Yank thinking about Holliday offseason
The sign men were out bright and early at the New York Yankees' minor league complex in Florida, sticking vinyl strips with a fresh, white "27" over the "26" that had been up on the board for 9 long years to mark the team's total of World Series titles.
Wind caused a few problems at the Himes complex in Tampa, but eventually the numbers were posted along with a new "2009" in what had been an open blue space below "2000."
"It's a ton of joy," manager Joe Girardi said on WFAN radio later yesterday. "There's a sense of relief because you know that you could rest your mind a little bit for a while."
Turmoil and turnover ceased in Yankeeland, at least for the moment. A 7-3 victory over the Phillies in Game 6 on Wednesday night had brought the title back to the Bronx, etching the names of Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, CC Sabathia and others into the team's long list of champions.
"Every World Series victory is special, but this one is especially sweet coming in the first year in our new home," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement, referring to the new Yankee Stadium. "This group will become legendary - similar to the 26 world championship teams that preceded them."
Even though the clubhouse was still wet with champagne yesterday and the triumphant parade through the Canyon of Heroes was a day away, attention already was turning to the future.
Girardi said he was likely to switch from uniform No. 27 to No. 28 next year, signifying the next quest.
But which players will the Yankees add for their title defense? Are the likes of John Lackey and Matt Holliday in the mix?
"Basically, you have got to get after it," general manager Brian Cashman said. "It pretty much comes pretty quick. I'll be in Chicago with the other GMs on Monday. Two trades [involving other teams] already have taken place."
Matsui, the World Series MVP, is eligible for free agency as is Andy Pettitte, who beat the Phillies in Games 3 and 6. So is Damon.
Matsui, limited to designated hitter because of bad knees, wants to return. So does Damon, bothered by leg and back pain.
The 37-year-old Pettitte needs time to decide whether to retire or return for a 16th major league season and try for a sixth World Series ring.
"I have to talk with my family," he said.
Appearing on David Letterman's show last night, Pettitte said he was close to retirement but that pitching just one more season "would probably be good," because he wants to spend more time with his kids. Shortstop Derek Jeter joked that Pettitte has been saying that for about 6 straight years.
There may not be room for Damon, who turned 36 yesterday, and the 35-year-old Matsui, especially if the Yankees land Holliday, the top available free-agent slugger on the market. Damon and Holliday both are represented by the same agent, Scott Boras.
"They could play Matt Holliday in rightfield, too," Boras said. "He has a strong arm. They have needs for two outfielders."
Nick Swisher, who took over in right after Xavier Nady got hurt, hit just .128 with two RBI in the postseason after batting .249 with 29 homers and 82 RBI during the regular season. But the St. Louis Cardinals, who acquired Holliday from Oakland in July, are expected to try to re-sign the 29-year-old.
The Yankees figure to be after pitching, too, and Lackey figures to be the top available free-agent starting pitcher. New York used just three starting pitchers throughout the postseason - Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Pettitte - deciding not to take a chance on starting Joba Chamberlain or Chad Gaudin. New York became the first Series champion with just three postseason starters since the 1991 Minnesota Twins.
Today's parade will be broadcast by MLB Network, starting at 11 a.m.