Assuming MLB gives them permission, the Yankees will probably announce their next manager tomorrow. The team has conducted three interviews and according to Hank “Liitle Stein” Steinbrenner, that’s all they plan on doing. So, let’s take a look at the three candidates.
First up there is the long shot, Tony Pena. Pena joined the Yankees two seasons ago as Joe Torre’s first base coach, but his biggest impact was on Jorge Posada. Under Pena’s tutelage, Posada became a much better defensive catcher and just came off of his best offensive season. Pena managed before in Kansas City and actually coached them to a winning season in 2003. He is well liked throughout the clubhouse and could stick around as bench coach if he doesn’t get the job.
If Pena doesn't get it, the job will come down to two candidates, Joe Girardi and Don Mattingly and it would be a shock if Mattingly didn’t get it. Girardi has the better resume, having managed in Florida in 2006 and winning the NL Manager Of The Year award. He is considered organized and a solid baseball tactician, but, he is not “Donnie Baseball”. His number is not part of Monument Park and he did not amass 2,153 hits as a Yankee. Mattingly is easily the most-popular Yankee and after running Joe Torre out of town, the Yankees will be desperate to regain some goodwill from their fans.
But, Mattingly comes with his own red flags. He has never managed before and his hiring sets up the immediate question of how, whenever that day arrives, would you get rid of him as manager? The Yankees lost Yogi Berra for years when they fired him in 1985 and it certainly sounds like Joe Torre won’t be back anytime soon. The Yankees probably aren’t thinking about it now, but as we have learned, everything ends and if they hire Mattingly, let’s hope they figure out a way to gracefully part ways with him someday.
Photo of Don Mattingly with a lineup card in a May game by AP/Ed Betz