Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’
If you think about it, today marked the first of the hundreds of press conferences and interviews that Joe Girardi will give during the season — usually two a day during the 40-plus days of Spring Training, two a day for each of the 162 regular season games, and we’re not even counting his appearances on the YES Network and other news outlets.
So it’s safe to say we’ll all be hearing Girardi’s voice quite a bit for the rest of the year, but there’s only one official report day for pitchers and catchers. Girardi’s flight from New York to Florida was delayed by weather, so he went directly from the airport to the podium at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Here are the highlights of his 20-minute session:
What was your reaction to Derek Jeter’s announcement, and did you know it was coming?
“I had not heard before that, so I think we were probably all a little bit taken aback by it. You’re never sure how someone’s going to do it, but I had no inkling that that’s what he was thinking, so I was a little taken aback by it. I listened to some of his comments on the article that he had written about how more difficult to get ready and he said when it becomes more of a job than playing then it’s something you have to think about. I can remember a long time ago, Kevin Tapani telling me that it wasn’t the day he pitched. It was the work the four days prior to pitching that became so much more difficult for him. He’s played a lot of games and played a long time, and obviously he’s been so important to this organization. We’re going to miss him.”
Did you get a sense last year about how difficult it was for him?
“That was really clear. We all know how much he loves to be out there. Even when he was trying to fight through it, he would tell me he felt great. His words that he always uses to me: ‘I feel great.’ But you could see how frustrated he was that it just wasn’t healed completely. I’m looking forward to this year.”
You saw what it was like last year with Mariano Rivera… what will this be like?
“I’m not sure how he’ll do it. I thought Mariano, the way he went through it, was special. Mo was in a different situation because Mo doesn’t start to get ready until the fifth or sixth. As a position player, you can’t necessarily do that. I’m sure it’ll be a little bit different. I think watching Mo, he really enjoyed his final season, and I hope Derek is able to do that as well.”
You’ve had to transition established stars into the later phase of their careers. You don’t have to do that with him now. Is that easier on you?
“I don’t know if it makes it easier. It’s clearer. The picture is clearer. This is a guy that’s going to be hard to replace in your clubhouse and on your club. It’s the nature of the business where people age and they move on and they go and do different things in their life, and in our life it’s a little bit quicker than some of the other working people of this world. It’s not something that we’ll think about all year. ‘Is this going to be it? Is this going to be it?’ Because he said it’s going to be it. From that standpoint, that will be easier.”
Any sense how much he can play this year?
“I’ve said all along that he’ll basically determine that on how he’s doing and how he’s feeling. Obviously as a manager, you would love to be able to run out Derek Jeter out there every day, but we know that’s not the case and you don’t do that with many players today anyway. There will just be constant communication like it has been the last few years.”
‘Taken aback’ means you were surprised. Were you saddened or disappointed?
“Yeah. I was there in 1996 when he broke in as Rookie of the Year. And to be able to play alongside such a great player and be able to coach a great player and manage a great player has been a thrill for me — and what he’s meant to this organization. Yeah, I think about the guys that I played with that have retired while I’ve been the manager, these guys were really important to their club and it saddens you. I remember coming to spring training when Jorge wasn’t in that first group hitting. It was like shocking not to see him there. It’ll be strange next year without Derek. So it does sadden you, and you hate to see players get older, but unfortunately it happens.”
Will you resist the pressure to play Jeter more because it’s his last year?
“I’ve got to do what’s best for our team and best for him, is the bottom line. As I’ve said, he’s going to play as much as he’s capable of playing. That’s the bottom line for me. We want him out there, we want him out there every day. I know it won’t be every day, but I want to run him out there most of the time. I’ve just got to do what is best. I kind of had to deal with it with Mo a little bit, I had to deal with it with Andy a little bit. I’ll just do what’s best for our club.”
Do you know how much you can play Jeter?
“I think you’ll have a pretty good idea. At no point in Spring Training will I run him out five or six days in a row, but I think that you’ll be able to tell running him out there two and three days in a row how he’s responding and how he’s bouncing back. It’ll give you a pretty good inkling.”
What has it been like to manage the final days of the Core Four?
“It’s been a thrill. I think about playing alongside these guys and watching these guys go out on their own terms, it’s been pretty exciting. I feel like I’m really blessed to have that opportunity to manage these guys and watch them end their careers the way they want. You wish you could bring them back, and I joked with Mo when I saw him a couple of times at some events this winter, but I feel like I’ve been able to experience so many great things at the stadium because of these guys and I love it.”
Will Jeter hit second?
“That would be the ideal thing, if you could break up your left-handers, but we’ll just have to see. We’ll play with lineups during spring training.”
Did CC Sabathia’s weight affect his velocity last year?
