Cash wants Girardi back; his contract is a priority

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi watches from

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi watches from the dugout in the fifth inning of Game 6 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers Friday, Oct. 22, 2010, in Arlington, Texas. (Credit: AP)

ARLINGTON, Texas - Brian Cashman didn't leave any room for misinterpretation.

Does he want Joe Girardi to return as manager? "Yes, absolutely,'' the general manager said.

Girardi, like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, will be a free agent; 2010 is the final year of the original three-year, $7.5-million contract he signed in October 2007 to replace Joe Torre.

Cashman, speaking to the media minutes after the Yankees' ALCS Game 6 loss to the Rangers that eliminated the defending champions, said he expects Girardi's situation to be dealt with before anyone else's.

"I would think that will be the first order of business,'' Cashman said. "But again, I haven't even talked to our owners yet, so once I get a chance to talk to them, we'll set up a time frame, a schedule, and go from there.''

Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner released a statement after Game 6 and congratulated the Rangers on their victory. The statement didn't mention Girardi, but that probably wasn't a bad thing. Although Hal Steinbrenner is very different from his father, George Steinbrenner's statements after postseason losses in the Joe Torre era typically contained a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, tweak of the manager.

Girardi, whose Yankees did not reach the playoffs in his first season but won the World Series in his second, as of now has the right allies in the organization. He is well-liked by Steinbrenner and Cashman, and an ALCS loss isn't likely to change that.

Fans and media discussed at length some of Girardi's decisions that backfired - such as intentionally walking Josh Hamilton five times in the series and going to a struggling David Robertson to replace Phil Hughes in Game 6 - but Cashman said he doesn't have any issues with those calls.

"No, I wouldn't say Joe had a bad series,'' Cashman said. "You have to make decisions and they're either going to work or they're not.''

On the intentional walks, Cashman said the strategy was sound. "I have no problem with that. Hamilton's been dominating us,'' he said. "He obviously is, just like our guy Robby Cano, he's an MVP candidate for good reason.''

Girardi figures to get a significant raise from his original contract. Any leverage he might have had, however, disappeared when the Cubs - who many figured would at least reach out to the Illinois native after the season - took "interim'' away from Mike Quade's title and made him the manager.

Girardi repeatedly said during the season that he was happy with his contract situation. He may have more to say on the matter when he meets with reporters early this week, but that wasn't the case late Friday night.

"No,'' he said, "that's not a concern of mine right now.''

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