BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
The New York Yankees came off a Game 7 loss to the Houston Astros in the 2017 American League Championship Series. They were a team on the rise with Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez and Clint Frazier leading the way. Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres were going to come in the following year. They acquired Giancarlo Stanton in the offseason. They also were clearing salaries for a chance to sign Bryce Harper and Manny Machado after the 2018 season.
Yet, they fired Joe Girardi as a manager since he couldn’t communicate well with the young players. The Yankees hired Aaron Boone as Girardi’s replacement for the 2018 season. They figured he would provide a relaxing atmosphere that would be conducive to success.
While Boone won 100 games in his first season, the Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox in four games in the 2018 American League Division Series. But the future was still bright with the idea Harper and Machado would be on the way.
It never materialized. The Yankees decided not to talk to either of them. In fact, they did nothing to improve that team in that off-season. This sums up Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner in a nutshell.
We can blame Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Boone for the Yankees being swept by the Astros in this year’s ALCS. We can call for them to be fired. But the buck stops with Steinbrenner. He is the owner that employs both men. He decided not to make a bold move after a disappointing 2018 season, and the Yankees have been paying for it ever since. You don’t think they can use Harper’s five home runs and 11 RBIs this postseason?
George’s son has run the Yankees for some time, and it is so clear that he is nowhere close to his father. He wants to run his team on a certain budget. He created a country club atmosphere where it’s okay to be good enough rather than be great. He is rarely around the ball club outside of making cameo appearances at Yankee Stadium for celebrations,
This should make the Yankees and their fans wonder if the younger Steinbrenner wants the responsibility of owning the Yankees. He says he does, but his actions speak differently.
When he talks about answering to banks, partners and bond holders, it has a feel of him worrying about the bottom line rather than winning. When he talks about stability, he sounds like a man that is scared of change. When he mentions how great Cashman is at his job, he comes off as an owner who does not have the stomach to go through a hiring process and start over by firing him. When he talks about what a good season the team had, he comes off so out of touch with reality.
Watching Steinbrenner steward the Yankees since 2009, there hasn’t been much success. The Yankees went for it in 2009 with George Steinbrenner on his deathbed and they won a championship that year. Since then, it’s been disappointment after disappointment in the postseason with no accountability to show for it. The franchise is getting worse than getting better.
We haven’t heard from him since the Astros swept the Yankees. One wonders if we are ever going to hear from him or any of the Yankees. They need to be speaking up in the aftermath of what happened like the day after the team got eliminated.
We need to hear from Steinbrenner most importantly. We need to know how he feels just to see if he really cares. We also need to show he is more action than just talk this offseason.
By running it back, it shows he is not serious about winning. There’s no way the Yankees can run it back with this management team next season. The time has come for a change. It’s time for new ideas. It’s time for a different voice that can make a difference.
If the Yankees want to be analytical, then hire someone that knows what he is doing with analytics along with his staff. The choice here would be Astros general manager James Click, who remarkably might be out of a job after the Astros season is over. He was part of the Rays brain trust, and he has done a great job of having the Astros contend despite losing George Springer and Carlos Correa. Then, Click can hire his guy and go from there. From what I know, Click lets his manager Dusty Baker manage despite using analytics, so hiring the Astros general manager would be a plus
If the Yankees want to go back to old-school ways, then hire Derek Jeter as general manager and Don Mattingly as manager. While Jeter can learn on the job, he and Mattingly can add the finishing touch as different voices that can lead them to the top. Maybe their gut feel could be what the players need instead of players being suffocated with so much information.
There are options out there. The time has come to do something. After getting swept by the Astros and being eliminated by them in the ALCS for the third time in six years, the spotlight should be on Steinbrenner and no one else.
The Yankees have taken a step back from the 2017 run. They have been stale. There has not been accountability for the team’s failures. Setting just for good enough has been Hal’s MO.
The Yankees used to stand for excellence. Those days were over as soon as George passed away.
I always wondered if the younger Steinbrenner understood the responsibility of owning the Yankees. I also wonder if he really wants that burden. Remember his father tried to talk to him about owning the Yankees as his successor a long time ago, and he didn’t want any part of it at the time. The elder Steinbrenner decided that his son-in-law Steve Swindal would be his successor, but then Swindal was arrested for DUI and he eventually settled with a divorce from his wife Jennifer Steinbrenner, Steinbrenner’s daughter. So Hal had no choice but to be the guy just so that the Yankees can be with the family.
Hal has to wonder if his father would be proud of him for the way he is running the franchise. He also has to ask does he really need the headache of owning the Yankees.
At some point, he must understand the responsibility of owning the Yankees or he should sell the franchise to someone who will get it.
This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6