To quote Hal Steinbrenner specifically, he said he is “excited” about Curtis Granderson, and raved how the Yankees “all love Johnny Damon.” But when it comes down to it, the club simply has placed a different value on the left fielder than the one Damon and his agent Scott Boras have suggested.
“He was a big part of the reason we won that championship,” Steinbrenner said. “But I think right now there’s just a difference of opinion of what the pay is, quite frankly.”
Steinbrenner said the club still hopes to add a pitcher and a bat. He, Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi all expressed a willingness to find a pitcher first. That partly because Phil Hughes will have an innings limitation next season, according to Cashman, while Joba Chamberlain will not. Girardi said that does not mean Hughes is the more likely young pitcher to find himself in the bullpen.
In truth, there were many tidbits that came out of today’s press conference. I’ll throw out a bunch, then post all the audio:
• Girardi expects to wear No. 28. He will talk to Granderson again to make sure he is comfortable with it.
• The manager is interested in an “almost full-time DH,” but values the flexibility to rest starters in that spot. We knew that already. But Cashman indicated a desire to get more from that position than simply use it as a weigh station.
• Francisco Cervelli is the backup catcher. “It’s a job we think he can handle,” Girardi said. The desire to DH Jorge Posada more could lead the Yankees to consider carrying a third catcher.
• Girardi is not worried about the status of his contract. “I worry about this year. I wouldn’t expect them to talk to me until it’s over. I’m under contract. I don’t worry about it. I worry about 2010.”
• Steinbrenner said he would not “slam the door” if Cashman showed a need to stretch the budget they set last month. Cashman wouldn’t declare the club out of talks for marquee free agents (read: Matt Holliday, Jason Bay), but it sure sounded like it. “I’m not saying yay or nay, but I’m saying we’re operating at this number and that’s that.”
• Why? Because this market dictates caution, unlike last winter’s. “We were very aggressive in last year’s free agent market and it turned out for good reason. There were terrific players available. This market’s a lot different. We played in the better market last year; we’ll be less aggressive in this market.” The Yankees have key free agents to deal with ahead, like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Plus, Cashman called next year’s market is “incredibly more impressive than this one.”
• Cashman agreed with Boras about Damon’s value in one regard, saying “he’s the perfect 2-hole hitter for this place. It doesn’t mean he’s the only guy though that can do that.”
• Alex Rodriguez knows for sure now: He will not need offseason hip surgery. A-Rod was examined by Dr. Marc Philippon on Monday. He said if the exam went poorly, he would’ve had surgery today. Instead? “Great news, so I got the green light to move forward in my offseason conditioning program.” Rodriguez began conditioning two weeks ago. He threw yesterday for the first time and can begin hitting at any time. He does not need to visit Philippon again this offseason and appeared genuinely delighted. This may not seem like news, but he clearly still had uncertainty.
• Unlike in the past, CC Sabathia kept glued to the hot stove chatter. To put it mildly, he has not liked where analysts have ranked the top of the Yankee rotation since the Sox added John Lackey and the Mariners added Cliff Lee. “They don’t give us enough credit. Everybody keeps talking about Boston now, and about Seattle with Cliff and Felix (Hernandez), but I think we have some guys in our clubhouse that can match up with anybody.”
OK, here’s the audio. Sorry the first clip is so long. I was unable to start and stop from where I was seated:
Granderson/Steinbrenner (10:00)/Girardi (17:00):
Cashman (crank the volume a little):