Citing a lack of “connectivity and the communication” with players, as well as stating a desire for “a new voice and a fresh voice” in the clubhouse, Brian Cashman on Monday explained why Joe Girardi no longer is the Yankees’ manager after 10 years.
Though the general manager said during a nearly hour-long conference call with reporters that “there was not one circumstance” that led him to recommend to owner Hal Steinbrenner that Girardi not be brought back, one theme repeatedly came up.
“The issue and the concerns were what I alluded to earlier, which was ability to fully engage, communicate, connect with the playing personnel,” he said.
In what was an odd bit of timing, a Girardi interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN overlapped much of Cashman’s conference call.
Girardi, who led the Yankees to ALCS Game 7 against the eventual World Series champion Astros, did not agree with Cashman’s assessment.
“From a standpoint of having a relationship issue, there were none,” Girardi told Francesa. “And if there was, I really don’t know about it. And I don’t think my head is that far in the sand.”
Cashman did dispute reports that said he had a frayed relationship with Girardi and that the manager didn’t completely embrace the analytical direction just about every franchise is headed in.
“The working relationship was always good,” Cashman said. “I’ve seen a lot of things that Joe wasn’t as analytical as we wanted him to be. I would say that’s not accurate, either.”
Cashman indicated several times that after 10 years in the pressure cooker that is the Yankees job, Girardi’s “shelf life” may have been up, something that might have kept him from connecting with a clubhouse filled with “a young, energetic group of talented personnel.”
“Over time, I felt that we were still in the same situation as we were just shortly there before when we had the veterans,” Cashman said of the club’s recent transition from veteran-laden to youth. “Once that cleared out, I felt we had a new opportunity to re-engage and reconnect and have channels maybe open up a little bit easier. When I saw that that wasn’t happening to the level I think was necessary as we move forward, that’s when the recommendation came by myself to Hal Steinbrenner.”
So as the franchise’s first manager search in 10 years begins, are the kinds of communication skills Cashman found lacking in Girardi the No. 1 criteria?
“It’s one attribute of many,” Cashman said. “Certainly, some have more weight than others.”
The GM said he did not make the recommendation regarding Girardi with a list of possible replacements in mind. While declining to mention specific criteria of what he’s looking for, he knows finding the right fit won’t be easy. “There’s no perfect person that checks every box, I don’t care whether they’re in that Hall of Famer category or what have you,” he said. “They’re going to check certain boxes and not others.”
Cashman said he enters the process “open-minded,” meaning he’s willing to talk to candidates of any age, both with and without managerial experience, and won’t be limited to candidates he knows personally.
“Whether I have a relationship or not with the candidate pool is not going to be the driving force behind the decision,” he said. “Who best fits the present state of the franchise is in [will]. Hopefully that will become self-aware during this interview process. We have been doing a lot of research on a lot of people as we try to narrow down that list and laser focus on who we really want to talk to. I don’t want to do courtesy interviews.”
Although the Yankees are the only team without a manager, Cashman said he doesn’t have a timetable in mind. “The most important aspect of it is the steps we take rather than the time frame that we take it,” he said.
Still, he added, “We’re on the clock, and we know that.”