Archive for Hank Steinbrenner
Hank Steinbrenner, the outspoken half of the Yankees management team, stopped by the stadium last night to watch the Yanks lose badly to the Red Sox. After the game, he agreed with just about everyone watching in noting that the Yankees sucked. But before the game, he spoke with reporters and all but admitted that CC Sabathia would be the Yanks’ number one priority this off-season. There will be changes, he promised. Who knows what those will be, but it’s bound to make for an exciting off-season.
You knew it was coming. Something about injuries, being the team to beat next year, and signing a veteran pitcher if need be. He sure is a gem, ain’t he?
When I first posted my instant analysis on Chien-Ming Wang‘s injury on Sunday afternoon, I pointed my finger at the inanities of Interleague Play. The marketing gimmick, I argued before getting refuted by the commenters here, unnecessarily puts American League pitchers at risk. While these athletes are in fine shape, they aren’t used to the act of running the bases. It’s not one of the five tools for nothing.
While it’s hard to argue that Wang’s injury was directly a result of Interleague Play and his running the bases, it was only the second time in his professional career that Chien-Ming Wang found himself on base. That is not a comforting thought for anyone relying on the health of the Yankees ace. As luck would have it, the Yanks caught a very bad break, and Wang finds himself out until, by all indications, at least September.
While Yankee fans are being surprisingly stoic about this spin of the wheel of fortune, the Big Mouth of the Yankees, Hank Steinbrenner himself, had a few ridiculous choice words for the rules of the Senior Circuit. Said Hank:
“My only message is simple: The National League needs to join the 21st century. They need to grow up and join the 21st century. I’ve got my pitchers running the bases, and one of them gets hurt. He’s going to be out. I don’t like that, and it’s about time they address it. That was a rule from the 1800s…
“This is always a concern of American League teams when their pitchers have to run the bases and they’re not used to doing it. It’s not just us. It’s everybody. It probably should be a concern for National League owners, general managers and managers when their pitchers run the bases. Pitchers have enough to do without having to do that.”
Setting aside the fact that the DH is from 1973, and pitchers used to bat in both leagues for decades prior to that, Hank, through the bluster, does raise something of a point. When Major League teams invest so heavily in pitching and pay through the nose for guys at the top of the game, all General Managers must cringe in agony every time one of their hurlers takes a big hack or winds up on base. Whether or not that’s good for the game is another matter.
For Hank, this is just more of the same. He likes to sound off, and it doesn’t impact anything other than the number of papers sold in New York, the ratings of the FAN and the general perception of Steinbrenner in the eyes of everyone else.
From a practical matter, the Yankees are going to have to proceed carefully. As foot guru Dr. Philip Kwong told BP’s Will Carroll today, the Yankees have to make sure Wang’s injury is 100 percent healed before he does anything else because the risk of chronic injury is very high. Carroll speculates that the Yanks’ record will dictate how they rehab their young ace, and I would be surprised to see Wang pitch again this season. He’s just that important next year.
The injury was horrendously bad luck, and we can harbor resentment toward the NL. Maybe it’s time to revisit that age-old DH debate or maybe not. But one thing is for sure: Hank Steinbrenner makes for great copy.
The Sporting News, demonstrating that it can adapt, is changing formats starting in September, going to a semi-monthly publication, rather than the weekly format it has right now. Feature articles and analysis will fill its pages, keeping the timely material mainly relegated to the website, where it will deliver daily content to registered users. For anyone who keeps up with these matters, this is refreshing. Publishing simply doesn’t work like it used to, and the sooner the mainstream press figures this out, the better off we’ll all be.
Of interest to Yankees fans is that our bombastic co-owner, Hank Steinbrenner, will pen a monthly column. My initial reaction is that this will end badly. Yet I’m eager to read his first article. What the hell is he going to write about?
Foes of Brian Cashman can take heart. In a Tyler Kepner piece in Tuesday’s Times, Hank Steinbrenner, the outspoken of the two brothers, shares his views on the current Yankee brain trust, and from his words, it seems that while Joe Girardi and his three-year contract are safe, Brian Cashman and his remaining five or six months may not be.
Hank on Girardi: “I think he’s doing fine. It’s pretty simple — he’s playing the hand that he was dealt, just like I am. He’s doing the best job he can. I have complete confidence in Joe.”
Hank on Cashman: “If Brian wants to be the G.M. next year, there’s a chance he will be. If he doesn’t want to, he won’t be. At this point, do I still want him to be the G.M.? Yeah, I do.”
