This entire post will be dedicated to Joe Girardi’s answers to questions asked during yesterday’s State of the Yankees press conference. He had some great nuggets of info concerning some players, while he danced around a few questions, but overall if you’re Yankees fan you’ll be happy with what was said.
One the biggest issues the Yankees are facing this season is how to replace more than 50 home runs from their lineup. With Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, and Raul Ibanez calling home elsewhere this season, the Yankees are left with slap hitter Ichiro Suzuki, two backup-caliber catchers, and a logjam of retreads at the DH spot. Girardi iterated that speed is one of the new elements to the ball club:
“I anticipate it’s going to be different, because we don’t quite have the home run hitters we’ve had in the past. So we’re going to have to find different ways to score runs. I think when you look at our club this year, there’s more speed. You have one outfielder who has the potential of stealing 50, 60 bases if he stays healthy the whole year. So I think our offense is going to be different, but I believe that we’re going to score runs. It’s just going to be in a different fashion than it has been in the past.”
Personally, and I’ve been saying since December, I’m a little excited about seeing more speed in the Yankees offense. While home runs are a quick means to plating runs, I’m partial to seeing the team use its legs to get around the basepaths too, not just muscle. Sometimes you can’t rely on hitting the ball over the wall, you need to manufacture runs. Now they are in a better position to do just that. That said, as long as they win, I really couldn’t care less how they do it.
Meanwhile, the catching situation, ever since Russell Martin bolted to the Pittsburgh Pirates, does not look all that great. Last year’s backup, Chris Stewart and 2011′s backup, Francisco Cervelli, are the main candidates to take over Martin’s post. Newcomer Austin Romine, has an opportunity to make the club, but GM Brian Cashman said he’ll most likely start the season in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with the Railriders. However, Girardi said the kid has a chance with a good spring showing:
“Chris (Stewart) is probably going to play a bigger role this year. It’s an opportunity for a young guy like Austin Romine. I know he missed a lot of last year, but he still has an opportunity here. Cervy has a big opportunity in front of him. A lot of times you can look at a catcher and say, here’s a guy who can hit 20 home runs and drove in 60 runs or 80 runs. It’s hard to quantify how many runs a catcher can save. I believe we have two catchers that can do a lot of that, the two that we take will save a lot of runs for us.”
Michael Pineda’s health has been a question mark ever since last Spring Training, and this year is no different. The young All-Star is working his way back from severe shoulder surgery, but Girardi seems happy about what he sees right now:
“He’s throwing now for us. He’s still in the early stages. I don’t think we’re going to see him in a game in spring training, anything like that. He is throwing, we’re happy with the way he’s progressing, and sometime during the summer we hope to see him.”
Finally, it wouldn’t be a State of the Yankees without some Alex Rodriguez news, right? Well several reports indicate that A-Rod is in New York rehabbing from his hip injury. Many believed that the third baseman was asked to stay in New York in order to distance himself and the team from the impending drama. Girardi didn’t see it like that:
“I think Alex had somewhat of a special surgery. It’s not a hamstring. It’s not something we’ve done a lot of. We feel at this point the best place for him to be is New York rehabbing under the doctor’s supervision. There will come a point where he’s able to do more and that will change. But at this point, I spoke to him last week and he was still barely on crutches. He was almost off them. There’s not a lot that he can do here.”
Either way you look at it, it does seem somewhat weird. We’ve seen players before rehabbing down at Spring Training, heck for the Yankees, they send their guys to Tampa to rehab. At any rate, I just hope they aren’t alienating him because of the whole PED accusations, but I would certainly understand if they were.
Thanks to Chad Jennings of the Journal news for transcribing the press conference