COMMENTARY | New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi is most definitely not on the hot seat.
Rather, after leading the battered Bronx Bombers to an 85-77 and a tie for third place in the American League East in 2013, Girardi would appear to be in the catbird's seat.
The Cubs fired manager Dale Sveum on Monday and multiple sources have reported their interest in the guy whom Jeffrey Loria fired as manager of the Florida Marlins after Girardi won National League Manager of the Year honors in his only season the helm in 2006.
Girardi is 564-408 in six years in New York with a World Series title in 2009. But he might have done his best managing job with the Yankees this year, despite finishing with the franchise's worst record since 1992.
There may be other teams wanting in the mix as well. The New York Post reported Friday that the Yankees won't allow any other potential suitors to talk to Girardi before Nov. 1, the date his contract with the club officially expires. The Washington Nationals are reportedly interested in talking to Girardi, according to the Post, and David Kaplan of CSN Chicago tweeted Friday morning that the Cincinnati Reds, who fired Dusty Baker on Friday, might also put a call in seeking permission to speak to Girardi.
Girardi was born in Peoria, Ill., and went to college at Northwestern, located in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. He was later drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round in 1986, made his major league debut as a player for the Cubs in 1989, and spent a total of seven seasons, in two separate stints, playing home games at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
But he also spent four years as a Yankee, earning three World Series rings in the process (1996, 1998-99).
Girardi told the Daily News last weekend that since the death of his father in 2012, he doesn't have a lot of family left in Chicago.
"There's not as much there as there used to be," Girardi said.
Girardi is finishing up a three-year deal valued at $9 million and would appear to be due a substantial raise. But the Post reported that the Yankees are believed to be offering somewhere in the neighborhood of three years and $13 million, well short of the $7 million per year former Yankees manager Joe Torre was paid.
The highest-paid manager in baseball is Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels, who receives $5 million a year. Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers makes $4 million. So the Yankees' rumored offer would move Girardi to near the head of the class when it comes to managerial paychecks.
It also makes sense, however, for the Yankees to hold other teams at bay for the remainder of this month. Letting other teams negotiate with Girardi would only strengthen his negotiating power, so if the Bombers can get a deal done before the Cubs or any other potential suitor even gets a chance to sit down with the manager, so much the better from the team's perspective.
Girardi hasn't always been a popular manager among fans, either those for or against the Yankees. Yankee fans can find him somewhat detached (hey, if you watched Billy Martin manage a team, a raving lunatic might seem sedate by comparison). Opposing fans will always carry the belief that a trained chimpanzee could manage the Yankees because of the size of the club's payroll.
So it's sort of a no-win gig. Or at least it was until 2013, when Girardi led a battered bunch of misfits, has-beens and career who-dats to 85 wins and kept them in contention for a playoff berth until the final week.
Is Joe Girardi on the hot seat? Far from it. Instead, he might be negotiating from the best seat in the house.
Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who covers the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Nets and New York Giants for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of brewers101.com and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.
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