“I think that could be part of it. I think not having a normal offseason because he was rehabbing his elbow is part of it as well. I can’t tell you exactly where his velocity is going to be, but the bottom line for his success is not his velocity. Obviously it helps a little bit, but it’s his location. I think he got behind the eight-ball a little bit because of the injury last year, but I think he’s had a normal winter. I think his location will be much better and I do think his velocity will be better, I do.”
Without Robinson Cano, do you have a ‘best hitter’ to build your lineup around?
“I think we have a collection of very good hitters this year. I think our lineup is much deeper than it was last year from top to bottom. There’s more balance with some of the switch-hitters; Tex coming back and Beltran. Having Soriano the whole year, bringing Jeet back, I think there’s much more balance in our lineup. But as far as having that one guy that maybe you center the lineup around, I would say no.”
Will Michael Pineda be the fifth starter?
“When we traded for him, we expected him to be in our rotation. He’s had some injury-plagued seasons the last couple years. Obviously you want someone to rise to the top to become the fifth starter. It’s an interesting year as a manager. I’ll say it tomorrow when I speak with the pitchers; don’t try to make the team in the next few days because there are some open spots. There is some really good competition here where you have the competition for the fifth starter, and the guys that aren’t necessarily the fifth starter could be in your bullpen. I want to make sure these guys aren’t pushing too hard, too early where they have a setback. If you have a setback, that could cost you a spot on this club. It’s really important to me that I stress to all these guys – Michael Pineda, Phelps, Warren, Nuno and all these young kids that have a chance to earn a spot in our bullpen – you can’t do too much in the next couple weeks. Get your arm in shape, get strong and then we’ll go from there.”
With changes all over, how is your job different?
“It’s trying to learn your pieces from a mental and a physical standpoint. From a mental standpoint, what gets them going, can you read when they need a day off, are they honest about when they need a day off? Physically, how many days in my mind should I play a guy? What makes me think that they need a day off? Bringing the guys close together as a team. A lot of times, people say, ‘What comes first? The chemistry or the winning?’ Winning can help chemistry a lot. We’ll do some of those things and I’ll pay attention to signs from players, try to listen really carefully and use some of my coaches and other people to find out sometimes what a player is really saying. I think that’s important.”
What are your thoughts on Masahiro Tanaka?
“I did spend some time watching video of him this offseason and watching his ability to turn it up a notch when he needed to. Being able to add velocity; to having a couple of different fastballs; a couple of different sliders, a curveball, a split, a changeup. I even saw him get a hit. I don’t know if that will come into play if he gets to in a National League ballpark. What I like is his competitiveness. I’ve been a guy that is careful about labeling people. Is he your No. 1 starter? Is he your No. 4 starter? Is he No. 5? Two? Three? I believe that every day, the guy that pitches is your No. 1 starter. That’s how I think of it, because that’s your guy. That’s your guy that day, and one of the other guys can’t really sub in for him unless you happen to have some days off. I like his ability. I like his competitiveness. Now it’s just making some adjustments to American baseball. We’ve seen where it’s taken American players a little time to adjust to New York. He seems to really enjoy the stage and the spotlight and being a big part of a club. Let’s give him a little time to adjust.”
Could Pineda begin the year in the bullpen?
“We envision him as a starter, but I think that when we take a look at this, we’ve got to see how he’s doing as a starter. Then, once we pick our starters, we’ve got to pick what we believe is our best bullpen. So the answer to that is, I think anything is possible, but we envision him as a starter.”
Who is your backup first baseman, and what reports have you received on Mark Teixeira?
“I would say right now our backup first baseman would be Kelly Johnson if Tex needed a day off, and he’s going to need some days off. Everything has been positive signs for Tex. At times I talked about, it’s one thing to go through minor league rehab games and your workouts and your BP, because it can be a little bit guarded. But it’s another thing when you get into a big league game and it’s not so guarded. So I think you just have to pay attention to what he’s saying and the signs that he’s giving off. But I feel pretty good about his wrist, and I’m really looking forward to having him back.”
Would you play Brian McCann at first base?
“It’s not something that we’ve talked about. I guess it could be, though.”
Why do you think David Robertson will be ready for the ninth inning?
“I think he has all the ability in the world. You think about closers, and you want pitchers that are strikeout guys, and that’s exactly what he has. I think for Robby, I remember coming in at a much smaller stage and you’re compared to someone (Mike Stanley). And then Tino was compared to Don Mattingly. And it’s important for Robby that he’s just himself, and that if something does go wrong one day, you’re going to be compared to Mo. You know what, I think Mo blew six or seven saves last year. Mo was human too, and you can’t get too caught up in just one game. I would love to say he’s going to go 45-for-45, but even the greatest closers of all time don’t do that. So for us, it’s just if it does become a media buzz or something, we just have to help him control it.”