Talk about hedging your bets: If Cashman wants to come back, says Hank, it’s not a given. There’s a chance that he’ll return which also means there’s a chance that he won’t return.
But within the same interview, Hank took what could be interpreted as a dig as father’s heavy-handed style of management. “Whether those cards work or not will determine what happens in the off-season, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to win,” Hank said. “There’s been a lot of mistakes the last five to seven years that I had nothing to do with and Joe had nothing to do with — and quite a few things Brian had nothing to do with.”
There were indeed quite a few things Cashman had nothing to do with that have plagued the Yankee organization over the last ten years. The challenge for anyone — and it’s impossible task for those not in upper-level management positions in the Yankee organization — is to weed out the Cashman Moves and the George Moves. Hank probably knows the difference, and he, for now, sees something he likes in Cashman and the role Brian plays.
We’ve made our thoughts fairly clear on this issue. We think Cashman has done a great job. Of course, many Yankee fans judge success absolutely: Either the team wins the World Series and the season is a success or the team does not win the World Series and the season is a failure. While we can try to convince doubters that the playoffs — five-game and seven-game series — are in no way indicative of how good — the 2007 Red Sox — or how average and lucky — the 2006 Cardinals — a team is, Yankee fans are set in their ways.
If the Yanks are serious about pursuing a new path, they should let Cashman’s plan run its course, and that course is longer than the first quarter of the season. That course is probably two or three years long. If the Yanks were to dismiss Cashman now, the spoilers of his era — a highly regarded farm system and better international scouting — would continue to pay dividends well into the tenure of the next GM. And until the Yankees win four World Series in five years, we’ll forever be having the same debate we have now.
Cashman and his approach have gotten the Yanks into the playoffs every year of his tenure so far. Why change things now?
Just one-quarter of the way through the season, and we’re already getting anonymous stories from Jon Heyman about Hank Steinbrenner’s regretting not making the Santana deal. According to Heyman, Hank is upset with Cashman for Phil Hughes‘ and Ian Kennedy’s poor starts, never mind the fact that Hal counts too and that there are myriad reasons why the Santana trade was just going to be a bad deal. This is also the same Jon Heyman that called the Red Sox’s signing of Hideki Okajima the 19th best free agent signing of all time so I’d take that with a ton of salt.
Via PeteAbe, Hank’s not too happy with the Yankee play lately. Well, join the club, Hank. The only difference between Hank and the rest of Yankee fans the world over is that we’re not in a position to get our stupid rants in the paper. Unfortunately for Hank, he’s not the sole decision-maker atop the Yankees management hierarchy. “This is going to get turned around. If it’s not turned around this year, then it will be turned around next year, by force if we have to,” he said. What does that even mean?
Update: At the urgings of a commenter, here is Hank’s entire quote: “There’s no question we need to turn it around and we have the talent to turn it around. We’ve got the team in place, and now they just have to go out and do it. This is going to get turned around. If it’s not turned around this year, then it will be turned around next year, by force if we have to.” Even when we consider the whole thing, he still sounds rather blustery and ridiculous. His point — that the Yanks are playing poorly — can be seen for miles, and I doubt the players are going to feel motivated just because Hank sort of threatened them. Their contracts are, after all, guaranteed.
Lost in all the hullabaloo over Hank Steinbrenner’s Joba comments was a piece from the tireless Ken Rosenthal. Kenny thinks that Brian Cashman should leave the Yankees after his contract is up this season because Hank Steinbrenner is too aggravating. Besides the fact that Cashman, a 22-year Yankee vet, is fiercely loyal to the Bombers, besides the fact that Hank is just one part of the Hank-and-Hal team leading the Yankees, Rosenthal misses the point. He’s simply validating Steinbrenner’s outbursts while Cashman’s handling of it this week was, in a word, masterful. Despite his flaws as GM, Cashman is and will remain the right man for the job. Hank knows this and so should Rosenthal.
While we focused on Hank’s call to stick Joba in the rotation, the Yanks’ co-chairman also managed to invoke the name of Mike Mussina as well earlier this week. Steinbrenner said that Mike Mussina needs to learn to pitch like Jamie Moyer. Well, as PeteAbe points out, Mussina already pitches like Jamie Moyer at least when it comes to Manny Ramirez.
According to PeteAbe, the whole much ado about Joba has been resolved, and Hank and Cashman are on the same page. Cashman explained that Joba’s move to the pen was spurred on last year by the youngster’s innings cap, and he reiterated the plan to move Joba into the rotation later this season. While this whole kiss-and-make-up thing is nice, I’m glad this drama played itself out today. What else would we have done with this off-day?