Looking back, looking ahead

jeter_rivera_300_110609.jpgThe Yankees clubs for which Lefty Gomez pitched (1930-1942) went to seven World Series and won the first six. Thus, when the Yankees dropped the 1942 World Series to the Cardinals, he was less than excited to have “just” won a pennant. “The Yankees’ victory celebration,” he said after the fifth and final game, “will be held at Horn & Hardart. Don’t forget to bring your nickels.” Despite all the rings, Gomez never got a tickertape parade, so perhaps he had cause to be jaded. On the other hand, Derek Jeter will never get to eat at an automat, so you win some, you lose some.

My pal Colonel Lindbergh suggests that “Coffee Joe” Girardi should perhaps now be called “Champagne Joe,” but I think not — it sounds too much like “champagne chicken.” Besides, “Champagne Joe” describes some toff who appears on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Indolent,” not a manager who is often thinking not two steps ahead of the opposition, but 42 steps with a half-twist to the right (in the Olympic thinking event, Girardi gets high marks for difficulty of routine). Perhaps he should be called “Calculator Joe,” and were this the 1920s or 30s, when sportswriters were all about bestowing nicknames like “The Little Napoleon” and “The Tall Tactician,” perhaps he would be.

In any case, I am sticking with my Girardi nom de baseball, even though Girardi is not going to be sticking with his uniform number, trading up from No. 27 to No. 28 to symbolize the quest for the next championship. Fortunately for Joe and his motivational techniques, No. 28 is not one of the many numbers the Yankees have nailed to the wall, though one very prominent Yankee, a Cy Young winner, did have a long hold on the digits.

Courtesy of the book, “Now Batting, Number…” by Jack Looney, select Yankees who have worn No. 28: outfielder Myril Hoag (1931, 1934-1935), pitcher Atley “Swampy” Donald (1938-1945), pitchers Tommy Byrne (1948-1951) and Art Ditmar (1957-1961), famously busted outfield prospect Steve Whitaker (1966-1967), relief ace Sparky Lyle (1972-1978), first basemen Bob Watson (1979-1980) and Steve Balboni (1983), southpaw Al Leiter (1988-1989), future pitching coach Dave Eiland (1991), pitcher Scott Kamieniecki (1993-1996), outfielder Chad Curtis (1997-1999), and DH David Justice (2000-2001). The current holder is Shelley Duncan.

Perhaps the Yankees could bring Sparky in for the ceremonial change of jerseys. He did a lot for the team and deserves the nod.

In no particular order, and without going into detail just yet, just a few of the matters that Brian Cashman and pals will have to grapple with in the coming days. Let me know if I missed anything:

? Derek Jeter is going into the last year of his contract. Do the Yankees try to offer an extension now, so as not to have the matter be a distraction throughout 2010? How will baseball’s post-downturn economic realities — for the most part, players are not getting $20 million a pop any more — affect negotiations?

? Mariano Rivera is also going into his walk year and expressed a wish for an extension in the giddy, celebratory moments after the World Series. He had a great season and was a key factor in the postseason, but he turns 40 in about three weeks. As with Jeter, the lack of a contract post-2010 might be a distraction.

? What roles will Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have next year? Will they be starters? Relievers? Swing men?

? Does outfielder Austin Jackson, who hit .300 at Triple-A (but with only four home runs) have a role to play on next year’s club?

? How to approach aging but important free agents Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Andy Pettitte?

? How about lesser free agents like Xavier Nady, Jerry Hairston, Jose Molina and Eric Hinske?

? Are any members of a weak free agent class worth bidding on? If Damon or Matsui departs, do the Yankees want to take a shot at Jason Bay or Matt Holliday? Instead of trusting in Joba or Hughes again, do they want to bolster the back of the rotation with a veteran starter like John Lackey?

? Do they offer Chien-Ming Wang a contract and thus get tied into an arbitration situation with an injured player?

? What about other arbitration eligible types like Chad Gaudin, Melky Cabrera and Brian Bruney?

? Do they pick up the club option on Sergio Mitre?

? Coffee Joe is also going into the last year of his contract. Does the World Series win earn him an extension as well?

Man, do the Yankees have a lot to talk about, and so do we. If I’m Cashman, I don’t linger at the parade. I get right back to the office and start working this stuff out. After all, yesterday the Red Sox picked up outfielder Jeremy Hermida (career .276/.359/.456 outside of Florida, and still only 26 next year), so the opposition is already hard at work trying to knock the Yankees off their perch.


  1. barrylane@sympatico.ca


    All interesting thoughts.

