It may be safe to erase that image from your mind’s eye of Robinson Cano suiting up in Dodgers blue and becoming the next Hollywood star. Magic Johnson said it isn’t going to happen.
Johnson held court with reporters before Los Angeles’ National League Division Series game in Atlanta last night and said that while Cano obviously has the talent to bring down a huge deal in free agency, the Dodgers have another pressing need to attend to — re-signing ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
“I can’t talk about the other guy (Cano),” Johnson said, “but you already know that guy in New York is going to be paid. Not by us. But he’s going to get paid.”
Johnson expanded on his thoughts when specifically asked about Cano by the New York Post:
“You can’t have two guys, I mean, come on man, anybody who knows numbers. A year from now, two, here comes Hanley [Ramirez]. We’ve got guys we need to keep. When it is all said and done the numbers probably don’t add up.’’
Cano and his representation group, the Jay-Z founded Roc Nation Sports, will obviously be looking to make a splash in free agency this winter. For baseball and marketing purposes, it has been difficult to imagine a scenario where the group would steer Cano away from New York. L.A. might have been one option, but without the Dodgers planning to bid, it continues to be the safe bet that the Yankees and Cano will eventually hash out an agreement.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman held court with the media for 51 minutes yesterday afternoon in his annual end-of-season press conference at Yankee Stadium.
You’ve probably already seen most of the headlines coming out of his session: the Yankees are interested in retaining manager Joe Girardi and could formally offer him a deal as soon as today, they want to keep Robinson Cano but not at any cost, and Hal Steinbrenner’s $189 million objective is a goal but not a mandate.
There are obviously a lot of chips that need to fall into place before we can get an idea of what the 2014 Yankees will look like. The Yankees have their pro scouting meetings scheduled for Monday, which is when they organize the chess board and decide which players to pursue. After Girardi’s situation is settled, they’ll wait to find out what Alex Rodriguez’s contract will look like for ’14 – if A-Rod’s 211-game suspension is upheld, that would knock about $25 million off the books for the ’14 budget, money that would likely go right into an offer for Cano.
They also need a solid answer from Steinbrenner about $189 million. Steinbrenner has articulated a few times that it would be a nice target to hit, considering it would set the Yankees up to use more of their future dollars to help the club rather than assisting other teams. But Steinbrenner has also said that the $189 million figure does not supersede the mission of fielding a World Series championship club. The ’13 Yankees obviously weren’t one, and after missing the playoffs entirely, scrapping the $189 million plan could still be in play.
Since I strongly doubt anyone wants to scour a 7,000 word Q&A, here are some of the most important talking points that were covered during yesterday’s press conference:
Opening thoughts: Your opinion of the 2013 season?
“It was a tough one. We didn’t get to where we wanted to be. Obviously it was a struggle all year; a lot of disappointment, whether it’s injuries, reoccurring injuries, underperformance, unexpected poor performance. We didn’t get where we needed to be and there were a lot of reasons for it. We obviously fought to the end. I appreciated the effort that our guys provided on a daily basis. Everybody that was healthy or even the guys that weren’t healthy that tried to get healthy and even those who failed in their efforts to return or their returns were brief. There was always effort. For that, I never saw that being an issue. We weren’t good enough, period. We are where we belong, which is on the outside looking in.”
Your opinion of Joe Girardi’s job performance?
