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Five challenges for Girardi in 2014

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 28, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Joe Girardi

Looking four years into the future is tricky. It’s the reason teams generally want to avoid long-term contracts; things can change quickly and irreversibly. This winter, though, the Yankees committed to another four years with manager Joe Girardi. If he lasts the length of the contract, Girardi will have been the Yankees manager for a full decade.

But as Michael pointed out this morning, there’s no guarantee Girardi will last that long. We’ve seen teams bail on managerial contracts in the past, and the Yankees could do that with Girardi if things don’t work out. Instead of looking four years down the road, though, I’d rather focus on the next nine months.

Here are four challenges Girardi faces in this first year of that four-year deal.

Derek Jeter1. What to do with Derek Jeter
Best-case scenario, this is an easy one. If Jeter shows up in spring training with strong legs and reasonable range in the field, and if he’s still a solid table-setter at the top of the lineup, Girardi’s choice will be handed to him. Plug Jeter into his regular position, put him back at the No. 2 spot in the order, and all’s right in the world. The trick is going to be managing Jeter if he’s struggling at the plate, or if he’s incapable of playing his brand of little-range-but-nearly-error-free defense at shortstop. Girardi went through some tough times when Jorge Posada’s production was slipping at the end of his career. Girardi might — might — face something similar with Jeter.

2. Handling the Japanese media
Girardi has gotten much better with the New York media during his time as Yankees manager, and in my opinion, he’s always been especially good at handling the foreign writers and reporters. He’s patient, and he seems rarely bothered when a question is about a player who didn’t necessarily play a big role in the game. He understands that those guys have a very specific job to do. The trick is that this year could bring attention similar to Matsui-level coverage. There are three big-name Japanese players on this team. Hiroki Kuroda is about to turn 39 years old, Ichiro Suzuki is about to be a backup for the first time in his life, and Masahiro Tanaka is going to be perhaps the most talked-about player in the city. Things could get dicey, and Girardi’s going to have to address issues while doing his part to protect his players.

3. Determining playing time
With four outfielders for three spots, the Yankees are clearly banking on their outfielders — primarily Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano — getting regular turns at designated hitter. Problem is, Jeter is also going to need a few DH days. And it probably makes sense to have Brian McCann’s bat in the lineup on the days he doesn’t catch. And Mark Teixeira might have to DH a little more than usual as well. Determining playing time isn’t only about who plays third base day-to-day, it’s about who rests and who doesn’t. How often should Beltran play the field? What about Brian Roberts? Along those same lines: What’s the start-by-start workload limit for Kuroda and Michael Pineda?

4. Assembling a bullpen
This might not happen during the month of March. Putting together the Yankees bullpen could be a season-long process with Girardi finding a handful of reliable arms, and then mixing in a few hot hands from time to time. As it stands, it seems that only Dave Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton are locked into relief jobs. Preston Claiborne also pitched well at times last year, and surely one or two of the rotation candidates will fall into relief roles, but there aren’t many bullpen assignments that seem obvious. Girardi’s going to have to pick seven guys to break camp, then he’s going to have to adjust as necessary.

5. Mixing and matching the lineup
Most managers seem to prefer a set lineup. Maybe one that changes slightly depending on the opposing starter, but a lineup that’s generally consistent from day to day. The Yankees might not have that this season. We already know they’re planning to platoon at third base, and it seems unlikely that Roberts can play second base six days a week, and the outfield has four guys for three spots, and the DH spot is going to have to rotate a little bit. Girardi is going to have to maintain some level of consistency, while using a lineup that might be anything but.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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62 Responses to “Five challenges for Girardi in 2014”

  1. Blojaldo January 28th, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Blojaldo January 28th, 2014 at 11:47 am
    I am so psyched! I think barring a rash of injuries the Yankees could have a great year. Man, did management ever step up and commit to winning. I don’t think many fans in November thought they would sign Tanaka, Beltran, McCann and Ellsbury.

    I think the Yankees do have a sound strategy for the future as they try to strengthen their traditional farm and development system in addition to their major free agent signings. Namely, their intent to “break the bank” in the international market in the near future. That is their ace-in-the-hole and I fully expect them to obtain some excellent players.

    For a team in transition from the core four and other older players, where gutting and re-building over time is not an option, I think they have done a great job so far and I think the future is bright indeed.

