Archive for Coaching Staff
The Yankees have taken care of their first (and arguably the most important) piece of offseason business. The team announced on Wednesday that they’ve re-signed manager Joe Girardi to a four-year contract that will keep him in pinstripes through 2014. Jon Heyman and Howie Rumberg say the deal is worth $16M guaranteed plus another $4M in bonuses, making Girardi the second highest paid manager in baseball behind Mike Scioscia.
“We decided this is where we wanted to come back,” said Girardi to reporters during a conference call. “There were some things I wanted to make sure — in my home (with my family) — that people were okay with what I want doing. My kids love what I do. [My wife] Kim is still extremely supportive and continues to love what I do. I had to make sure everyone was still on board.”
Girardi, 48, just completed his sixth year as the team’s manager. His previous managerial contracts with the Yankees were both three-year deals, but Girardi confirmed his side pushed for a four-year contract this time around. The team made it clear they wanted to bring him back — “We’re going to give him a real good reason to stay,” said Brian Cashman during his end-of-season press conference — so they tacked on the extra year.
“I think stability is important,” added Girardi when asked about the four-year term. “That was something we brought up to them. It is more stability for all of us involved in my household. It was something we brought to them and they were okay with it … It’s good for both sides.”
The Yankees are 564-408 (.580) all-time under Girardi, including 85-77 (.525) this past season. I thought 2013 was his finest year as the team’s manager given all of the major injuries and, of course, the Alex Rodriguez circus. Girardi handled the A-Rod situation well and the club remained in the hunt for a wild-card spot far longer than I think anyone expected. Still, the team’s future is up in the air and is something Girardi considered before returning.
“It was something I definitely thought about,” said Girardi when asked about the state of the franchise going forward. “What will the New York Yankees look like in 2014? I don’t think you can necessarily expect to have everything you want every year … To me, I want to be a part of this. I want to get us back on track. That is important to me.”
Girardi’s contract didn’t expire until October 31st and the Yankees did not grant him permission to speak to other clubs in the meantime for obvious reasons. His hometown Cubs reportedly made it clear through back channels they were willing to top any offer, plus the Nationals had interest as well. It’s not hard to argue those two clubs are better set up for success over the next four years than New York, but Girardi returned anyway.
Assuming Girardi sticks around for the full four years, the Yankees will have had just two managers over the previous 22 years. That’s after having 12 different managers for a total of 21 different stints in the previous 22 years. Yeah, the days of the late George Steinbrenner hiring and firing people on a whim are long gone. The Yankees are going through a rather delicate transitional period at the moment and Girardi has done a pretty good job of getting them through the early stages. Now they can move forward and start focusing on other stuff.
“[There is] a lot more work to do this offseason than there has been in the past,” added Girardi. “It’s a special place to manage. Just to be able to put on the pinstripes as a coach, a player, a manager is special. I’ve always thought about it that way. I wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t think we could win a championship.”
Via Mark Gonzales: The Cubs have “made it clear through channels” they are willing to top whatever contract offer the Yankees make Joe Girardi. George King says New York offered their manager a three-year deal worth north of $12M guaranteed with bonuses that could push the total value to $15M. It would make Girardi one of the highest paid managers in baseball and they’re still waiting for his response.
We heard the Cubs were willing to make a “serious contract offer” just last week, but Girardi’s contract doesn’t expire until October 31st and the Yankees are not giving him permission to negotiate with other teams in the meantime. In addition to increasing the risk of losing him, they would also be gift-wrapping Girardi some serious leverage by allowing him to talk to the Cubs or whoever else before his contract runs out. I’m going to stick with my original not-so-bold prediction that if he doesn’t re-sign with the Yankees before his contract expires, Girardi’s a goner.
Via Nick Cafardo: Bench coach Tony Pena is not likely to replace Joe Girardi as manager if the incumbent winds up heading elsewhere this winter. “I don’t think anyone in our front office is even thinking about that,” said one Yankees official, referring to Girardi leaving and not Pena receiving consideration for the job.
Pena, 56, has been with the Yankees since 2005, first as the first base coach (2006-2008) and then as the bench coach (2009-present). He managed the Royals from 2002-2005 and won the Manager of the Year award in 2003. He also manages in winter ball just about every year. Experience is not an issue for Pena, who has been considered for other big league openings in recent years. That includes the Yankees after 2006 and the Red Sox after 2011. He’s reportedly a very player-friendly coach and after these last few years, he’s familiar with the New York market. I’m sure the Bombers would consider him for the job again, but I never thought it was a slam dunk that he’d automatically take over as manager if Girardi left.