“I think Joe has been consistent since we’ve had him here. The teams have changed, for instance, talent level, health, what he’s had to run out on a daily basis from year to year. The personnel has been different, but his effort and his efforts in pregame, in preparation for each series, how he runs Major League Spring Training as well as getting the 25 that are active competing on a daily basis, I think he’s been consistently tremendous at it. I know that because of the challenges this year presented to this organization, the amount of players that we had to use and find and replace on the run, there were more people to manage, people to welcome and let go. He has obviously gotten a lot of notoriety for keeping everything in check. I personally believe he has been exceptional ever since we’ve had him. I don’t feel this year was an outlier to other years. From your perspective, maybe that’s different, but I can tell you he’s been extremely consistent from day one with us. He’s been the same and has done a great job every year. Obviously the talent that he had to work with this year was significantly less than other years, but he still remained the same from my perspective. I thought this year was the same as other years. The job as a manager is to make sure these guys fight and compete on a daily basis, stay motivated, stay hungry. … This year was unique in a lot of different ways and he was able to still maintain that leadership, keep these guys hungry and motivated and not give up. They never did. I never saw that. Thumbs up. I thought he did a great job. Him and his staff.”
Why do you believe the 2014 Yankees can be better than this year’s edition?
“I think the intent is there. The ownership interest is there. But to talk about it right now, confidence or not, it’s what you do. There’s a reality of the situation that when you’re in a position of leadership, you have to attack areas of problems that develop over time. We will attack those. I’m not afraid of the reality. None of the people here are afraid of the reality. We recognize there are some challenges that we have to deal with – and we’re up for that challenge. But I can’t tell you at the same time and tell you, ‘Don’t worry, it’s going to be fine.’ It’s going to take some time. Some of it can be fixed sooner than later, others might take some time. But I can’t predict how free agency is going to work out, I can’t predict how we match up with other clubs yet. It’s just too early in the process. My confidence would be in betting on ownership here, because their intent is always to compete for a championship. What took place this year, for instance, it could have been easy for them to give up and say ‘There’s no chance.’ They had no interest in doing that. They obviously had every interest in trying to not only keep us relevant but qualify for the playoffs and make a run at the championship. From the injuries that occurred in spring training, whether it was Vernon Wells’ addition to [Alfonso] Soriano’s addition and every small little addition in between, it was a reflection of their interest and desire to, ‘I don’t care what it takes, we’ve got to fix this thing as we keep losing guys along the way.’ It led to a record Yankee franchise players that propelled us to 85 wins. We fell short, but their intent was to find some way to get us in regardless of what had happened. That’s what we tried to do, but obviously we fell short. The only thing I can confidently tell you is, when the last name is Steinbrenner, the effort is going to be there in terms of making a full push for having the best team on the field you can possibly have.”
Evaluation of the player development system
“In terms of changes, we’re always looking at that kind of stuff, and if there’s any changes to be made, we’ll make them. We have struggled out of the draft here the last number of years, some of it signability, whether a Gerrit Cole, some of it was injuries, like last year’s number one pick Ty Hensley having double hip surgery, so he hasn’t even been available to us. Some of our picks haven’t panned out. I think this last year we did really well, but in fairness, you always feel that when you make the selections, so we’re evaluating that as well. I think we’re obviously starting top to bottom. We typically do it every three years. We started maybe two months ago evaluating the decision making process and the expected value from where you pick in the draft, and comparisons to other organizations, and so, you try to determine what is accurate and true and what is not as accurate and more perception. So first and foremost we’re going through that process, but yeah, we haven’t had as fruitful results from the draft here recently as we had hoped and anticipated. In terms of development, we’ve had guys three years ago ranked in the top seven in farm systems in the game and I think in the last two years, our players have either got injured that have taken them out, Manny Banuelos for instance, or we’ve had guys go backwards, like a Dellin Betances for instance, was considered a high-end starter and has now been converted to the bullpen because of the failure there in finishing it off. He’ll be competing for a spot out of the bullpen next year as he’s out of options, so those are examples of injuries, performance going backwards, or unexpected return.
How vital is keeping Cano?
