All 30 managers meet with the media at some point during the Winter Meetings, and Joe Girardi just wrapped up his little press conference not too long ago. As expected, he was asked quite a bit about the Yankees rotation and whether or not he expects the team to acquire a starter.
“You always look to improve your club, but sometimes the asking price is too much,” said Girardi, “and if that’s the case, I do feel good about our rotation. [An acquisition] has to make sense for us. We’re not just looking for a one-year deal, we’re looking long-term as well.”
By long-term, he didn’t just mean signing a free agent for the next five years or whatever. “We feel we have some pretty good prospects in the minor leagues that are going to be able to help us this year,” he added, indicating that the club does want to have an opening for some of their prospect at some point relatively soon. Girardi didn’t mention them today, but he has brought up Hector Noesi, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances as guys that could help the rotation next season earlier this winter.
Girardi went on to speak about the different look Freddy Garcia gives opposing batters compared to everyone else on the staff as well as A.J. Burnett’s ability to occasionally dominate a game. “Part of it is Phil Hughes, how does he bounce back? Is he going to be able to be the guy we had in 2010? And if he is, to me that’s almost like going out and making another move,” said Girardi. “He can be really important to us. I do consider him a big part of our rotation.”
The skipper went on to dance around a question about concerns surrounding the conditioning of some of his pitchers, specifically Hughes and CC Sabathia. He likened Sabathia to David Wells, who used to joke that his conditioning was only a problem when he wasn’t getting outs. “I thought [Hughes] got behind the 8-ball because he got hurt, and he never really caught up last year.”
The audio file is way too big to upload at the moment, but I’ll get it up on here eventually. Update: Audio! Apologies for the sound quality, there were a ton of people there and some the questions came from far away.[audio:http://riveraveblues.com/podcasts/Girardi2011WM.mp3]
Here’s the rest of the stuff Girardi spoke about, the important stuff anyway…
- “This is about acquiring talented players to put them on our club,” said Girardi when asked about the recently kinda sorta acquired Hiroyuki Nakajima. “He’ll be asked to do a number of things, obviously, we will look at him. This is about acquiring talent, and we feel that we have a chance to sign a talented player.” He added that there’s room for both Nakajima and Eduardo Nunez on the roster, especially since they would like Nunez to become a bit more versatile.
- As far as the report of Burnett being on the trading block, “Is there necessarily truth to the report about A.J.? I can’t tell you,” said Girardi. “As I said, we’ll always try to improve, no matter where it is, whether it’s the bullpen, a spot in the field, or in the rotation. We’ll look at every avenue.” Frankly, I’m stunned he didn’t come out and say they were trying to dump him. Stunned I tell you.
- It’s possible the team could carry three catchers next year, namely Jesus Montero, Russell Martin, and Frankie Cervelli. Girardi made it clear that Martin is the everyday catcher, but they expect Montero to earn his spot in Spring Training and then get regular at-bats at DH. “We expect him to perform at a level where he helps us next year. We expect that.” Interestingly enough, Girardi said he’s brought up the idea of having Montero play first base, but developing him as a catcher remains the team’s goal. Brian Cashman later ruled out right field completely, so enough talking about that.
- Robinson Cano finished the season as the regular three-hole hitter against right-handed batters, though the batting order is something they’ll continue to evaluate going forward. That includes every spot, from leadoff right down to the number nine guy.
- “I don’t know about 150,” replied Girardi when asked about how many games he expects Alex Rodriguez to play. He did point out that Alex was playing well before the knee injury (.301/.377/.509 on July 1st), but they have to manage his DH days.
- Girardi hasn’t seen Yu Darvish in person, but he’s heard all about him. If the Yankees need to call up a young pitcher at some point next season, they’ll have no problem doing so if they feel they’re ready.
- As I reported earlier, the entire coaching staff will be back next season.