ORLANDO, Fla. — A World Series title would not have been enough to save Joe Girardi.
In his first public comments since the Yankees parted with Girardi after 10 years as manager, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said Wednesday that his call would have been to move on, regardless of how the postseason ended.
“I felt like my decision was my decision,” Steinbrenner said shortly after arriving for the owners’ meetings. “I’m sure there would have been more pressure, it maybe would have been a more difficult decision to make, but I still believe I would have made it because I felt that’s what’s best for the organization going forward.”
The more Steinbrenner talked, the more it was obvious it wasn’t a case of his simply acting on Cashman’s recommendation to get a new manager. “I wasn’t following his recommendation,” Steinbrenner said. “I agreed with it.”
Though Steinbrenner didn’t get into specific reasons, he echoed what Cashman has said: that with a young team, the franchise thought having a better communicator was best. And it wasn’t a concern that popped up suddenly in 2017.
“(Cashman) and I have had conversations throughout the years,” Steinbrenner said. “This is not something that came from two or three weeks, it came from two, three, four years and everything we observed in that time period.
“I think you’ve got to consider that you have a young team and that maybe a different type of leadership, perhaps, is needed for a younger team than it is for a veteran team.”
Steinbrenner mentioned other qualities he’d like.
“It’s important for the next manager to have an understanding of analytics because it’s such a big part of the game, and if they don’t, at least a willingness to learn,” he said. “But again, everybody’s going to have their pros and cons. Nobody’s going to have all positives. Just going to be a long process of sifting through all the intel.”
The process will continue Thursday and Friday when Aaron Boone and Hensley Meulens are expected to interview. Chris Woodward, the Dodgers’ third-base coach, also has emerged as a candidate. Only Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson and Eric Wedge, the former manager of the Indians and Mariners, have interviewed.
Steinbrenner isn’t hurrying the process. He said he and his family won’t get involved until the field is whittled to the final two or three candidates and they are invited to Tampa for another round of interviews.
“I’m not rushing (Cashman), I’m not rushing the people under him because again, these are pretty extensive interviews and there’s going to be more than one round,” Steinbrenner said. “We have not talked about any kind of timetable.”
Steinbrenner said he expects there will be “less than 10” interviewees. After being asked an obligatory Alex Rodriguez question, he said he doesn’t anticipate it to include the retired third baseman. A-Rod, who serves as a special adviser to Steinbrenner, was paid $21 million in the final year of his 10-year, $275-million contract. The owner is interested in a continued role for Rodriguez, who toward the end of his career was a clubhouse leader and mentored many young Yankees.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him, he actually texted me today,” Steinbrenner said. “I’d love to have him involved in spring training, love to have him involved with whatever instructional leagues we have if we can agree that he wants to be here and we can make it so.”