New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner called in to a local radio show to address the 2020 season as well as the future of the team.
The New York Yankees’ 2020 season is over, and owner Hal Steinbrenner is ready to address it. Steinbrenner appeared on ESPN Radio’s The Michael Kay Show Tuesday afternoon. Kay, who also serves as the Yankees’ primary play-by-play man for the team-owned YES Network, made sure to ask the tough questions.
The interview in its entirety, available here, covered a wide variety of topics. Will Aaron Boone stay with the team despite questionable bullpen management? What’s the deal with Gary Sanchez? How is everyone supposed to feel when this was supposed to be the year the New York Yankees finally won their 28th World Series title?
Hal Steinbrenner faced the music and addressed it all. Based on what he had to say, expect the disappointment to be short.
An owners’ accountability
Early in the interview, co-host Don La Greca asked Steinbrenner who he was most disappointed with after a roller-coaster season. After all, the Yankees endured respective slumps of 5-15 and 2-6 in the latter half of the season. The on-field performance was horrific across the board. Surely heads were about to roll, right?
Wrong. Rather than point fingers, Hal Steinbrenner shouldered the lion’s share of responsibility.
“I guess I should be most disappointed with me,” he said. “I’m responsible for all this in the end. As far as one specific player, there isn’t one.”
However, Steinbrenner did point out he was not a fan of the team’s inconsistent performance in the abbreviated 60-game season. Furthermore, he went so far as to say the Yankees “didn’t play well” in the last week of the season as well as some of the postseason.
Steinbrenner also called out the team as a whole for not playing “up to its potential,” a sharp criticism from any owner. This man doesn’t speak much but when he does, you know he means business. Hal Steinbrenner sounds like he’s getting sick of the losing, so the pressure is already on for 2021.
Boone is back
Yankees fans love to blame Aaron Boone whenever something goes wrong. It’s mostly regarding his bullpen management, namely in Game 2 of the Division Series. Rather than trust rookie Deivi Garcia with a proper start, the young righty was instead used as an opener. J.A. Happ then entered for bulk work, and the Tampa Bay Rays lit him up.
However, Steinbrenner had nothing but good things to say about Boone, who just finished a three-year contract and has an option for 2021.
“Aaron Boone is a good baseball man,” he said. “He’s a good leader. He has the respect of the players. Aaron Boone will be back next year.”
Steinbrenner didn’t specify whether Boone would also receive a new contract, and also said conversations about potential coaching changes haven’t happened yet.
However, Aaron Boone staying on as skipper almost goes without saying. He is the only manager in MLB history to win 100 games in each of his first two seasons.
His not being visibly angry about the team losing is often labeled as a weakness. Some don’t think he holds his players accountable enough. Not to beat a dead horse, but go back and look at Boone’s legendary “Savages in the Box” rant. You can tell just from watching that he takes his job very seriously and his players always come first.
Aaron Boone can be a frustrating manager, but he’s still great at his job and has the support where it matters. His return in 2021 just makes sense, and Hal Steinbrenner knows it.
The Gary Sanchez problem
For a catcher with unbelievable power, Gary Sanchez had a forgettable 2020. He hit 10 home runs with 24 RBIs and batted just .147, striking out 64 times in 178 plate appearances. Yet, Hal Steinbrenner stopped short of writing him off.
“We’ll just have to see about next year,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re going to keep helping him in every way we can and if it all goes well, we’ll get him back.”
Some New York Yankees fans are probably livid at this. They’d rather general manager Brian Cashman release him and then spend hundreds of millions of dollars on J.T. Realmuto, who hit .266 with the Philadelphia Phillies this year.
Here’s the problem. Per Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Realmuto wants a record deal for a catcher, possibly around $200 million. The Yankees just aren’t going to spend this money. Gerrit Cole just signed a $324 million deal last offseason. Giancarlo Stanton opted into the rest of his deal and will earn $218 million through 2027. Extensions will soon be due for Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres, not to mention upcoming free agency.
Finally, Sanchez is still just 27 while Realmuto will be 30 by Opening Day. He needs to be better, sure, but probably has one or two more years to redeem himself before New York moves on. Sanchez won’t be a free agent until 2023.
With Hal Steinbrenner’s support, here’s hoping Sanchez’s turnaround is quick.