The New York Yankees took a page from Washington’s book, opting not to bring back their veteran manager due to a lack of postseason success. Joe Girardi took the Baby Bombers all the way to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, but it wasn’t enough to convince the front office that he was the man for the job.
Dusty Baker is out of a job in D.C. and the Nats’ brass is back on the managerial search for the fourth time in six years. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Thursday that Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez and Mets hitting coach Kevin Long are leading candidates for the job.
That was published, however, just before Girardi announced New York wouldn’t be bringing him back for next season. While Heyman says the Nats are “hoping to have a new skipper in the week after the World Series,” they’d be well-served to interview Girardi for the job.
Girardi first stepped into a managerial role in 2006, leading the Florida Marlins to an unlikely 78-win season and garnering NL Manager of the Year honors. A strained relationship with owner Jeffrey Loria prompted the Marlins to fire him after that season. The Yankees picked him up in ’08 and he’s served as skipper ever since, making six playoff appearances and winning it all in 2009.
The now-former manager and Yankees GM Brian Cashman had a strained relationship, which likely played a role in the decision to let him go. Girardi isn’t a big fan of the media and disagreed with the front office over player personnel decisions. He also has mentioned wanting to spend more time with his family, something that he’ll certainly have more time for now that he’s out of a job.
The biggest factors standing in the Nats’ way of reigning Girardi in is how high his preferred salary would be and the circus that has surrounded the job since Manny Acta was fired midway through the 2009 season.
Girardi was paid an average of $4 million per year over the last four seasons, while Baker had an annual salary of $2 million during his tenure with Washington. At 52 years old, however, he probably won’t be looking for a long-term deal and could agree to the Nats’ classic two-year offer. The team’s spring training facility is also close to Girardi’s home in Florida.
As for the position’s uncertainty, the team is already in win-now mode, which makes the job attractive for Girardi in the sense that it very well could win the World Series next year if things go according to plan. Past managers have been let go for their inability to make it past the NLDS, but Girardi has appeared in a championship series four different times in his managerial career.
It’s clear that whoever does end up with the job will be expected to add some hardware in Washington. The team has been one of the best regular season teams in the sport over the past six seasons, but has been unable to shake its postseason demons. While Martinez and Long are certainly attractive candidates, neither has ever been an MLB manager — never mind a World Series-winning one.
Davey Johnson is the only manager in Nats history to take over the job with a World Series championship already under his belt, but his came all the way back in 1986. The game has changed, and Girardi has shown the ability to succeed in this era. If he’s willing to take the job, the Nationals should do everything they can to sign him.