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Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Are the Yankees playing fair with Girardi?

By Wallace Matthews



NEW YORK -- Are the New York Yankees afraid of a little competition? Especially from a team that hasn't won the World Series in more than 100 years?

It certainly looks, or at least sounds, that way from the words of Hal Steinbrenner, who subtly put the pressure on his lame-duck manager Tuesday in two New York radio appearances to make up his mind quickly about whether or not he will be coming back in 2014.

Listening to Hal, and to other voices within the Yankees organization, it is obvious they want Girardi back. It is just as obvious they are prepared to move on if Girardi wants to do what most people in his situation would do: weigh every offer on the table before making a decision as big as this one.

The reason Hal gave Tuesday is that he needs the manager to be present at the Yankees' annual organizational meetings that usually take place around this time every year. And while he said it in a rather off-handed way, it was clear by "the manager" he didn't necessarily mean Girardi.

"Quite frankly, we’re going to be starting our baseball meetings soon and we want the manager, whoever that is, hopefully Joe, to be a part of that," he said.

Earlier in the day, a team executive told ESPNNewYork.com that "there's no clock here" concerning Girardi's contract, but clearly, there is.

Girardi's contract runs through the end of the month, and presumably, Hal wants to meet before that. So saying he wants the Yankees' manager, whoever that is, to be there means he is effectively putting a time limit on Girardi's decision. Let us know before the meetings, or we'll move on to the next guy.

Pressuring a prospective employee is an unpleasant but effective negotiating tactic used in all forms of business. And you can certainly understand that the Yankees want to get this matter resolved quickly, since they have a lot of other things on their offseason agenda this year. But don't they owe it to Girardi to allow him to at least hear what other clubs are offering before putting pen to paper?

If it's fair for them to ask Girardi to make up his mind before the end of the month, then it is fair to grant him permission to talk to whoever else might be interested in him. That is what constitutes a good-faith negotiation. And you would think that the New York Yankees, who drink from the richest font of sports revenue in the world, would have nothing to fear from going up against smaller-market clubs like the Cubs and Nationals.

Certainly, they don't want to have to pay Girardi in excess of $5 million -- reports are the Cubs are prepared to offer him that much, matching the paycheck of Mike Scioscia, baseball's highest-paid manager -- if they don't have to. But sometimes, even the New York Yankees have to do things they would rather not do. (Besides, the Cubs are already doing them a huge favor by paying $13 million of Alfonso Soriano's $18 million paycheck for next year.)

And while Girardi has said he loves managing in New York, that money doesn't matter to him and that he would do what is best for his family, he may well decide that what's best for his family is to listen to what other organizations are willing to offer him, and them, as well as the Yankees.

But from the sound of things, it appears that if Girardi wants to do that, the Yankees may well move on without him.

Is that fair?

Besides, if the offer they made to Girardi is as good as they say it is, what do the Yankees have to fear from a little competition?

QUESTION: Do you think Girardi should be allowed to listen to other offers? Or are you OK with what looks a lot like a take-it-or-leave-it proposition?