The Yankees first free agent decision won’t involve Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson or Hiroki Kuroda. It will be their manager: Deciding whether the team wants Joe Girardi back, and whether Girardi wants to come back.
“It comes down to family,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about it, but we’ll sit down and actually have a real pow-wow around the dinner table probably is what we’ll do, and then we’ll go from there.”
Girardi’s options might have opened today when the Cubs fired Dale Sveum, but surprisingly, Girardi downplayed his Chicago connections yesterday. I say it was surprising largely from a negotiation standpoint. You’d think Girardi would could at least use Chicago as leverage with the Yankees, but he did not sound especially interested in going back to the area where he grew up, went to college and made his Major League debut.
“Our home has been here (in Westchester),” Girardi said. “My kids are engrossed in schools here. We haven’t been to Chicago since — haven’t lived there since 2006. The only person who’s really there, my brother’s still there, a couple brothers are there, (but) my father’s gone, my mother’s gone. There’s not as much there as there used to be.”
Indications are that the Yankees like Girardi, and even in this non-playoff season he is surely going to appear on some Manager of the Year ballots. Girardi is a by-the-book kind of manager, and the Yankees seem to appreciate that he has a calculated reason for his decisions.
As for Girardi’s side of the decision, he opened the possibility of doing something outside of baseball, possibly a return to broadcasting — perhaps as a replacement for Tim McCarver on FOX? — but Girardi also admitted that he hasn’t really envisioned himself doing anything other than managing next year. It also seems to be worth noting that his kids are 14, 11 and 7 years old now, old enough that uprooting the family might be a little more difficult than in the past. TV might not require such a move out of the New York area.
“I have to make sure that everyone is taken care of,” Girardi said. “… I wouldn’t think (debating a decision) would go too long. It’s not my personality to drag things out. I’m always a guy that likes to know what I’m going to do the next day.”
Concerned the Yankees won’t be good enough to win next season?
“There’s no challenge that really scares me, that I would ever shy away from, so that has very little impact on it whatsoever. … It’s not like you’re cutting the payroll down to $60 million. It’s still a pretty high number. There’s a substantial amount of money coming off the books too just because of free agency and some players retiring. I’m sure it will be a busy winter, but a good winter.”
Do you think the front office values your opinion in the offseason?
“I’m at the Winter Meetings, and there’s discussions about what we’re trying to do, and I’m able to voice my opinion. I’ve always been able to voice my opinion. That’s never ever been a problem. There are going to be things, always, that people don’t agree on. I’m okay with that. My job is to manage the players that I’m given, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Have you enjoyed all that comes with being manager of the Yankees?
“I’ve really enjoyed it. You learn a lot about yourself as a person. You learn a lot about what it’s like to sit in the chair. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve really enjoyed my time here, as a player, as a broadcaster, as a manager. As someone who wasn’t sure about New York when I came, it’s a wonderful place. … I think the competitiveness is here on a yearly basis, a weekly basis, a daily basis. There’s no doubt about it. And there’s expectations no matter what, which I’ve always had, too. So there is definitely a match there.”
Harder to replace Mike Stanley at catcher or Joe Torre as manager?
“Initially, it was probably Mike Stanley. There was a lot more heat on me following Mike Stanley, it seemed like, than following Joe Torre in the beginning. I’ve never been booed like that. I went to the FanFest and got booed. I was like, ‘Man, I haven’t even done anything yet!’ I got booed at the Welcome Home Dinner. It took about a month and a half. … I think it was when Doc Gooden threw his no-hitter (that opinion turned). It just kind of seemed to change. No, Joe Girardi wasn’t going to hit home runs like Mike Stanley did, but he was there for a different purpose. I tried the first month, but it didn’t work real well.”
Given the potential volatility of this job, surprised to be here this long?
“I didn’t take the job to stay here a year. I envisioned that I would be here. I did. I’m a guy that’s a creature of habit and thinks that things are going to be that way for a long, long time. You can go back to when I was a player, I thought I would be in one place for a long time and that changed a number of times. That’s just how I think.”
Associated Press photos