Any day now, the Yankees will make an announcement about the fates of their general manager and manager. One decision is crystal clear, while the other may be more about weighing the pros and cons.
Brian Cashman deserves chance to see transition through
Cashman has reinvented the Yankees' roster model after years of being coerced (or outdone by ownership) to focus on finding star-ladened components to bring a championship to New York. It worked in 2009, but an ever-aging roster began to weigh down the organization. Over time, the Yankees began to realize that something had to change. And the 2016 season gave them the chance.
The GM took the opportunity of the club's lackluster performance in the first half of the 2016 season to sell at the trade deadline and instantly lifted an already prospering farm system into one of the best in the game. The focus was clear, the Yankees were going to concentrate on building around athletic youths with complementary veterans. Better, they were also going to be competitive insofar as the message that the World Series was the goal.
The 50-year-old Cashman's work began before the ability to sell courtesy of solid draft picks, international signings, and the trades to acquire Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, and Aaron Hicks. Further, Cashman shined when it was evident the Yankees could compete in 2017. Cashman twirled magic by acquiring Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, and David Robertson, and then Sonny Gray. Sure, there was talent sent away, but Cashman had an abundance of players jammed in certain areas and 40-man roster cuts that lay ahead.
Cashman has demonstrated that he can create a roster and an organization that can be sustained from each angle -- the farm system, internationally, by trade and free agency. He has won in the past using the brute force of spending and is now utilizing the method of one of his predecessors in Gene Michael, who helped orchestrate the dynasty of the 1990s and early-2000s.
During his tenure with the Yankees, Cashman has proven he is unafraid of the big move, he'll gamble on players ready to take a step in the right role, and he has made all the correct moves where it concerns holding onto minor leaguers that will make a significant impact at the big league level -- specifically Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino.
Cashman could win executive of the year honors in 2017 and he's the man to see this group of players to the organization's 28th World Series title and maybe more.
For better or worse, if Joe Girardi wants to stay, he'll stay
While Cashman looks to be a lock for a new contract, Girardi's future seems a little less certain.
Some of that has to do with Girardi himself. He let it be known several times during the postseason that he would have to discuss the situation with his family.
There were times during the middle of the season that it seemed Girardi had endured his fill of the role after 10 years at the helm. This became magnified when an indecision seemed destined to seal his fate with the club.
For all the bullpen misjudgments -- of which there were many more than usual this season -- Girardi's choice to not review whether Lonnie Chisenhall was hit by a pitch in Game 2 of the ALDS was easily going to go down as the worst managerial (in)decision of his career.
Fortunately for Girardi, the Yankees players bailed him out. In fact, they rallied around their manager and won three straight games against the Indians to advance to the ALCS. Player support says a lot. Girardi's players went on the record that they backed their manager and he's received much of the same from players about their desire to see him return to the Bronx in 2018.
Girardi understands the goal to win a championship and strives for the same. While we can disagree with some of his in-game and game-to-game strategy -- namely pitching decisions and lineup development -- there is no denying that he cares. Girardi was outwardly downtrodden after the ALDS Game 2 loss and equally excited after the Yankees dug out of the huge hole.
He still relies too heavily on analytics, but he's been slightly better at reading the scene in front of him. He is not perfect at it by any means -- there were multiple second-guess decisions made in the postseason -- but he is trying to find a balance.
Girardi has trust issues at times, but even the loyalty aspects that hindered his deployment of players has improved. He would flat out resort to the washed up veterans for years, but at times in 2017, he went in the other direction and vanquished players with years more experience (Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Holliday in the playoffs, for example).
Finally, the question besides whether Girardi fits or not is, who would be better? The pickings of experienced managers are slim. Would the Yankees be comfortable handing the job to a manager within the minor league system or any of the current coaches working under Girardi? Sometimes, the man you know is better than assuming someone else will be better.
The sense is that the Yankees feel the same way. It is difficult to argue otherwise. In the end, the money aspects -- Girardi may desire $6 million annually to get to the top of the manager pay level in the game -- will work themselves out if both sides want the union to continue.
However, we need to keep one thing in mind. If Girardi returns, he will be on the clock. The Yankees have not fired a manager in-season since Bucky Dent in 1990, but if they do not nail down a World Series title in the next couple of seasons, the club could make an exception.
Despite his flaws, Girardi is best for the managerial role. He'll get a full-blown chance to show he can help nurture a flourishing young team that showed they had the mettle to win to a title.