    1. Extend Jeter, under terms similar to his current contract, four years, or until he is Maiano’s age.
    2. Go year by year with Mo.
    3. Resing Johnny, Andy and Hideki to one year deals, possibly with mutual options.
    4.Offer arbitration to Bruney and Cabrera.
    5. Austin Jackson gets a chance to make the team in spring training, but he his in no way to be annointed.
    6. Pick up Mitre.
    7. Re-sing, Hairston, Molina and Hisnke.
    8. Hold Girardi in abeyance.
    9. Do not go after Holliday or Baay.
    10. Forget about Nady.

    Final thought: Herida is marginal. Like signing Baldelli. Pay no attention to the trade.

  2. daveskur@comcast.net

    If possible, I’d like to see Wang signed to a minor league contract, but for major league money — say $3 – $5 million. Even if he’s a bust, Wang deserves that kind of money as reward for his great years in 2007 and 2008. Signing him to a minor league deal would give the Yanks more flexibility, since we don’t know whether he’ll ever recover his effectiveness.

  3. senatorbobdole

    Another important issue is: how many games will Posada start next year behind the plate (and otherwise)? Because if the number is less than say 100 to 110 games behind the plate, the Yankees will need a better backup catcher than Cervelli. And if the number is less than 160 games behind the plate, then the Yankees will need a better backup catcher than Jose Molina. Please, no more Jose Molina.

  4. 070483_firstgame

    I’m not happy with GI Joe’s decision to change number so quickly. I do admire the gungho attitude but I am the superstitious type. I say cherish the accomplishment and go from there. Don’t change the Karma of the #27 choice.
    As far as Jeter and Mo go. Extend both to 4 year contracts, 5 year options both parties. Do not wait until next year. Joba and Hughes better work hard in the off-season. We start the best man showing up in February. Jackson is pivotal next year for reasons later. Outfield is #1 concern. In my mind it all depends on Matsui signing. I think sign him over Damon. As much as I like Damon. Matsui is a better DH than Johnny is an outfielder. Sign Johhny if it’s reasonable if not , Thanks for all you have done. We need to sign the DH hole more so than platooning guys. Now if Johhny doesn’t stay go for Matt Holliday. J Bay is over rated. If Johnny stays then outfielders are Johhny, Melky, Gardner and Swish. Nady who? As for pitching AJ needs to go away to rehab and get his head on straight. Andy is a Yankee. Depends on Who works harder as said before Joba or Hughs. Joba stay out of the liquor store will you don’t screw it up. Wang ???? lost.

  5. boris@thekogans.net

    @barrylane: keep everyone? way too generous of you.

    @daveskur: sorry, but this isn’t charity. i believe the yankees are the yankees because they approach these things purely from a business perspective. wang is done, and if you insist on holding on to past accomplishments, you deserve what you get, which will be not much.

    @senatorbobdole: not to start that flame war again, but i have said all along, get rid of matsui, make jorge a full time dh, and bring up the cervelli kid.

    @alvaritogt: ay man, brother!

    just a thought; at his present rate of production (190-200 hits/year), dj is gonna catch up to pr in

  6. boris@thekogans.net

    for whatever reason my comments got cut off. here is the rest of it;

    just a thought; at his present rate of production (190-200 hits/year), dj is gonna catch up to pr in

  7. boris@thekogans.net

    for whatever reason my comments got cut off. here is the rest of it;

    just a thought; at his present rate of production (190-200 hits/year), dj is gonna catch up to pr in less then 8 years. this is one of those records that comes along once every blue moon. it would be an absolute blast to have it belong to the yankees, let alone mr. yankee himself. this is one area where i say, hang the expense, and common sense. sign dj to 8 years @20m per. there is no reason to believe that, with his swing, his bat is gonna slow down any time soon. he is coming to the end of his ss days thou, and would make a very good center fielder.

  8. aronneil@yahoo.com

    What about Ian Kennedy? And when does Kei Igawa’s contract come off the books?

    My instinct would be to let a lot of older guys go – that means Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and of course Jose Molina. I don’t know, though, who fills the left field role (I get the impression that DH isn’t an issue). I really wanted Gardner to pull it together, and he wasn’t bad during the year, but certainly not good enough that one should be satisfied with him as a first-string outfielder (and especially not if you’re already giving another spot to Melky. Add Melky to my list of people I wouldn’t be upset to see go.). I would probably hang on to Gardner, Hinske, and Hairston, Jr. if there’s room on the bench for all three, and figure Cervelli as the back-up catcher (unless there’s a better non-Molina alternative).

