First Pitch: Girardi gets credit or blame

TAMPA, Fla. -- At his opening press conference, Joe Girardi said that he thinks this Yankee team could win 95 games again and a World Series.

Directly or indirectly, Girardi put the onus on himself.

He is saying he has the horses to do what the Yankees normally do. If they do it, Girardi will earn a measure of respect from the fans and his employers. If he doesn't -- and the Yankees fail to make the playoffs -- he could be the one sacrificed.

In that second scenario, the Yankees will need a scapegoat. Girardi's contract ends at the conclusion of this year and they very well could choose him. Fairly or unfairly, it is often the manager that takes the fall in such scenarios.

Girardi is a pretty good manager. Strategically, he plays the numbers, which, all in all, is a good strategy.

In terms of leadership in the clubhouse, that is hard to grade Girardi. He doesn't necessarily inspire his players, but, for the most part, they seem to respect him.

Ultimately, though, Girardi will be judged on his record. If it is good enough again, he could be around for a long time. If it is not, then he could be the one to take the fall.

ON DECK: Clubhouse opens at 9:40 on Saturday. Wallace Matthews and I will be there.

IN THE HOLE: Position players are due to report on Sunday so we could hear from Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, etc. very soon. Jeter, by the way, is scheduled to have his "State of the Captain" presser on Monday.

QUESTION: Do you think Girardi is a good manager?