  2. bigdan22 January 28th, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Re-post

    Wave Your Hat January 28th, 2014 at 11:36 am

    “Murphy did take a step forward last year. If the Yanks could trade him for an average second baseman he would be worth something. But I don’t think they can, and since his future with the Yanks is not at catcher, and first (and probably third) is blocked, I don’t see where he fits in.”

    ——-

    I wouldn’t worry about Murphy being blocked right now. He’s still pretty young and hasn’t played all that much at AAA. A good full season there can only help his value. And he still could play this coming season in the majors if someone gets hurt.

    Ideally both Sanchez and Murphy have a good year on the farm and then the Yanks will have a decision as to who they would like to trade next offseason. No question, middle infield is the most glaring need long term (probably short term too lol) on the club.

  3. Mike in Harrisburg January 28th, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Good post. I think the question of how the team responds to a revolving door DH is a great one.

  4. blake January 28th, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I keep forgetting Cruz is still out there…..

  5. Wave Your Hat January 28th, 2014 at 11:54 am

    bigdan-

    Sanchez has some visibility outside New York, and if he has a good year he could be a very tradeable commodity. I hope you are right about Murphy, but I am afraid he will have to have an outstanding (as opposed to very good) year at AAA before he will bring much back in a trade. I hope I am wrong.

  6. bigdan22 January 28th, 2014 at 11:55 am

    I thought early in the offseason the DH logjam would be a problem and Gardner would need to be traded. I’ve done a complete 180 there. As I’ve mentioned the last few days, the age and recent injury history of the Yanks’ position players will make depth a paramount concern all season long. When that happens having “too many” players for too few spots tends to work itself out.

  7. Wave Your Hat January 28th, 2014 at 11:55 am

    “I keep forgetting Cruz is still out there…..”

    How’s he at third base? (LOL)

  8. Cashmoney January 28th, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Pru, in case you missed it. Sanchez reminds of Ronnie Belliard as a hitter.

  9. Wave Your Hat January 28th, 2014 at 11:59 am

    The Yanks don’t have too many players in the middle infield, and, surprisingly given how they suffered for it last year, no backup at all at first. And, if one of their outfielders goes down, it will force Ichiro into a full time job which will hurt a lot.

  10. Can of Corn January 28th, 2014 at 11:59 am

    ‘I am so psyched !’

    ========

    As in completely nutso ?

  11. bigdan22 January 28th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Wave Your Hat January 28th, 2014 at 11:54 am
    bigdan-

    Sanchez has some visibility outside New York, and if he has a good year he could be a very tradeable commodity. I hope you are right about Murphy, but I am afraid he will have to have an outstanding (as opposed to very good) year at AAA before he will bring much back in a trade. I hope I am wrong.

    ——

    I agree completely. Which is why I’ve said in the past, of the two I’d rather trade Sanchez, the player with, “as you say” more visibility. I tend to refer to it as hype. Always trade the prospect most likely to be over-rated. You get a lot more back in return. While it’s way too early to choose, I could see the possibility of the less rated prospect becoming a better major league player.

  12. J. Alfred Prufrock January 28th, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    bigdan,

    I love Murphy, but Sanchez is the guy I keep.

    cashmoney,

    I can’t make the comp, haven’t seen enough of Belliard.

  13. Blojaldo January 28th, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Can of Corn January 28th, 2014 at 11:59 am
    ‘I am so psyched !’
    ========
    As in completely nutso ?
    ___________

    If I remember correctly you are a Padres fan. :(

  14. bigdan22 January 28th, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    J. Alfred Prufrock January 28th, 2014 at 12:04 pm
    bigdan,

    I love Murphy, but Sanchez is the guy I keep.

    ——

    Fair enough. Let’s hope it’s when the time comes to choose the decision is as hard as can be. :)

  15. J. Alfred Prufrock January 28th, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    bigdan,

    I’d like to keep both, but Sanchez can scald the ball and his power profile is just too irresistible.

    Like I said, I wish one of them was a LHB.

  16. Can of Corn January 28th, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    ‘If I remember correctly you are a Padres fan’

    ==========

    I love guys in long robes with hoods and ropes as belts

  17. austinmac January 28th, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Without ever seeing Sanchez, it seems to me he has the higher upside and lower downside. Murphy looked to my eyes like he can play in the majors. At what level, I don’t know, but he looked good behind the plate, and I like how he looks at the plate.

  18. austinmac January 28th, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Can,

    Is that an issue from childhood?

