It was not unusual for the late George Steinbrenner to make drastic midseason changes when his team struggled. But anyone expecting The Boss’ son to do the same after 80 games wasn’t being realistic.
Hal Steinbrenner, noting that he was his own person and uninclined to make what he called a would-be “knee-jerk reaction,” addressed the Yankees’ troubles on Thursday morning. And while the managing general partner admitted that he was “aggravated, frustrated [and] angry” over his fourth-place team’s performance through what has nearly been half a season, he gave Aaron Boone and New York’s coaches a vote of confidence.
“Absolutely,” Steinbrenner said when asked if he had the right staff in place. “Everybody on the coaching staff has dealt with these players in the past. We’ve had some great offenses and some great teams. Nobody’s working harder than the coaches. The most important thing to me always, in any given year, is that the players respect the coaches, believe in the coaches, and that’s absolutely the case here.”
Steinbrenner also backed GM Brian Cashman, saying “he’s done a good job,” and that the Yankees, despite some clear flaws heading into the season, left spring training with a quality team.
New York is now 41-39 following a disastrous loss to the Angels on Wednesday night that saw Aroldis Chapman give up the first grand slam of his career. The Yankees’ struggles, however, have been persistent all season.
The “majority” of the blame should be placed on the players, according to Steinbrenner. He singled out the team’s inconsistencies, poor baserunning and “perplexing” offensive struggles, though the Yankees lineup has picked things up a bit over the last few days.
“Myself, Cashman, Boone, the coaches, we’re responsible. We’re in charge,” Steinbrenner said. “So at some level we’re responsible for what’s going on. But make no mistake about it, in my opinion, the majority of the responsibility… lies with the players. They’re the ones on the field.
“They’re a group of very talented, professional athletes that are playing this game at the highest level in the world. They need to fix this problem. They need to fix the problem because everyone, including our fanbase, rightfully so, has had enough quite frankly. It’s enough. And they know that and you’re seeing them say that.”
While Steinbrenner said he would “seriously consider” surpassing the $210 million luxury tax threshold if it meant upgrading the roster ahead of the trade deadline—he’s not thinking of the Yankees as sellers right now—he also stressed the importance of getting pitchers Corey Kluber and Luis Severino back from injury later this season.
Those arms won’t necessarily solve all of New York’s problems, but Steinbrenner still believes the players already in place can turn this season around. The streaky product on the field has not provided much evidence of that, though, thus drawing outrage from fans.
Prior to Steinbrenner standing by Boone on Thursday, there were chants calling for the manager to be fired during Wednesday’s loss. Steinbrenner was asked if offering the skipper a new contract after the season was contingent on making the playoffs. While he previously said he generally wasn’t afraid to make a change, referencing former manager Joe Girardi, Steinbrenner declined to issue an ultimatum for Boone.
“I can’t answer that question. It’s July 1,” Steinbrenner said, adding earlier that everyone’s performance would be evaluated at season’s end. “I’m not going there.”
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