During today’s Joe Girardi press conference, several young players — from young big leaguers to young up-and-comers — were mentioned by name, some of them unprompted by Girardi (that includes Brady Lail, who Girardi brought up on his own as a guy who could help the pitching staff next season). There are no huge revelations here, but here’s what Girardi had to say about some of young guys who could play a role next year.
One thing I found interesting: When I asked about a second base, I kept the question wide open without naming names. It wasn’t really intentional, I just asked whether Girardi thought he’d found some answers at second base late in the year. His response ignored Dustin Ackley completely and focused only on Refsnyder.
“He played well,” Girardi said. “It’s a small sample. I thought he improved at Triple-A over the course of the season. I think it’s you look at him, you look at what’s available, and you make a decision.”
Worth noting that Girardi shot down the idea of Refsnyder dusting off his outfield skills to play a more versatile role (though he didn’t entirely rule out the idea of revisiting the idea of John Ryan Murphy seeing some time at an infield corner).
“I don’t really see Refsnyder necessarily going back to the outfield,” Girardi said. “I think we will continue to try to develop him as a second baseman. We believe that his bat is going to play. Could you toy around with playing Murph at a different position one day here? I think you could. I think he’s athletic enough to do it. I think you have to see the makeup of your roster before you necessarily start doing those things. I’m not opposed to doing that.”
On this matter, I can’t blame Girardi for being non-committal.
“That’s not an answer I have for you now,” Girardi said.
Clearly the Yankees know Bird can play. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have kept him in the lineup down the stretch and started him against a lefty in a wild card game. The question is whether it makes sense to find a spot for him on a team that already has a first baseman — a first baseman, by the way, who had a better OPS than Bird this season — plus a full-time designated hitter. Carrying three players for those two positions would be pretty limiting to a team that clearly needs to rest guys like Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann as well.
Oh, and Girardi seems on board with Brian Cashman’s idea that there’s no more tinkering with Rodriguez in the field.
“You know, I imagine that he’s probably going to be a DH moving forward,” Girardi said. “That’s something we’ll probably address in the winter as well, because you look at the makeup of your club and could you expect something, but it’s probably mostly DH.”
Unless the Yankees make a trade, there’s not an outfield job available for a player like Judge. The kid obviously has the potential to be great, but I’m doubt the Yankees are going to go out of their way to open a roster spot for a guy who hit .224/.308/.373 in Triple-A this year. Doesn’t at all mean Judge is a bust, only means he might not be ready just yet. Then again…
“Anything’s possible,” Girardi said. “Sometimes it happens through an injury. My first opportunity was through an injury. And then I went down for 40 days and then came back. That was my opportunity.”
The Yankees do have a need for a right-handed outfield bat now that Chris Young is a free agent again. That sort of platoon job, though, isn’t the kind of thing the Yankees are likely to give their top offensive prospect.
“You don’t want a young player playing only once a week or twice a week when there’s still development that could take place,” Girardi said. “That would slow that down. That’s always the question that you have to answer. Is he going to thrive in that situation? John Ryan Murphy did very well. I thought he thrived in his situation for a backup catcher. I thought he had a very good year where there’s that question; do we want him to catch every day at Triple-A or would you rather him be the backup? We chose for him to be the backup and he did a really good job.”
For five months, Shreve really was an excellent reliever. It wasn’t just one great spurt that carried his numbers, either. He was good and reliable all year until, quite suddenly, he was awful in the month of September.
“There’s one thing that I realized as a player pretty quickly after my first year,” Girardi said. “My first year in the big leagues was 1989. That extra month is something that you never experienced before, and being in a playoff race was something that I never experienced before. And yeah, you like to say you know exactly what it’s like, but you don’t. And I think Shreve has a chance to be better because of the struggles he went through and probably learned a lot about himself.”
I don’t think make any firm evaluations based on a single season, much less a single month. The first five months didn’t absolutely prove Shreve had staying power, and the last month didn’t absolutely prove he can’t pitch at this level.
“For the first five months this guy was really good and was a huge part of our bullpen,” Girardi said. “And that’s what I’m going to look at. The sixth month, yeah, we’ve got to figure out what happened. Mechanically there were probably some things that got a little bit off, and we’ve got to teach him and help him get back to his mechanics when things get off, in a sense, but I think it has a chance to really help him.”
While Girardi has a reputation for preferring veterans over young guys, he said he’s completely on board with Cashman’s decision to keep young talent rather than make a deal for a short-term upgrade.
“I think when you look at the contributions they made, I think we made the right moves,” Girardi said. “I know David Price did extremely well in his 10, 12 starts over there. I know Johnny Cueto had some struggles over there. When I look at Severino’s body of work, I think we’re all pretty pleased with what we saw. We’re glad we kept him. I think when we look at Bird’s work, I think we’re pretty pleased and probably glad that we kept him.
“I look at other players, some of the players who finished in Triple-A — an Aaron Judge we think is going to make a big impact, we feel that a Gary Sanchez is going to make a big impact after the year that he had and the improvements that he made — so I think the organization made the right decisions not giving up if you want to call them your top prospects, your blue-chip prospects, just for a two-month rental.”
Associated Press photos