  19. J. Alfred Prufrock January 28th, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    I agree mac that Murphy can play and he has a good bat, but Sanchez’s potential as a true power hitting catcher is too seductive.

    Knowing this version of the Yankees, they’ll get rid of both of them.

  20. Hankflorida January 28th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Bigdan, I agree with you that injuries are a factor so keeping players who could fill in is of the upmost importance. The only problem is that Suzuki may want to play full time in his quest for 3000 hits. I would prefer Gardener, but if a trade for him brings more potential, I could see Suzuki playing here for a few more years as he joins that exclusive club as Jeter in a much shorter time.

  21. J. Alfred Prufrock January 28th, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    milb.tv is a pretty minimal investment and Trenton’s feed for home games is decent enough, so I think it’s worth the investment, especially if you guys want to see Sanchez in this, a critical year for him.

    I would guess he’s down here for the entire season, too.

    You can go back through the Eastern League playoffs archives, as well.

  22. blake January 28th, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Wave Your Hat says:
    January 28, 2014 at 11:55 am
    “I keep forgetting Cruz is still out there…..”

    How’s he at third base? (LOL)

    At least he can hit a little….Bad defense is more acceptable if they can hit

  23. Wave Your Hat January 28th, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    “but Sanchez’s potential as a true power hitting catcher is too seductive.”

    With McCann here, Sanchez is too far away. He should be trade bait.

  24. blake January 28th, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I certainly would trade Sanchez in the right deal…..however I think it’s best to let him develop further as him having a good year could really boost his value…..and also because we have no idea what the future holds for Tex……and because McCann may end up DHing a lot on the back end of his deal.

  25. Can of Corn January 28th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Mac

    But of course ! :lol:

  26. Wave Your Hat January 28th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    blake-

    The back end of McCann’s deal is too far away to worry about. Sanchez’ power as a first baseman is nothing special. If Sanchez blossoms I would trade him. The Yanks have too many more immediate needs.

  27. Cashmoney January 28th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    as I was growing up, I saw the bad yankees slowly transitioning into the late 90s dynasty with integration of internal talents as well as shrew FA signings and trades. It was a gradual process, but mostly to me it was a enjoyable growing pain to watch. The Now Yankees lacks that element, esp in 14 when the entire roster is virtually composed of expensive FA. Sure, I watch em but it’s simply not as enjoyable as it is almost only pleasures without reflections of growth process and the pain it took to get there. Of course, this is highly personal experience. But I definitely think you lose some points in winning without that process.

  28. austinmac January 28th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    JAP,

    I will get milb. Heck, I bought a laptop just for that reason since they don’t play on an iPad.

    Now, I will critique your critiques. :)

  29. J. Alfred Prufrock January 28th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Now, I will critique your critiques. :)
    ///

    Oh, good!

    Then I can critique your critiques of my critiques :)

  30. austinmac January 28th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Cash,

    I completely agree nothing is more fun than watching young guys come through the system and blossom. But, since all our possible blossoms are still nods, this year’s players are far more interesting than watching Stewie, Nelson and the dozens of fill ins.

  31. austinmac January 28th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    JAP,

    We will be busy. And I agree Sanchez has a chance to be very special. I red an article over the winter about him. He has matured( in a good way, unlike me) and sounds ready to grow as a player too.

  32. blake January 28th, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Wave,
    He’s not untouchable….I’m just not sure you’d he enough back now to trade him

  33. Cashmoney January 28th, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Gonna go for a jog in this frozen tundra, later all.

  34. blake January 28th, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    @JonHeymanCBS: marlins, nats among teams interested in jeff baker, who had .905 ops in ’13. orioles possibly, too.

  35. J. Alfred Prufrock January 28th, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Wave Your Hat January 28th, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    “but Sanchez’s potential as a true power hitting catcher is too seductive.”

    With McCann here, Sanchez is too far away. He should be trade bait.
    ////

    McCann and his messed up arm and questionable health doesn’t persuade me to trade Sanchez.

    If Sanchez spends the whole season in AA (which I would expect) and then gets another year of seasoning in SWB, the catcher position may be open again, and if he develops, he’ll force it to be open.

    I’m not fond of trading away catchers with plus power potential and as a fan, I’m really not interested in a team composed of no homegrown players of any note.

    If the Yankees could get a great young SS I would have to think about it, but that would just about be my only contingency.

