five of the ALCS. The fact Thomson already has a relationship with the young guys can only help his chances of getting the job, I think.

Thomson interviewed with the Blue Jays for their managerial job a few years ago, and according to George King, the Twins spoke to him about their bench coach position this offseason. I suspect that, given how long he’s been with the organization and his existing relationships with the players, Thomson will be kept around in some capacity. If he doesn’t get the manager’s job, then maybe he stays on as a coach.

Cashman: Yankees parted ways with Girardi over concerns he didn’t “communicate and connect” with players

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Earlier today Brian Cashman spoke to reporters for the first time since the Yankees parted ways with manager Joe Girardi nearly two weeks ago. Cashman confirmed his own new contract is not done yet, though the fact he’s holding conference calls and discussing the search for a new manager pretty much confirms he’s sticking around.

Anyway, Cashman discussed both the decision to move on from Girardi — “We didn’t fire anybody, but we did choose not to re-hire,” is how Cashman described it — as well as the team’s ongoing search for a new skipper. Here are the conference call highlights, pieced together from all the wonderful beat writers on Twitter.

  • On decision to part ways with Girardi: “We do not make changes at that level lightly, so it was a very difficult and challenging decision … Easiest call would be plug and play and continue in safe harbor arena. I have never been safe harbor kind of person … Our issues and concerns were the ability to engage, fully communicate, and connect with the playing personnel.”
  • Would Girardi have stayed had the postseason gone differently? “It’s tough to put a hypothetical in there. We went where we went … The challenge issue (in Game Two of the ALDS) had nothing to do with the decision making here.”
  • On what he’s looking for in next manager: “There’s no perfect person that checks every box … (Communication is) one attribute of many. Some have more weight that others … (We want someone) who’s willing to push back and have open discourse … I’m looking for the right person regardless of age.”
  • On the managerial search: “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 … I think it helps if you have (a pre-existing relationship), but it’s not necessary … There will be a lot of input from a lot of personnel that will be exposed to the candidates.”

Cashman also discussed the offseason — “Is there a lot of heavy lifting necessary? No. But we’re always trying to be better,” he said — and said there are no surgeries coming up. That’s good. There always seem to be a few surprise injuries at the end of the season. The Girardi decision and managerial search dominated the conference call, so here are some thoughts on that.

1. “Communication” is the key word. In the two weeks since the Yankees parted ways with Girardi, several reports suggested the decision was the result of two things. One, the relationship between Cashman and Girardi had deteriorated. Cashman shot that down today. “It was extremely good,” was how he described their relationship.

The communication issue was, however, very real. Cashman referred to the “connectivity and communication level in clubhouse” several times today — “(I) pooled a lot of resources to get a healthy feel (of the clubhouse),” he added — and said he felt it was time for a “new voice and a fresh voice.” The Yankees have a very young and exciting team, and the last thing they want is those players to have a lousy relationship with the manager. If things weren’t great with Girardi now, chances are they’d only get worse.

2. No, this wasn’t a smear campaign. We’ve seen a lot of smear campaigns over the years. The Red Sox and Boston sports teams in general are the biggest offenders, but they happen in all sports and all around the league. Someone gets let go and suddenly stories are leaked about why the person was fired and things like that. It can be ugly. Remember when it was reported Terry Francona abused pain pills while with the Red Sox? Yeah, ugly.

Cashman’s conference call today was hardly a smear campaign. It was a standard chat after a manager gets let go. Every general manager is asked why the decision was made whenever a managerial change happens. That’s the way it is. Cashman answered truthfully and in a way that didn’t besmirch Girardi. The stuff about poor communication in the clubhouse is a pretty common post-managerial change talking point. I don’t think Cashman said anything inappropriate, and the same goes for Girardi. This has been a fairly painless parting of ways. There is no war of words in the media or anything like that.

3. The managerial search is wide open. When the Yankees moved on from Joe Torre a decade ago, it was an open secret they wanted Girardi to take over. The interviews with Don Mattingly and Tony Pena were held basically to satisfy MLB’s rules about managerial searches. This time around, things are very wide open. “I don’t have a list. I am open-minded to this candidate list,” said Cashman.

Three things stood out to me when Cashman discussed about the managerial search. One, he said he’s willing to hire someone with no experience. It’s good to have an open mind, though I suspect the Yankees would prefer someone with some level of experience. Two, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of urgency. Yes, the Yankees want to name a new manager as quickly as possible, but they’re going to be thorough.

And three, this won’t be a straight Cashman decision. Cashman said “a lot of personnel (will) be exposed to the candidates,” which I assume means front office and clubhouse personnel. Those folks will have input. Also, each managerial candidate will hold a conference call with reporters after their interviews so the Yankees can see how they handle the media, which is not at all uncommon during a manager search. Surely the PR staff will monitor the calls and have some input, because working the media is a big part of the job.

Cashman is the general manager. He manages lots of people, and lots of people will be involved in the managerial search in one way or another. Cashman then absorbs their input and all the information and makes the final decision. Well, no, ownership makes the decision. He makes the recommendation. Point in, the Yankees are going into the managerial search with an open mind and will prioritize thoroughness over time frame. (But the sooner they pick a new skipper, the better.)

Update: Yankees name Kevin Reese new farm system head

Reese during his playing days. (Getty)
Reese during his playing days. (Getty)

Friday: The Yankees announced Reese’s move this morning. His official title is senior director of player development. There’s no word yet on who will replace him as the head of the pro scouting department.

Thursday: According to George King, the Yankees will name Kevin Reese their new farm system head, replacing the departed Gary Denbo. Denbo ran the farm system from 2015-17 before leaving to join Derek Jeter and the Marlins last month. The Yankees have not yet officially announced Reese as the player development chief. I imagine it’ll happen soon.

Reese, 39, spent the 2002-07 seasons as a depth outfielder in the farm system, and he did manage to appear in 12 games with the Yankees from 2005-06. He joined the club as a scout in 2008 and has gradually worked his way up the ladder. Most recently, Reese was the director of pro scouting. He took over the department when Billy Eppler left to join the Angels.

Over the last three years Denbo turned the farm system into a player development machine after it’d been unproductive for years under Mark Newman. It’s not just the Aaron Judges and Gary Sanchezes and Luis Severinos. Others like Jordan Montgomery are quite valuable too. Now Reese will be in charge of making sure the pipeline remains productive. If nothing else, he still has a lot of talent to work with.

The Yankees reportedly interviewed four candidates to replace Denbo, all internal: Reese, director of minor league operations Eric Schmitt, director of performance science John Kremer, and field coordinator Carlos Mendoza. The Yankees tend to promote from within for these jobs. Now they have to replace Reese as the pro scouting department head, though I’m sure they have someone lined up.