On Thursday, the worst kept secret in baseball came to fruition -- as the New York Yankees announced the departure of longtime manager Joe Girardi.
In the final year of a prior four-year deal, the franchise had yet to come to an agreement on a contract extension. The writing was simply on the wall for Girardi to eventually move on from his post -- barring a World Series Championship.
Since taking over in 2008, Girardi had a .562 win percentage -- which included a 2009 World Series Title. Girardi took New York to the playoffs six times during his tenure. Most recently, the Yankees lost Game 7 of the ALCS to the Houston Astros. Once the Bronx Bombers bowed out of the playoff picture, it was only a matter of time until the move to bring in a new manager was made official.
Girardi came under fire for his usage of both his bullpen and starting pitchers. A decision to not challenge a clear foul ball versus the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS nearly cost New York the series. As Brian Cashman and the braintrust move forward, it will be interesting to see which direction the Yankees turn.
The team could opt for a figure from the past. Don Mattingly's name would invariably pop up. He's a highly respected and popular figure within the city, and surely understands the unique demands of managing in such a volatile and pressure-filled environment.
Within the same token, first-base coach Tony Pena could be promoted. There's obviously familiarity with the existing roster, and Pena is said to have a strong rapport with the clubhouse.
The aforementioned duo are from an older generation. It's not to say that either can't adapt and evolve with the current climate of the sport, but there's a general thought that Cashman may want to stray away from an antiquated style of managing in favor of one rooted in analytics.
We've seen this formula pay dividends -- as both the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers are arguably tapping into this statistical revolution stronger than any other two clubs.
Alex Cora would've been a nice fit -- though he was recently gobbled up by the rival Boston Red Sox. Given the hype surrounding Cora, there's even a further sense of added pressure in finding a quality manager.
Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez has long been an intriguing option for open vacancies. He's managed under Joe Maddon for the last 11 seasons, and is no stranger to the newer aspects of the game. There could be a race on the clock for his services -- as the Washington Nationals are rumored to be highly interested.
Without a doubt, this is the biggest high-profile position in all of baseball. The future manager will be given every single resource needed to succeed at the grandest level. Duly, the Yankees possess a loaded farm system -- and a litany of elite building blocks -- to utilize.
It will be highly fascinating to see which direction the front office opts for.
Image Source: Bleacher Report