Hal Steinbrenner weighed in on the team’s underperformance, and Brian Cashman should be scared for the first time in his career.
The New York Yankees had another week to forget, and now the man at the top has noticed.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Hal Steinbrenner himself descended from his executive office on Pro Sports Team Ownership Mountain to speak with the media. He kept his usual soft-spoken tone, but it was clear: the Yankees’ owner is not happy.
I summed up Steinbrenner’s comments here, but Lindsey Adler of The Athletic posted a key piece of them in full:
Asked Hal Steinbrenner today how he apportions the blame for the underperformance of Yankees players this season. pic.twitter.com/09rVJe7Icr
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) July 1, 2021
It may seem unfair to blame the players, but the sad news is Steinbrenner is right. The New York Yankees’ roster, which isn’t far removed from back-to-back 100-win seasons, is just playing badly. At 42-41, the Bronx Bombers look more like the Crash Davis Durham Bulls of yesteryear.
And who put this motley crew of players together? None other than general manager Brian Cashman, the man Steinbrenner tasks with making the Yankees a World Series contender. In case it wasn’t already obvious, the team isn’t that.
Cashman needs to heed his boss’s words because, from this writer’s perspective, the man is and should officially be on the chopping block.
A series of bad decisions
The entire 2021 season can be defined by Cashman’s mistakes. Rougned Odor is batting .212 with a handful of clutch hits as a bench infielder, yet Hoy Park can play multiple positions and is batting .313 with nine home runs in the minors. And what does Cashman have to say of this clear difference in numbers?
Brian Cashman on Hoy Jun Park:
"Hoy Park is obviously swinging the bat very well, but there's no place to play him here right now … I just don't want to do something where we don't feel like it's going to make a difference."
— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) June 29, 2021
The band plays on. Corey Kluber, no-hitter aside, won’t pitch again until August or September and is being paid $12 million after two injury-shortened seasons. The bullpen, once the bastion of consistency, looks old and tired.
Not to mention, the Aroldis Chapman trade looks more and more like a loss. Gleyber Torres’ hitting is in a major regression. Chapman owns a 15.36 ERA since June 1 and is better known for playoff mishaps with the Yankees than he is success.
Oh, and let’s not forget the countless free agents the Yankees have passed on for the sake of being under the luxury tax. Or, on the other side of the coin, refusing the part with prospects in trades that would have seriously boosted the roster.
All this to say, SHAME on the front office. SHAME on Brian Cashman. SHAME ON—
Whoa, alright. I got carried away there. Sorry, let’s move on.
Look, there’s really no way to sugarcoat this. Even with the Yankees’ recent success, at least in the win-loss column, Brian Cashman has made some very questionable decisions as of late. Last month, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic didn’t go so far as to blame solely the beleaguered GM, but his words say it all.
“No one person is responsible for this abyss,” Rosenthal wrote. “It’s an organization-wide flop.”
That’s true, Ken, but Brian Cashman has had almost full control of the New York Yankees and their baseball operations for a few years now. He picks the free agents to pursue. His draft picks stock the farm system. He is the trade guru who works with the Yankees’ renowned analytics team and the roster is built through his vision.
Sure, the players need to perform better. That’s just a fact. But at the same time, the buck should stop with Brian Cashman. The team’s failures, and he knows this well, are his too.
One more week until the All-Star Break and, as I write this, the New York Yankees are fourth in the AL East and 10 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox. Not exactly the position fans were expecting this time about five months ago!
Needless to say, this week will be what the Yankees make of it. They have a three-game set with the Seattle Mariners, MLB’s worst-hitting team, at T-Mobile Park, but who knows which version of the Yankee lineup will show up?
Oh, and no pressure, but the second half of the revenge series with the Houston Astros takes place over the weekend. In Houston. At the unforgiving Minute Maid Park.
Pour a shot of rum and pray to Jobu, Yankees fans. Because we’re officially desperate.