I don’t know what Joe Torre was doing last off-season, but Joe Girardi is already getting results:
Girardi also told Giambi to arrive in shape, that he was being counted on to do other things besides DH.
"I told him to be in the best shape he possibly could be,"
Girardi said. "We need him to do a lot of different things, go from
first to third, second to home, play some first base. That’s how you
get the most out of people and he looked great. I’d like to see Jason
be a productive offense and defensive player."
If you’ve been following Pete Abe’s early spring training reports you know that Giambi came to camp in great shape. The same can be said for Johnny Damon, Brian Bruney, Joba Chamberlain, Bobby Abreu and anyone not named Kei Igawa. Apparently, the new skipper used the strategy of communication in order to get these results. Example: He met with Johnny Damon early in the off-season and said to Johnny, "How about this? How about you come to camp physically ready to play baseball this season? Thanks."
Man, he’s good. Compare that to what Torre said to Johnny Damon before last season:
"Johnny, you ever see any photos of Babe Ruth? He was fat. And he was Babe Freakin’ Ruth. Do me a favor. Eat some doughnuts. Enjoy life."
We’re already seeing the difference between the two Joes. Hopefully, this pays off on the field. It would be awful if the abject failures of Torre’s tenure were repeated.
But let me be serious for a second. I must say I’m fine with Torre
moving on. I am excited about this new era in Yanks baseball, and I’ve
been encouraged by what Girardi has said so far. For instance, I’m
pleased that he seems serious about playing Giambi at first, as this is
probably the best way to handle the first base situation. The signing
of Morgan Ensberg also points to the idea that he is more willing than
Torre to take chances on good reclamation projects. And perhaps the
seeming new committment to getting in shape reflects that he has woken
up this veteran team. Maybe Torre had stopped reaching these players.