Dan's Dugout: Ten Best Bets to Succeed Girardi • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Ten Best Bets to Succeed Girardi


NEW YORK — “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

In baseball circles, the legend persists that a little boy blurted out those words to White Sox star Shoeless Joe Jackson on the courthouse steps after the Black Sox Scandal became public.

Now another little boy can run up to Joe Girardi and say the same thing.

Joe Girardi has taken the Yankees to the playoffs six times in ten seasons

Joe Girardi has taken the Yankees to the playoffs six times in ten seasons

A world champion as both a player and manager with the Yankees, Girardi suffered the same fate Thursday as two other playoff pilots: John Farrell in Boston and Dusty Baker in Washington.

Ownership spends ungodly amounts on payroll and expects pennants rather than playoff busts.

The Red Sox couldn’t get past the Astros in the American League Division Series, icing the skids for Farrell, and the Nationals reached by lost the NLDS during Baker’s two-year sojourn at the top.

Girardi’s contract was expected to be renewed but general manager Brian Cashman declined – even though his contract status is also somewhat cloudy.

Fans shouldn’t worry about Girardi’s future. As one of the brightest and most articulate men in the game, he’ll wind up as manager in Washington, general manager in Atlanta, or in some other vital position.

He could even skoot down to Miami and join forces with new Marlins owner Derek Jeter. After all, Girardi not only managed the Fish before but was named NL Manager of the Year — after he was fired by then-owner Jeffrey Loria.

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter might bounce Don Mattingly as manager

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter might bounce Don Mattingly as manager

Where would Girardi’s arrival leave incumbent manager Don Mattingly, an ex-Jeter teammate whose resume as manager also includes some playoff disappointments?

Consider the fact that the former first baseman was the surprise runner-up to Girardi the last time the Yankees changed managers.

That being said, speculation has already started over Girardi’s successor in the Bronx. Here are the Top Ten candidates:

1. Brad Ausmus – Like Girardi, he’s a former catcher who gets along well with players, writers, and fans. He’s young, bright, and well-respected – and smart enough to turn down an interview with the Mets before the hired Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway to run their team.
Since the Yankees are a young team about to get younger, the youthful Ausmus would relate well to his players. Plus he’d love all the Kosher delis in New York (the Yankees have a huge Jewish audience but have never had a Jewish manager).

2. Don Mattingly – He still has legions of locals who believe he belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. More laid-back than the regimented Girardi, Donnie Baseball doesn’t have the horses in Florida and will have even fewer if Jeter strips the ballclub, as expected. Mattingly could move north in the near future, especially if the Yankees offer a juicy multi-year contract.

Could Buck Showalter be coming back to the Yankees?

Could Buck Showalter be coming back to the Yankees?

3. Buck Showalter – Anxious to avoid further dealings with Peter Angelos in Baltimore, he’s had success in Arizona, Texas, and the Bronx, as well as ESPN. He’d fit right in with the traditional image of the Yankees but sometimes seems even more uptight than Girardi. Who cares if he never played in the major leagues.

4. Dusty Baker – The former slugging outfielder has managed the Cubs, Reds, Giants, and Nationals with considerable success. Players love him but age (he’s pushing 70) may work against him. Baker is known for his ever-present toothpick and cordial relations with the media.

5. Kevin Long – After finishing a close second to Callaway in the search for the next manager of the Mets, this long-time hitting coach is ready for his first gig as a pilot. He’s won accolades as a hitting coach for both the Yankees and the Mets. But the Yankees probably will want a bigger name in their dugout.

6. Fredi Gonzalez – A Havana native still shy of his 50th birthday, he’s a former catcher who never reached the majors. But he did well as manager of both the Braves and Marlins, who now employ him as third-base coach for Mattingly. Gonzalez is particularly polished with the media and always honest to a fault. But the collapse of his 2011 Braves was one of the worst sudden plunges in baseball history.

7. Hensley Meulens – Known as Bam-Bam when he played third base for the Yankees, he’s been a good hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants. He wants to manage and might get his shot with a less visible team such as the Philadelphia Phillies. Like Gonzalez, he’s bilingual, which helps these days with so many Latinos on every roster. Should he join the Yankees, he just might bring along Dave Righetti, the ex-Yankee closer just relieved as pitching coach in San Francisco.

8. Tony La Russa – This Hall of Fame manager just left his front-office post with the Arizona Diamondbacks and raised eyebrows with the move. An attorney as well as a manager, he’s in his 70s now but certainly has a winning pedigree. He’s won World Series in both leagues, with the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals, and commands respect from players even though his major-league numbers were lower than Donald Trump’s approval ratings.

Would the Yankees turn to Tony La Russa? Credit: George Napolitano)

Would the Yankees turn to Tony La Russa?
Credit: George Napolitano

9. Tony Pena – A Yankees coach under Girardi, this former catcher is well-liked and highly-regarded for his knowledge of the game. But his lack of big-city managerial experience works against him. On the plus side, he’s another member of the bilingual fraternity.

10. John Farrell – If Joe McCarthy could manage the Red Sox and Yankees, why not this guy? He won a World Series in 2013 and has molded a young team into a perennial pennant contender. Farrell is a former pitching coach who also managed the Toronto Blue Jays.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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