Steinbrenner: Girardi is 'man for the job'
Hal gives manager vote of confidence as playoffs await
NEW YORK -- Yankees general partner Hal Steinbrenner offered Joe Girardi a vote of confidence on Wednesday, calling him "the man for the job," but said the club is not ready to discuss an extension with the manager.
"Joe has had a tremendous year this year -- we all know that," Steinbrenner told reporters. "He's got the best record in baseball. As far as I'm concerned, as far as the family is concerned, as far as the organization is concerned, he's the man for the job."
Steinbrenner spoke briefly to reporters at Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees announced a deal with the Big East and Big 12 conferences to host a yet-to-be-named bowl game between Christmas and New Year's Day in 2010.
In the second year of a three-year, $7.5 million contract, Girardi has piloted the Yankees to a wildly successful season and the American League East title, having missed the playoffs in his first campaign as manager in 2008 with an 89-win season. New York entered Wednesday's series finale against Kansas City with 102 victories.
"I'm thankful," Girardi said several hours later. "The Steinbrenner family has treated me great since I first got here in 1996. As a player, as a coach, as a broadcaster, as a manager -- they have always been great to my family and I. Our goal in here is to bring another championship to the Steinbrenner family, and I think that's one way of thanking them."
After the Yankees clinched the AL East on Sunday, Girardi said that he spoke with Steinbrenner, general manager Brian Cashman and other members of the team hierarchy, thanking them for the opportunity.
Steinbrenner declined to discuss what might happen if the Yankees fall short of their ultimate goal -- winning the World Series -- and said that a contract extension is not currently being discussed amongst ownership.
"I'm saying he's the man for the job," Steinbrenner said. "Let's focus, keep our eye on the ball, so to speak. Focus on the playoffs. There will be plenty of drama."
The pressure of winning the franchise's 27th World Series title, an objective that has eluded the Yankees since 2000, is one Girardi knows well -- he selected the uniform No. 27 to adorn his back as a daily reminder of just which family he works for.
"I have the genetics that certainly lead me to believe that if you don't win the championship, then you're not doing your job for the city of New York and for our fans," Steinbrenner said.
Steinbrenner praised the club's chemistry, comparing the Yankees' unwillingness to give up -- they won their 15th walk-off game on Tuesday, 4-3 -- to the championship clubs that won four World Series titles from 1996 through 2000.
But Steinbrenner also acknowledged some concern as the Yankees head into the American League Division Series against either the Tigers or Twins.
"It's my job to be concerned," Steinbrenner said. "I think this five-game series concerns any team, any owner, any manager and any player. It's a short series, and it can be a dangerous one. But we've got a team as good, or better, than any out there, and I'm confident. I'm excited. I'm absolutely excited."
Steinbrenner also said that his father, George, is planning on appearing at Yankee Stadium for selected postseason games.
"That's the plan, particularly if -- and when, I should say -- we make it to the World Series," Steinbrenner said. "He'll absolutely be here."