First a quick note that Sam and I will be chatting tomorrow at noon. Stop by and we’ll do our best to answer as many questions as we can. Tuesday. Noon. Yankees chat tight here at the LoHud Yankees Blog.
Brian Cashman sat at the podium for more than 40 minutes this afternoon, all while his young daughter Grace sat watching from the front row. As the session came to a close, Grace was given the last question.
After some deliberation, she asked her dad what he was going to be for Halloween. Turns out, Grace has already picked out her father’s costume, and Cashman laughed a little before telling Grace she was allowed to announce it to the room: The Yankees GM will be Nacho Libre for Halloween. Clearly, that’s hilarious.
The costume announcement was a light way to end an afternoon that was an odd mix of frustration and optimism. Cashman not only has to make his team better this offseason, he also has to negotiate with his manager and at least two of the organization’s cornerstone players in Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
“Like Joe Girardi, the intent for the organization is to have them back,” Cashman said. “We want them back. The intent of the players is to stay. They don’t want to be anywhere else. That creates a great atmosphere of getting something done… If a player wants to be here and we want to keep him, and the discussions are fair and legitimate, it gets done. If things don’t work out that way, it means one side sees it differently than another, and then it can drag out. That’s also possible, too. At the end of the day, I think the recipe is all there for positive relationships to continue.”
Cashman said has not entered into negotiations with anyone. He’ll begin talking to Girardi’s representation tomorrow, but he has not started on Jeter or Rivera. No one seems to know whether Andy Pettitte will come back. There is also a loomed free agent market that begins with Cliff Lee and includes outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, each of whom could fit into this Yankees lineup.
“We have a strong team,” Cashman said. “We have areas of need, areas of weakness. The job is to attack those areas of weakness. We fully intend to do that. Hopefully come up with a good game plan. We haven’t done so yet, (but) we’ll do our best. That’s what George Steinbrenner taught everybody that has a chance to work here. Just do everything in your power to be the last team standing. It’s frustrating. We lost that goal two games away from getting to the World Series. We’ll be back at it.”
Here’s the Cashman audio. It’s a very long file, one that added up to well over 5,000 words — nine pages, 10-point font — when transcribed. It would be absurd to post all of it here, but feel free to give it a listen. I’ll try to hit on some highlights in this post, and in a few others to come.
• In acknowledging his bad offseason, Girardi also admitted that Nick Johnson was no higher than his No. 3 choice for the Yankees designated hitter this season. “He was a Plan C,” Cashman said. “Our plan was obviously Johnny Damon first, and then if Matsui was still on the board we would have went to him. But he was already off the board so we wound up with Nick. And that did not work out at all.”
• Cashman on the potential decline of Jeter: “These guys, as professionals, their jobs are to attack their areas of weakness and Derek does that. And he will do that because he wants to win. That’s the bottom line. I remember years ago talking to him about some things and he will do anything necessary to put himself in a position to be successful if told properly about what he needs to work on. He will be dedicated this winter like he is every winter… There’s still game left in that guy and he’s going to be a part of this franchise.”
• Cashman on the age of the Yankees: “I think you look old when you don’t play well. I think that we didn’t look old against Minnesota at all, and that was a week before we looked old against Texas. Texas made us look old because of how they played against us and how we played against them. That’s all a credit to Texas. I don’t think that series was indicative of the strength of our team and what we’re capable of.”
• Cashman called the Yankees farm system one of the 10 best in the game, and said he’s still dedicated to focusing on home grown talent. “Astute free agent signings and astute trades, along with complimenting your home-grown players is the way to go,” he said. “That’s what we’ll continue to do”
• Speaking of which: Cashman indicated Jesus Montero will be given a chance to win a big league job in spring training. “I do have people who believe he’s Major League-ready at the catcher position with a tremendous offensive bat,” Cashman said. “But nothing gets handed to somebody. You take it and earn it. He’ll have a chance to come to Spring Training and fight for something and show that he’s ready for something more at a higher level or not.”
• Might not happen, but Cashman wants to keep his negotiations as private as possible, especially with guys like Jeter and Rivera. “The intent will be to keep things private and work through things privately and with respect to the players here,” he said. “These aren’t your run-of-the-mill guys you have typical conversations with. These guys are legacy players.”
• Given the age and injuries to Jeter, Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees infield and catching depth could once again be a significant issue. Cashman, though, indicated the team will focus on the everyday players, even if it means waiting to address the bench. “With the expected negotiations we’re about to have, and what’s left over after that, sometimes you don’t get all those pieces in place in the winter time,” Cashman said. “And we utilize the summer to do that.”
Associated Press photo