After an embarrassing loss at home to the Anaheim Angels 11-8 on Wednesday, New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner finally spoke publicly on the Bronx Bombers’ struggles this season. This also came after manager Aaron Boone said earlier in the week that this would be a big week for the team and General Manager Brian Cashman said “we suck”. Some of the noteworthy comments that came out of Steinbrenner’s press conferences was that while everyone deserves some blame for their struggles, he believes that the majority of the blame falls on the players. Hal also said that both Boone’s and Cashman’s jobs are safe right now and he will not be making any changes in the near future. Lastly, Steinbrenner said he will not make knee-jerk reactions and spend like a drunken sailor like his father, George, did by pointing out that a lot of the moves his father made didn’t work and he got destroyed for it in the press. As a result, Hal did not fully commit to going over the luxury tax but said he would consider it.
There is a lot to take away from Hal’s comments. First, I agree that a lot of the blame falls on the players because at the end of the day the players are the ones that go out there and are expected to hit, pitch and field, not Aaron Boone. I also believe that Boone should not lose his job because he won a combined 203 games between 2018 and 2019 with the pretty much the same roster. The Yankees are a very heavy analytical team, meaning that Boone makes the lineups and pitching changes based on the numbers he is given by the front office. If he does not follow these order he will be called on the carpet by the front office as that is how baseball is played today.
This brings me to my next point. Let’s say for argument sake that the Yankees decide to fire Boone. In all likelihood they would only promote someone form their bench like Carlos Mendoza. In that case, Mendoza or anyone they bring in will be following the same analytics that Boone is ordered to use because the manager role is more of robotic today rather than going by your own gut. This also means that the Bronx Bombers would never bring in Buck Showalter if they had a managerial opening because while Buck likes having information, he will never let anyone tell him who he can start and not start. He would also make decisions during games based off of what his gut is telling him to do. While I do not agree with how the game is being played today, this is the reality of the situation. For example, a lot of the teams that have had success in the past few seasons, like the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, all heavily rely on analytics.
The only other person besides the players that I believe deserves criticism is Brian Cashman because this team is poorly constructed, as they are a majority right handed batting roster. They only have one left handed hitter in a 37 year-old Brett Gardner and their only switch hitter is Aaron Hicks, who is out for the season and was only batting .194 before getting injured. That is also where I disagree with Steinbrenner because he said that losing Hicks was huge for them. However, the stats show that he was not a make or break player for them in the lineup. This weakness gets exposed easily because when other teams go to the bullpen they can bring in their righty relievers to get the favorable righty versus righty matchup. Something else that is concerning is that Cashman has not done a great job recently in drafting star players. For example, the Bronx Bombers have not drafted a great starting pitcher since 1990, when they drafted Andy Pettite. I am not advocating for Cashman to lose his job because he was also able to retool in 2016 on the fly, but there are a lot of questions that Cashman needs to answer as this is all on his watch. I also believe that Cashman would not get fired by Hal since he has been there for so long and is part of their family. The only way I see Cashman leaving is if it was on his own terms.
While the Yankees still have some time time to make up ground, they need to start winning games and that starts by winning the weekend series versus the New York Mets. If the Bronx Bombers fail to make the playoffs this season when they came in this season with championship expectations, somebody will lose their job.