It’s the most wonderful time of the year


Happy Valentine’s Day Pitchers and Catchers Day everybody!! The offseason is officially over and we can start talking baseball.

As Joe Girardi did his annual press conference upon arriving at Spring Training, he answered the usual banal questions. One that was interesting though was about Jeter and his place in the lineup:

"We signed (Jeter) to be our shortstop, and we signed him to be our leadoff hitter. And he’s got a pretty good track history of what he’s done in the game of baseball. He had a couple of rough months last year. The month of September he was back to being Derek, I thought. I’m really not too concerned about him as our leadoff hitter…But as we all know in this game, you have to prove yourself year in and year out, no matter who you are. That’s just the nature of the game and there’s always people trying to take your job. But believe me, I can tell you that from a lot of experience, I moved to a lot of different places because people came around. I expect him to be our leadoff hitter and be our everyday shortstop."

Obviously, this is a generic response. What is he supposed to say? However, I do expect Jeet to start the season off in the leadoff spot, he had a good April last year and finished strong as well. However, if he hits a midseason slump like he did in 2010 I can almost guarantee you he’ll drop in the lineup. This won’t be like last year when he was kept in the top spot despite struggling, Gardner is too fast to not be hitting leadoff.

Another slightly terrifying interview came from CC, who was asked if he will opt out of his current deal, which runs through 2015 but has an opt-out clause that kicks in after the 2011 campaign:

"I have no idea (if I will opt out). It is still in my contract. Anything is possible….I always leave that little window open that that could always change, but I don’t anticipate it changing, to be honest, because that policy has been in place for quite some time."

He seems to be changing his tune, as when he was asked this last year he adamantly said something like “I’m here to stay. I’m not leaving.” He and his family did build a house in New Jersey, so I don’t think it’s likely he’ll leave, but it’s not very reassuring to hear him talk like this.

CC, who came to camp 25 pounds lighter, wasn’t done.

"I’m getting older. I want to try and pitch as long as I can. Hopefully, another eight to 10 years, and this is just the first step in trying to do that."

My take on this quote is that he wants a new deal that will keep him under contract until his late 30s. He’ll be 31 at this time next year and he’s under contract through his age 35 season. I think he’s going to opt out sometime in the next two years and sign a new long-term deal with the Yanks. I think he goes out and puts up another Cy Young-caliber season or two and asks for about the same deal so he’s under contract through his late 30s. He’ll probably use the fact that the Yanks were offering Cliff Lee a deal through his age 39 season.

I don’t think he’s going anywhere though, because, honestly, where is he going to get $24.2 million per year?

Hank had to go and open his mouth about the whole situation. For what it’s worth (not much), here’s his take:

"I think he’s happy here, and now he really knows what it’s like to be a Yankee. Had another excellent year last year. I think he’s here to stay.Once you’ve become a Yankee and you’ve won as a Yankee, it’s a little difficult to go anywhere else, I would assume. We’re going to be in every year…every single year. You can’t say that about any other team, except maybe the Red Sox, but they weren’t in it last year. And the Phillies are keeping it going, but how long will that last? So, we’re the only team you can be assured, as long as we own the them, are going to be in it every single year. We’re going to be a major contender to win the championship every year."

I guess his memory is a little foggy about 2008. Why do they let this guy speak in public? He shouldn’t be allowed to address the media without wearing a muzzle.