Friday: Joel Sherman says Girardi will have another offer from the Yankees no later than today. He suspects it will be in the three-year, $13-16M range. Sherman hears that if push comes to shove, the team is prepared to walk away if Girardi’s camp seeks $7M annually, or what Joe Torre was making at the end of his tenure in pinstripes.
Wednesday: Via Jon Heyman: During their scheduled meeting this afternoon, the Yankees made Joe Girardi a contract offer to return to the team. He responded with parameters for a deal and the two sides agreed to meet again on Thursday. No word on the size of the offer or what Girardi’s camp proposed, and chances are we’ll never know. That they’re meeting again tomorrow is a good sign. Hopefully they get this taken care of quickly.
Whether they want to actually acknowledge it, the Yankees are in the middle of a rather significant transition. A historic era in team history has come to an end with the recent retirements of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, and soon enough Derek Jeter‘s retirement will make that transition complete. The ties to the dynasty years are fading away and a new era of Yankees baseball is being ushered in.
That transition could occur in any number of ways. It could be smooth, it could be painful, it could be a little rocky … chances are it will be all of the above at one time or another. Up until this season, it had gone rather well for the Yankees. The team remained competitive after through the entire 2000s and into the early 2010s before things fell apart this year. As Brian Cashman said during yesterday’s press conference, they’ve “been really fortunate for a long time to avoid what happened this year.”
For the last six years, Joe Girardi has been tasked with managing the team through this transition. He was at the helm when Hideki Matsui had to become a permanent DH and when Johnny Damon had to be told he was no longer a center fielder. Most notably, he had to phase out Jorge Posada, first by taking him out from behind the plate and then by taking him out of the lineup on an everyday basis. As fans we sit back and think that’s easy — just take Posada out of the lineup because he stinks. It’s not that easy though. Managing isn’t just about making the lineup or changing pitchers, it’s about managing people.
“You learn how difficult it’s going to be,” said Joe Girardi to David Waldstein, referring to the end of a star-caliber player’s career. “It’s sensitive because they are competitive. It’s what makes them who they are. It’s a will to find a way to overcome anything that’s in your way, whether it’s a bad shoulder or a bad back or cranky elbow; whatever it is, they are used to finding a way, and that’s what made them great.”
Joe Torre had to deal with the end of Bernie Williams‘ career and, for the most part, Girardi had it easy with Rivera and Pettitte. He had to cut back on Andy’s workload a bit, making him an 85-90 pitch starter instead of a 110-115 pitch starter, but that’s it. Mo was elite and Andy was rock solid right down to the very end. Matsui and Damon both became free agents before the real ugliness started. Posada was tough for a number of reasons, like his ineffectiveness and who he was and what he meant to the organization.
“In a sense, you almost feel like you’re protecting them against themselves,” added Girardi while talking to Waldstein, “which is difficult because you know they want to be out there all the time. But if you are going to keep them productive through the course of a long season, you could have to protect them, and that’s not always what they want to hear.”
It appears the Yankees have another Posada-esque situation on the horizon, only about a million times worse. Jeter, who is already well past the usual expiration date for shortstops, turns 40 next June and missed just about the entire 2013 season with leg injuries. It was the thing Cashman said they were fortunate to avoid for so long. The Cap’n is broken down. Taking him off shortstop and out of the lineup against right-handers is an obvious move to make on paper, but Derek Jeter the person has to be managed as well.
“I expect him to play and I expect him to do everything in his power to get back to the form that he had in 2012,” said Girardi to Waldstein. “He has a lot of strength that he wants to gain back in his legs and have a normal off-season, and it should be good for him … It could be difficult. Only time will tell how tricky that situation becomes. We all know he wants to be out there every day. And that’s what I love about him, I do. But it doesn’t make it any easier.”
Up until now, Girardi has handled the team’s transition from the dynasty years to … whatever the hell is coming next … about as well as could possibly be expected. The Jeter situation is going to require extra-special care not only because it’s Derek Jeter and he can be a bit of a pain in the ass, but also because he’s the last tie to the dynasty years and a generation of baseball. That’s an iconic page to turn. It’s not a situation any ol’ manager can handle either, at least not handle properly. Girardi has shown he can manage that transition these last few years and he’s by-frickin’-far the best man for the job. His contract negotiations are about much more than pitching changes and second inning sac bunts. He’s essential for getting this team through the next few years.
