The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Archive for October, 2010

Cashman notes: Patience and priorities10.29.10

Yankees Wrapup BaseballIt took one week for the Yankees to re-sign their manager. Whatever comes next is going to take some time.

Brian Cashman said this afternoon that he has not started negotiations with any of his own free agents. He has not been given a budget, he has not explored trade targets and he has not prioritized potential signings. He has simply called the agents for Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera to let them know what to expect in the coming days.

“Monday I’m going to have a meeting in Tampa with the Steinbrenners, with Hal and Hank,” Cashman said. “From there, nothing’s really going to happen until I sit down with my bosses, and get a feel and have some discussions about the lay of the land and how I think it should be approached from our perspective. So, I have made everybody aware of that, so they’re not wondering ‘Hey, am I getting a call soon?’ or ‘Why haven’t I gotten a call.’”

The Tampa meetings will last at least two days, and Cashman said he is going into them with “no anticipation either way” about his budget for this winter.

“They have not sent me any ideas or smoke signals,” Cashman said. “We haven’t had any of those discussions. Those will start Monday and Tuesday.”

Cashman indicated that his next focus will be on filling the pitching coach vacancy — “Now I have to turn my attention to the coaching staff,” he said. — but Cashman doesn’t expect that spot to be filled nearly as quickly as the managerial opening.

“I got Joe done in a week because I had somebody right in front of me that we wanted to hire,” Cashman said. “I don’t have that with the pitching coach so it’s not going to happen very quickly. We’ll certainly talk to Mike Harkey. We’ll certainly talk to Scotty Aldred. Those are two people internally at the very least, but we’ll look at external candidates as well. That’s what we’re going to start working on, or we have started to work on. Until Joe was done, that wasn’t really able to fully start. I also have other coaches to re-sign so it’s not going to happen quick. I wish I could say it would because it’s a hugely important position and it’s vital that we get it right.”

Yankees Marte Surgery Baseball• Cashman listed two priorities for the winter: Starting rotation and left-handed reliever. The rotation was obvious, but I was surprised to hear a lefty mentioned so prominently. “If I can find a left-handed reliever who can join Boone Logan, I think that will make our choices out of the pen better for our manager,” Cashman said. “It’s easy to talk about it. It’s harder to find it. Those are the obvious things that stand out for me: Continue to improve your starting rotation, find a left-handed reliever and then get after it.”

• Cashman mentioned LHP prospect Manny Banuelos by name, but stressed that the Yankees would “like to keep him in the starting rotation.”

• Gut feeling on Pettitte coming back? “My gut doesn’t really matter,” Cashman said. “It really just matters what Andy wants to do, so it’s just not productive to have guts.”

• Kevin Long has made a big name for himself, but Cashman doesn’t expect another team to lure him away from the Yankees. “I think he’d like to stay and we’d like to keep him,” Cashman said. “I think he’s exceptional at what he does, so that creates a great climate for getting something done. But it doesn’t guarantee anything.”

• Will the Yankees carry a primary DH next year or leave that spot for guys like Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez? “I certainly have my personal preference in it of what I think we should be doing,” Cashman said. “But I think in fairness, I don’t want to get ahead of my ownership meetings. I think that is something I need to discuss with them first, what I would recommend.”

• Kerry Wood remains an attractive late-innings reliever, but it’s unclear whether the Yankees have a chance to bring him back at a cost that makes sense. “I think Dave Robertson (and) I think Joba are both qualified and capable, without question,” Cashman said. “I think Kerry Wood performed at such a level that of course he’s a player that has put himself in a position that would interest anyone who needs to improve upon their bullpen. I think it’s all relative to overall financial and what our interest levels after we get a better clearer picture on Jeter and Rivera and Pettitte. The remaining pie, if there is any remaining, I think will affect decisions like that.”

• Not picking up Wood’s option (or Berkman’s) for 2011 was strictly a financial decision. “We haven’t had any pro scouting meetings whatsoever, so we’re not in the comparative mode yet of those players vs. potential available players on the market,” Cashman said. ” They were just obvious option years that in our perspective was way too high for us to consider exercising. They were pretty easy. I don’t think the players even expected those to be picked up. They were pretty easy decisions to make.”

