Joe Girardi became the manager of the New York Yankees on Tuesday, as the team signed him to a three-year contract. Reports indicate Girardi will earn more than $2 million per season.
Girardi was one of just three candidates to interview for the post, which opened when Joe Torre turned down a one-year deal for a 13th season at the helm earlier this month.
Former Yankee star Don Mattingly was considered the favorite, but one year as the club's bench coach under Torre after three years as the club's hitting instructor apparently didn't merit enough consideration. Tony Pena, the team's first base coach under Torre the past two seasons and a former manager of the year with
Girardi doesn't have much managerial experience, having spent just the 2006 season guiding the Florida Marlins after serving one year as a bench coach for Torre.
Despite a low payroll and roster of young and inexperienced talent, Girardi kept the Marlins in the National League wild card hunt in early September and finished the year with a record of 78-84. He also earned the National League's Manager of the Year award, but reportedly clashed with team management and was fired.
After spending this past season as a broadcaster, Girardi inherits a team that has more than a few questions heading into the offseason on the heels of a third straight first-round playoff loss.
The Yankees will have to make decisions on free agents Jorge Posada, Girardi's successor as Yankee catcher, and Mariano Rivera, the future Hall of Fame closer. Veteran lefty Andy Pettitte, a battery mate of Girardi's in the late 1990s, must also make a decision on whether he wants to return.
Of course, the biggest question concerns who will replace likely MVP Alex Rodriguez at third base. The superstar slugger decided to opt out of his contract and the Yankees have steadfastly stated that they will not pursue the All-Star in free agency.
Girardi, who just turned 43 years old earlier this month, spent 15 seasons as a catcher in the big leagues and won three World Series titles in four years with the Yankees from 1996-99.
The 43-year-old Girardi becomes the 17th Yankees manager to have played for the club and the fourth former Yankees catcher to skipper the team, joining Bill Dickey, Ralph Houk and Yogi Berra. He is the third-youngest manager currently in the majors, behind the Washington Nationals' Manny Acta (38) and the Cleveland Indians' Eric Wedge (39).
The team with the highest payroll in the majors over the last few years hasn't fared well in the playoffs. The Yankees blew a 3-0 lead in the ALCS against