Assessing the Yankees' very few ills (cont.)
They are not being complacent about the issue of complacency. No topic was more prominent at Girardi's press conference, and it will continue to be a main theme. It's no surprise that will be the main message for the players. Here's the way Girardi previewed the words in his coming clubhouse speeches: "It all starts over. Everyone is 0-0 going into April 4.''
Girardi said he isn't too worried that that message will get lost. "I don't view [complacency] as a huge problem,'' Girardi said. "But in saying that, we'll keep an eye on it.''
The manager added, "I love the people in the room. We have great leadership in that room.''
Girardi also loved a question about whether newcomers Granderson and Vazquez might be hungrier due to past postseason disappointments. Granderson's Tigers lost the 2006 World Series to the Cardinals in an upset, and Vazquez had setbacks in October with the White Sox, and memorably, with the 2004 Yankees.
The answer won't be known until games are played, but while they lost two great people (Damon and Matsui, who were both very clutch), they gained a few, as well. Granderson and Vazquez are considered two of the better guys in the sport, and as a side benefit, Granderson, that rare major leaguer who's already earned his college degree, brings intellectual qualities and can be counted on to fix anyone's computer problem.
Posada said, "We've got two great guys, three actually. Randy Winn's awesome, too.''
6. Contractual questions
The contracts of Jeter, Rivera and Girardi are up at season's end. But unlike past cases of of Damon, Alex Rodriguez or even Joe Torre, it'd be a surprise if anything got too messy here. This is just standard operating procedure for the Yankees, whose policy is to let contracts expire before dealing with extensions. In the case of Jeter, too, he's coming off an MVP-like season, so there's some bit of strategy in waiting until the last minute.
The last time they talked about a multiyear deal for Jeter, George Steinbrenner gave him $189 million for 10 years, an unheard-of figure at the time for a non-slugger following A-Rod's famous $252 million deal and also several months after Steinbrenner decided against a deal for about $115 million. This time the parameters seem much more predictable. Unless his estimable agent Casey Close pulls out another rabbit, Jeter should get three or four years for between $20 million and $25 million. Rivera should continue to set relief records, with a two-year deal north of $15 million a year seeming logical.
Girardi has proved to be a tough negotiator (it doesn't help that he's popular among other teams). But really, how does a manager who likes to change his number every year based on championships leave the Yankees?
Girardi also has an advantage in that the Steinbrenner family absolutely loves him. By the end, the feeling obviously was something less than that for Torre.
The amazing quartet of Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Posada and Rivera is back to try to duplicate the exploits of a year ago. They are, in order, 35, 37, 38 and 40 (yes, Rivera quietly hit that magic number the month of the Yankees' 27th World Series championship). There was not one iota of a hint of slippage from any of them last year, and Jeter in fact had one of his best years ever, especially defensively. And while aging is inevitable, it's such a non-issue now that no one even brings it up.
Around the Majors
Damon is weighing offers from the Tigers, White Sox and Braves with Detroit's offer believed to be the best one financially. By text message, Damon shot down rumors his wife Michelle will convince him to go to Chicago over Detroit, texting, "....but it's up to me. She's going wherever I go.'' The Tigers are still thought to be the frontrunner, though White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has gotten involved within the past few days.
The Indians are looking to add a first baseman and have reached out to Russell Branyan as well as Hank Blalock and Jermaine Dye. Indians GM Mark Shapiro had Branyan before and likes him.
The Rays also are looking at Branyan, plus reliever Chan Ho Park and a couple others and may have enough money for one more signing. But not two, a Rays person said.
The Cubs and Yankees are two more possibilities for Park.
As one AL scout said of the Mets and their catching situation, "They have four backups.'' Rod Barajas has received offers from the Mets and Rangers, with the Mets offer believed to be a minor-league deal with a spring invite for about $1 million. Barajas will probably choose the Mets because he has a better chance to start there than in Texas.
The Rangers think Barajas is priced too high and are looking at Jose Molina.
Eric Gagne may sign back with the Dodgers after all these years. The Rockies also have looked at him.
Both sides in the Tim Lincecum arbitration case thought they would win, and the hearing would have been a landmark case. But both sides also had a lot to lose, so it's no surprise they settled. And like anyone who'd made $650,000 in the last year, the $23-million compromise looked fair to Lincecum himself, especially since he'd been requesting $24 million. The Giants' three-year offer, which was actually for $36 million (and not quite the previously reported $37 million), wouldn't have made sense because Lincecum might get to close to $20 million in his third year of arbitration eligibility, which is a lot more than the $13 million extra this deal would have paid. The Giants never broached a longer deal.
Mark McGwire's explanation on Wednesday regarding his previous laughable contention that performance enhancing drugs didn't enhance his performance was that he was speaking "from the heart.'' Which only tells me he's probably been lying to himself, too.
MLB Truth & Rumors