    For pitchers, on the ‘there’s no having too much pitching’ theory, I’d sign Andy to another 1-year deal if he wants to come back, and Wang, and fill out with CC, AJ, Phil, Joba. Long relief: Gaudin, Kennedy, Aceves. Back end: Marte, Robertson, Melancon, Mo. Bye-bye Coke. Bye-bye Bruney. I know that’s too many pitchers, but figure one or two will be injured.

    In sum, the pitchers are in good shape, let some old guys go, find some more outfielding (trade, free agency, take a flyer on Jackson, …?)

    As for Jeter and Mo, I would wait until after the year to address it unless they force the issue.

  9. calags98@aol.com

    Great post!, my opinion on your questions for the off season:

    1) Give Jeter a 3-4 year extension now, so it does not become a distraction during next year. Yes its scary when you give out a contract to a player for what he has accomplished and for not what you think he is going to accomplish, but if there is anyone that deserves his pay it is Jeter.

    2) Go with a year by year basis with Mariano. Remember back in 2000 he said he wanted to pitch 4 more years and then become a priest, so lets not get carried away with Mo pitching till hes 45-46 years old just yet.

    3) Joba to the pen, Hughes to the rotation. Hughes showed a lot more in his limited starts than Joba did all year. Its a tough call considering Cashman had set plan for Joba/ or not set plan or whatever it was but he showed flashes of the 96-97 mph fastball back in the pen, and if this post season proved anything, its that as great as Mariano is, that he is in his 40’s now and someone needs to step up and be another dominant arm in the pen and give important innings. Hughes also did not have an innings limit going into this year, and it is bad enough we are in this mess of starter/reliever with one good young arm, lets not make the same mistake twice.

    4) I would stick with what we have in CF for now. I think Jackson would benefit with having another season or at least half a season in the minors. I believe if Melky or Gardner struggles maybe we will see him then, but give him some more time in the minors to develop into a major league caliber CF.

    5) Let Pettite mull over what he wants to do during the off season, as he has shown in the past its either retirement (which would be my guess) or he will play for a 1 year deal. I believe the Yankees need to get younger or at least a little bit younger, meaning adios to Damon and Matsui. It is not like they were awful players this year or in there tenure as Yankees, but Damon’s horrific outfield defense and lack of a throwing arm has really hurt us and he isnt going to improve that as he gets up there in age. Giradi’s lack of confidence in Matsui’s ability to play the outfield proves that he is only a DH at the major league level. Posada is getting up there in age also, so leaving the DH spot open to give him rest and other players a breather too is crucial for this team to have long lasting success.

    6) There isnt room on the roster for Nady, the starting outfield next year will be CF – Melky RF – Swisher LF – (Free Agent – Holliday/Bay) with Gardner coming off the bench as a pinch runner/ defensive replacement and to make some starts to give Melky some rest or if he struggles again, also getting rid of Nady factors in keeping Hinske. If 2008 taught us anything is that people can get hurt at anytime, and Hinske is a reliable backup and has some pop so he wouldn’t totally kill us if he was forced to start 20-30 games. I don’t believe Nady would come back in a reserve role, as he has stated that he believes he can be a starter on a team. Hairston Jr. is gone, Ramiro Pena is a cheaper option and from the small sample has the potential to give similar production. Molina is a must sign, not only is he amazing behind the plate, him becoming AJ’s personal catcher only creates a greater importance for him being on the roster. As bad as Molina is as a hitter, Cervelli has shown to be worse, much like Austin Jackson another year in the minors would serve him well.

    7) As stated in 5) the Yankees need to get younger, if only by a little bit and either signing Holliday (my pick) or Bay would address that issue. Also you cannot predict how healthy Posada will be next year (Him being our #5 hitter) we need protection for Alex and Holiday would be a great fit. If Andy retires I believe you go after Lackey and/or a lesser name maybe Randy Wolf or a Jon Garland. But if Pettite does stay there still is a hole in the rotation. (assuming Hughes is the #5) Then i would just stick with going after Lackey, if they can get him for a similar price as AJ or maybe less. The Yankees would have around 33-35 million coming off the books if they let Damon, Matsui, Nady go, and that would be enough to sign some players. I do not believe Holliday will get anywhere near Teixeria money. And lets face it, if the Yankees want to go out and get somebody they will, they have the resources to do so and with them winning the World Series this year, it could be another marketing tool (besides the money) for them to recruit some of these free agents.