“We’d love to have Robbie back. There’s not much more for me to say about that, but our intention is to have him back, if we can. He’ll receive without question, or has received, whatever, a significant offer to stay, so he’ll have something legitimately to ponder. We’ll have to again, play that one out as well, see where it takes us. He’s been a great Yankee. I think if he stays he’ll have a legitimate chance to experience what you just saw, for instance, for Mariano. Maybe he has the chance to be the first Dominican-born player in Monument Park. A home-grown Yankee. But at the same time. It’s a business. He has comported himself in a tremendous way both on and off the field for the New York Yankees and we’ve been extremely happy to have him and we hope to extend that relationship, but we have a process to still go through on that, and he will certainly be in a position to entertain offers from other clubs in the process.”
The Alex Rodriguez situation
“I operate on the assumption that I have him until they tell me otherwise. I’m not really in a position to talk about the Alex stuff. We’re not a party to it. … It’s not something that’s in our control, so I’m not focused on it. I have Alex plugged in unless I’m told something different. so there’s nothing else for me really to say on that.”
Derek Jeter’s 2014 outlook
“I certainly hope to get Derek back to the Derek that we’re all used to. He’s one of those guys that did everything in his power to fight through something that turned out to be pretty significant. And so now he’ll have some time to back off, get some rest, some more flexibility back, and get every aspect of that ankle in line, as far as the kinetic chain. So it’ll put him in position to have the typical training regimen he’s used to as he prepares for the season. He’ll be able to do that. The expectation is that when that happens, and does occur, he can put significant distance between what we saw and all lived through with him, the last year, where obviously it was something that was really limiting him to being the player he’s capable of being again.”
Is Jeter your shortstop? Is a position change possible?
“The options for him are shortstop and DH. I think the DH spot is utilized like it is for all our other guys too, for rest. It’s one of those things where we can’t run somebody into the ground, but hey, your bat’s too important not to have to in the lineup. So on a given day, as we were planning do this year, against left-handed pitchers, if it gives us a chance to rest him but still give him four at bats so can benefit from the bat, the DH spot, depending on how the roster is constructed, would be available. That was the plan this year, and it would benefit him, whether it was Alex, [Kevin] Youkilis if he was healthy, that there were going to to be situations, with [Mark] Teixeira and all those guys, that it would be utilized to give guys a breather but still maintain the offense. That’s our hope and expectation as we move forward into next year.”
Does this lineup need to get back to power?
“Players I like to gravitate to, clearly, are on-base percentage. I was taught by Gene Michael, as the guys who take — they’re are selective at the plate and can beat you with their bat. The long ball. I love the big long ball. Stick always believed in the old Earl Weaver way. That’s what I was taught and raised in, so the players I typically gravitate to are those type of guys. And it was certainly hard to find those type of guys on the run, as the roster choices, as we went from March on, trying to cushion blows, it’s not easy to find power guys, as much as maybe as in years past. Certainly it wasn’t easy for us to plug the holes. I wasn’t able to do that; failed in my efforts to get that done. Power is a big piece of this franchise, and something I believe in.”
Are these four outfielders – Wells, Ichiro, Brett Gardner, Soriano – your starting outfielders?
“We’ll see. It’s hard for me to get ahead of. That most important meeting for me is that pro scouting meeting. That’s something we’ve had a great deal of success with over the years, with that meeting setting up the chess board for ourselves. A lot of things can run interference about how we are able to execute that, whether it’s negotiating, being able to secure the trade, but these guys are I think some of the best scouts that are in the game. That pro scouting meeting sets the tone of what really is available to us. What players we really should be gravitating to and who we should stay away from. It’s hard for me to really say. Ultimately the truth of the matter is it’s my job to always – I mean, I’ve sat there in front of our players in the minor leagues, it’s my job to always find better than what we already have. I remember turn the clock back meeting with Melky Cabrera saying hey man I’ve got a guy named Brett Gardner and he’s coming fast. Don’t let him take your job. Those are many examples of hey it’s our responsibility to always look for better than what we have at those positions as a team. Then you hope it stays healthy and plays up to your expectations. Unfortunately this year we had a lot of all of it; which is players that we expected to perform better and they didn’t, or they went backwards with their performance, or maybe we misevaluated that effort on their performance, or the injuries. It’s my responsibility in all aspects of it.