  36. blake January 28th, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    @RiverAveBlues: As @keithlaw notes in his system rankings, so many of the more promising guys got hurt. They could rebound in 2014.

  37. pkyankfan69 January 28th, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    I get that Drew might be too expensive if he is commanding a multi year deal but I don’t get why the Yanks don’t just sign Baker?

    Platoon @ 3B and back up at 1B, 2B, and corner OF… Kills lefties, something we definitely need with question marks regarding Tex and Jeter.

    And he’s definitely on the cheap.

    Why are we not signing him? Does it make too much sense?

  38. J. Alfred Prufrock January 28th, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    mac,

    I’ll look forward to the dialogue.

    I’m planning to be out there as much as my schedule will allow, now that the prodigy is in the house for probably a full season.

  39. blake January 28th, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    My prospect hugging days are over…. Doesn’t mean I won’t follow them and hope they pan out….but I’m done hugging them. For the most part the Yankees don’t get the sort of can’t miss talent that’s untouchable

  40. austinmac January 28th, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I’m hoping Baker is not considered too pricey, but I suspect they are done spending on guaranteed contracts.

  41. fuji January 28th, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    “When I was talking Pat M, i was talking about the subject of T, none of his argument seem that compelling …”

    cashmoney-

    pat m and disagree sometimes but always with respect for each other’s view. we disagreed totally on montero and on pineda for example, but we’re not really looking for debating points when we exchange ideas and thoughts.

    we both know we are playing hunches and a feel we have for the situation. i’d say that pat m and i feel the game rather than think it. so when you say you don’t see anything compelling about his arguments, i think it’s because he speaks in the rhythm of the game and not the logic of it.

    pat m may not be wrong. you may just not understand the way he’s putting it.
    most ex players don’t bother even trying t talk to non players about the game. they will talk at you on espn for money. but they don’t sit and have a dialog with you about the game because quite frankly, they don’t see the game the same way a non player does.

    that said, i have the utmost respect for someone like jerkface who would probably get hurt if he had to field a hard hit grounder , but the game can be reduced to abstractions and algorithms that someone like jerkface can see and not many players can.

    so you have pat m seeing the game one way and jerkface another way. it doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong. it’s more like two different experiences of the game.

    pat’s biggest mistake is probably trying to bring too much of his way of looking at the game to people who don’t see the game the way he does.

    i’d have no probem with jerkface being involved in the metrics management of a team i liked and having pat m coaching for that same team ,but i wouldn’t expect each other to be able to do each other’s job.

    now how they’d discuss a shortstop prospect where their areas of expertise overlapped would get interesting . they might agree or not , but they’d be looking at the shortstop from a very different perspective.

    the good teams use multiple vantage pints to evaluate and run a team.
    so on a blog i really don’t think it’s a surprise that pat m and jerk face or you butt heads.

  42. blake January 28th, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Baker would really help them vs LHP…..right now they as relying heavily on Jeter and tex vs LHP ….dangerous

  43. austinmac January 28th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    JAP,

    I envy your first hand looks. Minor league cameras make me think of watching the black and white games in my childhood. Nothing like a first hand view. You should have some guys to watch.

    Enjoy, as I will enjoy talking about them with you.

  44. austinmac January 28th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Fuji,

    Good assessment.

  45. fuji January 28th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    ” the most part the Yankees don’t get the sort of can’t miss talent that’s untouchable”

    the red sox don’t either , so how are they developing more mlb ready players right now?

  46. pkyankfan69 January 28th, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I hope the Yankees are not passing on Baker because they think Nunez can do the same job cheaper…

    In 827 career PA Nunez has hit .267/.313/.379/.692

    Nunez hits for an ok AVG, doesn’t walk, doesn’t hit for much power, can’t field… Other than being fast he pretty much blows. Nunez should be in AAA.

  47. blake January 28th, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    “the red sox don’t either , so how are they developing more mlb ready players right now?”

    Boegarts was an international guy….the rest I think we have to consider that either they are luckier or they are better at developing players right now. The Red Sox have been better at stockpiling draft picks than the Yankees too under the current rules….they have gotten better and more first rounders

  48. blake January 28th, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Nunez won’t be on the team

  49. blake January 28th, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    The best organizations have Jerkfaces and Pat Ms……

  50. AAA January 28th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Boegarts was an international guy….the rest I think we have to consider that either they are luckier or they are better at developing players right now.

