· I assume we will start to get a sense of the direction the Yankees will go in regard to their new manager within the next few days. At least the speculations should end regarding who will get interviewed and the actual interviews will begin to take place. It seems that fans may be surprised by some of the names the Yankees bring forward.
· Earlier I predicted that Tony Pena would be the new manager. With the talk that the Yankees are going to look outside the organization for the new manager, my predication could be incorrect. I’m not sure why the Yankees, or specifically Brian Cashman, would want to start over with a whole new coaching staff and manager when the Yankees seem on the precipice of sustained success. (I do understand that this approach worked in 1996.)
· There are a slew of quality names that could be considered for the Yankees manager position. I am usually not an advocate of just recycling managers from other organizations as they make their circuit through the big leagues. But, that being said, I think the situation with the Yankees is unique. This is a Win-Now team. I think it would be a mistake to bring in a person who has never managed before. The job is bigger than just understanding sabermetrics, putting names in a line-up, and managing a bullpen. In New York, dealing with the media is a huge aspect of the job. Joe Girardi (and Joe Torre before him) did an excellent job keeping the team free from distractions and deflecting the media. A person new to the position and the media could find himself quickly overwhelmed. That could spell disaster.
· Sometimes the new state-of-the-art thinking isn’t so original. Teams right now seem to be hiring young managers without a lot of (or any) experience leading teams. We have seen this in real time this offseason with the hiring of Alex Cora (Red Sox), Mickey Callaway (NY Mets), and Dave Martinez (Washington Nationals). This is also what the Dodgers, Padres, Mariners, White Sox, Astros, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Reds, and others have done in recent years. This seems to be in the mode of “everyone is doing it, we should too.” I am fearful of just following the crowd with this approach. If the Yankees go out and hire a new manager from outside the organization with little to no managerial experience, they are not being cutting edge, they are just following the trend. This seems to be the “in thing” to do. Being a follower isn't always the best practice.
· A lot of “new” thinking is just recycled “old” thinking. If the Yankees hire a young manager with no previous managerial experience, some will write that the Yankees are paving a new path or joining the new trend. In actuality, this has been something the Yankees have done throughout their history – from the start. The following chart is of Yankees managers who were 45 years-old (or younger) and who had no big league managerial experience when they first took the job as Yankees manager.
The idea of hiring a young manager who understanding the “new baseball thinking of today” is as old as the game itself. This is not a new trend or a new way of thinking. It is, rather, how it has been done time and time and time again.
But, very few of those managers above took over a team like this one that was supposed to win immediately:
Ralph Houk did in 1961 and won the World Series. He lasted three seasons.
Yogi Berra did in 1964 and took the team to the World Series. He lost the World Series and was fired.
Dick Howser did in 1980 and took the team to the American League Championship Series. He lost the series and was fired.
Gene Michael did in 1981 and he didn’t last the whole season.
· The bottom line here is that the 2017 Yankees over performed and got within a game of the World Series. Because they over performed, the season was fun and exciting. It was a joy! The expectation, fair or not, for the 2018 Yankees will be a first place finish and the American League pennant. Yankees fans, now excited for a new season for the first time in almost a decade, will not tolerate a poor start, a mediocre team, or a manager that does not seem ready for the job. The manager will play a huge role in the team's approach, identity, and success going forward.