Because the Cubs fired Dale Sveum, there is an appealing opening for Yankees manager and pending free agent Joe Girardi. In addition to the Cubs, the Nationals job is open and would also hold great attraction to Girardi. He has multiple options. Let’s look at the pros and cons of Girardi’s possible locations.
New York Yankees
Pros: He’s been there for six years, is liked and respected and has had nothing but success even in the most trying of circumstances. In spite of the Yankees’ age and self-enacted payroll constraints of $189 million for 2014, they’re eventually going to spend to win again and Girardi will be in position to run the club when they do. No rational fan is going to blame him for 2013 and the possibility of a worse 2014, so he’s essentially managing with house money.
Another important factor regarding the $189 million limit for 2013 is that it doesn’t apply to the manager’s paycheck. Girardi just finished a three year contract and is well within his rights to ask for $13 million over the next three years. The Yankees can pay him more than any other team.
Cons: The job is incredibly stressful. From the beginning of spring training when Girardi is tanned and looks physically capable of going back on the field at age 49 to the end of the season, he appears to be someone who’s just gotten out of solitary confinement in prison. There would be pressure in Washington or Chicago, but not like there is in New York.
The Yankees are old and the foundation is decaying. He’ll have to handle the difficult transition of a fading Derek Jeter and possibly have to usher in a position change and limited playing time for the Yankees’ captain. There are few big league-ready prospects on the horizon and the free agent market is thin with clubs choosing to sign their young stars to long-term deals rather than let them get out onto the open market to be lured by Yankee bucks. There’s a chance he could be signing up for three years of fourth place or worse.
Pros: They’re loaded with talent and will be trying to redeem themselves after their disappointing 2013 campaign. The innings limits on all their important pitchers – Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman – are gone. They have a deep bullpen, a loaded lineup and are in an attractive venue of Washington D.C. where, if he wins, Girardi can emerge as a powerbroker and a potential political candidate if he chooses to go that way. He’d win immediately and one thing that team needs is the seriousness and discipline that Girardi will instill.
Cons: Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo is hands-on. The Strasburg rules came from him and while Girardi is accustomed to that kind of interference from the front office, why should he leave the Yankees for less money when he knows the parameters in New York and doesn’t know if he’d get along with Rizzo.
Rizzo had problems with Jim Riggleman, who resigned. He had problems with Davey Johnson, who’s retiring. Girardi isn’t one to back down from a fight as exhibited from his time as a rookie manager with the Marlins, won Manager of the Year and got fired because he stood up to the tyrannical Jeffrey Loria. It could be a toxic situation.
Pros: They have a lot of young talent on the way. Girardi is from Illinois, went to school at Northwestern and was a popular player for the Cubs. The Cubs’ front office is procuring a lot of good players and the organization has money to spend. There probably won’t be a demand that he win immediately and the atmosphere will be far easier than it is in New York.
Cons: The front office led by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer is notorious for shifting blame away from themselves when things don’t go according to their plan. Sveum took the brunt of that this time and Epstein gave an excuse-laden statement in which he takes the blame himself, but doesn’t have to face any punishment as the manager did. Girardi took some input from the front office with the Yankees, but for the most part was left to his own devices. The Cubs aren’t going to work that way. They might give some freedom as Epstein did with Terry Francona, but in the end Girardi will have to take orders if it’s a front office decision he disagrees with.
Money is another factor. The Cubs will pay him well, but they won’t come anywhere close to what the Yankees will pay him.
Girardi has a wide open door. The best situation talent wise is the Nats. The best situation with ties to his past is the Cubs. The best situation for him right now is probably the Yankees and it would be in his interests to ignore the sweet nothings that are sure to be whispered in his ear and simply stay where he is.