• Cashman said the Chicago Cubs opening did nothing to change his view or expectation about Girardi coming back beyond this season. “It didn’t do anything, to be honest,” Cashman said. “I think I picked the right manager when we started the interview process three years ago to lead this franchise. We’re proud that we have at least one World Championship to show for that in his first three years on the job.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 171 Comments →

Girardi opens the door to significant lineup changes10.29.10

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballTwo key spots in the lineup that did not perform up to the Yankees expectations this season: Derek Jeter batting leadoff and Mark Teixeira in the pivotal No. 3 hole.

This afternoon, Joe Girardi was asked specifically about the top of the lineup, but he turned the question into a second-guessing of the entire lineup.

“I think we have to look at our whole lineup when we go into next season,” Girardi said. “I don’t think you just look at the leadoff spot. I think you look at every slot and how our club is made up. You always talk about that you can’t look at one guy independently. You have to look at all of your guys and how the parts fit. Our lineup is something that could maybe change a little next year.”

Girardi didn’t go into detail, but obviously Robinson Cano emerged as potential No. 3 hitter. Brett Gardner emerged as a leadoff candidate. Nick Swisher had a season, and Curtis Granderson had a half season, that suggest they might be capable of playing significant roles (they were in those roles at the end, but not the beginning). How the Yankees fill their designated hitter spot will surely also play a role in determining a batting order.

“I think you have to look at all the parts we have next year, and do we think about changing it?” Girardi said. “Who’s going to DH for us most of the time? You try to split up all your lefties. I think you evaluate your lineup every year similar to what we did from 2009 to 2010. The parts are going to be different again in 2011.”

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball• Girardi said he never thought seriously about the job opening in Chicago. He enrolled his kids in school this year, fully expecting to stay in New York beyond this season.

• Girardi on the possibility of not returning: “We thought we were going to be here. I thought the Yankees would want me to come back. That was what we talked about. As I told my wife and everyone involved, I need to concentrate on what’s going on here. I can’t worry about where I’m going to be next year. That’s not something me and my wife have really ever done. She’s really good at focusing on what’s going on. We really didn’t talk about it much.”

• Girardi does not expect any other changes to the coaching staff. “I don’t think so,” he said. “Obviously contracts have to be worked out but i’m not really anticipating any other changes.”

• CC Sabathia’s knee problems had no impact on the decision not to start him on short rest in Game 6. “No it did not,” Girardi said. “(The injury) was early in the season.” Don’t forget, Girardi was planning to start Sabathia on short rest in the division series if that went four games.

• Girardi was once again asked about the possibility of moving Jeter away from shortstop. “I think you have to watch on the level that he plays at,” Girardi said. “That’s the fair thing. I don’t think you rush to any judgment and assume that because he’s this age, it’s going to be this.”

• Girardi on the pitching coach opening: “We want to get it done as quickly as possible, but we want to make sure we cover all of our bases and want to make sure we interview as many people as we need to before we make a decision. When it comes to a pitching coach, mechanics, communication, relationships with the pitchers — you think about the dynamics of your team, usually 12 of your players are pitchers. That’s half of your team. I think that becomes very important.??”

• Girardi on the perception that he was more of a people-person last year: “I think anytime you win, everything seems to be right, and anytime you don’t win, there’s going to be people that say, ‘Well, this is the reason why.’ I feel like obviously I had a better relationship with my players after I had some time with them because of the experiences that we went through… I thought I was pretty much the same person, but we did not win this year. Whenever that happens, it seems to be a different tone.”

• Girardi on why the Giants are having success against the Rangers: “You think about how Cliff Lee pitched against us, and you say to yourself, ‘Well, he didn’t pitch (the way he pitched in World Series Game 1) against us!’ Those are the things that you think about. Yesterday was a pretty well pitched game, (Wilson) left because he had a blister. We didn’t necessarily swing the bats particularly well with runners in scoring position. That’s no secret. A lot of people say that’s a pretty arbitrary number, but we didn’t swing the bats well and San Francisco has.”

