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Tag:Joe Girardi
Posted on: September 26, 2011 6:07 pm

Francona: Yankees 'can do what they want'

BALTIMORE -- Yes, the Yankees rested regulars Sunday, not playing any of them in both ends of a day-night doubleheader against the Red Sox. But no one who watched the weekend series in the Bronx could say that the Yankees didn't try to win.

Will they do the same the next three nights against the Rays, who enter the final series of the season one game behind Boston in the American League wild-card race?

Yankee manager Joe Girardi's Monday night lineup would suggest that the answer is yes, as Girardi included most of his regulars for the opener of the series.

But no matter how Girardi approaches the series, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Monday he'll have no complaints.

"They're a professional team," Francona said. "Saying that, they can do what they want. They've played themselves into that position. I wish we were in that position. If they want to rest guys, they can."

Because the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the second game Sunday, Boston can win the wild card without any help from their rivals. But obviously a Yankee win or two against the Rays would make the Red Sox' task a whole lot easier.

"Our goal is to win the three games [against the Orioles]," David Ortiz said.

Ortiz said he talked to Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano on Sunday, and he took heart from what Cano told him.

"He said, 'I don't like days off,' " Ortiz said.

Does Ortiz think the Yankees will play as hard against the Rays as they did against the Red Sox?

"Hopefully," he said. "That's the way it's supposed to be."
Posted on: July 6, 2011 6:36 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 6:46 pm

Playing Jeter is right move for Yankees

CLEVELAND -- Yes, it would be best if Derek Jeter gets his 3,000th hit at Yankee Stadium.

Isn't that obvious?

But yes, it was absolutely the right decision for the Yankees to play Jeter on Wednesday night at Progressive Field, even at the risk that he gets 3,000 in George Steinbrenner's beaten-down hometown, rather than in the gaudy stadium Steinbrenner built in the Bronx.

Isn't that obvious, too?

Whether you buy into it or not -- and for the most part, I do -- the image Jeter has carefully cultivated through 16-plus years in the big leagues is of a player who values winning over all individual achievements, a player who values consistency and wants to play in every game he can.

Chances are, Jeter doesn't get four hits Wednesday (he had two four-hit games in his first 64 games this season). If he gets one or two hits, he makes it significantly more likely that 3,000 comes in the Yankees' four-game homestand against the Rays, which begins Thursday night.

And that would be perfect.

"It would be a wonderful moment for him and our fans," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

It would be a great moment for baseball. Whether you like Jeter or not, whether you cheer for the Yankees or not, you have to appreciate what he has meant, and what it means for him to become the first Yankee ever with 3,000 hits -- and the just the second player to get to 3,000 while still playing shortstop (Honus Wagner was the first).

And if somehow it happened Wednesday in Cleveland, it would still be a great moment. Then, on Thursday at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees could recognize Jeter before the game, and the fans could give him the ovation he deserves.

Jeter talked his way into the lineup Wednesday, telling Girardi in a conversation late Wednesday night and then in text messages that he wanted to play, and that the strained calf that cost him three weeks on the disabled list was not an issue.

Girardi said originally that he believed Jeter would need a day off this week, not to time the 3,000th hit but to keep him healthy. The manager made the decision Wednesday morning that Jeter would play Wednesday night, and would keep playing every day until the 3,000th hit.

"We want to get this over," Girardi said. "We want to give him every opportunity to do it before the All-Star break."

It's the right decision, so much so that the only thing that surprises me is that Girardi had to "sleep on it."

Even without the 3,000 issue, playing Jeter Wednesday would have been the right move.

Jeter has struggled all year, and last year, too. It's possible that his skills are in such decline that he can't be anything close to the player he once was.

But we've also seen great players rebound. We've seen, as one veteran scout put it, the lightbulb flicker a few times, then come back fully bright.

If that's going to happen with Jeter, it's going to happen because he gets in a groove at the plate. And while one well-struck ball doesn't mean he's headed for that groove, he did have that double into the left-center field gap Tuesday.

If that's a sign that he is headed for some kind of groove, a day off now would make no sense.

Playing Jeter was the right decision, the only decision.

Isn't that obvious?

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 4, 2011 5:56 pm

Girardi wants 3,000 'as soon as he can'

CLEVELAND -- The Yankees aren't saying yet whether Derek Jeter will play all three games of the series that begins Monday night at Progressive Field.

