As I have previously written, with Joe Girardi you get the tactical-edge seeking of Billy Martin, the ensured preparedness of Buck Showalter, and, the politically correct demeanor of Joe Torre – all rolled into one. There’s really not much more that you can ask a manager to have, in my opinion, in terms of skills and talent.
Don Mattingly has some assets to consider, as well, of course. He’s been well schooled in the game. His work ethic is off-the-charts. He’s respected in the Yankees clubhouse as well as around the game. And, he’s a living Yankees icon.
However, there’s one thing to consider that separates Mattingly and Girardi, now, in terms of which one the Yankees should have run their team in 2008.
Outside of this opportunity with the Yankees, no other current major league team would currently consider Don Mattingly as someone who they would want to manage their team. It’s not a knock on Donnie – it’s just a fact that (probably) every other team in baseball would not consider him ready, at this point, to be a viable candidate to lead their club.
To be candid, the reason why the Yankees are considering Don Mattingly now is because he’s “Don Mattingly” and he has “Yankees” running through his veins.
Joe Girardi, on the other hand, has been sought out by other franchises, in the past, to see if he would be interested in managing their team. And, there’s great reason to believe that, should he be available, clubs will continue to have a strong interest in having Girardi lead their team.
Brass tacks, today, Joe Girardi is an “A+/A-” managerial prospect at this junction whereas Don Mattingly is a “C+/B-” managerial prospect in the eyes of organizations other than the Yankees.
Think of it this way: Joe Girardi is “Joba Chamberlain” and Don Mattingly is “Tyler Clippard.” Sure, in the end, maybe Clippard turns out to have a better career as a pitcher than Chamberlain – you never know in baseball. But, right now, in terms of rolling the dice, and picking one hurler over the other, you’re going to choose Chamberlain based on the demonstrations of his talents to date.
This is why the Yankees should choose Joe Girardi now to be their next manager. It’s no slap at Mattingly – it’s just that Joe is further along in terms of his skipper “attractiveness” (for lack of a better team) than Donnie – among objective baseball circles outside of Yankeeland.
Maybe this all changes in one or two years? Maybe it doesn’t? But, for now, it’s a fact – many teams recognize Girardi as having the potential to be a great manager and only the Yankees consider Mattingly as someone who could be their next manager.
At some point, the Yankees have to look at this and ask themselves “Who do I want to run my business, the valedictorian who was voted most likely to succeed, or, the dude next-door that I’ve known for the last 18 years, who’s not afraid of hard work, and who has always been a buddy?”
It’s a tough question because, in the end, it’s a call that’s between your head and your heart. Translated to the Yankees, their heart probably tells them “Mattingly” whereas their head should tell them “Girardi.”
Follow your head, Yankees, and hire Joe Girardi.