The New York Yankees are on an ever-so-important search for the 35th manager in franchise history and the list of candidates consists of a variety of people with different backgrounds.
So far, Brian Cashman has interviewed his current bench coach Rob Thomson, former Cleveland Indians’ manager Eric Wedge, former Yankees’ postseason hero Aaron Boone and Hensley Meulens. The latter interviewed for the position on Thursday and has surfaced as perhaps a favorite to succeed Joe Girardi, who was the only manager in the game to lead his team to a winning record in each of the last 10 seasons.
Looking at Meulens’ resume, there’s no surprise that he is the right man to the Yankees through their next dynasty.
Meulens signed with New York as an international free agent from Curacao at 18-years-old back in 1985 and made his big-league debut four years later. Sporting the catchy nickname “Bam-Bam,” he played in 159 games for the Yankees between 1989-93, left for three seasons of Japanese baseball and returned to the major leagues with the Montreal Expos and Arizona Diamondbacks from 1997-98. His career came to an end in 2002, when his season with the Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican League ended due to injury.
After many minor league coaching gigs, Muelens has served on the San Francisco Giants’ coaching staff for the last eight seasons and just recently promoted from hitting coach to bench coach in 2017. He managed the Netherlands at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, but otherwise has no managerial experience elsewhere.
Crazy, right? A 50-year-old failed prospect who fought through a feeble major league playing career with managerial experience limited to winter ball and international play is the preferred choice to be the next Yankees’ manager? As surprising as it is, no other candidate comes remotely near the appeal Meulens demonstrates.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has expressed his concern with coaches without experience, which Muelens has. No, it’s not managerial experience at the major league level, but he’s served on Bruce Bochy‘s staff for eight years — where he helped the Giants win a World Series in three of his first five years with the team.
Plus, Meulens brings diversity that should earn him brownie points with the Yankee brass. He speaks five languages, including English, Spanish, Japanese, Dutch, and Papiamento. He’s coached shortstop Didi Gregorius in the past and his ability to connect with almost every player — no matter the background — is atop the criteria needed to satisfy the needs of a managerial position.
He would bring a new voice to the clubhouse (something Rob Thomson won’t), some sort of coaching experience (something Aaron Boone does not have), and seems to be a better option than Eric Wedge, who last managed in the majors back in 2013. 41-year-old former utility infielder Chris Woodward, who spent the last two seasons as the third-base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, will also interview.
There is no slam-dunk option to fill the shoes of Girardi and it’s yet to be seen if the crowd of five candidates will grow or not, but Muelens has definitely separated himself from the crowd. He may just be the right man for the job.