Associated Press photos of Jeter and Girardi

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Sabathia’s surgery complete10.29.10

ph_282332As planned, CC Sabathia had arthroscopic surgery this morning to correct a small meniscus tear in his right knee.

Joe Girardi said he couldn’t remember the exact date, but the knee became a problem for Sabathia “fairly early” in the season, and he dealt with it throughout. There were times Sabathia had to cut down on his conditioning and weight room routine.

“He had to manage it somewhat,” Girardi said. “As far as hurting, at times I think it was a little more sore than others.”

It’s interesting that quite often, when Sabathia struggled, we heard about problems with his back leg. Girardi said Sabathia always told him the knee was a non-issue, but Girardi said he couldn’t help but wonder how much it was playing a role.

“A lot of times players can mask pain and they don’t even realize they’re in it,” Girardi said.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 44 Comments →

Internal pitching coach discussions have begun10.29.10

During a conference call this afternoon, Joe Girardi said he and Brian Cashman have started talking about potential pitching coaches for next season.

“We want to get it done as quickly as possible,” Girardi said. “But we want to make sure we cover all our bases and make sure we interview as many people as we need to.”

Those discussions are in the very early stages. Girardi signed his deal on Thursday, and discussions began that same day. Girardi said they are considering internal and external candidates.

“We have not reached out to anyone, yet,” Girardi said. “I’m sure we will fairly quickly.”

UPDATE, 4:10 p.m.: On the same conference call, Cashman just said he doesn’t expect a pitching coach to be hired quickly. Girardi was an obvious leading candidate at manager, and that made the Girardi signing fairly immediate.

Cashman said the team will “certainly” consider Mike Harkey and Scott Aldred.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 45 Comments →

It’s official: Joe Girardi back with Yankees10.29.10

Yankees Wrapup Baseball

Here’s the announcement from the Yankees.

YANKEES RE-SIGN MANAGER JOE GIRARDI TO A THREE-YEAR CONTRACT THROUGH THE 2013 SEASON

The New York Yankees announced today they have signed Manager Joe Girardi to a three-year contract, extending through the 2013 season. Girardi has guided the team to the postseason in each of the last two seasons, winning the franchise’s 27th World Championship in 2009. Under Girardi, the Yankees have gone a Major League-best 287-199 (.591) since 2008.

Over his first three years as manager of the Yankees (2008-10), the club has led the Majors in runs scored (2,563) and home runs (625), while ranking second in batting average (.274) and third in hits (4,601). The Yankees have also committed the fewest errors (238) in the Majors over the span, with a Major League-high .987 team fielding percentage.

In 2010, Girardi led the Yankees to a 95-67 record—the second-best record in the American League behind Tampa Bay (96-66) and the third-best in the Major Leagues, also trailing Philadelphia (97-65)—en route to the club’s 15th playoff berth in the last 16 years. The Yankees recorded 48 come-from-behind wins in 2010, leading the Majors in the category for the second straight season (51 in 2009). The club also led the Majors with a .988 fielding percentage and committed only 69 errors, setting franchise records for highest fielding percentage and fewest errors in any non-abbreviated season.

Girardi became the ninth Yankees manager to win a World Series in 2009, and just the fourth to do so in his postseason managerial debut, joining Ralph Houk, Bob Lemon and Casey Stengel. He also joined Houk and Billy Martin as the only three Yankees to play for and manage a Yankees World Championship team. At 45 years old, Girardi became the youngest manager in Yankees history to win a World Series and the fourth-youngest in the Majors to do so since 1980 behind the White Sox’s Ozzie Guillen (2005), the Mets’ Davey Johnson (1986) and Minnesota’s Tom Kelly (1987 and ’91). After leading the Yankees to a Major League-best 103-59 record, Girardi finished third in AL Manager of the Year voting with 34 total points, including four first-place votes.

