“It’s so different,” Torre said of the job. “I managed at the right time, for me. I was able to use my ability and my experience in playing and managing before I got to the Yankees, and then of course I had a unique set of players. It was terrific. Right now, the sabermetrics, the shifts, different things that the numbers are telling them what to do, I don’t know who the next manager is. I don’t even have a hint.
“I know Joe Girardi had a good staff, a couple of those guys coached for me. I’m just not sure. I think it has to be someone [general manager and senior vice president] Brian Cashman is comfortable with. Obviously, that’s the main thing.”
While it’s unknown if Flaherty and Cone are in the running, Cashman has made it clear he is casting a wide net for candidates, and it would not be a surprise if either got an interview. The Yankees had their first managerial interview on Wednesday with bench coach Rob Thomson.
Cone won five World Series rings, including four pitching for Torre (1996 and 1998-2000). He told reporters on the red carpet of Torre’s 15th annual Safe at Home Foundation dinner at Cipriani on Broadway that Cashman is aware of his interest.
“I wouldn’t turn down an interview if one came my way, that’s for sure,” Cone said. “I know it’s a difficult job, it’s a prestigious job, and I know there’s a process in place to find the right guy. I’m always around the Yankees, I have a good relationship with Brian, so I’ve had plenty of time to talk with him throughout the years.
“I think you need a candidate nowadays who can blend old school and new school, who understands both, who doesn’t lose the human side of it, and understands relationships and communications to the players, but also understands analytics, and also understands that it’s a team effort nowadays. There’s a lot of good things in analytics that can help you become a better team. It’s that blend, it’s finding that balance, that’s really hard to do. The candidates for managers who can do that are probably the ones that get the jobs nowadays.
“I’ve talked to Brian a couple times over the last couple of weeks, and I’ve let him know that I support the Yankees. I’d do anything I could to help. If requested, I would not turn down an interview.”
Cone said he had an early bent toward analytics that would benefit him as a manager.
“I was lucky, I had an agent, Steve Fehr, who got me into some of the early analytics in the early ’90s for a couple of arbitration cases that I won,” Cone said, “and I kind of understood, probably from an old grumpy pitcher’s standpoint, ‘I was better than my won-loss record, you know, there’s gotta be ways to show that.’ I kind of joke, but it’s true.
“There are lots of ways to peel back layers and understand who’s really doing what on the field. Your eyes can’t see everything. A lot of times you’re sitting on the bench but you don’t see so much that goes on in a split-second. It’s good to have help, it’s good to have other ideas. It’s information, and what you do with that information is the key.”
Flaherty, who finished his career with the Yankees from 2003-05, said, “I threw my hat in the ring.” He said his agent, Alan Nero, reached out to Cashman right after it was announced that Girardi would not return as manager. Flaherty emphasized repeatedly to reporters that he wanted to express his interest to Cashman, and that he is “100 percent fine” if he is not seen as a fit.
Asked if he has a desire to manage, the former Yankee catcher said, “Yeah. Yeah I do. I’m at a point in my life now where my kids are getting older. The thought of getting back on the field has been there since I retired in ’06. I’m very happy with the YES Network and what I am doing there, but there has always been a desire to get back on the field, whether here in New York or someplace else, and it’s something I’ve thought about for a long time.”
There was actually one active manager on the red carpet as well, and one beloved by Yankee fans: Don Mattingly. He has three years left on his contract as Marlins manager, but Derek Jeter, that club’s new CEO, has said they are going to evaluate everything. The only thing Mattingly was asked Wednesday was what he thought about the spotlight job of Yankees manager.
“New York is a demanding place,” he said. “The Yankees, when you manage here, would be a place, Boston, New York or Philly, it’s a place where they expect good things to happen. That’s the biggest thing you have to deal with. It’s a great city to play in, to work in, so whoever gets the job is going to be very fortunate.”
Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said he has “no idea what they are looking for,” but he did call it a special job.
“No question. Best franchise in the world,” Posada said. “You have a team that is obviously ready to go, a team that did very well this year, and is going to well in the future because of the talent they have. It’s going to be a very intriguing situation to see who is there, and I’m pretty sure they are doing everything possible to get the right guy.”
Tino Martinez, a guest of honor at Torre’s event, even said he would welcome any inquiry into his own interest level of managing the Yankees. That was simply in response to a reporter’s question, and he said he would be interested in a coaching role of some kind.
“It’s business,” Martinez said of the Yankees’ change. “I thought Joe did a good job for 10 years, as did Joe Torre. It just seems like they have a plan, ownership, that after a certain amount of time it was time for a change.”
Have they talked to him? “No,” Martinez said with a smile, “but they know I’m around.”
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him on Twitter @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.