With Lou Piniella’s retirement from baseball this past Sunday, the Chicago Cubs have an opening at manager for the 2011 season. They’re rumored to favor hiring Joe Girardi as the new man for the north side of Chicago. While I think Girardi would be crazy to want that job over a return to the Yankees, I strongly suspect he will. After all, Joe grew up in Chicagoland, went to Northwestern and had two stints as a player with the Cubbies. He knows he’d be venerated for generations if he happened to guide them to their first World Championship in over 100 years.
So, let’s play the game and assume that Girardi is gone after this season. Who should be the next manager for the Yankees? There’s an intriguing list of possibilities. Here are five to ponder:
- Willie Randolph: Randolph certainly has a Yankee pedigree. The former captain also served as base coach and bench coach under Joe Torre. All told, Willie owns 6 World Series rings – more than anyone alive, except Yogi Berra. He certainly understands what it takes to win in New York and he understands the type of scrutiny a Yankees manager is under. But he did preside over one of the greatest collapses in major league history (ok, it was the Mets) and hasn’t landed a ML managing job since. Still, he is my number one choice to run the club next year.
- Don Mattingly: “Donnie Baseball” has much the same pedigree as Randolph, although not quite as many championship rings. Few players are more beloved in the Bronx, despite the fact that Mattingly’s teams in the 80’s never quite made it to the playoffs. But he’s never managed – at any level – and he might still be bitter after getting yanked around by the Yankee brass before they settled on Girardi.
- Joe Torre: I think I just heard a collective gasp go up in the crowd. If George were still running the show, this might be more of a possibility. (Heck, we might be talking about Joe III or Joe IV by this point). There can’t be much doubt that Torre knows how to do the job and I doubt the payday he’ll command this off-season would deter the Yanks. At the same time, bringing him back would be tantamount to the front office admitting they made a mistake in letting him go 3 years ago. And Torre still harbors A LOT of dislike for Brian Cashman.
- Dave Miley: Miley is the manager at AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre (I know you were wondering). Although he seems like a long shot – Buck Showalter was the last MiLB manager the Yankees hired, 20 years ago – with the impending youth movement in the Bronx, he might be a good fit. Next year’s roster is likely to have a slew of “Baby Bombers”, perhaps as many as 7 or 8 players with less than 3 years of major league experience. And he has demonstrated the ability to win in the minors, despite constant roster uncertainty, with a career 1991 – 1092 record at AAA. Miley also has three seasons of ML experience, with a really atrocious Reds team in the early 2000’s.
- Bobby Valentine: Valentine brings two things the Yankees traditionally crave in a manager – name recognition and a proven ability to win. You also have to think Valentine’s ego would love a shot at managing the Yankees. The biggest obstacle I see to making this work is that ego: Valentine is a control freak. I don’t see Cashman or anyone else in the front office ceding any control over player decisions to him.
Well, there are five names to mull over. There are no shortage of managerial candidates this offseason and I’m sure we’ll hear plenty more before next April. Who do you think should be at the helm next season – Girardi, one of the 5 mentioned here, or someone else?