Didi Gregorius (Mariekson Julius Gregorius), who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade on Dec. 5, 2014, recently did an interview with Jack Curry to discuss replacing Derek Jeter at shortstop and what his reaction was to being traded to the Yankees. He said that he is a player who is all about winning, wants to play hard and wants to get a ring. Gregorius (24), who is known for being elite defensively, actually hit his first major league home run at Yankee Stadium.
Joe Girardi signed a four-year, $16 million dollar contract extension on October 9. This will make him the second highest paid manager after Mike Scioscia, who is the manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Schiocia’s contract pays him about $5 million a season.
It is a positive sign for the Yankees that he accepted their contract and did not hold out to see what the Cubs or Nationals would offer him at the end of October when his previous contract expired. He has proven that he has been able to manage talent since he led the team to win the World Series in 2009, and also is able to manage well during adversity since the team had a total of 21 players spend time on the disabled list, some more than once, while handling the situation with the media well during the Alex Rodriguez biogenesis controversy and in turn guiding the team to a respectable 85-77 record based on everything the team went through.
The Yankees were remarkably only one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild-card spot on September 12. They would have 15 games left in the season and the lack of talent would catch up with them. However, Girardi was able to lead the team to be in great position to make the playoffs with two weeks to go even though Derek Jeter only played 17 games, Mark Teixeira only played 15 games and Curtis Granderson only played in 61 games.
Before Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup in August, Lyle Overbay had to hit cleanup for much of the season. The Yankees were counting on players such as Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner to perform offensively for them. They hit better than expected in April and then faded after that. This proves how Girardi was able to mix and match with a lineup that lacked major league talent for much of the season.
Chris Stewart, who had always been a back-up before this season, was the starter for the Yankees, which proves the lack of talent they had at the catcher position. Stewart did play well compared to previous seasons, but he faded down the stretch of the season based on playing in 42 more games than he had in any other season. Rookie Austin Romine showed some promise at the catcher position.
Further proving that Girardi got the team to overachieve this season was that Jayzon Nix, Zoilo Almonte, Luis Cruz, Chris Nelson, Brent Lillibridge, Alberto Gonzalez and Melky Mesa all started games for the Yankees this season. Vernon Wells was even called on to play the ninth inning of a game at third base because of an injury to Eduardo Nunez. The Yankees were not expected to make the playoffs easily before the season started, but to be so close based on all of the injures and AAA players that had to play is a tribute to Giarardi’s managing.
Some criticize Girardi for going by his binder too much meaning that he decides on the pitcher that will come into the game or the hitter that will start too much on previous match-ups. He definitely should sometimes continue to play a streaky hitter or leave a starter in a few more batters. However, it is always possible that if the starter would have stayed in he would struggle based on too many pitches.
The Yankees obviously should not have been swept by the Mets or White Sox if their quest to reach the playoffs were to come to fruition. If they would have won two games against the Mets and White Sox that would have greatly increased their chance in September, but that is what happens when so many “second string” players were on the field. Girardi has his drawbacks, but at the end of the day, the team would have been worse of if the did not return.
He handled the return of A-Rod well, in addition to handling the retirement of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte with poise and professionalism. He could not have made a better decision in the moment when he let Mariano Rivera’s longtime teammates and members of the Core 4, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, take Rivera out of the game at Yankee Stadium for the final time. Here is video footage of the ceremony of Pettitte and Jeter coming to the mound.
Here is an interview that Jack Curry did with Joe Girardi and his wife after he signed the contract extension: http://web.yesnetwork.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=31139627
The Yankees are holding their 18th annual Holiday Food Drive today, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The Food Drive is presented by White Rose Foods, but they will combine with Domino, General Mills, Unilever, ConAgra, Smucker’s, Barilla, Nestle, Red Gold, Georgia Pacific, Pinnacle, Motts and Kraft to donate over 60,000 pounds of food to those who need it.
Also, of interest, is that Joe Girardi will be arriving at about 10 a.m., and star second baseman, Robinson Cano, will be arriving at about 11 a.m and will stay until noon. They will assist in collecting food items and also greet fans. Any fan that brings 30 or more pounds of non-perishable food will get a voucher for two Grandstand or Bleachers tickets for one of any 22 selected games during the 2012 campaign. That is definitely incentive to bring food for those that need it.
Since 1995, the Yankees have made the playoffs every year except 2008, and have won five rings, but it can’t be forgotten that time and time again they find a way to give back to those less fortunate in NYC and the surrounding area.
Numerous stories have posthumously come to the forefront about how former owner, George Steinbrenner, helped people he came across without wanting any limelight for it. Jack Curry wrote a story many months ago about how Steinbrenner saw a kid near what was formerly Legend’s Field, and now is Steinbrenner Field, causing minor havoc with some friends and proceeded to take him inside for a conversation. As far as I remember, after talking to him he realized he was a high school kid who just needed some structure outside of school so he offered him a part-time job with the Yankees. This would set him on the right path.
Steinbrenner had the reputation of being tough to deal with partly because of how he treated his expensive acquisitions, everybody from Reggie Jackson to calling Hideki Irabu a Fat Toad, but he liked helping people in the community as well as Darryl Strawberry, who he helped get back on track by signing him in 1995 and not giving up on him after he sometimes reverted to his alcohol/drug addictions. Strawberry was an integral part of a few championship teams, but now that he is recovered he admits that he does owe a lot to Steinbrenner.
The Yankees organization also deserve a lot of praise for Hope Week, which will be in its fourth year in 2012. Hope Week stands for Helping Others Preserve and Excel. Last season, along with the two previous ones, they truly brightened the lives of people from six different organizations who needed something positive in their life.
During the 2011 Hope Week, the Yankees donated $10,000 each to the following organizations: 1. http://www.danielsmusic.org/ 2. http://www.tuesdayschildren.org/ (mainly for kids who lost loved ones during 9/11) 3. http://www.ssjaschool.org/ 4. http://www.nyso.org/ 5. http://www.miracleleagueofnc.org/
It definitely seems like the coaches as well as the players get as much out of this week as the people did from the groups that they were helping. The players all seem to look forward to interacting with the kids, at the stadium, and in places around the five boroughs. On the same note, when they showed the kids as well as their mentors from their respective organizations, they were truly ecstatic to have a break from their day-to-day lives with the luxury of spending hours with the Yankees.
Even though the new Yankees Stadium turned out to be an impressive palace of sorts, originally building the new stadium seemed like somewhat of a mistake because their was not a specific timetable for replacing the playing fields that they were getting rid of. Many PSAL (Public School Athletic League) high school football, baseball and soccer teams used those fields for practices and games. However, true to their word, they delivered on even better fields than before, for high school teams as well as others to use.
The Yankees have more money at their disposal than any other baseball team partly because they are in the biggest media market in the United States and own the YES network, which is the most watched regional sports network in the country. They get criticized by “haters” because they “buy championships”, but they have only won one since 2000. The money has helped sign some of the better players in baseball, but they have also had some acquisitions that have backfired – Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa, A.J. Burnett and Jeret Wright.
The money that they have based on the revenue stream from the YES Network, sky-high ticket prices/concessions at Yankee Stadium as well as all other venues has, as pointed out above, helped the team greatly benefit people in need in the New York area as well as in Tampa, where they have Spring Training and a minor league team. It is inspiring that the Yankees have had this Food Drive for 18 consecutive years and Hope Week is probably the most overall impact that a single sports team makes during a given week.