The “Remember When, Remember Now” dinner was a fundraiser for Girardi’s Catch-25 Foundation and for Alzheimer’s research.
Girardi was nice enough to spend some time with reporters before the dinner started. Here’s his take on some hot topics:
On recruiting free agents: “Not yet. Obviously I’ll wait until we get a little further down the process as players try and make a decision between one or two teams or one of three teams. I believe we have a ton to offer here with the new Stadium, an ownership group that does everything it can to win every year, the city. This is an exciting place to play and I was a player that played other places and came here and absolutely loved it.”
Can recruiting help? “I think so. I think calls from players can help, too. Obviously you’ll be in the clubhouse with players every day and obviously you’ll be in the clubhouse with your manager every day.”
Expect a quick decision on Sabathia? “I don’t know. I know players like to have, a lot of times, things done before the holidays get here so they know exactly where they’re going and they have an opportunity to find a place to live. I’m hoping things get done sooner than later. But sometimes players have a hard time making up their mind.”
On Nick Swisher: “Right now, I would envision him as a first baseman. We’ve gotten reports that he’s very, very good over there. He’s talked about how he likes playing over there. Right now, that’s where we envision him playing. In the next couple of months, could our team change? Yes it could and he could move to another spot. That’s the great thing about Nick, he’s versatile.”
Girardi has yet to speak with Swisher yet. They’re playing phone tag.
Finding a center fielder from outside the organization: “We’ve talked about it in our meetings. What’s going to happen I can’t exactly tell you. Some of it may depend on who we sign first and do we decide from a financial standpoint can we bring in an outside center fielder. But we have had discussions on outside center fielders.”
Andy Pettitte: “We have made it known that we would like to have him back. He has made it known that he would like to come back. Now itâ€™s that process you have to go through. Do I anticipate it? Yes, because both sides want to be together.”
As constructed now, do the Yankees have an adequate lineup? “Oh, I think so. I think we can. Obviously Nick Swisher is an on-base sort of guy. He had a down year and we know that. But he’s a patient hitter, a switch hitter. He’s going to hit you 25 home runs and I believe he had the ability to drive in 100 runs in our lineup. But you win with pitching and defense. Our main focus is starting pitching because we really feel we need to upgrade that. If we’re able to do that, we’ll compete a lot better.”
More on the lineup: “Matsui and Posada are doing very well (rehabbing). We believe that will improve our lineup drastically. You take a switch hitter out of the lineup last year. You take a left-hander who hits left-handers and right-handers very well and is very tough in RBI situations out of the lineup most of the year … We believe there are enough parts. That doesn’t mean we won’t add some But we believe our lineup will be better from a health standpoint.”
Regarding the WBC, Girardi said he supported the idea of guys playing for their national teams. But he said that the Yankees would be cautious with their injured players.
On A.J. Burnett: “Great stuff. A.J. Burnett has great stuff. I think he’s matured a lot as a pitcher as well. He’s learned to control the running game a lot better. He attacks hitters. He gets hitters out quickly. He throws a lot of strikes. He fields his position. … I think he’s much more complete as a pitcher than he was a couple of years ago.”
Burnett’s injury history: “That’s something you look at. He was healthy last year, so to me that’s a positive sign. There’s risk in any long-term contract which you give out. But whoever we sign we’ll do whatever we can to keep him healthy. The other thing is we have a strong bullpen. We don’t necessarily have to push our starters every time.”
Could Hughes be in the rotation next year? “Um … yeah. Obviously you look at what you’re able to acquire and if you’re not able to acquire the three starters you think you are, there’s a possibility he’ll be in our rotation. For him, the first thing that’s important is to stay healthy. No. 2 is fastball command and you build off of that. You hope he learned a lot from this year. It was a frustrating year for him and for us as well. I believe he’s going to be a major league pitcher. Sometimes things take a little bit more time than you anticipate. But I still believe he’ll be a major league starter for us.”