The Yankees vacancy for a manager is naturally drawing a lot of attention around the world of baseball. Brian Cashman is keeping the selection process close to his vest. Brian McCann will manage someday in the big leagues. Why shouldn’t his second career begin with the Yankees?
Yankees fans could only watch the other night as two veterans celebrated the first world championship in their long careers. Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, who both wore the Pinstripes for a time, appeared to two of the happiest men on the planet. And we should be happy for them.
McCann was involved in one of the trades made by Brian Cashman in 2016 to unload salary and make room for the Baby Bombers transforming the Yankees into a squad of young, athletic talent which would hatch earlier than expected in 2017. From the Houston Astros, the Yankees received Albert Abreu, who is lighting the Arizona Fall League up, and Jorge Guzman, who recorded 88 strikeouts in 66 innings pitched with the Class A Staten Island Yankees this past summer.
By most standards, the trade would be rated as one who benefited both teams. McCann caught all seven games of the 2017 World Series for the Houston Astros, prodding and coaching a pitching staff and especially a shaky bullpen to victory. He didn’t hit much going 5-25 with one home run and two RBI, but no one on the Astros is complaining.
McCann will be 34 years-old when the 2018 season begins. As a player, and more importantly as a catcher, the upcoming season will be his fourteenth. He is due $17 million, with $5.5 million of that paid by the Yankees in 2018. That’s a significant sum of money, and if the Yankees were to consider McCann as a replacement for Joe Girardi, it could be the one stumbling block to working out a contract for “manager’s money.”
But it depends on McCann’s aspirations over the next four or five years and the knowledge that this is a one-time-only chance to manage the New York Yankees, for whom ten-year runs are commonplace when they hire a manager. Juxtapose that with the fact there aren’t too many 35-year-old catchers playing every day in the major leagues, and maybe McCann sees an opportunity to walk away from the game with both knees and back functioning normally.
For the Yankees, it’s a no-brainer. McCann has all the baseball acumen needed and stored over the years. He’s a born leader, who before he left the Yankees, was the go-to guy in the clubhouse. Though not likely, as a bonus, McCann could be added to the roster as a player-manager if injuries hit Gary Sanchez or Austin Romine.
This ain’t gonna be easy, though
Get the picture, though? This one, if it were to reach fruition, is going to require some creativity on the part of both the Yankees, Astros, and McCann himself. Timing, as they say, is everything. When the Yankees hired Girardi following his role as a catcher in their 2009 26th Championship, that situation virtually mirrors the one that exists today.
Catchers, as the position player with the entire field before him, are in a unique position to develop the skills necessary to be a manager in the big leagues. Look no further than A.J. Hinch, the manager of the Astros, to make the point.
With all the names being floated out there, including the likes of Willie Randolph (too 1980’s associated), Don Mattingly (locked in by Derek Jeter), Tony Pena (an equally good choice), and, get this, Alex Rodriguez (really?). Brian McCann can match and better any of these candidates, with the possible exception of Mattingly who has proved his worth as a manager at this level.
But maybe that the whole point. The Yankees are transitioning into a younger version of a team we haven’t seen in a long time in the Bronx. And on the one hand, you might think a proven and experienced manager is needed to offset the raw talent of the Baby Bombers, here now as well as those who are coming.
I’m not so sure. A “rookie” manager puts him on equal footing with most of his players and given the headset of major league players today, that can propel both sides into a meeting of the minds when it comes to the “personality” of the team. It takes time to accomplish that, but in the meantime, the Yankees have enough talent to overcome any hiccups along the way.
Brian McCann. Why not?