With contract up after this season, would Joe Girardi want to replace Lou Piniella in Chicago?

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Joe Girardi’s three-year contract is up at the end of this season and the New York media is already starting to speculate about him potentially replacing Lou Piniella in Chicago.

Girardi was born and raised in Illinois, got drafted by the Cubs in 1986, and spent two different stints calling Wrigley Field home, playing there from 1989 to 1992 and from 2000 to 2002.

Asked yesterday about Girardi’s status, general manager Brian Cashman said simply: “We’ll deal with contract stuff down the line.” And here’s what Girardi said:

I’m sure I’m going be asked that a lot now that [Piniella’s] stepped down. My focus is here. I have a responsibility to the organization and to the guys in that clubhouse and that’s where my focus is. I’m very happy here. You know what? Great working relationship here with everyone involved and I’m very happy here. This organization has been great to me.

I know I have a background there and I’m not going skirt around my background there. I grew up a Cubs fan, I played for the Cubs, but I’m not worried about that now. I’m worried about what we’re doing now. We’re in a fight.

Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com notes that the Cubs opening will likely just give Girardi some added leverage when negotiating to remain with the Yankees, which could be similar to when he talked to the Dodgers before agreeing to a three-year, $7.5 million deal to replace Joe Torre.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.