“Bottom line is, we will continue that process. I cannot get ahead of it. I can’t tell you all those jobs are secure. I can’t tell you all those guys are satisfactory. I can’t tell you any of that stuff. I’ve got to look at what the options are available to us, what the costs are associated with acquiring those players, whether it’s free agent dollars, and we’ll just have to go through that process first. Once I secure that and have that knowledge, it’s definitely not in my best interest to share what it would be anyway until you go to marketplace and try to pull down what’s necessary.”
NEW YORK — The Yankees hope to retain Joe Girardi as their manager and are set to open negotiations on a new contract, general manager Brian Cashman said on Tuesday.
Cashman said that he met for coffee with Girardi on Monday and has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday with Girardi’s agent, Steve Mandell. Girardi’s three-year, $9 million pact is set to expire in November.
“I’m not speaking for Joe, but I think if you’re good at what you do, you’ll have opportunities to stay,” Cashman said. “He’s definitely going to have that. We’re going to give him a real good reason to stay. He’s earned that.”
The 2013 season marked Girardi’s sixth at the helm of the Yankees. Over that span, Girardi has compiled a 564-408 regular season record, winning one World Series but also missing the playoffs twice.
Girardi said during the Yankees’ season-ending series in Houston that he has loved his time with the organization, but that he has not made up his mind about managing in 2014.
“It comes down to family,” Girardi said on Sunday. “They are first, and whatever is best for the group of us – not one individual, not me or just my wife or just one of my children – whatever is best for us as a group, that’s what we’ll decide to do.
“And that’s something I’ve put some thought into and I’m going to have to think about a lot of the next few days. But that’s a decision that we’ll sit down and make and decide what’s best.”
He has been mentioned in media reports as a candidate for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy, as Chicago parted ways with Dale Sveum this week, but Girardi said on Sunday that his connections to the Windy City are not as strong as they once were.
Asked if he would grant the Cubs permission to speak with Girardi, Cashman declined to comment.
“We can’t control what other options or interests may be out there,” Cashman said. “If you’re good at what you do, people are going to have some interest. You can’t predict the future on that; you can only control your side of it. I feel we hired a good one.
“He’s been a world champion player for us, a coach, a broadcaster, and obviously a world champion manager. We’ve benefited from having him and we’d like to do that going forward. We’ll have to stay tuned and see how it plays out.”
Cashman said that if Girardi returns, the Yankees would also be interested in retaining the entire coaching staff: bench coach Tony Pena, hitting coach Kevin Long, pitching coach Larry Rothschild, infield coach Mick Kelleher and outfield coach Rob Thomson.
“They’re not technically free agents until Oct. 31,” Cashman said. “If Girardi comes back, I would like to have our coaches back, and I think Girardi feels the same way. But ultimately because of the way the process needs to work, the manager has to be decided first and then you can focus on the coaches.”
Though the Yankees posted only 85 victories in 2013, their lowest total since 1988, Cashman said that Girardi has been “consistently tremendous” in making the most of his roster and keeping the club motivated.
“This year was unique in a lot of different ways and he was able to still maintain that leadership, keep these guys hungry and motivated and not give up,” Cashman said. “They never did. I never saw that. Thumbs up. I thought he did a great job, him and his staff.”
Mariano Rivera just closed his playing career with yet another classy gesture, apologizing to the Astros organization, players and fans for not participating in this season-ending three game series at Minute Maid Park.
“I want to make sure to apologize to the Houston Astros players and the great fans in Houston, because I couldn’t compete my last three days of the season,” he said. “I apologize for that.
“I want to leave with the game I played at Yankee Stadium on Thursday — I want to keep that memory of mine. For that, I apologize. You guys deserved more, but I’m being a little selfish.”
