Joe Girardi is out as the manager of the New York Yankees after nine solid seasons at the helm, one of which (2009) saw the Bronx Bombers win a World Series title. It’s not entirely surprising as he was in the final year of his four year, $16 million dollar deal and there was some speculation that he might walk at season’s end anyway.
Still, it is somewhat jarring to see a guy cut loose after such a long period of success and falling just short of advancing to the World Series. Girardi would’ve returned in 2018 to helm a ball club that is absolutely brimming with young talent and possibilities. Perhaps the Yankees, noting signs of burnout from Girardi, went ahead and made the decision for him. Whoever the next guy is, it’s going to be hard for them to fail surrounded by that pinstriped cast of characters.
Perhaps they go the young route, seeking to match up their vibrant core’s energy with a fresh face, a Gabe Kapler type. Or maybe they want someone even more seasoned then Girardi, and who would fit that bill more then the recently available Dusty Baker?
Or, perhaps, they want to give one of their legends a second chance. A man who was a finalist for the Yankees managerial position in 2007 before ceding it to Girardi. Someone who was already a coach in New York’s system, a player who was the Yankees’ team captain for five seasons before giving way to Derek Jeter upon retirement.
Yes, that would be current Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
Mattingly hasn’t logged the most sterling of results in his two years with the Marlins, but still checks in with an overall 602-530 record thanks in large part to five solid seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Would the Yankees be interested in a reunion?
Mattingly remains under contract with the Marlins for two more seasons, and Derek Jeter would have to be willing to release him ala John Farrell with the Blue Jays and Red Sox a few years back. Given that Jeter looked up to Mattingly as a mentor in his early playing days and took instruction from him as a coach later in his career, one would speculate that Jeter values the working relationship, so it’s hard to see many scenarios where Jeter would willingly let Mattingly go at this juncture.
Only one comes to mind, in fact. The availability of a guy Jeter had an even closer relationship with, his long-time ex-manager, Joe Girardi.
Girardi, you might recall, was already manager of the Marlins, going 78-84 with the Fish and was awarded the National League Manager of the Year Award for his efforts in guiding a team to relative respectability with an infinitesimal payroll. He was fired at season’s end due to his frequent clashes with Jeffrey Loria, took a year off to become a broadcaster for the YES network, and then became the Yankees manager, until today.
Would he consider coming back to the Marlins? If Loria were still around, then no, of course not. But now that his old running buddy Derek Jeter is at the helm, it’s not entirely out of the question.
With Girardi in hand, Jeter could allow Mattingly to return to his old stomping rounds, which undoubtedly remains a dream for Donnie Baseball. A veritable win-win for both ball clubs.
If Girardi is truly “burnt-out,” however, he’s more likely to want to take a year or two off, go back to broadcasting perhaps, then see what’s out there as far as managerial gigs go. Further, there are more enticing jobs out there right now (the Washington Nationals, potentially Philadelphia Phillies depending how how far along you feel they are) then what the Marlins have to offer, who are going into at least a partial rebuild. It’s not to say that Jeter wouldn’t come calling down the line when he does have a team he thinks can get to the post-season, though.
Meanwhile, if the Yankees come calling for Mattingly’s services, it puts Jeter in the awkward position of having to rebuff the only other organization he’s ever known, a place he called home for more then twenty years, while denying a man he holds immense respect for a chance at his (presumed) dream job. And for what? So Mattingly can hold down the fort for another couple of seven, eight below .500 Marlins teams?
Maybe Joe Girardi isn’t coming to the Marlins (yet), but if the Yankees want Don Mattingly, it seems likely that all they would have to do is ask.