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Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Valentine’

Courtesy: AP/Seth Wenig

As the 2011 preseason is now officially underway for the Yankees, it’s time for Yankee fans to fire up the hot stove and begin contemplating what the team will look like next Spring. But before you can take the first step forward, it helps to know where you are. After all, every destination has a starting point. It just happens that 2011 and #28 begins from the rubble of what was a once promising season in 2010.

So, where are the Yankees right now?

Front Office: The Yanks front office appears more stable than at any time in more than a generation. Gone are the days when Mount Steinbrenner might erupt at any moment, causing the Yanks management team a severe case of angina and filling the back pages of NYC’s tabloids. Brian Cashman, love him or hate him, seems certain to retain the General Manager’s position for the foreseeable future. While the Steinbrenner sons seem to have placed their faith in Cashman, I wouldn’t advise him to repeat last year’s disastrous offseason. While they strike me as the polar opposite of their Dad in the way they approach running the team, I also can’t imagine that the Steinbrenner demand for winning is sublimated to profits under their watch. Cashman is excellent at the operations side of the baseball business – but more player moves on par with Nick Johnson and Javy Lopez will end his run.

Field Management: Cashman already announced that bringing back skipper Joe Girardi is “job 1” this offseason. That probably says more about the lack of available managerial talent than Girardi’s skill in guiding the team, in my opinion. The only other decent manager available right now is Bobby Valentine. Somehow, I can’t see Bobby V’s penchant for grabbing the spotlight and the current front office’s desire to avoid controversy co-existing. Joel Sherman
made an interesting point about the skipper needing to loosen up a bit and have fun in an earlier column today. It’s a point that hopefully Girardi will take to heart in 2011. Oh, and hopefully he loses that infernal binder along the way, too.

Earlier today, the coaching staff shake-up began in earnest, as Dave Eiland was jettisoned. No real reason was given, but I suspect Eiland wanted out as much, if not more; than the brass wanted him gone (he did disappear for nearly a month during the regular season, for reasons nobody has ever explained). Regardless, the Yankees now need a pitching coach. I imagine with AJ Burnett due back and the real possibility of having a rookie in the starting rotation, the Yankees will look for somebody with not only pitching expertise, but a psychiatry degree. With Cliff Lee an obvious target of Yankee affection, expect a pitching coach Lee respects to be targeted.

Otherwise, don’t expect major changes on the bench. Kevin Long is still regarded as one of the best hitting coaches in the business and 3B/IF coach Rob Thompson is widely regarded as helping Robinson Cano realize his potential in the field. Bench coach Tony Pena seems likely to stay – but I’m certain if a managerial job opens up for him, he’ll jump on it.

Coming tomorrow: Core Four

Coming Wednesday: Pitchers

Coming Thursday: FIelders

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

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