By Sweeny Murti
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Joe Girardi spent part of his Thursday afternoon with Mike Francesa at the WFAN studios in lower Manhattan.  Among some of the more interesting nuggets to me:

*Girardi said Jesus Montero “can DH some, but if he’s with us I think he has to catch some.”  Girardi added that he can’t say exactly what Montero’s role will be in 2012 and how much he catches, but it’s clear the Yankees have plans to have him in the lineup quite often.  The “if he’s with us” phrasing caught me too, an indication to me that Montero’s name still comes up in trade talks.

*Girardi said his ability to deal with his aging stars has a lot to do with their own ability to “self-evaluate correctly.”  In other words, maybe they don’t recover as well as they used to and don’t realize that the day off is a good thing once in a while.   Girardi said Jeter was more understanding of it and responded better to it as the year went on, and it appears to be something he will be more concerned with for Alex Rodriguez in 2012.  Girardi admitted that A-Rod was “beat up” when the Division Series came around, dealing with both knee and thumb injuries.

In other words, get used to seeing more Eduardo Nunez, who despite his fielding issues showed a lot of energy and potential.  His young legs are needed on this roster.

*While Girardi wasn’t sure if Mariano Rivera would hang it up after 2012, he did say there is a potential closer in David Robertson (I hate to use words like “heir” or “successor” because its completely unfair to someone following the greatest ever).  Girardi said Robertson has a closer’s mentality and possesses important mental and physical qualities—he can turn the page quickly and he can strike people out.

Another big year from Robertson in 2012, and the Yankees might see if he can build on that potential…but only if Rivera isn’t willing to come back for more.  Rivera is signed through 2012.

To hear Joe Girardi’s entire interview with Mike Francesa, including a surprise phone call from actor/Yankee fanatic Nick Turturro, click here.

As the GM meetings wound down this week, Adam Katz, the agent for Cuban YouTube sensation Yeonis Cespedes, became a popular figure as teams started jockeying for position in the bidding for the soon to be declared free agent outfielder.

Cespedes is going to command a big league contract worth at least $30 million according to most speculators.  Are the Yankees interested?  Definitely.  How far they are willing to go to get him is the question.

Cespedes is full of raw talent.  Scouts who have seen him tell me he doesn’t just have big power, he has HUGE power, hitting several balls completely out of stadiums in the Cuban league.  And at 26 years old he is entering his prime years.  On the down side, there is some question about holes in his swing, his ability to hit major league breaking balls, and his potentially high strikeout totals.

Projected to be a corner outfielder in the majors, Cespedes could be an interesting option for the Yankees.  They would have the ability to let him spend some time developing at AAA in 2012 and if he’s ready by season’s end, the Yanks could let Nick Swisher walk as a free agent and move Cespedes into his place.  It’s not a sure thing by any means, but it’s a strategy they certainly have to consider.

Here is an update on some holiday and off-season events involving the Yankees and Yankee Stadium:

On Wednesday, November 23, the Yankees and Legends Hospitality will provide a Thanksgiving meal for approximately 200 local residents at the Supportive Children’s Advocacy Network (SCAN). Located in the Bronx, SCAN has provided support to thousands of New York City-based at-risk families since 1977.

On Thursday, December 8, the Yankees will partner with Community Board 4 (CB4) to host the 2011 4 + 44 Awards Ceremony at Yankee Stadium in the Delta SKY360 Suite. During the event, local police officers will be recognized for their commitment to making a difference in the lives of CB4 residents.

On Wednesday, December 14, the Yankees, along with White Rose and members of the Bronx clergy, will hold their 18th annual Holiday Food Drive from 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Non-perishable food will be accepted at Yankee Stadium’s Gate 2. Fans who donate at least 30 pounds will receive a voucher good for two tickets to a designated Yankees home game in 2012. Last year, more than 105,000 lbs. of food was collected and distributed to families in need throughout the Bronx.

Yankee Stadium will once again transform into the North Pole on Friday, December 16, when the Great Hall plays host to the 2011 Winter Wonderland. This event, held in conjunction with the Bronx Borough President’s Office, will treat several thousand local youth to a holiday extravaganza complete with holiday decorations, festive music, food and drink, as well as a holiday gift for each child in attendance. Approximately 5,000 local children enjoyed last year’s event.

In association with the New Era Pinstripe Bowl and Nike, the Yankees will also host two events with the Public School Athletic League (PSAL):

The Yankees will host the 2011 PSAL Varsity City Championship Football game at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, December 6, at 5:00 p.m. Last year, approximately 6,000 fans were in attendance to witness Fort Hamilton and Lincoln High School compete for the City Championship.

On December 20, the 2011 MVP Scholar Athlete Awards Ceremony will take place at Yankee Stadium.  The night will honor 11 scholar-athletes from each of the five boroughs of New York City and will recognize these individuals for their outstanding academic and athletic achievements. In addition, the 55 scholar-athletes will be recognized on field during the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 30.

Sweeny Murti

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