Monday, January 25, 2016

Dissecting recent Steinbrenner comments on state of the Yankees

New York Yankees principal owner and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner spoke with reporters Wednesday at the Owners’ Meeting about the state of the Yankees as spring training approaches. He covered a few topics of which I’ll dissect a bit here.

Payroll steadiness

Hal Steinbrenner
Photo credit: Jeffrey Putnam via Flickr
Steinbrenner has not relented on the notion that the club does not have to raise payroll substantially beyond the current approximation of about $215 million. Steinbrenner has discussed at length and reiterated that when significant money comes off the books – as it will in each of the next two offseasons – the club will be prepared to put a good portion of that cash back into the payroll.

I’ve been a proponent of this method that the Yankees have been working within over the last few seasons. With an up and coming farm system with one player already inserted (Luis Severino) and others getting ready to take over in key spots soon (Greg Bird and Aaron Judge) the Yankees will be more willing to reinvest at other areas of the roster.

Steinbrenner’s thoughts on payroll are always scrutinized by fans. He’s not especially loved by many who believe the Yankees should spend much more than they do considering the revenue the club drives. In my view, the business side of the organization is run quite well and I feel that when the long-term and cost-draining contracts are finished, the club will spend accordingly.

Optimism for 2016

Steinbrenner feels that the addition of Starlin Castro is one of the keys to 2016, and I’d have to agree. Second base has been a complete drain since Robinson Cano took off for Seattle. Castro will provide some stability in the role and allows the Yankees plenty of flexibility around the infield.

Steinbrenner feels comfortable with the current six players looking to become part of the rotation. My concerns here are like Steinbrenner's many others'; health. The only starter without a health concern is Severino, but he’s got his own worry of getting ready to pitch in his first full season in the big leagues. If the rotation members do stay healthy and pitch to their abilities the Yankees could be in good shape, but there is no assurance that will be the case. I felt the club should have gone out and found another backend of the rotation innings eater, but it does not seem that will be case.

Lastly, Steinbrenner explained his happiness with the backend of the bullpen with holdovers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller being joined by Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees will surely be tough to beat on most nights when they have a lead after the six innings, but the negative here is that the middle relief is unsettled. The Yankees will be asking a good deal from younger relievers in setup roles. The players in question – Jacob Lindgren, James PazosBranden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow and Chasen Shreve – are all talented, but only Shreve has a modest number of MLB innings under his belt.

On Chapman allegations

Here is where Steinbrenner’s comments veered off the tracks for me. Steinbrenner invoked the “innocent until proven otherwise” stance concerning Chapman’s domestic violence allegations. Of course proving guilt in criminal cases is an important part of our rights as citizens of the United States, but there is a lot more to domestic violence cases than that.

In many circumstances of domestic violence the harmed party recants (as happened here) either under pressure from the abusive party or for other reasons potentially related to not wanting to be scrutinized in the news cycle as Chapman’s girlfriend certainly could have been. Since Steinbrenner’s comments on Chapman, the state’s attorney in Florida declined to bring charges against the Yankees closer.

Steinbrenner’s comments came off as unsympathetic even though he pointed out domestic violence is a “very sensitive subject.” Steinbrenner’s statement on Chapman was ill-advised and put him in a bd light. Maybe there will be a point in time where he'll see how his comments were hurtful and put the organization in a poor light, maybe more so than it already was where it concerned the trade for Chapman.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.