Press Conference Recap: Girardi talks Jeter, Tanaka, Pineda, Fifth Starter, More

(Photo via @YankeesPR)

(Photo via @YankeesPR)

Pitchers and catchers reported to Tampa today, and a few hours later Joe Girardi showed up to camp. His flight from New York was delayed because of all the snow. My goodness there is so much snow. Anyway, here is a not at all complete recap of Girardi’s annual start-of-Spring Training press conference, culled together from the Twitter accounts of reporters in attendance.

On Derek Jeter

  • Girardi had “no inkling” Jeter was planning to retire after the season until the announcement was made. “We are going to miss him,” he said. “You want a guy like that to play forever.”
  • Jeter’s playing time both in the field and at DH against left-handers is going to be based on how he feels on a daily basis. They won’t put a firm plan in place at this point.
  • As for batting Jeter second, Girardi said “we’ll have to see,” but indicated he would like to split up the left-handed hitters. I wonder if that means Brett Gardner will bat leadoff and Jacoby Ellsbury will bat third. Or maybe Ellsbury at leadoff with Brian McCann batting third. We’ll see.

On the new players

  • “It is the biggest transition I’ve been through … I think its important I get to know these guys,” said the skipper.
  • Girardi believes Masahiro Tanaka loves the spotlight and will handle the move to MLB well.
  • Kelly Johnson is the backup first baseman for the time being. They have not discussed playing McCann at first.

On the fifth starter competition

  • Girardi plans to tell David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda, and everyone else to make sure they take it easy early in camp and gradually build themselves up. They don’t want anyone getting hurt by doing too much too soon.
  • “Anything is possible,” said Girardi when asked if they would be willing to use Pineda out of the bullpen. “When we traded for him, we expected him to be in our rotation,” he added. “We envision him as a starter.”
Categories : Spring Training


  1. The Great Gonzo says:

    Pineda, the anti Joba.

    • The Great Gonzo says:

      Well, except for the hot start to their careers, the mile high expectations, the DUIs…

      • vicki says:

        … the dreaded inverted W …

      • steve (different one) says:

        coming to camp overweight….

        • vicki says:

          haven’t you read? he’s in the best shape of his life!

          but yes. the writing was on the wall two years ago.

          • steve (different one) says:

            So is Joba, which I found pretty annoying.

            Nothing like free agency to force a guy to finally get in shape.

        • Farewell Mo says:

          I reached my limit with Joba when he made those veiled threats to Mo this year before one of the games in front of a bunch of people.

          Even if Mo was in the wrong, which I don’t believe he was, try and show just a modicum of class and bite your tongue until you’re in private. Instead he acted like a red neck in full glory.

  2. Fred says:

    Breaking up lefties means 1. Ellsbury 2. Jeter 3. Beltran 4. Tex 5. McCann 6. Soriano 7. Johnson 8. Roberts 9. Gardner

    Something I laughed at was that Kelly Johnson would be Tex’s backup? What team’s strategy is to have their starting third basemen (who’s already regarded as a backup player) as their first basemen’s backup? Who plays third when Johnson takes over for Tex, a backup of a backup? This has 2013 mess written all over it.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sign Drew to play third. Everyone knows Roberts wont make it through the whole season. Platoon Johnson and Roberts at second, and then you can use Johnson as your utility man. Drew can play second next year after we get Hanley and Headly.

    • vicki says:

      so much wow.

    • mustang says:

      “Pitchers and catchers reported to Tampa today,”

      Apparently some us didn’t get the memo.

      I’m as sick of the Drew talk as I am of snow God I hope he signs soon.

    • The Yankees had the backup 1Bman be their RF for like 3 years. You usually don’t need a all star caliber backup at 1B.

    • Mr. Roth says:

      Your failure to even Scott Sizemore is completely inexcusable.

    • steve (different one) says:

      fun fact:

      Kelly Johnson has been a better hitter than Stephen Drew over their careers.

      I wouldn’t say no to Drew, but how is one guy a must sign (at 3B) and the other a “backup”?

