Joe Girardi had his annual beginning-of-spring-training news conference yesterday. Marc Carig of the Star Ledger was there. The highlights:
- Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson are the top
candidates for the second slot in the order. I’d probably just plug Johnson and his uber-OBP into that slot, but I assume that Girardi is at least a minor devotee to the “you can’t clog the basepaths” school of thought. My guess is that Granderson is there against right-handers and Johnson there against lefties.
- Girardi said he’s not going to go crazy pitting Hughes against Joba from the beginning of camp. Rather, he’s going to let them ease into things. Ultimately he wants to make his choice for the fifth starter’s slot decided by March 25th, but if it isn’t it isn’t. I get the feeling that absent one of them simply throwing bullets in an unprecedented fashion, each of them are going to see some time starting this season. Whatever the case, I’m having a hard time getting excited about this competition. I want Joba to get a clear shot because I think he has more upside, but they’re both good pitchers and these things have a way of sorting themselves out.
- Granderson and Gardner will both get looks in center and left and Girardi may shift Granderson back and forth during the season. Based on how many “Granderson is open to playing left field” stories we’ve seen in the last week, however, one gets the sense that the decision has already been made. Girardi says it may turn on who can play left better. Which the cynical side of me sees as a way of saying that Granderson “won” the LF job instead of saying he was moved off of CF. Not that Granderson seems like the kind of guy whose ego needed tended or anything.
- Girardi is not concerned about the team growing complacent after winning the World Championship. I realize no one ever knows what goes on in someone’s head, but can anyone point to a team that truly did grow complacent after winning a championship? These guys are all pros and work hard. Winning a championship is really, really difficult. Things happen. “Complacency” always strikes me as a post-hoc rationalization for why a team fails to repeat. OK, maybe the 1979 Pirates if you count doing mountains of cocaine “complacency” but we’re in a very different era now. Everyone’s in camp more than a week before they have to be. Most guys work their tails off.
- Girardi is happy that Alex Rodriguez can just focus on baseball and be a leader now. What a difference a year makes. Remember when people were saying that the Yankees would be better off with
Colby RasmusCody Ransom [whoever] at third as opposed to “A-Fraud?” In other news, absent a 200 point dip in team batting average, I think Mark McGwire will be OK pretty soon.
- Carig also did something cool: he asked Giradi questions people suggested to him on Twitter. Sadly, he did not ask the one I suggested to him, which was asking Girardi if he thinks that the 1961-63 Yankees’ success was due to Ralph Houk being at the helm. Marc said I’d have to ask him that one myself when I get down to Tampa in March.
How much ya gimme?