At 46 years old, Joe Girardi is currently the third-youngest manager in the Major Leagues, behind the Cleveland Indians’ Manny Acta (41) and the Seattle Mariners’ Eric Wedge (42). He owns a 365-283 (.563) career managerial record, joining Ken Macha (368-280, .568 with Oakland from 2003-06) as the only managers with as high a winning percentage over their first four years as a Major League skipper over the last 20 seasons (since 1990).

Girardi was named the 32nd manager of the New York Yankees on October 30, 2007, becoming the 17th Yankees manager to have played for the club and the fourth former Yankees catcher to skipper the team, joining Bill Dickey, Ralph Houk and Yogi Berra. In 2005, he served as the New York Yankees’ Bench Coach and Catching Instructor in his coaching debut.

In 2006, Girardi was named the National League “Manager of the Year” after guiding the Florida Marlins to a 78-84 record in his first season as a Major League manager. With the award, he matched the Houston Astros’ Hal Lanier (1986) and the San Francisco Giants’ Dusty Baker (1993) as the only managers to win the honor in their managerial debuts.

In 15 Major League seasons as a catcher, Girardi played for the Chicago Cubs (1989-92 and 2000-02), Colorado Rockies (1993-95), New York Yankees (1996-99) and St. Louis Cardinals (2003). He was originally selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 1986 draft and went on to appear in six career postseasons, winning World Series titles with the Yankees in 1996, 1998, and 1999. In 1,277 career Major League games, he batted .267 (1,100-for-4,127) with 454 runs, 186 doubles, 36 home runs and 422 RBI, finishing with a .991 career fielding percentage while throwing out 27.6% of potential base stealers. He was named to the National League All-Star team in 2000 while playing with the Cubs.

As a Yankee, Girardi was behind the plate for Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter on May 14, 1996 vs. Seattle and David Cone’s perfect game on July 18, 1999 vs. Montreal. On October 26, 1996, in Game 6 of World Series vs. Atlanta, he tripled in the game’s first run in a three-run third inning as the Yankees clinched their first World Championship since 1978 with a 3-2 victory.

A native of Peoria, Ill., Girardi was a three-time academic All-American and two-time All-Big Ten selection at Northwestern University, graduating with a degree in industrial engineering in 1986. Following his retirement as a player in 2004, Girardi joined the YES Network as an analyst and won an Emmy Award for hosting YES’ “Kids on Deck” series. In 2007, he rejoined YES, working as an analyst on Yankees broadcasts and also appeared in the booth with FOX during regular season and postseason broadcasts. He and his wife, Kim, have three children, Serena, Dante and Lena.

Associated Press photo

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Yankee Stadium parking cost on the rise (again)10.29.10

I’ve already received one email about this, and I’m sure there will be more.

The Daily News is reporting that the company that controls the parking situation around Yankee Stadium is planning to jack up prices yet again next season, this time from $23 to $35. Valet will go from $36 to $45. This is the same group that ramped up to $40 for this year’s playoffs games.

The whole thing is a debacle. Somehow, it seems, the city of New York forgot that people use the subway around here. The article says that only 60 percent of the stadium parking is used on a regular game day, and even when the Red Sox came to town in August, the lots were far below capacity.

The Yankees have no say in this matter. Bronx Parking Development is its own entity, and it’s hoping for some help from the city government. The situation is a mess, and of course the folks who drive to the game are literally paying the price.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 185 Comments →

Turns out, there was a way to beat these guys10.29.10

World Series Rangers Giants Baseball

Two nights ago, just before the first pitch of the World Series, my friend Ben sent a 13-character text message.

WS prediction?

I responded with five words.

Rangers in six. Maybe five.

That’s what you call expert analysis. I’d love to give a perfect explanation of how the Giants were able to take a 2-0 lead in this series, but I suspect the answer is far too simplistic to count as analysis. It seems to me the Giants have simply played pretty well. The first two innings and the last inning of Game 1 were a bit rocky, but otherwise they’ve hit and they’ve pitched, and those are two things the Yankees simply could not do in the ALCS.