      Now, will Roberts get hurt and Johnson winds up at 2B? This seems likely. So it is probably wise to add another quality IFer somewhere. And if Drew’s price is right, he might be that guy.

      But we should remember that Stephen Drew is not Troy Tulowitzki….and Kelly Johnson is not Jayson Nix.

      • Fred says:

        Were not signing players for what they did over their careers. Were signing them for what theyve done most recently (2013 season) and what they can do in the future (2014 and beyond).
        Saying that, Drew is a viable option for a starter and has a higher WAR than johnson and roberts combined. The yankees strategy for signing every injured has-been on the scrapheap has blown up in their face and frankly is a waste of millions of dollars. Perhaps if we sign Drew our entire infield WAR will come close to Cano’s WAR alone

        • ALZ says:

          WAR is not everything. If ss was available it makes sense, but as a 3B Drew doesn’t provide all that much upgrade over Johnson to be worth $12M. It changes though if you view Drew as a longer term answer at short.

          • Farewell Mo says:

            How many games do you realistically expect Jeter to play at SS this year, maybe 80 if he’s lucky. There’ll be plenty of time at SS for whoever ends up as the backup to Jeter.

          • Chris H says:

            You shouldn’t look at signing Drew as trying to upgrade from Johnson, it would move Johnson to second where he’s more comfortable defensively. So if anything Drew is an uograde from Roberts and strengthening of Johnson’s value.

      • Farewell Mo says:

        One reason people are calling for Drew and regarding Johnson as a “back up” might be because Drew was worth as many WAR last year as Johnson has been his last full 3 years combined.

        You’re comparing apples to oranges. Drew is no Tulo and Johnson is no Nix but Drew >>>>>>>Johnson

    • Chris H says:

      Why is McCann below Teixeira? Against RHP there is no reasonable argument for McCann hitting lower than 4th.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:


  3. The first press conference of the season!

  4. FLYER7 says:

    Did Joe call Phelps Phelpsie? Did we get a Noony? How about some new pet names?

  5. TWTR says:

    Whatever lingering antipathy I had about the Pineda trade, I am one of his biggest fans at this point. Obviously, his re-emergence to a No. 2-3 starter would dramatically boost this team’s upside potential.

    • ALZ says:

      I think it was a good trade, but with less than stellar results. I’d be happy if he can be a #3 at this point. Montero was exciting, but at the end of the day he was only a dh/1B, and that is so easy for this team to find since you can just throw money at them.

      • TWTR says:

        Whether or not Montero ever becomes one, cost controlled young power hitters are rare, and young pitchers are fragile. So the risk of the trade was stupid, but it needs to start unsucking NOW!

  6. Chris H says:

    The only way the “break up the lefties” argument makes sense is either you are facing a left handed starter or Jeter is a .350+ OBP guy again, and even then I hate the thought of Jeter swinging first pitch and erasing Ellsbury with a double play.

    Gardner, Ellsbury, Beltran, McCann make the most sense to me in the top half against RHP, the question then is do you bat Jeter 6, 7, or 8, and do you bat Soriano or Teixeira 5th. Against LHP go ahead and break the lefties up, Ellsbury, Jeter, Soriano, Teixeira, Beltran.

    • ALZ says:

      I do like Gardner at leadoff if he can handle it. He takes more pitches and more walks, and still has great speed. Whereas Ellsbury has more power and is better at getting the hits to move players over.

      If you got a rhp starting just stick the lefties together and try to pounce early. Having two lefties together isn’t going to kill you in the long run.

      • Chris H says:

        I’ll never understand this train of thought, there is a right handed pitcher starting the game yet you want to set the lineup specifically for a LHP specialist you 1. may not see at all in the game and 2. if he does take the field may not get a chance to pitch in a high leverage spot.

        Shouldn’t the best strategy for scoring runs be to try and score early and as often as possible? If Garner, Ellsbury, Beltran, and McCann mash the RHP starter from the jump the LOOGY in the other pen doesn’t matter.