    ======================================

    Hitting on the international signings is probably an even greater crapshoot than the Rule 4 draft. You’re talking about 16 year old kids. There’s so much projection involved in both the player’s physical growth/ability and growth as an individual (maturity, work ethic, adaptablity, etc). There’s a lot of luck involved there.

  51. exiledintampa January 28th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    I think the payroll budget is probably the same this year as it was last year. Now they’ll hold off anymore big contracts till they see what they have. Too many injuries waiting to happen to blow the rest of their wad before hand. The possible need for an inseason trades and call ups will leave them for now with cheap deals or no deals. Relief pitchers on Milb contracts with invites is the order of the day. I’d love to be surprised with another piece but that’s what it would be.

  52. blake January 28th, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Hitting on the international signings is probably an even greater crapshoot than the Rule 4 draft. You’re talking about 16 year old kids. There’s so much projection involved in both the player’s physical growth/ability and growth as an individual (maturity, work ethic, adaptablity, etc). There’s a lot of luck involved there.”

    Agree that there is a lot of luck involved in getting the talent ….the Sox might be better at developing what they do get rigt now though

  53. Chip January 28th, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Three things I think I think

    I think that they’ll become more interested in Stephen Drew if they don’t sign Alemedys Diaz.

    I think Soriano will be the DH more often than not (even though I don’t think we can/should expect the same crazy numbers he put up when he came in last season)

    I think the team will trade for JJ Putz in the next few weeks

  54. blake January 28th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    @Joelsherman1: #Yankees signed 1st of pre-arb players on 40-man roster: J.R. Murphy. Will receive $502,700 if in majors.

  55. trisha - true pinstriped blue January 28th, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Just checking it to say hey. My infirmed self and I have been resting a lot. But I’ll post the current Prediction Chart as a way of staying in touch and also making sure I’ve gotten the predictions straight.

    2014 YANKEE PREDICTION CHART

    1/23 Trisha 101
    1/22 Kelvin 98
    1/22 Poetkiosk 96
    1/22 Rhapsody in Blue 93
    1/23 Tomingeorgia 94
    1/23 JimK 88
    1/23 GregD 94
    1/23 Cashmoney 163
    1/23 Austinmac 92
    1/23 Pete2 93
    1/23 Chicken_stanley 95
    1/23 bbb1 96
    1/23 FS48 91
    1/23 Locke 91
    1/23 nettles9nc 95
    1/23 Upstate 90
    1/23 Tabbert 91
    1/24 Chambliss 89
    1/24 Pkyankfan69 69
    1/24 Hunger Games 101
    1/24 Howler 96
    1/24 RayVt 108
    1/24 Jmills 93
    1/24 Comet 86
    1/24 kd 92
    1/24 MichelleB 92
    1/24 Blojaldo 97
    1/25 Melkmanisinhotlanta 95
    1/25 Y’s Guy 90
    1/25 Yankinvegas 94

    Later.

  56. blake January 28th, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    I predict 93 wins without Drew. 147 wins with Drew

  57. Chip January 28th, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    The latest All Free Agent team:

    C – Yenier Bello
    1b – Carlos Pena
    2b – Justin Turner
    3b – Michael Young
    SS – Stephen Drew
    LF – Brennan Boesch
    CF – Vernon Wells
    RF – Nelson Cruz
    DH – Kendrys Morales

    Bench: Jeff Baker, Kelly Shoppach, Wilson Betemit, Andres Torres

    Rotation:

    Ubaldo
    Ervin Santana
    Arroyo
    AJ Burnett
    Tommy Hanson

    Bullpen:

    Closer: Rodney
    RHP: Andrew Bailey, Carlos Marmol, Joel Hanrahan, Suk-Min Yoon, James McDonald
    LHP: Oliver Perez

  58. 86w183 January 28th, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    That would not be the worst team in MLB, but thought of Vernon Wells in CF is scary.

    The starting rotation is a strength. Bullpen has potential. Bottom half of the lineup is awful

  59. blake January 28th, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    86w183 says:
    January 28, 2014 at 2:44 pm
    That would not be the worst team in MLB, but thought of Vernon Wells in CF is scary.

    They’d be better than several teams Imo….that rotation is way better than some

  60. Kelvin January 28th, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I think I gave a pretty high prediction, lol.

    But I’ll keep it, gotta be optimistic. ;)

  61. Howler January 28th, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    only 147…you severely underestimate the power of a Drew…

  62. trisha - true pinstriped blue January 28th, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    :lol:

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