Two winters ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers allowed Don Mattingly to leave after five seasons managing the team. Then, as baseball’s annual managerial carousel turned, the Dodgers patiently and meticulously interviewed candidates in search of their ideal man. They wound up with Dave Roberts, who won Manager of the Year in his first season and reached the World Series in his second.
Now, the New York Yankees have the winter’s lone remaining managerial vacancy, and with no competition for candidates, general manager Brian Cashman and company are taking their time filling it. Two and a half weeks after letting Joe Girardi walk away, the Yankees still don’t have a manager and do not seem particularly close to settling on one. Cashman told reporters Sunday that he was putting the whole process on pause until after this week’s general manager meetings.
And although it may seem odd for the Yankees to move so slowly after the Red Sox, Mets, Phillies, Tigers and Nationals all filled their vacancies promptly, such deliberateness can only benefit the process. For one thing, managers are reasonably important and fairly difficult to get rid of. If you rush into a decision, you may end up with buyer’s remorse awfully quickly. For another thing, consider the reported candidates:
- Rob Thomson, the Yankees bench coach for the past three seasons, was the first to interview and figures to be the favored internal candidate. At age 54, he is the oldest potential manager reportedly in play and one of the most experienced. However, he has never managed at the Major-League level.
- Eric Wedge, who has previously helmed the Indians and Mariners, has interviewed as well. He is the only significant candidate with previous managerial experience, though his .478 career winning percentage won’t wow anyone.
- Hensley Meulens, the Giants bench coach, will reportedly get an interview. He came up with the Yankees, is well regarded in the game and speaks five languages. It is difficult to evaluate him fully, however, because he, like many of his counterparts, has never been an MLB manager.
- Aaron Boone, a Yankee hero, has also emerged as a leading candidate. He currently serves as an ESPN analyst and has no managerial or coaching history.
- David Cone, another former Yankee, has indicated he “wouldn’t turn down an interview,” and given his relative comfort with advanced stats and his knowledge of the team nurtured in his role as a YES Network analyst, he could be a natural fit. But he also has no managerial or even coaching experience.
- John Flaherty, who also played for the Yankees and works for YES, has expressed his interest in the job. Again, he has no managerial or coaching experience.
- Carlos Beltran, who just retired Monday, has already expressed interest in the job, and Cashman declined to rule him out. Beltran also played for the Yankees, so he’s got that going for him, but given that he’s been retired less than 24 hours, it’s safe to say he has no managerial experience.
The point is, we can’t possibly know whether any of these guys will make for good managers because all except one is inexperienced, and that one was a relative failure. None of those guys jumps out as an obvious choice or a can’t-fail hire. They all come with ample resumes but also plenty of reason for doubt, and the differences between them are probably not discernible on paper. In order to really figure out who is the best fit, Cashman needs to confer with others around baseball, interview each of them at length and think hard about what his team needs in a manager. The quicker you accelerate the process, the greater chance for surprises later on.
By waiting a while to dismiss Girardi, the Yankees missed out on appealing managerial candidates such as Alex Cora, Mickey Callaway and Dave Martinez. But now that they’re the only team looking for a manager, they have the luxury of patience. If they make this decision carefully and thoughtfully and wind up with the perfect fit, they won’t need to search for a manager again for a long time.