While making it to October is the sign of a good season for some teams, for the New York Yankees anything short of hoisting the championship trophy at the end of the season is considered a disappointing season. That was the case this year, as they fell to the Detroit Tigers in five games in the ALDS.
The same can be said for the Boston Red Sox, as expectations are high year in and year out with such a high payroll. When the team lost out on the AL wild card on the season's final day, the wheels started turning on retooling the team for 2012 as manager Terry Francona had his option declined.
Francona had managed the Red Sox since 2004 and posted a 744-552 record in his eight seasons at the helm, bringing World Series titles to the city in 2004 and 2007 and making the postseason a total of five times.
However, the team has finished third in the AL East in each of the past two seasons, and with a payroll that eclipses $160 million that simply doesn't cut it in Boston.
While it was far from all Francona's fault this season, with injuries decimating the starting pitching staff and effectively burning out a very good bullpen, it is hard to overlook the fact that the team blew a nine game lead on September 3rd.
So while it is clear that the Red Sox will be moving on at the managerial position, the Yankees position remains a question mark.
The first move that will need to be made in New York will come at the general manager position where incumbent Brian Cashman is currently without a contract for 2012. His current deal is set to expire next week, and both sides have expressed interest in working together moving forward so it looks as though he will be back.
Once the GM job is set, the team can begin to assess the managerial job which is currently held by Joe Girardi, who is signed through 2013. While he has led the team to the playoffs in each of the past two seasons since winning it all in 2009, both trips have ended before the World Series.
There may be no shorter coaching leash in all of sports than the Yankees' managerial job and should Joe Girardi be canned, there would be a number of intriguing options to take his place.
While certainly controversial, it would behoove the Yankees to eat the final years of Girardi's deal to grab someone of Francona's pedigree. Fans have unfairly attacked Girardi for the playoff loss this season, and it would excite the fan base to get a big-time coach and likewise sticking it to the Red Sox.
Bench coaches looking to take the next step such as Dave Martinez and Sandy Alomar Jr. would certainly be in the running, as would guys looking to get back into managing like Bobby Valentine, but Francona would be both the biggest name on the market and the most qualified man for the job.
Outside of the Yankees organization, Francona knows as much about the Yankees' personnel as anyone out there after coaching against them as a rival for the past eight seasons. He has dealt with high-salary, high-maintenance players in Boston and has molded a group of high-priced free agents into a winning team.
The Yankees have a lot of work to do this offseason as they look to first make sure that CC Sabathia will be back next season and then search for a staff to fill in behind him and Ivan Nova. With a number of new faces likely headed to the Bronx this offseason, could it be an all-too-familiar face that ends up managing the club?
While it would certainly draw the ire of Red Sox Nation if Francona were to join the Yankees, it represents possibly the best-case scenario for both sides. It remains to be seen if this is a possibility, as Girardi could very well be back, but if he is canned look for Francona to be a hot name being tossed around in New York.