Joe Girardi has been the Yankees’ manager since 2008 and won the World Series in 2009. However, the Yankees of late have not played up to expectations. The team missed the playoffs last year and are on pace to do the same in 2014. Some say Girardi is the only reason the Yankees have played as well as they have, while others say he is the reason they are out of the playoff race again. Whichever side you are on, you have to know the Yankees will evaluate the merit of bringing Girardi back for the 2015 season. He signed a 4-year, $16 million dollar deal after the 2013 season, making the situation more difficult.
Assuming for one moment, the Yankees look to make a move for a new manager this off-season, a few names come to mind. There’s Don Mattingly, who is excelling over in Los Angeles. There is Dusty Baker who was most recently fired from the Reds. Lastly there is Lou Piniella, who last managed for the Chicago Cubs in 2010. There are dozens of other options, but these are the three that most will talk about. Mattingly, despite contract issues, is winning in Los Angeles, and will continue to do so in the next few years. Talking about him coming to the Yankees is nearly a moot point. Dusty Baker is definitely a viable choice among many. However, his old-school stance on both starting pitchers and disregarding on base percentage may dissuade the Yankees’ front office from bringing him in.
Piniella, while being out of the baseball dugout for a few years, left managing to care for his elderly mother. After she passed away in 2012, Piniella has returned to the game in smaller facets including working as an analyst for the YES Network. The Yankees have strong pieces in its dugout. For one reason or another, they are not clicking. Injuries have been devastating this year, including most of the pitching staff. It may not be fair to Girardi, but for a $200M-plus team to not make the playoffs two years in a row is unacceptable.
Moving to Piniella would be an improvement for both the fans and for team morale. Piniella is a fireball. He is known for some of the greatest managerial outbursts in recent MLB history. He says what is on his mind and does not mince words. He comes from the famed Billy Martin managerial tree. This is a stark contrast from Girardi, who rarely gets into arguments and is usually too calm with the media. Piniella did what he could with a $30 million dollar per year payroll in Tampa, and led the Cubs to the best record in the National League in 2008 with 97 wins. The Cubs went from winning 65 games in 2006 with Piniella to winning 85 in 2007 and 97 in 2008. There are always other elements involved, but the influence of Piniella is certainly reflected in those records.
Piniella has been loved in New York since he played for the team for 11 seasons and won the 1977 and 1978 World Series. Sweet Lou has served in two previous stints as Yankees’ skipper, as well as in the general manager’s office. He is a constant at Old Timers Day and is very comfortable being associated with the Yankees.
Bringing in a new face for managerial duties needs to be on the long list of changes the Yankees go through this off-season. Seeing Lou Piniella in that dugout everyday would energize the team and the city, hopefully bringing them to a 2015 playoff berth and World Series.