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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Q&A with Joe Girardi

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Dec 09, 2008 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Here’s a transcript of Joe Girardi’s interview session today. It was provided by MLB. In the interest of brevity, I trimmed out some of the more pointless aspects:

Q. Your impressions of C.C. from meeting with him?
JOE GIRARDI: I was very impressed. And obviously, as you watch him work from afar, you’re impressed with what he’s been able to accomplish the last two years, what he didn’t want, pitching every fourth day, the type of competitor he is and the type of family man, I was impressed with. I thought it was a good meeting, and it was a fairly large figure, and he would look good in pinstripes.

Q. Were you a part of the meetings yesterday with Sheets?
JOE GIRARDI: I thought that was also a good meeting. Obviously I faced Ben Sheets when I was with the Cubs and admire the work that he’s done over the years. It was good to talk to him about his health, his routine and what he likes to do. He’s a very open young man, and he was impressive.

Q. When he’s been healthy, he’s been a phenomenal pitcher. Is the only thing stopping him from being mentioned on the level of a C.C.-type of guy, his health?
JOE GIRARDI: I would think so, yes. When you look at his numbers they stack up against anyone, you look at a three-, four-, six-year period, his numbers are really good. He made 32 starts last year, and he had an issue — he had a strain last year.
He’s healthy now, we believe, and he’s had some injuries. He’s had back issues. But he had that fixed I think in 2004. But I think injuries have kind of kept him out of that class, but when he’s on the mound, he’s dynamite.

Q. How much of a concern is that history?
JOE GIRARDI: You know what, it’s a concern for all pitchers. You pitch every fifth day, you want to make all 32 starts. Ideally that’s what you want from your rotation. If you sign someone from a year, two years, five years, even guys within your rotation now, your biggest concern is keeping them on the field. And we had issues doing that last year, and it hurt us. You look what happened to Wong, that hurt us.
When you look at a guy’s track record of injuries, there is some concern if they have had a fairly large track record.
But there’s no guarantee if they have not been hurt that they are not going to get hurt.

Q. Do you feel any different about your chances of landing Sabathia now than before you got to Vegas?
JOE GIRARDI: No. I think it’s a process and it just takes time. It’s a big decision for C.C. and his family and where they are going to go, and you kind of expect it to take time. I think when you’re on the management side, you want it to be happening as quick as possible. But going through it as a player, I took my time, because it was a big decision. I was never at the level of free agent that he was. I was a long ways down and never offered that many years, but a substantial period of time in his life and his kids’ life.

Q. Sheets, C.C., everybody, what’s it going to take for this market to start to move?
JOE GIRARDI: You know, that’s probably not something that I understand or know. You know, you think sometimes once one guy goes, things start to fall into place and maybe when one guy goes, they don’t have the offers from that team any more and it starts to take shape. But, you know, I’m not sure who is going to be the first big name to go, but I think once someone goes, you’ll see it maybe pick up a little bit. But I’m not for sure.

Q. As far as Sabathia goes, how big of a factor do you think location will be where he is?
JOE GIRARDI: Where he’s going to be?

Q. How big of a factor is that for him.
JOE GIRARDI: I think it’s a big factor for every free agent. If you look at C.C., his wife, Amber, his three young children — his son, I believe, is five, a daughter that’s three, and another little girl that’s seven weeks old. So proximity is important for him. And I think being comfortable and feeling like you’re in a place that’s good for your family becomes extremely important.

Q. Do you sense at all with him that there’s some weariness or hesitation about the scrutiny of New York?
JOE GIRARDI: No, I don’t. I think it’s more just taking his time, waiting to see everything and then making a decision. You know, C.C. has pitched in New York. He’s pitched in New York in a playoff situation. He’s been on the Indians. He knows what New York is about. He’s been in American League long enough to know what New York is about. And C.C.’s personality I think would work very well here. He’s a guy that wants the ball every fifth day, he’s a stand-up guy, he’s a very honest young man. So I think his personality will be great.

Q. How do you think Burnett’s personality would be?
JOE GIRARDI: You know, I have not sat down and talked to A.J., so I don’t have a sense of necessarily how he would do. I know he pitches well every time I’ve seen him in New York, so makes me believe that he would be okay.

Q. There’s been so much focus on your pitching so far this off-season, and right now you’ve got a new first baseman coming off a bad year and you have a second baseman coming off a bad year, a little uncertainty in centerfield, does your offense need something or do you feel you need some work on the offensive side of it as well?
JOE GIRARDI: We feel with the addition of Posada coming back, with the addition of Matsui coming back, we believe Swisher will have a better year. Our focus has been pitching. And obviously as we get a little bit further down the road, if we feel we have to tinker with another area, we will do that.
But right now, the focus has been pitching.

Q. You’re comfortable with your centerfield position as it is right now?
JOE GIRARDI: Yes. I mean, that’s a position where there will be competition and we’re comfortable with it.