The Yankees have had a busy two days here at the Winter Meetings, but thus far they have not been able to cross the finish line on any deals. General manager Brian Cashman is hopeful that they will leave Walt Disney World with at least one player in the fold, but he also understands that it is just as likely they’ll be able to continue conversations once the team contingent returns to New York.
Here’s a rundown of quick hits from yesterday’s coverage:
- Plenty of teams are calling about Brett Gardner. The Yankees are listening, but not shopping him. Cashman said he has also received calls on Ivan Nova, Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy. The Yankees like having two players who could patrol center field in Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.
- The Yankees are moving on from Robinson Cano. Joe Girardi acknowledged that Cano wasn’t happy batting second last year. Cashman said that for $240 million, he would have done the same thing.
- Joe Torre is about to have his number retired. New Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson took a good-natured swipe at his former team.
- The Yankees have checked in with free agent third baseman Mark Reynolds. Cashman said he could see a right-handed batter platooning with Kelly Johnson at third base, but the Yankees also could play Johnson at second base or in the outfield.
- A starting pitcher is more likely to be signed via free agency than acquired by trade. The top free agent starters are currently judged to be Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. Like the rest of the league, the Yankees are waiting for clarity on the Masahiro Tanaka situation. Girardi named David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno as rotation candidates.
- The Yankees asked the Reds about Homer Bailey, and were told no.
- Cashman refused to speak to the Carlos Beltran situation, as Beltran’s contract is still not official. Speaking in general terms, Cashman said that the Yankees like the flexibility of a power switch-hitting combination like they’ve been accustomed to with Bernie Williams/Jorge Posada or Nick Swisher/Mark Teixeira.
- Having a healthy Teixeira back at first base upgrades the Yankees, Cashman said. He still sees question marks at second base, third base and shortstop, though Joe Girardi said that Derek Jeter is “having a normal offseason” and “feels great.”
- Girardi said that he is “not sure” how Ichiro Suzuki will be used. The Yankees would move Ichiro, who is due $6.5 million in 2014. The Giants aren’t a fit.
- The Yankees are looking for bullpen help, both righties and lefties. They’re in touch with Boone Logan. Girardi sees David Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne in the pen right now.
- Michael Pineda is coming in healthy and will compete for a rotation spot. Gil Patterson saw him a month ago in the Dominican and reported that Pineda is “in great shape,” Cashman said.
- Manny Banuelos, if healthy, is expected to be at Triple-A.
Joe Girardi received a substantial contract offer – believed to be three years between $12 and $15 million – from the Yankees late last week. He has not yet responded, which the Chicago Sun-Times suggests may be an indication that Girardi is “torn” between accepting the Yankees deal and hearing what the Cubs will have to say.
The newspaper says that Girardi has received “back-channel feelers” from the Cubs, who may be willing to top the Yankees’ offer. The Yankees have not granted Girardi permission to speak with other clubs. The Nationals are also believed to be interested in Girardi, who is under contract with the Yankees until Nov. 1.
With Girardi in a holding pattern, the Cubs are moving forward with other options to replace manager Dale Sveum. Manny Acta, Rick Renteria and A.J. Hinch are among those on the candidate list, reports MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat.
Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offseason planning is underway. General manager Brian Cashman scheduled the club’s professional scouting meetings to begin this week, a gathering that will determine the Yankees’ blueprint for the winter.
If Joe Girardi and the Yankees are not able to hammer out a new contract this month, there project to be multiple potential landing spots for the manager.
The Washington Nationals have requested permission to speak with Joe Girardi about their vacancy with Davey Johnson retiring, CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan reported. Girardi is under contract with the Yankees until Oct. 31, when his three-year, $9 million pact expires.
He has also drawn interest from the Cubs after they dismissed Dale Sveum, and the Reds also could reach out after they parted ways with manager Dusty Baker this week.
The Yankees would like to retain Girardi and are not expected to grant permission for any club to speak with him until their exclusive negotiating window expires. Girardi met with general manager Brian Cashman for coffee on Monday and Cashman met with Girardi’s agent, Steve Mandell, on Wednesday.
In his end-of-season press conference on Sept. 29 in Houston, Girardi said that he did not expect his contract situation to drag out. He also downplayed the perception that the Cubs position would be an appealing ‘dream job’ for him.
“Our home has been here [in New York]. My kids are engrossed in schools here. We haven’t been to Chicago since … haven’t lived there since 2006. The only person who’s really there, my brother’s still there, a couple brothers are there. My father’s gone, my mother’s gone – there’s not as much there as there used to be.”
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.”