Big Takeaways from Brian McCann's New York Yankees Press Conference
On Thursday afternoon, the New York Yankees held a press conference to formally introduce Brian McCann to the Bronx.
After nine excellent seasons in Atlanta, the 29-year-old catcher agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract with the Yankees last month.
During a 15-minute question and answer session with the local and national media, McCann talked about his excitement about playing in New York, desire to fall in line with some of the great Yankees catchers in history, love of the game and which former teammate helped ease his mind about the transition to big city life.
Here are the biggest takeaways from Brian McCann's New York Yankees press conference.
Expect More Spending from the Yankees
Brian McCann was the main event of Thursday's gathering at Yankee Stadium, but he could become an afterthought as the winter progresses.
Within weeks after officially inking McCann to a five-year deal, the Yankees reportedly, per Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, have an agreement with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury on a contract in excess of $150 million. According to general manager Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner, there is still major work to do and money to spend this offseason.
"This is one step of many we need to take this offseason," Cashman said when speaking about the McCann deal. The tone in Cashman's voice was clear and sound through the YES Network's cameras. If you think the Yankees are done improving their roster, you're not paying attention.
On an even bolder note, Hal Steinbrenner denounced the idea of the organization's self-imposed $189 million luxury tax mandate as something that could curtail the pursuit of talent.
"(The) $189 million is a goal. Going to try to do it; not at (the) expense of fielding (a) winning team," Steinbrenner said.
McCann Poised to Be Next Great Yankees Catcher
Bill Dickey. Yogi Berra. Thurman Munson. Elston Howard. Jorge Posada.
Over the years, there has been a great lineage of great Yankees catchers. Now, Brian McCann joins that list.
“We think we have the next great Yankee catcher,” manager Joe Girardi said.
On cue, McCann seemed eager to embrace the challenge of being remembered as one of the best catchers in franchise history.
"What it means to be to be a part of this organization, it means a lot, especially as a catcher, all the tradition," McCann said. "I hope to fall in line with all the great catchers that have been here. I hope to help this organization win multiple championships."
McCann Compared to Thurman Munson
Calling Brian McCann an intense player would qualify as a gross understatement. As the baseball world saw twice during the 2013 regular season, during on-field incidents with Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins and Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers, McCann commands respect for his team at all times.
With that in mind, McCann's leadership and intense attitude were compared with former Yankee captain, leader and catching legend Thurman Munson.
"Brian embodies that type of mental toughness," Hal Steinbrenner said.
In the Bronx, there are few compliments more highly regarded than evoking the name of Thurman Munson. By simply putting McCann and Munson in the same sentence, Steinbrenner set the bar high for on-field production, clubhouse leadership and signaled a demand for respect from the rest of baseball.
Designated Hitter Questions Dodged
At the age of 29, McCann is far from old but has over 1,100 games under his belt. For a catcher, that is a significant amount of wear and tear.
Despite the safety net that the American League now provides McCann in the form of the designated hitter, he didn't seem interested in talking about playing anything other than catcher for the Yankees.
As the years go on, expect McCann to get significant at-bats in the DH spot. Even if he remains 100 percent healthy, the Yankees would be foolish to give their star catcher more than 10 or 15 full days off each season.
Due to the cost of his contract and production he can provide, "off" days should be used as DH days early in the contract to ensure the most plate appearances per season for the left-handed power hitter.
It's likely that McCann avoided the question to dodge further inquisition about his age and injury history, but don't be surprised if his name is slotted as the DH during the summer of 2014.
Mark Teixeira Provided Guidance
As baseball fans and media members have learned over the years, New York isn't for everyone. For some reason, the media capital of the world has ruined careers, set back all-star performers and made excellent players look ordinary.
For McCann, a player born and raised in Georgia, the transition from Atlanta to New York could be stark and eye-opening. In order to ease his mind on the people, culture and experience of playing for the New York Yankees, McCann consulted the opinion of a former Atlanta teammate.
Before signing with the Yankees, Mark Teixeira was in the midst of playing for three teams (Rangers, Braves, Angels) in the span of one year. During his time in Atlanta, the current Yankees first baseman became a teammate to McCann.
If the marriage between McCann and New York turns out to be a boon, credit Teixeira for the assist in the negotiations. Although the front office and ownership, along with $85 million, can ease concerns about lifestyle changes, the ability to hear positive things about New York from a friend and teammate certainly played a role in this acquisition.
McCann Will Aim for the Short Porch in Right Field
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Brian McCann is only player in MLB to hit at least 17 home runs to right field in each of the last 5 seasons. It's 314 feet to right field in Yankee Stadium.
When asked about McCann's skill set, combined with the dimensions of Yankee Stadium, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman didn't hesitate to connect the dots.
"He's a very big bat. This ballpark is a big advantage for him," Cashman said.
In recent years, Cashman has targeted left-handed hitters who could take advantage of the dimensions in right field at Yankee Stadium. From Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher (switch-hitters who garnered at-bats predominately from the left side), to Curtis Granderson and Johnny Damon, the strategy has paid off handsomely for the Yankees' executive.
If McCann can continue to shoot the ball down the right-field line, 30-plus home runs is not out of the question for the newest Yankees star.
Little Talk of Cano, Ellsbury
Despite a room full of credentialed media members, an appearance by Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner, Joe Girardi and team president Randy Levine, the Yankees were able to keep the question and answer session strictly about Brian McCann.
While that could be viewed as a sign of respect toward the newest Yankee, it was more likely an attempt to dodge questions about the other major moves on New York's docket: Jacoby Ellsbury's impending agreement and the latest about Robinson Cano's free-agent plight.
For the Yankees, today wasn't the day to add fuel to the fire or stoke the rumor mill around two of the biggest free agents, along with McCann, to appear on the open market this winter.
While the Yankees' brain trust refused to answer questions or lend a voice to the rumors surrounding their next move, Brian McCann may have spilled the beans on the state of the Ellsbury talks.
“Jacoby Ellsbury, what an amazing player. He’s one of the best in the game. I’m excited about that,” McCann said.