"I think Girardi will do great," the former Yankee told The Post yesterday at Tigertown. "I'm not saying that he's better than Joe (Torre), he's just different. He's an X and O guy, that is something I've stressed and I believe. When a guy is smart about the game, you can never trick him, you can never fool him. He's always prepared and he puts his players in the right spot. It's up to you to succeed. You either do or you don't.
"I think Jeter is going to have an MVP season, that's my prediction for the year," Rodriguez said. "And I think Bobby is going to have a monster year."
..."I think he is in great shape and he did some great things this winter with his workouts," Rodriguez said. "I am very excited for him."
Jeter left Legends Field before he could react to Rodriguez's prediction. A day before, he spoke about what he did differently this offseason.
"I switched up a little bit," Jeter said of his workouts. "I focused on agility, legs, first step and lateral movement. I really made some adjustments. I feel a lot quicker and I am moving around a lot better."
Over at BP, Joe Sheehan believes that Damon in left, Matsui at DH, and Giambo at first is the way to go:
Once you start with the premise that Cabrera has to be the everyday center fielder, the rest of the dominoes fall naturally. Left unsaid, of course, is that Damon, Matsui, and Giambi are all signed to contracts that are unmovable, and there's no stomach for releasing any of them. In fairness, none of the deals are excruciating; the Damon deal has predictably looked worse two years in than it did on the day it was signed. The two years left on Matsui's contract are a tough callhis production, from a DH, isn't special, and he's not as durable as he was three years ago.
Joe Girardi will have options on a daily basis, of course. When a Chien-Ming Wang starts, you can sacrifice some outfield defense, using Damon in center and Matsui in left. Ensberg or Duncan should make the roster as a righty bat, someone Girardi can also use at first base or DH. Ensberg's OBP, past track record, and ability to fake playing third base or shortstop all make him the better option in that role. Given the age and recent histories of these players, the Yankees could actually use a fifth outfielder on the roster, although it's unclear if a 12-man pitching staff will allow for that. Oddly, while Brett Gardner is never going to develop into an everyday player, the skill set he currently possesses would make him an asset in that job right now.
Joe Girardi's true test isn't the position players, but the pitching staff, where he'll be challenged to contend in a tough division under crushing expectations while also developing three very good young pitchers. It is good to see, however, that he has alighted on the right answer to an early question. For a manager we really don't know very much about, every decision carries a little extra weight this spring.
There are a lot of questions about the Yanks this year--the offense, while still potent, is a year older, the defense isn't strong, and who knows about the starting pitching (I, for one, think that Andy Pettitte is going to have a rough go of it). Still, I'm really excited to watch this team, aren't you?