It looks like any day now we are finally going to learn who, among the six candidates interviewed for the Yankee managerial job, was the one who most blew the socks off Brian Cashman.
After practicing his rappelling from the Landmark Building in Stamford, Conn. for the annual Lights and Heights Christmas event Sunday, Cashman said Friday he has closed the doors on further interviews and is ready to make his recommendation to Yankees general partner Hal Steinbrenner from among Aaron Boone, Hensley Meulens, Carlos Beltran, Eric Wedge, Rob Thomson and Chris Woodward for the successor to Joe Girardi. It appears Cashman has already made up his mind so — unless Hal has his own favorite that differs from his GM’s — an official announcement will likely come sometime early next week.
Based on sourced information from how all the interviews went down, it appears Boone, Meulens and Beltran all made the strongest impressions on Cashman and his team of close advisers that included VP of Baseball Operations Tim Naehring, assistant GM Mike Fishman and Senior VP Jean Afterman who were part of the process. The Yankees had to eliminate Beltran if only because Cashman wouldn’t turn the managerial reins over to someone fresh out of the player ranks (the Daily News confirmed Friday evening that Beltran and Thomson are out of the running) — which brings it down to either Boone or Meulens, either of whom would be a popular choice if for no other reason than their engaging personalities.
Communication is obviously the operative word here since, other than Wedge, nobody knows whether any of these guys can really manage.
That said, here’s what we know about all the candidates:
Aaron Boone: It doesn’t matter if, other than the just-retired Beltran, he was the only one of the first five candidates interviewed that had no prior managing or coaching experience. It’s his knowledge of the game as a highly respected ESPN TV analyst, his communication skills and his overall likeability that would make him an instant popular choice. It doesn’t hurt either that he comes from a three generational major league family, whose father, Bob, managed the Royals and the Reds. Cashman fancies himself as an “out-of-the-box” thinker and this would be the ultimate, bold “out-of-the-box” choice.
Hensley Meulens: In many ways the native of Curacao, too, would be an out-of-the-box choice in that his only managerial experience was as manager of the Netherlands in two World Baseball Classics, and was only just named a bench coach by the Giants after serving as their hitting coach for eight years. But he checks even more boxes than Boone as he came up in baseball through the Yankee system, speaks five languages, was hailed for his communication skills by the Giants’ players and already has a close relationship with Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius from the WBC. I’m told that Giants Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Brian Sabean, who promoted Meulens to bench coach, presumably for the purpose of grooming him to eventually replace Bruce Bochy, gave him the highest recommendation.
(Justin Heiman/Getty Images)
Carlos Beltran: Impressed Cashman and his staff with the sheer force of his personality and knowledge of the game. If he hadn’t just retired and had spent perhaps just one year as a coach or minor league manager, he might have been the favorite, but he’s out of the running. As it is, he will be with the Yankees in some capacity next year, either as a bench or hitting coach for the new manager or a special assistant to Cashman. Whatever he wants to do.
Eric Wedge: The only candidate with major-league managing experience, Wedge was only interviewed by Cashman because other GMs, former and present, gave him high grades. But there was no way, Cashman was going to go to Steinbrenner with a recommendation of a manager who had failed two other places, Seattle and Cleveland, with seven losing seasons in 10 years. In addition, his low key personality would have never gone over in New York.
Rob Thomson: He was only in the process out of loyalty to the Yankee organization — 28 years in various capacities, most importantly spring training coordinator the past few seasons. Ordinarily going from bench coach to manager would have been a natural ascension. The fact that it wasn’t — and Thomson was again thrown into the mix of candidates — told you he was never a serious candidate for the job. Thomson is part of the old regime and will be out of the organization and probably Phillies bench coach.
Chris Woodward: It’s not quite clear as to why the Dodger third base coach was one of the candidates, other than perhaps Cashman wanted to talk to someone who was part of Dave Roberts’ staff in Los Angeles. Early on, he had talked about wanting a “Dave Roberts-type,” someone who was in to the analytics and had good communication skills, especially with young players. Whatever, it doesn’t appear as if Woodward, the former light-hitting utility infielder who spent a couple of seasons with the Mets and had never before interviewed for a manager’s job, knocked anyone’s socks off.
With MIKE MAZZEO