Rivera was honored in a pre-game ceremony here in Houston, one attended by former Yankees manager Joe Torre as well as Rivera’s former teammate Roger Clemens. The Astros presented Rivera with a 13-panel painting by a local artist, depicting moments from Rivera’s life, including a scene of a fisherman and his son on a boat in Panama.
In his brief remarks, Torre said, “You don’t get the chance to manage 12 years for George Steinbrenner unless you have someone like this coming out of the bullpen.”
Clemens added: “We’re going to miss that cool jog coming in from center field. There’s not too many sure things in this world.”
On Saturday, Rivera announced that he did not plan to play in this series, saying that the Yankee Stadium ending had been too perfect. He also revealed that he has been dealing with soreness in his right forearm and right knee for quite some time.
Rivera and Andy Pettitte brought out the lineup card for the Yankees. Manager Joe Girardi said before the game that he’d ask Rivera and Pettitte if they wanted to manage the game; it looks like they might accept that offer.
“I couldn’t have dreamed of this working out the way it did,” Pettitte said. “I’m just so thankful and feel so blessed and fortunate. I just feel like God worked this out exactly perfect; another day I’ll never forget.”
Mariano Rivera has thrown his final pitch. The all-time saves leader said on Saturday that he will not take the mound during this series against the Astros, instead letting his Yankee Stadium finale serve as his final Major League appearance.
“I’m done, guys. I’m done. I gave everything that I have,” Rivera said. “I think Thursday was the game that I left everything on the field.”
Rivera said that he has been pitching with “tremendous soreness in my arm,” and that “I was giving everything. I left it there.” He said that giving the ball to Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter at the conclusion of Thursday’s appearance against the Rays gave him complete closure.
“I know it was the perfect moment. It was something I would have never expected,” Rivera said, adding, “I think I squeezed every ounce of fuel out of my tank. It is empty. I have nothing left.”
HOUSTON — Alex Rodriguez said that he is “excited” to begin his appeal of the 211-game performance-enhancing drug suspension levied in August by Major League Baseball.
Rodriguez said that he to be present for each day of the proceedings at MLB’s offices in New York, and expects the appeal process to take five days.
“This has been a burden; a big burden. Let’s get it on,” Rodriguez said. “It starts on Monday. Better to face it head on.”
Rodriguez is not expected to play this weekend against the Astros. He will complete the season batting .244 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 44 games, and now can turn his attention to his battle with MLB.
“I’ll be there every day,” Rodriguez said. “I’m fighting for my life and my whole legacy. I should be there. I hope everyone’s there.”
HOUSTON — Mariano Rivera’s playing career may have ended with that tearful embrace on the mound this week at Yankee Stadium.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he has given Rivera the option of pitching in any of the club’s final games against the Astros here at Minute Maid Park. Rivera told Girardi that he is unavailable again on Saturday, and though Rivera has the right to change his mind, Girardi seems to believe that Rivera will not pitch in Houston.
Rivera’s memorable exit in the Bronx, Girardi said, created a perfect way to go out.
“I think that’s a big part of it,” Girardi said. “That was a special night for him, the way it unfolded. I think he wants it to end that way. But you know, if he changes his mind, it’s OK. Whatever he wants to do.”
Girardi also said that he does not believe Rivera will play center field in Houston; again, his choice. Rivera has long pined for that chance, but seemed to have backed off of his desire earlier this week when Girardi said he was “absolutely” considering it.
“I don’t think we’re probably going to see that as well,” Girardi said. “At least I gave him the opportunity. It’s his decision.”
Rivera is expected to speak to reporters at the conclusion of batting practice.
Here’s what you need to know as the Yankees prepare for Mariano Rivera’s final game at Yankee Stadium, home game No. 81. Tonight’s starting pitchers are Ivan Nova (9-5, 3.13) and Alex Cobb (10-3, 2.90).