    8) 100% yes offer Wang a contract. As the old saying goes, you can never have enough pitching. I would hope the Yankees would sign a free agent and have a rotation of CC, AJ, Pettite, Lackey/Garland/Wolf, Hughes. And if one of them gets hurt insert Wang. Wang is recovering from surgery now, so it would be wise for him to get healthy and then he can contribute at the major league level. He has shown dominance with the 2 19 win seasons, and i believe he rushed back in 2009 and that was a major factor in his poor performance. Again it comes down to “what have you done for me” vs “what have you done for me lately” and i think letting Wang walk as a free agent and to come back as a force in a rivals rotation would really come back and bite the Yankees.

    9) Keep them all. Gaudin did well in his starts in NY. Though Girardi had no confidence in him whatsoever in the post season he can serve as pitching depth in case of injury and also as long relief during times of health. Cabrera was the starting center fielder for most of the season and post season so i do not see the Yankees not keeping him. Bruney is an interesting case. He has pitched well, got hurt, came back pitched eh, changed his number. He has the potential to pitch great, but with the emergence of Roberston in the pen idk if there is room for him. What also amazed me during this post season is how Roberston was used. I dont believe he was injured so i was wondering why he was never in there.

    10) Who the hell is Sergio Mirte? If he comes within a 50 mile radius of Yankee stadium i swear i will pull my hair out.

    11) I want to see how the players respond to winning a World Series. Even if they get off to a slow start, i believe they will give Girardi a new contract in Spring Training or maybe during the season. He won a World Series so i guess he deserves it even though some of those questionable bullpen calls (his love for Phil Coke in big spots) and keeping useless players on the roster for way too long (Angel Berrora, Brett Tomko) and his obession with Sergio Mitre (my least favorite Yankee of all time) has hurt him, he will eventually get a 2-3 year extension with the club.

  10. mbrandes@rochester.rr.com

    You can count on one thing…Cashman will be smart about his moves. So let’s look at this logically.

    First off, let’s address Jeter and Mo. BOTH deserve the respect of the entire organization, and so I think both of them should be approached in the off season with extensions. More than any 2 players on any team ANYWHERE, these two are icons who define the heart and soul of the team. Mo should pitch as long as he wants to pitch, and Jeter should NEVER be a free agent. These 2 are lifetime Yankees, and both of them have the class to know when it is time to hang up the spikes. Neither of these great players would EVER stay around too long and stain their great legacy, because they have class enough to never do that. So, that takes care of Jete and Mo.

    OK…on to Andy. If he wants to pitch, I say give him another 1 year deal. He won 2 games in the world series…..4 overall in the playoffs, and that’s more than CC or AJ. Andy is a gamer, and he proved that in game 6 when everyone in the world thought he was gonna get BOMBED on 3 days rest. Again, this is a case where the Yanks should sign him if he wants to pitch.

    Now, for more pressing issues…..Matsui has been great for the Yanks since coming from japan, but we have to consider whether we need a full time DH or not. I think if Girardi is smart (and I believe he is), he will spread the DH role around. If I’m the Yanks, I sign Hinske because he can play several positions and has a good left hand bat that is perfect for Yankee stadiums short right field porch. We let Matsui and Damon go…although letting Johnny go is a tough choice and I’m not altogether comfortable with it UNLESS I can sign Jason Bay OR Matt Holiday. Holiday is the preference here.

    These moves allow Posada, Hinske and Swisher to serve the DH role throughout the year. This allows Posada to stay fresh, AND keep his bat in the lineup. ALSO, if the Yanks get to the WS again, we won’t have a good bat sitting on the bench in the NL park as we did with Matsui this year. Although he contributed in the pinch hitting role. Now IF Cervelli falters behind the plate as Posada’s backup, we have Romine in the minors who could come up.

    I would also resign Jerry Hairston Jr. He’s another versatile player and a good bat off the bench. Pena needs to play every day to become a top notch infielder who can be called up in case of any injury.

    Pitching…..Sign Wang!! Can you imagine letting this kid go because his mechanics got screwed up due to injury?? Let’s not forget he won 19 games 2 years in a row. Let him work his way beck into form….let’s not give up on him. Joba….as I’ve said from day ONE….belongs in the pen. His stuff is electric out of the pen and average as a starter. That has proven out over the course of this year. Joba COULD be the heir to Mariano’s throne. And as we all have seen, great closers are NOT a dime a dozen. In fact, they are RARE. Joba has shut down stuff, and with a little direction and focus, he could be made into a GREAT closer when the time comes. Phil Hughes belongs in the rotation. No question. And Chad Gaudin needs to be given a chance. I liked what I saw from him when he pitched, and I think he’d be a good 5th starter. I’d bet he would get 13 or 14 wins next year with our offense.

    So…here is my opening day line-up:


    It looks a little different, but just as deadly I think.

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