Hal Steinbrenner spoke to the media prior to Wednesday’s series finale in Arizona and had no problem pointing fingers at the New York Yankees.
By Emmanuel Berbari
New York Yankees co-chairman and principal owner Hal Steinbrenner made some interesting remarks regarding the team’s struggles so far in 2016. However, unlike most situations around baseball, the management and coaching staff was not put to blame. In an effort to hold the players accountable, Steinbrenner may have dug himself a much deeper hole.
Put under criticism were players such as Mark Teixeira, Luis Severino, Chase Headley, and Michael Pineda; all talented players who have had disappointing starts, to say the least. Hal, extremely unlike his father George who he inherited the team from, does not make decisions based on impulse and mainly talks rather than acts.
Placing blame on players for the same reasons fans have heard hundreds of times this season will only grow frustration, and letting management and the coaching staff off free without a single remark makes no logical sense.
“When you look at a guy like Mark Teixeira, clearly, he’s not playing to his potential with the bat”, Steinbrenner said via ESPN. Regarding Pineda, he stated that “whatever technically is wrong with the delivery, Larry is going to work on, but the rest is up to Pineda to figure out.” He added that Luis Severino needs “to learn how to push through that downturn.”
With all of the criticism of personnel, Hal claimed that “the coaches are doing a good job.” This is not to say they are doing a bad job, but praising them is certainly not a way to handle the situation.
Perfectly deciphering the situation was Michael Kay of the YES Network. His stance contained the fact that coaches have to be the source of some blame. Otherwise, why is manager Joe Girardi getting paid $4 million to sit in the dugout? Of course, coaches cannot play, but if you are to take that stance then you may as well say coaches have no value whatsoever.
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There is a strict chain of commands in baseball like in any business or industry. Each level has a strict area of expertise. In the Yankee organization, Hal Steinbrenner tells GM Brian Cashman whether the money is there, Cashman makes personnel choices and spends that money, and Joe Girardi has to successfully utilize the personnel handed down to him.
If Steinbrenner is to make accusations and criticisms of the roster like he did yesterday, he may as well be directly blaming his general manager. Calling his players professionals and stating the obvious need to perform is essentially telling Brian Cashman “bad job.”
A reiteration by an owner does not serve as a motivator to struggling players, it basically serves as a reminder of what they have been doing wrong.
If Steinbrenner is not to make major changes in the roster or staff, why should he speak out?
Why shouldn’t he sit back and show that faith that he seems to have in his stumbling players to right the ship? Why apply extra pressure if you are so sure of your roster being constructed correctly?
The truth is, ownership and management do not have an answer to any of these questions and they are just as scared as Yankee fans. They simply do not know what is in store, leading to the repetition as a result.
Virtually, the Yankee owner claimed that there is no need for a dugout manager in baseball and little need to fault struggles on the front office. That is definitely not what you want to hear from the man in charge of a luxurious franchise. Implementing an accountability system does not only mean speaking out against underperforming players, it means speaking out against everyone that underperforms in a highly employed organization.
Players will generally produce nearly identical numbers to the back of their baseball card, particularly if healthy. So if this Yankee team remains a club that sits five games below the .500 mark, it reflects poorly on ownership rather than the assembled roster.
With that said, if Steinbrenner wants to be perceived as proactive rather than his normal passive self, he will make an executive order to get rid of the players he mentioned.
Until that time comes or a turnaround transpires, he should refrain from making unsubstantiated claims that make himself and the organization look brainless.