Via Buster Olney: The Yankees will have to give Joe Girardi a “significant raise” if they want to retain their manager this offseason. He was making $3M annually on his last contract, which expires November 1st. “It comes down to family,” said Girardi to Chad Jennings. “It doesn’t even necessarily have to be in baseball, in a sense,” Girardi said. “It’s just, as I said, it’s not so much the (managerial) circumstances, but what’s best for my crew.”
Girardi, 48, also downplayed his ties to Chicago while talking to the media yesterday, though I suspect that was done (at least in part) to create more leverage against the Cubs. The Cubbies fired manager Dale Sveum this morning. It’s obvious the Yankees are going to have to give their manager a raise if they want to keep him (especially after all the crap they put him through this season), but I guess the question is how “significant” of a raise. I think Girardi is an average-ish in-game manager but based on what we saw this season, he excels in clubhouse and keeping things from becoming chaotic. That’s an essential trait in New York.
Via Andy Martino: Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees hope to re-sign pitching coach Larry Rothschild after the season. “I think he is an excellent pitching coach,” said the GM. “I would like to have him back. I would like to have [Joe Girardi] back … I would think that Larry wouldn’t want to work with just any manager, so first and foremost we have to deal with that.”
Rothschild, 59, signed a three-year contract when he replaced Dave Eiland following the 2010 season. The staff has a 3.97 ERA and 3.92 FIP in three seasons under his watch — obviously that isn’t all attributable to him — both of which rank in the middle of the AL pack. Rothschild came to the Yankees with a reputation for improving strikeout and walks rates, and he’s done that for the most part. I think his future is tied to Girardi’s — if Girardi comes back, Rothschild comes back. If not, the team will be looking for both a new manager and a new pitching coach.
Via Andrew Marchand: Joe Girardi remained noncommittal when asked about his plans for next year. “Yeah, I mean, I don’t worry about those details until it is time to worry about it,” said Girardi. “To me, it doesn’t make sense to worry about it, but I love being here. To me, it is wasted energy to worry about it … I haven’t thought of myself [going back to broadcasting]. But, like any other person, when things arise, you sit down and you talk to your family, I talk to my wife, our kids are in school in New York.”
Girardi, 48, will be a free agent when his contract expires after the season. Brian Cashman already confirmed the team hopes to re-sign their manager and last month we heard it was a “foregone conclusion” the two sides would work out a new contract. Just eyeballing it, high-profile teams like the Cubs, Nationals, Angels, and maybe even the Dodgers could have managerial openings this winter. Marchand speculates that FOX could approach Girardi about replacing the soon-to-be-retired Tim McCarver, but that seems unlikely. It would surprise me if Girardi did not return to the Yankees next season, but until he signs a new contract, there is always a chance he will take a different job elsewhere.
Via David Waldstein: Joe Girardi held a “stern postgame meeting” following Sunday’s loss to the Red Sox to let the team know he was disappointed with their effort in the three-game sweep. “We stunk here,” said the skipper. “We didn’t play well here. But we’ve got options. We can either continue to stink or play better. If we play better, we have a shot.”
The Yankees have held team meetings under Girardi before — including last month, during the sweep by the White Sox in Chicago — but the message has always had some kind of positive spin. “We’re better than this, let’s not make losing a habit,” that type of stuff. This is the first time I can remember hearing about Girardi ripping into the team, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before. This is the time to be stern anyway. The time for delivering a gentle message has come and gone.
Via Jon Heyman: It’s a “foregone conclusion” the Yankees and Joe Girardi will work out a new deal when the manager’s contract expires after the season. “[Hal Steinbrenner] loves Joe,” said a source to Heyman. Brian Cashman confirmed they hope to re-sign him earlier this season.
In my opinion, the 48-year-old Girardi has done by far his best work as the team’s skipper this season. The Yankees still have a shot — albeit a small one, obviously — at the postseason despite all of the injuries and under-performance, plus his handling of the Alex Rodriguez circus has been masterful. The front office hand-picked Girardi for the job close to six years ago now, and as I’ve said before, I think the only way he doesn’t return after the season is if he decides he head elsewhere. I have a hard time thinking that will happen.