Joe Girardi has added leverage with Cubs' firing of Dale Sveum
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There were no proclamations as in years past, no reiteration of the franchise's winning-the-World-Series-is-the-bottom-line mission statements.
Instead, a day after the Yankees' season ended without a playoff berth for only the second time in 19 years, all was quiet.
At least publicly.
Team president Randy Levine, who in the past has issued some of those postmortem remarks, was reached by phone early Monday afternoon and politely declined to comment on any of the myriad issues facing the club this offseason.
General manager Brian Cashman did not return a call, but the club later said he will hold a news conference Tuesday.
Cashman was at the Stadium on Monday, as were Ichiro Suzuki, Mariano Rivera, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia to pick up items from the clubhouse. Only Nova and Kuroda, a free agent, stopped to talk to reporters. Kuroda repeated much of what he told Newsday over the weekend: He isn't sure what he will do next season. "At this stage,'' he said, "I'm not really thinking about it."
Of returning to his native Japan to conclude his career, the 38-year-old Kuroda, who faded late in the season, said: "Again, I don't know."
There was some news relevant to another of the Yankees' pressing issues when the Cubs fired Dale Sveum after two unsuccessful seasons.
With Joe Girardi's contract up Nov. 1, speculation has been rampant for months that the native of Peoria, Ill., who grew up a Cubs fan, might find a return to his Midwest roots appealing.
But Sunday, before the Yankees finished their 85-77 season with a 5-1, 14-inning victory over the Astros in Houston, Girardi downplayed those ties.
"Our home has been here," he said. "My kids are engrossed in schools here. I haven't lived there [Chicago] since 2006. I have a couple of brothers there, but my father's gone, my mother's gone. So there's not as much there as there used to be."
Still, indications are the Cubs are interested in him. That would give Girardi, who won the 2009 World Series and has made the playoffs four times in his six years as Yankees manager, leverage he didn't have when his first three-year contract expired after the 2010 season.
Cashman has said the Yankees want Girardi back, and the manager has mostly enjoyed the support of managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner throughout his tenure.
Speaking Sunday, Girardi played it like a person with options, declining to say outright what he wants to do next season. First, he said, the plan is to sit down, sooner rather than later, with his wife, Kim, and their three children, ages 7 to 14.
He said he's found only one negative in managing, and it isn't the pressure to win from fans or the club, or off-field demands such as dealing with the media. "You miss a lot of things," he said, referring to his family. "But there are a lot of good things that go into it, too. And they understand that, and I understand that. But there's things that you miss that you kind of wish you could be there at times."
The safe assumption is that Girardi will be back for a seventh season in the Bronx, where every season, there's nothing less than the highest expectations. "I think the competitiveness is here on a daily basis, a weekly basis and a yearly basis," Girardi said. "There's expectations no matter what, which I've always had, too. There's definitely a match there."
With John Jeansonne