Chapman, Holliday signings should provide veteran leadership
By Joe Trezza
NEW YORK -- Imagining Pirates star center fielder Andrew McCutchen in the Bronx has become a common exercise these days, as Hot Stove rumors continue to swirl involving the Yankees' interest in the former National League MVP Award winner. Manager Joe Girardi addressed the rumors for the first time on Wednesday, speaking before the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
"There is always a lot of talk about suggestions that could make us better," Girardi said. "Obviously, Andrew McCutchen is a very, very talented player, a very good player. I'm sure there are 30 clubs who would love Andrew McCutchen. My job is to manage the guys in the room and that's what my focus is."
Girardi spoke favorably of the Yankees' moves this offseason. The club brought back free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman, signed free agent Matt Holliday to be the designated hitter, and the Yanks continue to be mentioned in rumors involving several players, including McCutchen and White Sox starter Jose Quintana.
"I like what we've done," Girardi said. "Bullpens need to be a strength today to be successful. Bringing back Aroldis Chapman really adds to that. We saw what he was capable of doing. He liked it here. And Matt Holliday has been a leader in the big leagues for a long time."
The Yankees hope Chapman and Holliday will help provide veteran balance to a club that will enter Spring Training with several young players fighting for jobs, especially in the starting rotation. The Yanks are expected to place a lot of responsibility on second-year players Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird and Tyler Austin.
"We are a team people might say is in transition because there are a lot of new players. But these are good players," Girardi said. "I think we are a club that is fighting for our division. There may be more competition in Spring Training than there has been in any year I've been here, but I think that's a good thing. Competition brings out the best in young players."
For Girardi, who grew up in Peoria, Ill., and played seven seasons with the Cubs, seeing the franchise win its first World Series title in 108 years was special.
"Obviously it was a tremendous series. A lot of ups and downs for both clubs," Girardi said. "I grew up dreaming to play for the Chicago Cubs one day."
Girardi lived out his dream, debuting with the Cubs in 1989 and playing on the North Side for parts of four seasons. He returned for a three-year stint in 2000 after playing four seasons with the Yankees. Girardi watched this year's World Series from his home in New York.
"It's not always easy to win when you are the team that's expected to win," Girardi said. "They were able to accomplish that. I'm happy for those guys and happy for the city of Chicago."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.