Yankees general manager Brian Cashman held a lengthy conference call Monday, and stated that he did not have a list of candidates for the club's managerial opening. However, a bevy of names have been tossed around since the moment Joe Girardi was said to be departing, with one of the most mentioned internal options being Jay Bell.
Bell, an 18-year MLB veteran, was a two-time All-Star and won the Silver Slugger Award for National League shortstops in 1993. Bell hit .265 in his career with 195 home runs and a 101 OPS+. He was also a key member of the Arizona Diamondbacks team that won the 2001 World Series over the Yankees.
Bell spent the 2017 season managing the Yankees' High-A affiliate in Tampa. He guided his squad to an impressive 85-50 record, winning both halves of the division's regular season crown, but they were eliminated by Dunedin in the league playoffs. Bell's efforts earned him the Florida State League's Manager of the Year Award. Now, he is currently the skipper of the Arizona Fall League's Scottsdale Scorpions, whose roster has eight Yankees prospects.
Bell, unlike Josh Paul, another internal candidate we recently profiled, has some dugout coaching experience with MLB clubs. He most recently served as the Cincinnati Reds bench coach from 2014-15 after handling hitting coach duties for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013. Bell interviewed for the Diamondbacks' managerial position in 2014, but was not considered a finalist for the role despite serving as Arizona's bench coach from 2005-06.
Bell is considered a solid analytical baseball mind, and by many accounts, has the ability to connect with younger players. This is of utmost concern to Cashman as he mentioned much of the reasoning behind moving on from Girardi was the former skipper's issues with "connectivity and communication levels" with some of the players.
The 51-year-old is just two years younger than Girardi, but Cashman put to rest the notion that the Yankees new manager had to be a younger individual. Not that Bell is old, but he is nine years Paul's senior, and several years older than a couple of the most linked outside candidates in Raul Ibanez (45) and Jerry Hairston Jr (41).
Cashman explained, "…there is no person that checks all the boxes," however he did lay out some of the key factors the organization will covet.
He also stated that besides being able to connect with the players, in-game decision making, preparation for those decisions, being receptive to pro scouting reports and the analytics provided the manager, the ability to understand the training/medical staff's recommendations, and being able to make the tough decisions where it concerns playing time would be important elements.
Cashman also noted that the new manager should have fresh ideas. Some may believe that precludes internal candidates, but in Bell's case, his being with the organization for just one season does not make him part of the "old guard." Considering Bell has coached in four different organizations and played with five clubs, he's gained a wealth of knowledge from a wide variety of managers over the years. Out of those experiences, he has been able to create his own version of how to manage a ball club.
Of the candidates whose names have come up most often to this point, it seems to me that Bell fits the mold more than others. He carries a reputation to get through to young players, and demonstrated he can guide them evidenced by his performance as the Tampa Yankees' manager. Bell's analytical propensities and his recently garnered familiarity with the Yankees' way of reading the numbers, plus utilizing them to create lineups and manage a pitching staff must provide an advantage over candidates outside the organization.
Bell checks a lot of boxes, but are they the ones Cashman weighs among the most important?