Joe Girardi details his first year as an MLB Network analyst, experience interviewing for the Reds’ managerial job and what he wants to do next.
On Tuesday night, Joe Girardi sat on an MLB Network set at Fenway Park, discussing how Dodgers manager Dave Roberts ought to manage his pitchers in this year’s World Series. Meanwhile, speculation continues to swirl about Girardi’s own future. With a year as an MLBN analyst now almost behind him—following a decade-long run leading the Yankees—Girardi spoke with SI about how this season has gone, his experience interviewing for the Reds’ managerial job, and what he wants to do next.
The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Jacob Feldman: How’s Boston treating you? Are you enjoying watching this World Series?
Joe Girardi: It’s been good. I wish it was a little warmer, but you know, this time of year that’s not going to happen.
It’s very enjoyable. This is the most exciting time of the year—watching each series and who is able to get through and how they do it, the players you don’t expect who rise to the occasion and all of the players that contribute. And just being around the energies in these cities is really enjoyable.
JF: I’ve heard you’ve also become friends with fellow analyst Pedro Martinez this year.
JG: You know, when you are done competing and you are away from that, you get to see the real personalities of people and you get to enjoy who they are and I think being out of the game, I’ve gotten a chance to do that. Also in the spring, our sons were on the same state championship team, so I’d see him at games and joke with him. He’s an energetic, very knowledgeable baseball guy who is fun to be around.
JF: How has this year gone for you generally at MLBN?
JG: It’s been really good. When you get a chance to work for MLB you realize it’s a team as well, and the relationships that you build are important. The bonds that you form are important. It’s all been positive for me.
Obviously I do want to manage again. But when you’re not managing, broadcasting is a wonderful avenue to be around the game. For a lot of ex-players, you miss being around a team as much as you miss being in the competition. So getting a chance to have this team is just really nice, and I’m sure once I am done managing for good I would love to stay in this business because I enjoy the game.
JF: Did you approach this as a one-year stint before returning to the bench?
JG: I wasn’t sure when I got into it. I don’t think you ever know what the next year is going to bring. I live day-by-day in a sense and try to enjoy each moment. I’m spending a ton of time with my family which I haven’t had a chance to do in the last year because I don’t know when I’m going back.
It’s like free agency or a trade: Both parties have to agree. I am going to work at MLB next year and I’m excited about it.
JF: What happened with the Reds?
JG: I’m not going to comment on that. I went through the interview process but I’m not going to say more than that. It was an enjoyable experience—good people.
JF: During the year, how does it feel to be linked to jobs that aren’t yet open?
JG: I’m not a big fan of that, because I never talk about what my opportunities are or aren’t. I try to just lay low and be who I am. I think it’s unfair to the managers in place, and I think it’s unfair to the managers who might get an interview, so I’m not big on that.
JF: Philosophically, what kind of job are you looking for?
JG: I don’t have the perfect job in mind. I’ve worked in two jobs. I worked in a rebuild in Florida and I really enjoyed that and I worked with the Yankees where it was a team that for the most part was ready to win, and then we went through a couple years where we made some moves and tweaked some things and brought young players up and I enjoyed that process too. I don’t think there is a perfect job, unless you can guarantee me a 10-year contract and 10 World Series wins.
I look at the organization from top to bottom. That’s what you do like any other job you would apply for in a position of leadership. I want to know what’s there, what’s on its way, and the people that you are working with.
JF: Could you see yourself at MLBN for more than one more year?
JG: I really believe I’m not in charge of that. I think God is going to put me where he wants me and it could possible be more than a year, it could be less. I just focus on what I’m doing now. MLB is going to get all of me every day.
JF: What do you make of criticism regarding your ability to discuss teams you could one day work for or managers you might theoretically replace?
JG: I just try to be fair and understand that a lot of times you as a manger have information that a lot of people don’t have—that the people who are second-guessing you don’t have. And you can’t forget the human element, or that there is a person on the other side that is trying to keep that player from doing what you want that player to do. So it’s not easy. I think about what I would have done and I talk about it.
JF: Are there any jobs you are waiting for?
JG: You know, whatever comes my way I’m going to listen. I’m not going to say I wish I could go to this place or that place. Whatever comes up, I’m going to listen, because every job has its challenges and challenges to me are enjoyable. Every job that comes up, I’m going to listen.
JF: One game in, what’s your prediction for this World Series?
JG: I predicted on TV last night that the Red Sox would win in seven. I think the Dodgers are really good, too, and during the year if the Red Sox had one difficulty, they didn’t hit left-handers as well as they hit right-handers. With the three starters the Dodgers have, if it goes seven games, the Red Sox will see five left-handers. So I thought it would be a good series. But the three lefties Boston has faced in the postseason this year—they beat them all.
JF: Would you say this is a historically good Red Sox team?
JG: I think you have to, because of their record No. 1. They have stars on this club. I think you could talk about Mookie Betts being one of the top two players in the game right now. You have Chris Sale, who before August 1 you could argue was the best starter in the game. You could argue J.D. Martinez is the best run producer in the game. So, yeah. Craig Kimberly has been one of the best closers in the game, and the rotation is deep.
This team is really, really good. I think they play extremely well as a team and I think they complement each other. I think their athleticism, which a lot of the time you don’t talk about on a baseball field, really shows up over the course of a season, a series, or even a game.
JF: What has you excited these days?
JG: I love watching this time of year. One of my favorite things to look at when I’m watching on TV is the anxiety in the fans. Those pictures are some of my favorite pictures that I get a chance to see during the course of games. You miss the excitement of this time of year. It’s hard not to miss it. I had the chance where Yankee Stadium was alive last year and it was a blast being a part of that series. I think you miss it more now than during the dog days of August or in spring training when you are sending everybody down or cutting people. That’s not fun.
JF: Is it hard to balance that yearning you have when you see a postseason game with the need to rationally consider the jobs open at this time of year?
JG: It’s not. I understand. If you look at most jobs that become available, it’s not because they were 100-win teams. You understand going in: Yeah, there’s a good chance there’s going to be a rebuild. But I’ve been a part of that a couple times and it’s enjoyable.