They are insisting that the decision won't be based on trying to ensure that Jeter gets his 3,000th hit this weekend at Yankee Stadium.

"I want him to get to 3,000 as soon as he can," manager Joe Girardi said Monday afternoon. "I'm going to manage him more from the physical standpoint."

Jeter returned from the disabled list with 2,994 career hits. After the three games in Cleveland, the Yankees play four games at home against the Rays before the All-Star break. They return from the break with a trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay.

Jeter, not surprisingly, showed no interest in the idea of sitting out a game simply to have a better chance of getting the 3,000th hit at home.

As he said Monday, "I don't like to miss games, period."

Yankees people scoff at the idea that Jeter would choose to sit out.

Does that mean he'll play all three games against the Indians? Not necessarily. Girardi could still tell him that a day off would be best as he returns from the calf injury.

Girardi, as he promised he would, put Jeter right back into the leadoff spot in his batting order. He also refused to accept the idea that Jeter's skills have slipped so much that he can't be the Jeter of old.

"We want him to be vintage Jeter," Girardi said.

Jeter admitted that he hasn't played as well as he would like.

"This year, I'm not happy with my first half," he said.

The Yankees passed the 81-game mark while Jeter was on the DL, so his second half began Monday night.

The chase for 3,000 began again, too.
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 7, 2011 7:34 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 9:19 pm

Girardi won't change how Jeter is used

NEW YORK -- Yes, Joe Girardi wants Derek Jeter to get his 3,000th hit during the Yankee homestand that began Tuesday.

But it's not like there's a lot the Yankee manager can do about it.

Jeter already bats leadoff, so there's no way to get him any more plate appearances. And Girardi has played Jeter in each of the last 29 games (through Tuesday).

Jeter entered the 10-game homestand needing 14 hits to become the first Yankee with 3,000 in his career. Jeter was the Yankees' DH Tuesday night, for the fifth time this season.

"You'd love for him to do it here," Girardi said. "But you can't physically wear him down or risk hurting him. We're going to play it pretty much the way we've played it all year."

And basically, that means that Jeter is going to play.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 15, 2011 9:53 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 11:17 pm

A day later, Posada and the Yankees get it right

NEW YORK -- Apologizing was right, but it was also easy.

Accepting the apology was right, but easy.

Jorge Posada and the Yankees did their best Sunday to defuse a crisis that never should have been, and it's hard to argue with either side's second-day reaction.

Posada admitted he was wrong to ask out of the lineup because he was upset about batting ninth (even though he still hasn't admitted that's why he was upset). He apologized to his manager and his general manager, and he addressed the issue with emotion but with absolutely no venom.

"It's not about Jorge Posada," he said. "It's not about Joe Girardi. It's about the Yankees. I let some people down."

Obviously, it would have been better if Posada had said all that Saturday night. Obviously, it would have been better than that if he hadn't pulled himself from the game in the first place.

And obviously, it would have been better if Girardi and Brian Cashman hadn't messed with Posada by first insisting that he never, ever could catch, then by slapping him in the face by batting him ninth in a nationally televised game against the Red Sox, and finally by suggesting through "sources" that they would fine him or even try to void his contract.

There was none of that Sunday.

"Today's a new day," Cashman said. "We'd like to get the page turned."

At this point, it's reasonable to expect that Posada (who didn't start Sunday against left-hander Jon Lester, but received a huge ovation when he pinch hit in the eighth inning) will return to the lineup as soon as Tuesday night, when the Yankees face Rays right-hander James Shields (and maybe even Monday against lefty David Price). At this point, you'd have to think Posada will accept batting ninth, publicly and privately, if that's what Girardi asks him to do."

Consider this page turned.

And the question on the next page: Was a lesson learned?

Posada isn't the Yankees' only fading star. Even if there are no more Posada issues (and there will be, if he doesn't significantly improve his .165 average), the Yankees will face similar questions as they deal with the declines of Derek Jeter, and eventually Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and perhaps even Mariano Rivera.

Girardi addressed this Sunday, saying, "I'm managing some Yankees that have had great careers and are aging in front of us. And there's no manual on that."

He's right. There's no manual.

But if there was, it sure wouldn't tell you to handle it the way the Yankees handled Posada.

It might, however, tell you to do exactly as Posada and the Yankees did Sunday.

