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Girardi agrees to 3-year deal to manage Yankees

10/31/2007 - New York Yankees

NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi thought back to when he replaced
Mike Stanley as the New York Yankees' catcher in 1996, Joe Torre's
first season as manager.

"I remember walking into spring training, the first day, and
people saying, 'Boy, you've got big shoes to fill,'" Girardi said
Tuesday. "I thought, well, I wear a size 13."

He heard the same thing about replacing Torre, who left a
formidable imprint during 12 seasons as manager, but that didn't
stop Girardi.

On Tuesday, he agreed to a three-year contract and a mandate to
deliver World Series championship No. 27.

"I expect to be playing in the fall classic next October. I
think that's everyone's expectation," Girardi said. "I've been
there some years, and I haven't been there some years, and I've
broadcast there some years, and let me tell you, it's much better
when you're in uniform and you're there."

Girardi's deal is worth approximately $7.5 million, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reports.
According to The Associated Press' source, the deal includes bonuses based
on how far the team advances in the postseason.

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 under Torre in 2005 and was a TV announcer for the YES
network in 2004 and this year.

New York made the playoffs in all 12 years under Torre, who won
the World Series in four of his first five seasons. Girardi will
have to live up to that lofty level of initial success. He follows
a manager who joined the ranks for Yankees greats, including Miller
Huggins, Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel.

"I don't think you can ever replace a figure because that
figure is unique in his own way. What I'm going to do is I'm going
to be myself," Girardi said. "And yes, are there expectations on
me and, you know, the coaching staff and the players? Absolutely.
The same expectations that were on Joe Torre when he came in in
1996.

"I can't be Joe Torre because I'm made up different," Girardi
said. "You know, I'm a different character, so I don't really
necessarily worry about replacing someone or how I'm going to
replace someone. I'm more worried about just being myself and
getting the most out of the guys."

Girardi beat out Yankees bench coach Don Mattingly and New York first base coach Tony Pena for the job. Going into interviews, Mattingly was considered the favorite. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was impressed by three
attributes he saw in Girardi: hard work, accountability and
discipline.

"He likes to compete all the time," Cashman said. "We believe
he's mentally tough."

Once he was informed the Yankees had chosen Girardi,
Mattingly told the team he had no interest in returning next year
as bench coach or in any other coaching position.

"I think Joe is a good baseball person and totally will be a
great manager there in New York," Mattingly said.

Girardi and Mattingly telephoned each other while they awaited a
decision.

"The important thing was that our friendship remained intact,"
Girardi said. "Sometimes, you know, friends go after the same
position and you don't want to see it come between you."

According to Olney, one person Girardi would want on his staff would be former Cubs pitcher Mike Harkey, perhaps as pitching coach. Pena has agreed to remain on the staff, along with Kevin Long and Rob Thompson.

Paul O'Neill told 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand he "wouldn't rule out" joining Girardi's coaching staff. O'Neill said he and Girardi are longtime friends and they spoke a lot during the season; both worked for YES, the Yankees' television network.

"I will probably talk with him at some point [about a coaching position]," O'Neill said.

O'Neill said he will wait to call Girardi, because he doesn't want to be a nuisance during Girardi's decision-making process.

Girardi had an advantage over Mattingly because he had
experience managing the Florida Marlins in 2006. 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.

"Obviously they are important Yankees, and they have meant so
much to the organization," Girardi said.

Rivera and his agent, Fernando Cuza, were at Legends Field in
Tampa on Tuesday, to talk with Yankees officials. The ace reliever,
who has filed for free agency, said only, "We've got to see
something."

Afterward, Cuza said they had a good meeting but wouldn't
speculate whether Rivera will be a Yankee next season.

"I don't know," Cuza said. "It's up to them."

Pettitte told Fox TV in Houston on Tuesday that he is still contemplating whether to exercise his $16 million player option or retire.

"The New York Yankees committed an awful lot of money to me and put it in my hands, gave me a player option and trusted me with that option," Pettitte said, according to the station. "It probably wouldn't be real honorable for me not to do anything other than if I shut it down, shut it down or go back and play for the New York Yankees."

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

"You are going to miss those 54 home runs and plus, 150-plus
RBIs, but to me you can't look backwards, you have to look forwards
and where do we go from here as an organization," Girardi said.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.