Girardi pleased with direction of the franchise
Yankees manager Joe Girardi knows that the last couple of offseasons haven't unfolded in the manner that many Yankees fans have grown accustomed to over the years, but he reiterated on Monday that he's happy with the overall direction of the franchise.
Speaking after taping an episode of "CenterStage," which will air on YES Network in February, Girardi discussed the club's recent trades, as well as the possibility for other moves in the coming weeks. Though he admitted it was difficult to part with pitchers Adam Warren and Justin Wilson, he has high hopes for the players acquired in return, particularly second baseman Starlin Castro.
"When I look at Adam Warren, he was extremely valuable to us, but we got a player in return that we believe is also going to be extremely valuable," Girardi said. "Last year, when we made the trade for Didi [Gregorius], we had to give up a starting pitcher in Shane Greene, and there were some questions about that. It worked out pretty well for us. We dealt from a position of strength and we added some starting pitching in the Wilson trade as well, so now we'll work the rest of it out going forward."
Despite solidifying the middle of the Yankees' infield and adding overall pitching depth to the organization, the two trades certainly left some holes in the bullpen leading up to Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. While Girardi did single out some potential in-house options -- such as Nick Rumbelow, James Pazos and Branden Pinder -- the Yankees are still evaluating all of their options as far as finding the right guys to bridge the gap between their starting pitchers and the daunting duo at the back end of the bullpen.
"You lost two really important pieces," Girardi said. "Are those new guys in place yet? No, but I think they will be by the time we start the season. It's a long time before we go to Spring Training, so those names could be different than the cast of characters we're pulling from now. It's probably going to get bigger."
Though Girardi expects to have those answers by the time the season begins, he acknowledged that similar questions surrounding the rotation could linger through Spring Training. General manager Brian Cashman has voiced his desire to add a big league starter to a rotation that features Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi -- all of whom have had injury concerns in recent years.
"I think there's going to be some question marks going into Spring Training and, until we get to April 1, I think there are going to be those question marks -- very similar to last year," Girardi said. "Our guys seemed to answer the bell, and we were able to get through it. We've added some depth with the trade involving Wilson, and Bryan Mitchell is another guy we expect to help us out, so we should OK."
That said, Girardi is fully on board with the current plan, which he emphasized is a result of the current state of the game.
"I love what we're doing," he said. "Here's the thing about contracts now -- contracts are much longer. If you look at it, almost every one of our position players is in a long-term contract, all but our shortstop. So that's part of it. You can't just keep adding long-term contracts and sitting guys on the bench who are on long-term contracts. So the game has changed."
Speaking of long-term contracts, Girardi acknowledged that the rival Red Sox have obviously improved immensely this offseason, with the additions of David Price and Craig Kimbrel, among others. That said, he's not ready to crown them American League East champions just yet.
"You have to play the games. When you look at the way people picked our division last year, it's nothing like where it ended up, that's for sure," he said. "So you've got to go out and play the games. Obviously, they've gotten better -- when you add David Price and ... a closer and a setup man, you're going to get better -- but you have to play it on the field."
Though the Yankees have yet to make that "big splash" themselves -- something they did on an almost routine basis in the past -- Girardi is confident that the 2016 club will be in position for a return trip to the postseason, one that he hopes lasts longer than one game this time.
"We're doing everything we can to win a World Series as soon as possible, and that's the most important thing," he said.