On Thursday afternoon, Hal Steinbrenner scratched a name off his 2021 Yankees Managers list, then hurriedly hid the paper within his desk when Aaron Boone knocked on his door asking for some Mentos.
And, as usual, the Yanks’ loss is Derek Jeter and the Marlins‘ gain.
Most fans likely compiled a similar list of options the second the ball nestled in Joey Wendle’s glove at the end of Game 5 of last year’s ALDS, and most of those lists probably included a few fanciful names from across baseball (can we get Bob Melvin?), a few former Yankees with the possible pedigree (David Cone, you interested?) and a couple of absolute wishlist candidates (I’ve heard Jorge Posada more than once).
No matter how the lists varied, most probably included the manager the Yankees let escape at the end of the 2004 season: Don Mattingly, who might’ve been a nice replacement for Joe Torre after the most historic collapse in MLB history. But we digress.
Thursday afternoon, Marlins GM Kim Ng got ahead of a potential offseason issue and picked up Mattingly’s option, removing any doubt about his whereabouts for 2022.
Meanwhile, Aaron Boone sits in the Yankees clubhouse in Seattle, still waiting for the expiration of his option and a potential new deal…somewhere…
Yankees legend Don Mattingly will not be managing the 2022 team.
It’s hard to tell if Mattingly is anything better than a solid manager, and it’s also going to remain unknown forever whether he’d level up with the type of roster talent the Yankees can provide. His records in Los Angeles included two seasons of 92 wins and a 94-win campaign, and he was largely thought of as underwhelming.
Since moving to Miami, he’s rarely been blessed with a win-now roster, but did a phenomenal job coaxing 2020’s version of the Marlins to success, with many more pitching prospects en route to help guide the next steps of the rebuild.
Sure, a team’s only “as athletic” as the personnel on the roster, but Mattingly had last year’s Marlins team playing the type of aggressive baseball most Yankee fans wish they could root for, embodied perfectly in the year-end series between the two teams that sent Miami to the playoffs ahead of schedule.
At the very least, he encourages the type of environment that seems to breed free-wheeling success. From an outsider’s perspective, it does not seem as if the New York Yankees have anyone who voices such things in their locker room.
Melvin still makes sense. Posada? Probably not. Cone certainly seems to hit that sweet spot.
But Mattingly will have one more year, at least, to continue to build that culture in Miami. If it doesn’t work out, his timeline for departure probably won’t align with the Yankees’ hiring process.
Ships in the night, passing once again. Hopefully, the Yanks find a way to correct their course, and don’t end up watching Jazz Chisholm run circles around them while having Mattingly-induced fun doing it.