That was easy.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 15, 2011 6:12 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 11:19 pm

Posada apologizes, and Yankees accept it

NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada apologized to Yankees manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman on Sunday, putting an end to the latest crisis in the Bronx.

For now, anyway.

The Yankees announced early in Sunday's game against the Red Sox that Posada won't be disciplined for pulling himself out of the lineup Saturday, apparently in response to Girardi's decision to bat him ninth. They said they now consider the matter closed.

Posada, Girardi and Cashman were all conciliatory in their comments Sunday, and Girardi suggested that Posada will be back in the lineup soon. Posada did not start Sunday night against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, but Girardi indicated that was because of Posada's awful numbers against lefties (0-for-24 this year), rather than because of Saturday's incident.

Posada pinch hit in the eighth inning, drawing a walk against Daniel Bard after receiving a huge ovation from the Yankee Stadium fans.

Posada took full blame for what happened Saturday, when he went to Girardi about an hour before gametime and said that he couldn't play. Girardi had posted a lineup with Posada batting ninth, the first time he would have hit in that spot in 12 years.

"Everybody has a bad day," Posada said. "I just had one [Saturday]. It's just one of those days you hope you can take back."

Posada's wife went on Twitter during Saturday's game and blamed back stiffness for Posada's absence from the lineup, but Posada admitted Sunday that while he did "tweak" his back before the game, it was simply an "excuse" for pulling himself out of the lineup.

And while Posada refused to say he took the action simply because he was batting ninth, he never gave any other reason for doing it.

"Sometimes, frustration just comes out," he said.

Girardi insisted that he didn't bat Posada ninth to embarrass him, and he refused to address where Posada will hit the next time he plays. He also wouldn't address the question of how long the Yankees can stay with Posada, waiting for him to start hitting.

"I believe he's going to turn it around," Girardi said.

He hasn't yet. Posada entered play Sunday batting just .165 in 32 games.

Posada went into Girardi's office to meet with him Sunday afternoon, then later met with Cashman after batting practice. Cashman relayed through a team spokesman that he had then briefed Yankee ownership.

"We'd like to get the page turned," Cashman said, even before meeting with Posada.

Meanwhile, the Yankee Stadium bleacher creatures saluted Posada during the first inning Sunday, calling out "Jorge! Jorge!" after their traditional roll call.

Posted on: May 15, 2011 12:05 am

Yanks have mishandled Posada, in every way

You don't embarrass your stars, even when they're fading.

You don't slap your stars in the face, even when they're wrong.

Jorge Posada was wrong to ask out of the lineup, from everything we can tell from Saturday's madness at Yankee Stadium. But the Yankees have been wrong on Posada all year.

They've mishandled this in almost every way possible, and it makes you wonder even more how the next 2 1/2 years will go with Derek Jeter.

And don't think Jeter hasn't noticed what the Yankees have done to his friend.

What exactly did they do?

First, they told him he would never, under any circumstances, catch so much as an inning -- or even a bullpen session. They had Gustavo Molina (.228 career batting average) catch three games, just so they could avoid putting Posada behind the plate. On opening day, manager Joe Girardi said that Posada would "probably" be his emergency catcher, ahead of utility infielder Eduardo Nunez.

Then, on Saturday, Girardi put the struggling Posada in the ninth spot in the batting order, for the first time in 12 years. Even with Posada's .165 average this year, it was such a drastic move that the only reason to do it would be to embarrass him.

Benching him would have been a better option. Tell everyone -- and tell him -- that you think he needs a few days away.

Don't drop him to ninth, on national television, with the Red Sox in town. Not unless your goal is to embarrass him.

I checked with a few people in baseball Saturday night, asking for their thoughts. And their thoughts were the same as my thoughts.

"To Posada, who has had a great career, it's a personal slap in the face to hit ninth," said one former big-league manager. "Hit [Brett] Gardner ninth. Girardi has to understand that Posada's got more friends on that team than [Girardi] does."

Yes, I know, Posada said publicly -- before and after the game -- that hitting ninth wasn't an issue, and that it wasn't why he asked out of the lineup.

I remember another proud player saying that being dropped in the batting order didn't bother him, then going up to the plate and telling everyone he would take three straight strikes (which he did).

My guess is that tempers will cool down and that Girardi and Posada will come to some sort of understanding, and that if Posada starts hitting he'll keep playing.