And here’s more expert analysis: Hitting and pitching are important. I’d venture to say they’re two of the three most important parts of the game (but I’m also the guy who said Rangers in five or six, so there’s a solid chance I have no idea what I’m talking about).

One other reason I can’t give much analysis is that I saw nothing but highlights of last night’s game. I stayed home to get some work done for the weekend, and that meant no access to FOX, which meant no World Series. The box score tells a lot, though.

Matt Cain was terrific, C.J. Wilson was solid, Edgar Renteria had a big night and the Giants pounced on a Rangers bullpen that couldn’t throw strikes (shades of ALCS Game 1).

Bottom line: The Giants pitching staff allowed four hits and the Giants lineup was 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position. I’d say that’s the difference. That’s the reason the Giants are leading in the World Series while the Yankees are sitting at home. Then again, this is coming from the same guy who sent that Rangers text message two nights ago.

Associated Press photo

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World Series ratings dip without Yankees10.28.10

World Series Rangers Giants Baseball

Game 1 of the World Series was the top-rated program on television last night, and drew the fifth-largest prime time audience of the week. Among Adults 18-49, last night’s game averaged a 4.7 rating to give FOX its best night of prime time television in that demographic since the network’s American Idol finale in May.

Even so, compared to last year’s World Series Game 1, last night’s audience was down 25 percent in ratings and down 23 percent on average audience. Compared to the last non-Yankees World Series Game 1 — Phillies-Rays in 2008 — the opener was up 3 percent on viewership.

All of that is according to press release from FOX.

A few notes on tonight’s game…

• Pregame broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. ET. First pitch is at 7:57.

• Tim Wakefield was announced as the Roberto Clemente Award winner.

• Country music trio Lady Antebellum will sing the National Anthem. Nothing against that group, but I can’t imagine them being the best trio to sing the anthem in the playoffs in San Francisco. Back in 1993, the Grateful Dead gave a tremendous rendition of the Anthem.

• The ceremonial first pitch will be a combo, thrown by the Megan Armstrong and Nancy Mitchell, the daughters of home run hero Bobby Thomson.

• Apparently Ron Washington saw all he needed to see of Vlad Guerrero in right field last night. Here are the lineups.

RANGERS
Elvis Andrus SS
Michael Young 3B
Josh Hamilton CF
Nelson Cruz RF
Ian Kinsler 2B
David Murphy LF
Matt Treanor C
Mitch Moreland 1B
C.J. Wilson LHP

GIANTS
Andres Torres CF
Freddy Sanchez 2B
Buster Posey C
Pat Burrell LF
Cody Ross RF
Aubrey Huff 1B
Juan Uribe 3B
Edgar Rentaria SS
Matt Cain RHP

Associated Press photo of the Giants helmets

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Mazzone throws his name into the Yankees coaching hunt10.28.10

With Joe Girardi on the verge of returning to the Yankees, the team can shift its coaching focus to the Dave Eiland opening. Already, one of the top pitching coaches of all-time has already thrown his name into the mix during a morning interview on Gary and Phillips in the Morning on SIRIUS XM’s Mad Dog Radio.

Here’s the question and answer, as sent to me by radio station’s PR staff.

Host Gary Williams: “There are a lot of new staffs and, obviously, there’s an opening with the Yankees. Steve was effusive in praising you. Have you been contacted? I know you want back in. Any job in particular that is of interest to you?”

Leo Mazzone: “Yeah, there certainly is. And it has New York in front of it, too. I mean, it can be in the American League or the National League.”

Mazzone is one of the biggest names in the game, so it’s only natural that he would be asked about the potential of joining the the game’s biggest franchise. I have no idea whether the Yankees would be interested — he’s 62 years old and hasn’t coached in three years — but at the very least Mazzone isn’t ruling out the possibility.

I’ve mentioned it before, but these are the two names that standout to me as potential replacements for Eiland.

