Highlights from Joe Girardi’s press conference

Joe Girardi spoke with the media today at the Winter Meetings for about 20 minutes, and of course he addressed the hot topics of the day, talking about how Cliff Lee is “important to us” because of a rotation that has some question marks behind CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes.

But Girardi also went over a lot of other Yankees topics — as much as he could in December,  anyway, analyzing a team that is not yet whole. Some of the other key points included:
Andy Pettitte’s situation:
“Whatever he decides to do, he’s had a tremendous career.  He’s been a great Yankee.  If he decides that this is his last year, we’re really going to miss him.  But if he doesn’t, you know how we all feel about Andy.”
Derek Jeter’s very public contract negotiations:
“You don’t ever want anything to become public.  But when you’re in a negotiation and you’re talking about a guy like Derek Jeter, some of it is going to be public, and people are going to have their own opinions just because of who he is.  Because of the type of player he’s been so long, a great Yankee, someone that’s been very important to the success and the championships, it was going to be a topic that was talked about a lot. I’m glad we can move on.  And Derek’s all about winning and our team.  I think things will be great.”
Jesus Montero and where he may fit:
“Last year was the first year he caught every day.  We believe he’s going to be a very good player.  He’s going to have to come into spring training and earn a job.  That is the bottom line.  He’s going to have to earn the job as a catcher.  Is he ready?  We’ll have a much better idea as we watch him go through spring training.  But as I said, we believe that he’s a very good talent.  We believe that he made strides last year, some big strides.  But we’re going to have to wait and see.”
What A.J. Burnett needs to work on with Larry Rothschild:
“The big thing for A.J. is refining his mechanics and making sure that everything’s on time.  That doesn’t necessarily mean changing him completely, it’s just he has the leg kick and the little bit of a swing.  It’s something that we have to make sure when it’s time to get that foot down and where it goes down and where his arm is all in the right spot at the right time.”
On flexibility in the lineup with Jeter and potentially moving him:
“I think you have to evaluate your team on a daily basis, weekly basis, and monthly basis as time goes on.  The one thing he did do is he hit in September for us.  After we made that change with him, he hit much better.  We’ll continue to work on those things.  We expect Derek to have a good year.  To be the guy that he’s been.  Even though he had some struggles last year, he still scored 100 runs for us.  He found ways to score runs.  It’s what you want from your guys at the top of the order.  But I think the adjustment helped him, and I think it will help him as we move forward.”
On how much rest Alex Rodriguez can expect:
 
“We’d have to talk about that in spring training when we get there.  You try not to play him more than seven or eight days in a row.  Will your day off be a DH day?  Possible or a DH day here or maybe a DH two days later.  The one thing that you want him to do  the one thing that you find is I think there is a fine line of wanting to put those guys out there every day and then it becoming counterproductive.  Where if you had just given them a day off, they’d get the freshness back in their body and they get the drive back in their body, and they become a much more productive player.”
Are Carl Crawford and Brett Gardner similar players, and could they co-exist?
“I think they are somewhat similar.  They’re both guys that have tremendous speed, play very good left field.  Gardy’s a threat and he changes the way defenses play.  I do consider them somewhat similar. The thing about Carl Crawford is he has more experience and he has more power. … I think it’s possible that two guys like that could play in the same outfield.  But the question is what are all your pieces going in?  That is the thing that you have to look at.”
Are Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez enough to back up Jeter and A-Rod?

“It’s something that we’ve looked at.  We feel that we have two candidates in house and that’s Pena and Nunez.  Pena’s average was not what we would have liked, but he was pretty productive in his at-bats when he had RBI chances.  I thought Nunez played pretty well over there. It’s something that we have to look at, and as we move further and if you sign this guy, you move on to the next piece which you’re going to try to do.  But it’s whoever plays that role, that’s going to be an important role, I believe.”
What’s Jorge Posada’s mindset in moving from catcher to DH?
“He understands.  But I still think that he wants to catch.  I mean, that is his first love, that is his first passion.  To me this gives him a chance to extend his career, stay healthy, and be productive for us.”
Do the Yankees need to bring in a new eighth-inning guy if Kerry Wood doesn’t return?
“I think we have the pieces within.  I believe that Joba can get back to where he was, and I think Robbie can take the next step.  That is something that we’ll have to evaluate.  If we don’t make a move now during the middle of the season like we did last year, I really believe the talent is there to do it.  And these guys will probably get the opportunity to do it.  But you have to prove you can do it.”
Could Nova play a role in the bullpen if he’s not in the rotation?
“He could.  He could be a guy that you’ve kind of broken that way as well.  At times he threw the ball very well for us, and I think this young man has a lot of talent.  To me, as you project him, you project him as a starter, because he’s a three pitch guy developing a fourth pitch.  And I think he can be successful at this level.  Consistency is one thing. I look at the time of year that we broke him in.  We broke him in at a pretty tough time of year and a pretty tough race, and he threw the ball pretty well for us.  You take away a few innings for him, and he threw the ball really well.”

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