Q. How was Posada?
JOE GIRARDI: Good. He actually started throwing. I believe his first step was 60 feet, correct? So everything is going according to plan, which is good. We all know that he has a real hunger to get back out there, and I think that’s a big part of his rehab.

Q. Have you talked to Andy at all recently?
JOE GIRARDI: I have not talked to Andy probably in about ten days.

Q. Do you have any sense — I know he said he wants to come back to the Yankees. Do you have a sense that he wants to pitch this year even if things don’t work out in New York?
JOE GIRARDI: You know, he didn’t really give me a feeling either way, so I can’t really answer that for him. We all know that he wants to come back. We want him to come back. It’s just a process that has to take place. It’s one of the things we’ll continue to work on.

Q. Given those factors, we’ve known for a long time he wants to come back, you want him to come back, there’s an offer out there. As it goes on and on, do you start to worry that maybe he just won’t come back?
JOE GIRARDI: Not necessarily, but I’ve just had that feeling all along that he’ll be a Yankee next year. Maybe that’s because that’s what I’m used to seeing, Andy as a Yankee and that’s part of it. But I just have that feeling that he’ll be a Yankee next year.

Q. Swisher as your first baseman, the competition for that job, how important was that acquisition for your team?
JOE GIRARDI: We are excited about it. We think Nick is going to improve our infield defense. We think he’ll play very well defensively at first base. He’s a grinder. That’s kind of the word that people used about five or six years ago; he grinds out his at-bats. He’s a patient hitter. He didn’t have the year that he’s accustomed to having last year, but we believe that’s behind him and he’ll have a good year.

Q. Is your role in terms of recruiting guys, trying to convince them to come on board — do you take a different role with each guy?
JOE GIRARDI: As we talk to them and as Brian says, you know, it’s time to talk to them, that’s kind of when I step in. I’ve had a chance to meet with C.C. and I’ve had a chance to meet with Bengie. I’ve talked to Swish obviously when he was traded. When Brian thinks it’s time, I get involved.

Q. Did you meet with Sheets when he was here?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, yesterday, big representation group.

Q. Having gone through that whole year of experience and the turbulence your team went through, do you think year two is going to be easier from some respects?
JOE GIRARDI: I think so, because I have an understanding of what it’s like to sit in that chair. Any time you experience something, anything comes easier the more and more you do it. But there will be situations that come up that you’ll have to deal with that maybe you didn’t deal with the year before. But you can draw on your experiences and I think that’s real important.

Q. Do you need to see Jorge Posasa throw or have any idea of whether he’s going to be okay, or are you just sort of assuming that he will be?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, every step he takes is a positive thing. But throwing 60 feet now, and where we need him to be by April 1 is a long ways away. So I don’t think we are really going to be able to tell until we get further in this process, but we believe, and from what the doctor has said, he’ll be okay.

Q. So you guys are okay with going in with Posada and Molina as your catchers?
JOE GIRARDI: And obviously like we did last year, we’ll try to add someone who gives us depth in case one of them goes down. We signed Chad Moeller at the end of spring training and we’ll try to do the same thing.

Q. As you look at your bench, do you need — you have your backup catcher, but is Cody (Ransom) a guy you look at?
JOE GIRARDI: Cody is definitely in the mix.

Q. Would you like to have more of a traditional middle infielder kind of guy?
JOE GIRARDI: I think you could carry Cody and a traditional middle infielder, as well. You could have two guys. You could put Cody in the outfield and play him in the corners. Obviously he showed that he has some pop in his bat. So Cody gives you some versatility, as well. Those are pieces that we talk about in these meetings, as well.

Q. If Bobby Abreu does leave, are you going to be comfortable with having Nady in right field every day next season?
JOE GIRARDI: Bobby has been a great player for a long time and was a great player for the Yankees and had some exceptional years, and Xavier is a great player, too, and we are comfortable with him in right field. That’s where he’s played most of his outfield. Bobby did a lot of good things for him. We have not necessarily shut the door on anyone, but right now our plans are to have X in right field.

Q. If you guys went to camp with Gardner and Melky competing for centerfield; would the guy who is not the starter be your fourth outfielder wore would you want a more veteran guy?
JOE GIRARDI: I consider Matsui a fourth outfielder/DH possibility, as well. In a sense, you could carry possibly more of a if he defensive guy, because you could put Matsui there and maybe DH Johnny one day, or DH X one day and there are different things you can do with Manny and we expect him to be healthy. We don’t expect him to play the outfield every day but I would consider him a fourth outfielder in a sense, plus your DH, your every day DH.

Q. I think last time we talked to you, you were still trying to get a hold of Nick.
JOE GIRARDI: I talked to him.

Q. What’s your take on him?
JOE GIRARDI: He’s excited. He’s excited about being a Yankee. You know, he’s went through a difficult time. He just lost his grandfather. Talked to him about how he used to watch his dad play and used to take the train from Northwestern and watch his dad play. I was excited to have him. I watched him afar and I admired the way he’s played the game, and I think he’s going to be great for us. But he was very excited about coming to New York.




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