Girardi seemed to be heading in that direction after the game (a 6-0 loss to the Red Sox that dropped the Yankees out of a playoff position), to the point of saying that Posada told him in their brief pregame meeting that he just "needed a day."

"Sometimes we need a day to clear our head, and take a deep breath," Girardi said.

Posada also seemed to be heading towards mending fences. He also used the line about "needing time," although he inexplicably brought up the idea that his back was stiff.

But he also said, "I still want to be here. I love playing, and I love playing for this organization."

Posada saved his venom for general manager Brian Cashman, complaining that Cashman would choose to go on television to discuss the situation during the game.

"That's the way he works right now," Posada said.

Fortunately, a player-GM relationship isn't crucial, as the Rangers will tell you. Has it hurt them one bit that Michael Young doesn’t like Jon Daniels?

Yes, Young is hitting .351, not .165. But it's also true that Rangers manager Ron Washington has already had Young start 13 games in the field.

How a manager handles his stars, fading or otherwise, is absolutely crucial, because every other player in the clubhouse is watching. It's why Red Sox manager Terry Francona consistently stood behind David Ortiz during Ortiz's horrid starts the last two years.

Francona did drop Ortiz as far as seventh in the order, but he made sure Ortiz knew he was appreciated.

It's no surprise that it was Ortiz who said Saturday of the Yankees and Posada (according to the Boston Herald): "They're doing that guy wrong."

Ortiz is right, even if in this instance, Posada was wrong.

The Yankees have been doing that guy wrong.

He may be a fading star, but he's still a star.

And you don't embarrass your stars, even when they're fading.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 13, 2011 11:26 pm

Nearly 40 games in, Yanks and Sox remain a puzzle

NEW YORK -- It's a little disconcerting to hear the manager of the Yankees openly hoping that a series with the Red Sox would "bring out the best" in his team.

And almost as disconcerting to hear the manager of the Red Sox admit that the Sox are "still taking one step forward and one step back."

But that's where we are in the American League East, perilously close to the 40-game mark that is supposed to define teams, but without much definition at all about the sport's two superpowers.

We're at a point where one rival scout could walk away from Friday's 5-4 Boston win and declare, "The Yankees are in trouble," but also at a point where that sounds needlessly harsh.

What seems more reasonable is to say that these are two very talented teams with very big issues -- but not necessarily season-killing issues.

The issues have allowed the Rays to sneak into first place, which just adds to the questions about both the Yankees and the Red Sox.

On one side:

-- It really does feel like the Red Sox follow every step forward with a step back. But maybe it feels more like that because even though the Red Sox have followed their 2-10 start by going 16-10 since (basically a 100-win pace over a full season), their overall record is still disappointing.

-- John Lackey's problems are a real issue. It's obvious he's distracted, and easy to believe that a family medical issue is the reason. The Red Sox understandably want to be compassionate, and Lackey apparently wants to pitch through the trouble, but the time may be coming when the team tells him that it's best not to.

-- The Sox have consistently stood behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and even on Friday general manager Theo Epstein spoke of the improvement he sees. But the Sox are getting less offense from the catcher spot than any team but the Joe Mauer-less Twins, and rival scouts are suggesting that Saltalamacchia's game-calling skills are hurting the pitching staff (along with his inability to throw out runners trying to steal).

On the other side:

-- The Yankees haven't hit well this week, and every time they struggle at the plate, someone says they're too old. The daily Derek Jeter questions have slowed after he got a few hits, but now there are daily questions about Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. Are they old or simply slumping? By the end of the year, maybe we'll know.

-- The rotation has been somewhat better than advertised, despite the Phil Hughes saga. But even with another encouraging start from Bartolo Colon Friday, you wonder how long Colon and Freddy Garcia will hold up, and who will be next in line if they don't?

-- The answer to the rotation questions was supposed to be a shutdown bullpen, but the road to Mariano Rivera is still paved with questions. Rafael Soriano hasn't yet been worth the money, and Joba Chamberlain is at times brilliant ("Best I've ever seen him," one scout said Friday afternoon) and at other times his usual puzzle (three huge hits, including a Kevin Youkilis home run, in Friday's decisive seventh inning).

Put it all together, and you start to understand why neither of these teams is in first place, why Joe Girardi was hoping for a Red Sox-fueled revival this weekend, and why Terry Francona was admitting that his Sox team is "certainly not clicking on all cylinders."

Forty games won't be enough to get a true handle on either of these teams.

Check back after 80.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or