Rivera is expected to pitch tonight in what will be an emotional night for the retiring closer, and he was pleased to hear that the Yankees are expecting a sellout crowd for tonight’s game against the Rays.
“I appreciate that, it means a lot to me,” Rivera said. “It means the whole world to me. It’s amazing. I definitely appreciate the fans for that.”
Rivera said that he has not thought about what it will be like to enter a game at Yankee Stadium for the final time.
“I haven’t,” he said. “I’ve been so overwhelmed that I can’t anymore. When it happens tonight, we’ll see what happens.”
Other notes –
- I think it would be fun to see Rivera finally get a chance to play an inning in center field. It’s something he has requested, and Joe Girardi said he is “absolutely” considering doing it this weekend in Houston. Rivera wants to make clear that “this is not a joke” and he would take it seriously.
- Alex Rodriguez “does not have permission” to skip the Yankees’ season-ending trip to Houston, according to manager Joe Girardi. The New York Daily News reported on Thursday that Rodriguez may not travel for the club’s final three games against the Astros, instead remaining in New York to prepare for his appeal of a 211-game suspension, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 30. Brian Cashman said that the Daily News report is “a false story.”
- This is the Yankees’ first home game not being in the playoff picture since Oct. 3, 1993 against the Tigers.
- Girardi said on Thursday that he is not prepared to discuss his future with the club. Girardi’s contract expires after the season. The Yankees have expressed interest in retaining Girardi, who has also been linked to the Cubs and Nationals in published reports.
“That’s something for the offseason,” Girardi said. “Let’s get through these four days and then I can maybe start to address those questions. I’ve said many times: I’ve really enjoyed being here as a manager, a coach, a manager, a player, a broadcaster. I love my time here, but that’s not something that’s handled in-season, and I’ll wait until the offseason.”
- Girardi had little reaction to an ESPN.com report that second baseman Robinson Cano could be trying to land a 10-year, $305 million deal in free agency this winter.
“That’s not something that I discuss,” Girardi said. “You never know the truth of some of the reports that are out there. I’m glad I don’t necessarily have to worry about that kind of money.”
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (82-75) and Rays (88-69) play the second game of a three-game series here at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees still have a mathematical chance of securing a playoff spot, but the tragic number is at one. Realistically, this is going to be a dark October in the Bronx.
The Yankees’ clubhouse was filled with cardboard boxes and that ripping sound of packing tape this afternoon. That pretty much tells you everything that you need to know.
“You still have a shot, but it’s really remote obviously,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You have to win every game and the other teams can’t win games. As I talked about yesterday, we had the tough loss on Sunday and we didn’t swing the bats yesterday, and it’s difficult because you work so long to have an opportunity to make the playoffs, and we really hurt our chances.”
David Price (8-8, 3.43 ERA) is getting the call for Tampa Bay, and this could be the final Yankee Stadium start for Phil Hughes, who will try to finish his terrible season (4-13, 5.07 ERA) on a strong note.
“He’s had some good times and some rough times,” Hughes said. “It’s a guy that had a couple big years as a starter, had a big year out of the bullpen. He’s struggled this year. This year has been a struggle for him, and from a personal standpoint, if you’re going to pick a year to struggle as a player, this is not the year to do it.
“For that, I feel bad for him. I know how bad he wants to do well and be successful for this club and this franchise; he loves it here. I feel bad for him. He was a big part of our success in 2009, what he did in that bullpen, he secured that bullpen and us getting to the playoffs the next couple years. He had some big years for us.”
Here are the quick hits:
- The Yankees are holding a 6:50 p.m. ceremony on the field to honor Andy Pettitte. He’ll receive a gift from Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera on behalf of the organization.
- Girardi said there is “probably a good chance” Rivera will pitch on Thursday against the Rays, which would be his final Yankee Stadium appearance.
- Travis Hafner was activated from the disabled list this afternoon. Girardi said he might use Hafner as a pinch-hitter.