Joe Girardi Offered Job As New York Yankee Skipper

Tuesday, October 30th 2007, 7:53 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Joe Girardi has yet to manage a game for the New York Yankees and already he has one loss.

Skipped over for the job, Don Mattingly told the Yankees on Monday he had no interest in returning next year as bench coach or in any other coaching position.

Beloved as team captain, Donnie Baseball was the early favorite to replace Joe Torre and openly coveted the spot. Instead, the Yankees picked experience over popularity, choosing Girardi even at the risk Mattingly would walk away from the franchise.

``Don was extremely disappointed to learn today that he wasn't the organization's choice to fill the managerial vacancy,'' Mattingly's agent, Ray Schulte, said in an e-mail. ``Instead, he was informed the organization offered the position to Joe Girardi.''

Girardi was the 2006 NL Manager of the Year with Florida, plus he has a pinstriped pedigree. The hard-nosed catcher played on three Yankees teams that won the World Series, served as their bench coach and was a TV announcer this year.

``Joe Girardi is a good man,'' Torre said Monday on ``Late Show with David Letterman.'' ``He's got a feel for this organization.''

Still, spurning Mattingly _ who always receives one of the loudest ovations on Old-Timers' Day _ was sure to be compared to another famous Yankee snub: Babe Ruth was never offered the manager's job he so desperately wanted.

Mattingly was the Yankees hitting coach for three years before moving next to Torre this season. Schulte said Mattingly congratulated Girardi and wished him well.

A baseball official confirmed the Yankees are negotiating with Girardi's agent, Steve Mandell.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a deal hasn't been formalized, said general manager Brian Cashman made the recommendation and it was accepted by the Yankees.

Messages left for Cashman were not immediately returned.

``The Yankees contacted us,'' Mandell said. ``They have an interest in Joe becoming their manager. We've had some discussions. It's a process and we'll go through the process.''

He declined to say when there might be an announcement.

Girardi also beat out Yankees first-base coach Tony Pena, who had the most managerial experience of the candidates.

Girardi caught for the Yankees from 1996-99, served as a bench coach in 2005, then managed the Marlins the following year. He kept a young team in contention until September and then was fired, apparently for clashing with owner Jeffrey Loria and others above him.

The 43-year-old Girardi often told many in the Marlins about how the Yankees did things, reinforcing the winning ways he learned in New York. Now, he'll get a chance to try them out himself.

Girardi was the first person to interview to replace Torre, who managed the team to the playoffs in each of his 12 seasons. He spent about five hours with the Yankees' baseball operations staff last week, and an hour with George Steinbrenner, sons Hank and Hal, son-in-law Felix Lopez and team president Randy Levine.

Girardi turned down the Baltimore Orioles' managing job last summer, choosing to spend time with his ailing father.

Mattingly also interviewed for the Yankees spot last week, telling team management how much he wanted it. Earlier this month, he said replacing Torre would be quite a challenge.

``It's like following John Wooden or something,'' Mattingly said then. ``This guy wins championship after championship and we're in the playoffs in every year.

``It's pretty much a no-win situation for someone coming in here to be able to live up to the expectations or live up to what he did. It's not going to happen. So as far as someone coming in and taking over this job, it's not necessarily a great situation.''

Girardi gets the unenviable task of following Torre, who led the Yankees to four World Series titles in his first five years _ but none since _ and was one of the most celebrated sports figures in the city.

If Girardi takes the job, he inherits a team in transition and one without Alex Rodriguez. He also is not assured of getting back pitchers Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera or catcher Jorge Posada.

Rodriguez informed the Yankees on Sunday that he was terminating his contract and becoming a free agent. The Yankees have repeatedly said they wouldn't negotiate with A-Rod if he hit the open market.

The Yankees offered Torre a one-year contract featuring a hefty paycut and performance-based bonuses, and he turned it down Oct. 18. The result was a messy departure that split Yankees fans into camps of Torre supporters and proponents for change.