Saturday, October 24, 2009

Jeff Nelson hasn't lost his touch

One of the things I've missed from the Yankees is that blunt honesty that was characteristic of the team when they had players like reliever Jeff Nelson, who was on Mike Francesca's show before today's game got rained out.

Nelson was known as being an outspoken guy. He brings interesting insight as he and Mike Stanton formed the bridge to Mariano Rivera that won the Yankees all those World Series titles. Francesca asked him about the struggles of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain and he said they were going to make mistakes, but the Yanks needed to stick with them. He talked about the need of players to have a steady temperament, be consistent and not try to do more in the playoffs than they did in the regular season.

"The only guy (in the bullpen) they trust is Mo," he said.

Nelson also said that Joe Girardi's frequent trips to the bullpen were hurting the confidence of his relievers, which is problematic because "you need the other guys." But he noted that it's Girardi's job to try to win games and he doesn't have the luxury of experimenting by leaving guys in the game to try to get out of jams.

Nelson also said the media has paid too much attention to his long-ago spat with Joe Torre after Francesca asked him about it today. Back in 2000, he publicly criticized his manager for not naming him to the American League all-star team. Nelson left as a free agent after that season, but he returned and pitched well for the Yankees team that lost the World Series in 2003 so obviously whatever hard feelings were there weren't enough to prevent his return.

In talking about how catchers often become managers, he said Jorge Posada would be a great manager. I never would have thought of Posada as manager material, given his fiery temperament, but Nelson said he would be great exactly because of his intensity and the knowledge of the game he has gleaned as a catcher.
Thanks to MLB via Wikipedia for the photo.

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