        I will admit that if you are in a tie game (or down by one) in the late innings and they bring in a tough lefty Gardner, Ellsbury, Beltran, and McCann might be in trouble, but why are you drawing up a lineup card for that one instance? Teixeira is still great against LHP sure but he was barley above league average against RHP last time we saw, I’m not giving him more at bats against RHP than McCann (who OPS’d .869 against RHP in 2013) because of it that.

        At the end of the day I’m setting my lineup card to maximize my advantage against the starter taking the hill that day, not a specific event that may or may not happen in the 7th or 8th inning. Because lets face it if they are bringing in a LOOGY in the 4th or 5th you’ve already run the starter out of the game and taxed their whole pen as a result anyway.

    • JGYank says:

      Considering Beltran didn’t do well against LHP last year, (small sample alert) the top half of the order would be shut down by a lefty reliever if that Beltran trend continues and 3 of the top 4 would be lefties.

      • Chris H says:

        In regards to Beltran it depends on what you mean by “didn’t do well”, he struggled to make contact and get on base at a great clip but he still slugged .448 and OPSd .729 against LHP, good for a 102 wRC+. So while he didn’t do great he wasn’t particularly awful like a Choo or McCann.

        • JGYank says:

          It’s not a huge deal, I’m just nitpicking and saying that it’s something to consider. Obviously lineups should be set for the starter, and then try to separate the lefties and create a balance if you can. 102 wRC+ isn’t exactly middle of the order material even if it’s average so a LHP would really control the top of that order so it’s likely one will be brought in. Beltran belongs in the top of the lineup against righties, but he doesn’t hit LHP as well as RHP, which is the opposite of Tex.

          • Chris H says:

            To be clear I was placing Beltran 3rd against RHP starters only, you have to play the splits against starters, I think the Yankees need two completely different lineups this year in fact.

            Gardner, Ellsbury, Beltran, McCann, Soriano, Teixeira, Jeter, Johnson, Roberts

            Though you could move Teixeira to 5th and drop Soriano below Jeter if the captain can’t handle batting lower than 6.

            Ellsbury, Jeter, Soriano, Teixeira, Beltran, McCann, Roberts, Nunez, Gardner

            Tough bottom four of that order and Beltran is only average against LHP but those are the breaks when you don’t sign someone like Baker to strengthen an obvious weakness.

      • Chris H says:

        So my posts got deleted? No idea why 3 posts just aren’t showing up.

        Anyway I’ve never understood this train of thought, you want to build a lineup set to face off against a right handed starter based upon a LOOGY matchup that 1. might not happen at all and 2. if it does may not take place in a high leverage situation.

        I mean the strategy of setting up a lineup is for scoring runs as fast and as often as possible with the guys who get on the most getting the most ABs. If you let Gardner, Ellsbury, Beltran, and McCann jump all over a RHP starting the game the high leverage LOOGY situation never appears.

        Now I’ll admit that if you are tied (or down by 1) in the 7th or 8th inning you might struggle with a lefty specialist if Gardner, Ellsbury, Beltran, and McCann are due up. However I don’t see how it makes sense to plan a lineup vs a RHP over the course of a full game for that one scenario that may or may not come to fruition.

        Teixeira has always been great vs LHP as a Yankee no doubt, but as of his last full season he was barley above league average against RHP with a .770 OPS and a 108 wRC+. Why would I ever give him more ABs against RHP than McCann who OPS’d .869 and had a wRC+ of 141 against RHP in 2013?I’m weakening my lineup for 5 to 7 innings for one possible AB that’s not destined to happen in the 7th or 8th?

        Also on Beltran I guess it depends on what you mean by “didn’t do well”. Yeah his contact and on base ability was weak in 2013 but he still slugged .448, with a .729 OPS, good for a 102 wRC+. In other words he wasn’t good but he was still slugging enough to represent league average offense against his weakest side of the plate. He’s not the same kind of weak against LHP that say Choo or McCann are.

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