On Andruw Jones, the Yankees and clubhouse chemistry…
It’s fair to say that Andruw Jones has sometimes frustrated his managers and teammates with his inattention to detail. No one ever accused him of being a bad guy or a bad teammate, but he was never perceived as a leader or one who was exactly fanatical about his conditioning.
The Yankees got surprising contributions out of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia last season, and we’ll get to them, too. In Brian Cashman’s eye, Andruw Jones was also a very pleasant surprise, and that’s one of the reasons he was so committed to re-signing him for 2012.
“I was surprised,” he said. “We’ve had some supporting-cast guys like that. John Flaherty. Tony Clark. It’s tough to have a leadership role when you’re not playing everyday, but Andruw had a very positive influence on our club. We thought it was important to bring Andruw back.”
Baseball teams are living, breathing organisms, and over the course of a nine-month season, nerves can fray and tensions build. There are things the manager and his coaches can do to deal with those things, but there are some things that can only be handled within the clubhouse.
That’s where Cashman believes Jones contributed in terms of his work ethic, easygoing nature and becoming a sounding board for players, including Derek Jeter, who became close to Jones.
Now about those two pitchers. Cashman probably never guessed he’d rely on Garcia and Colon the way he did. He probably also never guessed he’d get 311 innings and 20 victories out of them.
“They were low-end, low-risk fliers,” he said. “I give all the credit to those guys. Colon was pure luck. We thought he’d be a guy who would open the season at AAA and be an insurance policy. He threw the ball better in spring training than he did in winter ball. I can’t say we were smart or had some secret formula. You’ve gotta be good, but you’ve got to be lucky, too.”
Garcia was a different story. Cashman is close to White Sox GM Kenny Williams, so he’d long ago heard plenty of good things about Garcia’s approach and makeup.
“Garcia wasn’t luck,” Cashman said. “He’s a gamer. He has made the transition from power the way (Andy) Pettitte did. He has guts. Sometimes you close your eyes and don’t like looking at it. But he competes and makes it work. He was a hard worker and a good teammate.”