Today’s Joe Girardi press conference could really be divided into two general themes: The fact the Yankees lineup let them down in the division series, and the fact that pitching remains their priority this offseason.
To drastically simplify things, Girardi believes his hitters picked a bad week to have a bad week. As he’s said before, the Yankees were one hit away from advancing, and with the key hitters still under team control, the offense is a secondary concern.
“The one need that we’re going to have to address again is our rotation, there’s no doubt about it,” Girardi said. “You have two guys that are free agents, you have another guy that can opt-out, so that’s the one thing that we’re going to have to address. Similar to what we had to do for this year. It probably all starts with CC and then you go from there.”
On the importance of retaining CC Sabathia
“He’s extremely important to our rotation. We rely on him heavily in what he’s done the last three years. As a free-agent signing goes, it’s been spectacular. I can’t imagine what it would be like without him. I don’t want to imagine what it would be like without him. Time’s going to tell what’s going to happen here. It seems to be a place that he really likes.”
On the role and evolution of A.J. Burnett
“He’s a work in progress. He’s having to change as he gets older. He’s lost a mile or two (of fastball velocity), and that changes the pitches you’re going to get away with. We saw him pitch very well against Detroit. He’s made adjustments, and he’s tried to make adjustments, and the adjustment he made from August to September really helped him. I hope it continues to help him as we move forward. But as you get older as a pitcher, you’re not immune to adjustments. You have to make them. It might change your curveball a little bit, it might change your changeup a little bit. He’s trying to make those adjustments.”
On the expectation for Phil Hughes
“We consider him a starter, we do, but he’s got to get back to the form he had in 2010 to continue to stay in our rotation. That’s something he’ll work very hard at this winter. He’s got to stay healthy. That’s the other thing. Whenever you have health issues, you have setbacks, and it’s hard to get on a roll. Usually when you have a health issue, it’s physical, it’s always physical, and you have to build yourself back up. He had two of them this year, and the second one he had to deal with was his back, and that’s an issue that we’ll continue to have to address. Back issues can reoccur, and so can shoulder issues, so we need to keep him healthy and then I think he can be a lot more productive for us.”
On whether Hughes and Ivan Nova have rotation spots next year
“I would assume that they both would be part of our rotation. But I can’t tell you what they’re going to do this winter or how they’re going to come in and perform. That’s the one thing I can’t tell you. But going in, I would think they’re going to be a part of our rotation. I know they’re going to work hard, but nothing in life is ever given to you. You have to earn it.”
On young pitchers pushing for big league rotation jobs
“I think the kids could start to challenge. I think Noesi could start to challenge. You would expect some of the other kids, the Phelps and the Warrens and the Mitchells and the Banuelos and Betances to start to challenge. But as I said, you can never have to much depth. And you never know what’s going to happen next year with a Nova or a Hughesy. I expect them to have good years, but I can’t tell you.”
On the need to add a front-line starter
“That’s something that I’m sure we’ll look at doing. I’m sure we will, but it’s got to work out. It’s got to work out for both sides.”
Associated Press photos