NEW YORK (WFAN) — It’s the question on a lot of people’s minds: what will the Yankees look like next year?
Joe Girardi told WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Thursday that he expects the team to look a lot different, but is not considering himself one of the changes that will be made. He made it clear that despite his contract being up he wants to return for what would be his seventh season as manager.
“I’ve loved it here, Mike. This has been wonderful for my family and I whether I’ve been a player, coach or manager,” Girardi said. “I will sit down and talk to Brian [Cashman] when the season is over. Until we sit down there is really nothing to report.
“There are some decisions that I have to make in my life and I will sit down and talk to my wife and children like I have every year. But like I said, I’ve loved being here,” Girardi added.
The Yankees, who suffered through one devastating injury after another during the regular season, did not qualify for the playoffs for just the second time in the last 19 years. That’s hardly a crime, but this is New York, after all, and expectations are what they are. Girardi said it’s certainly strange knowing he’s not suiting up next week.
“This is a hard time of year because you’re seeing a lot of people celebrate and know you’re not a part of it,” Girardi said. “It seems like I spent half of my press conferences talking about what people were doing in Tampa … It was a weird season.”
Girardi said assuming he’s back the toughest part of figuring out the makeup of the 2014 Yankees will be identifying the team’s core. There’s no telling what will happen with impending free agent Robinson Cano and on paper the Bombers may need up to three starting pitchers. But with rumors continuing to swirl that the front office wants to get below the $189 million luxury tax threshold, it’s impossible to know for sure just how much money the Yankees will be willing to spend.
“I know there is a lot of money coming off the books and there is a lot of places that we have to fill some holes,” Girardi said. “You always talk about first and foremost building a rotation and that’s something that we’re going to have to look at. So there’s a lot of work to be done this offseason, but that’s happened before and the Yankees have come out and done very well. It should be an interesting offseason.”
Girardi said he’s confident ace CC Sabathia can rebound from his mediocre 14-13, 4.78 ERA performance this season, and really likes what Ivan Nova did during the season’s second half. However, he wasn’t ready to anoint the young right-hander as a front-line starter.
“The one thing is you have to prove yourself over and over and you have to do it throughout the course of the season. It can’t be four months or it can’t be six months and then you have a rough three or four months,” Girardi said. “But this kid has made some great strides and I’m proud of him for what he’s done, and we need to continue to build him up and try to get more out of him.”
But after Sabathia and Nova, how the rest of the rotation will shake out is anybody’s guess. Andy Pettitte retired, Phil Hughes had an awful season and will likely will test free agency and Hiroki Kuroda, who signed just a one-year deal last offseason, ran out of gas with six weeks to go, leading many to believe the 38-year-old right-hander is on his last legs.
Girardi said Michael Pineda, who was acquired from Seattle last season, will likely be fully recovered from his shoulder injury but will have not pitched in the majors for more than a year.
The other glaring need on the mound will be at closer, where someone will have the unenviable task of replacing legendary Mariano Rivera, who was expected to make his last appearance in pinstripes on Thursday night against Tampa Bay.
The obvious choice would be David Robertson, who has pitched admirably as a set-up man over the last couple of seasons. However, Girardi said it’s too early to say for sure what could happen.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen there. Obviously [Robertson] deserves a chance to do it,” Girardi said, but added when asked if he’s closer material, “Absolutely, I mean this kid has done a tremendous job for our bullpen.”
“My fear is when you become the closer you try to become something different. He’s done a really good job at what he’s done. I know it’s the eighth inning, not the ninth inning, but he’s really just got to use the same stuff,” Girardi added.
As for the lineup, which was largely more miss than hit all season, Girardi said he expects Mark Teixeira to return from his wrist injury at 100 percent, something that will be an absolute necessity if Cano is not re-signed.
“That’s a big bat we lost in our lineup. That’s 35 and 100, 110 every year and I think he’ll come back and be good,” Girardi said.
The manager also told Francesa he expects Alfonso Soriano to be as productive next year at 38 as he was this season.
“The last couple of years he’s been 30 and 100. There’s nothing to lead me to believe he will (drop off),” Girardi said.
The manager said the Yankees are in transition, but it doesn’t mean they won’t continue to be competitive in the immediate future.
“I don’t remember since I’ve been here since 1996 there being this many issues to address,” Girardi said.
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