Rick Kranitz
Current Orioles pitching coach
Girardi’s former pitching coach in Florida actually had some success with those young Marlins pitchers. He’s also had some success with some of the Orioles young pitchers (Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz jump to mind). There’s also every reason to believe he won’t be back in Baltimore now that Buck Showalter is putting together his own staff. Showalter already seems to be leaning a different direction.

Scott Aldred
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitching coach
When Eiland got the Yankees job in 2008, he’d spent the past five years in the minor leagues: Two in short-season ball, two in Double-A and one in Triple-A. Aldred is in the exact same spot, having just finished his fifth season as a minor league pitching coach: One in Low-A, two in Double-A and two in Triple-A. From 2007 through 2009, his staff led its league in ERA in three straight seasons.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 226 Comments →

Worked and didn’t work for Joe Girardi10.28.10

The Yankees are basically a press release away from retaining Joe Girardi as manager. He’s coming off a season in which he was constantly second-guessed by the fan base and the media, especially down the stretch. Like any manager, though, he had a year of good decisions and bad.

I’m not looking for in-game decisions here. Some of those work, some don’t, and it’s impossible to say whether a different choice would have yielded different results. In the course of a season, the big picture choices play out positively or negatively, and those are generally easy to define.

One overriding theme of Girardi’s choices: For better or worse, he trusts and believes in his players.

ALCS Yankees Rangers BaseballThree decisions that worked
Taking the fifth: Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes
The Yankees most significant questions heading into spring training involved the number 5: Who would bat fifth and who would be the fifth starter? Girardi went with Cano and Hughes, and both responded in a big way. Cano had an MVP-type season, and Hughes won 18 games as a 24-year-old all-star.

Trusting Tex: In the No. 3 spot, Mark Teixeira rebounded
Teixeira is a notorious slow starter, but it would have been hard to predict him hitting .211 with a .363 slugging percentage on June 6. There were plenty of cries to Girardi to finally give up and move him down in the order, but Girardi kept him in the three hole and Teixeira responded with a .309/.406/.632 slash line from June 8 to September 1, at which point injuries took their toll.

Resting Rodriguez: Days off kept Alex Rodriguez fresh
In his first two weeks off the disabled list, Rodriguez was kept out of the starting lineup three times. The result was a fresh third baseman who had his best month of the season, and never showed any signs of recurring problems. True, he might have stayed healthy and productive without those days off, but Girardi played it safe and got the result he wanted.

Also give him credit for: Recognizing Javier Vazquez couldn’t start… Sticking with Marcus Thames through a brutal spring training… Pushing the right buttons with minor league call-ups in the middle of the season.

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballThree decisions that didn’t work
Hoping for better:
Keeping Derek Jeter in the leadoff spot
Give Girardi credit for his 2009 decision to move Jeter into the leadoff spot, but keeping him there this season was a mistake. Jeter was good in the beginning and at the end, but in between, Brett Gardner’s .383 on-base percentage was a better option at the top of the lineup.

Joba rules: Or maybe he doesn’t
I’m not sure what the alternative would have been, but sticking with Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning didn’t work through the first half of the season. To Chamberlain’s credit, he turned things around at the end of July, but  only after allowing at least one run in six of 10 outings from June 27 to July 25. He was prone to complete implosions and only got his season going after Kerry Wood came onboard and took some of that late-inning pressure away.

Bad platoon: Austin Kearns kept getting at-bats
In his first three weeks with the Yankees, Kearns hit very well, but he had only a .164 average with no extra-base hits from August 24 through the end of the season. He was dealing with a few injuries, which might explain the struggles, but it doesn’t explain why he continued to get starts ahead of Brett Gardner against left-handed pitchers. He didn’t get a single at-bat in the postseason, so why play him so much down the stretch?

Also worth questioning: Using Chad Gaudin ahead of playoff pitcher Sergio Mitre down the stretch… Treating A.J. Burnett considerably differently than Vazquez, despite similar seasons… Keeping Francisco Cervelli partnered with Burnett, despite poor results.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 133 Comments →

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