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Thursday, August 8, 2013
Prez not sure Yankees will make playoffs

By Wallace Matthews

I called Yankees team president Randy Levine on Thursday morning seeking answers.

I came away with more questions.

In the wake of the Yankees' backbreaking 12-inning loss to the Chicago White Sox -- which completed a sweep by one of the worst teams in the American League -- I asked Levine how the Yankees could right their sinking ship with just 49 games to go.

"I think you right the ship by playing better," he said. "We've got great players, but it's up to the guys on the team to play better baseball. That's the answer."

If only it were that simple. So then I asked him if there was any chance that Joe Girardi's and/or Brian Cashman's job could be in jeopardy if the Yankees fail to make the playoffs -- which would be just the second time that has occurred in the past 19 seasons, both of them on Girardi's watch.

"I'm not going to get into that now," Levine said. "Joe Girardi is a terrific manager. Cashman is a very good GM. Leave it at that."

So I asked him if either, or both, deserve a pass due to the unusual number of injuries to key players this season.

"We don't make excuses here," he said, before proceeding to make some. "But the fact is, this has been an unprecedented year as far as injuries. The guys we brought in over-performed for a long time there, and now they're in a rough stretch, but I have a lot of confidence in the talent we have on our roster."

Cut to the chase: Does Levine still believe the Yankees can make the playoffs this season?

"I hope they can still make the playoffs," he said. "But I don't know if they can."

When I got to the question of whether owner Hal Steinbrenner deserved some of the blame for handcuffing Cashman for much of the offseason with his since-rescinded $189 million mandate, Levine said, "That had nothing to do with it."

Followed by the click of a telephone receiver.