The sight of Joe Girardi throwing pitches to his children at Yankee Stadium after games has become a common event.
It also is an example of how important family is to Girardi — the biggest theme he touched upon during a 30-minute conference call yesterday to discuss signing a four-year contract with the Yankees.
“There’s some things that we had to work through but as I told you the last day [of the season] in Houston, my family would play an important role in this and sitting then and spending a weekend — spending a couple of days — deciding what was best for all of us, hearing what my wife wanted, what my kids wanted to do,” Girardi said. “We put that all together and we’re glad we’re back.”
Girardi was offered the deal last Friday, reportedly worth $16 million plus bonuses presumably for making the playoffs.
“It wasn’t a long thought that I possibly wouldn’t come back,” he said, “but I had to make sure everybody was still on board.”
Girardi is now the second-highest paid manager in MLB. The Angels’ Mike Scioscia is in the middle of a 10-year, $50 million contract. Girardi’s deal is one year longer than his previous two managerial contracts with the Yankees.
Now that he is back, Girardi could be dealing with a vastly different team. He may not have Alex Rodriguez (suspension) or Robinson Cano (free agency) and he won’t have Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, who have retired.
“I wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t think we could win a championship,” Girardi said. “I know there’s a lot of work to be done and I know there’s a lot of holes that we have to fill and there’s people leaving and there’s people retiring but I have faith in our organization.”
Much of the discussion surrounding this offseason has centered on maintaining a $189 million salary, but the Yankees have repeatedly said “it’s a goal but not a mandate.” Still regardless of who is on the team, Girardi wanted to return to experience the feeling of winning more championships.
“I don’t think you can expect to necessarily have everything you want every year and there’s things that you have to go through as a club,” Girardi said. “To me, I want to be part of it and I want to be part of us getting back on top and that was important to me. Nothing is easy in this game, sometimes it hinges on a base hit here or there whether you make the World Series and I want to be a part of getting back to where I think we should be.”
By re-signing Wednesday, Girardi put an end to talk about him returning to the Cubs to manage a rebuilding project under Theo Epstein. Though Girardi is from Illinois, went to Northwestern and began his playing career in Chicago, his association with the Yankees since 1996 also played a role.
Assuming he manages through the length of the contract, the Yankees will have had two managers since 1995, which is a complete reversal of managerial stability from the 1970s and 1980s.
“You hear stuff and you read things and you hear about things but our lives have been here for six years and to be able to say as a manager of a baseball team or if you’re a head coach of a football team, that if you get an opportunity to spend ten years in one city and watch your family grow is extremely lucky and I think that’s important,” Girardi said. “I think stability is important.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.