The Hal Steinbrennger GQ interview

Hal Steinbrenner recently sat down with GQ reporter Nate Penn for his first interview in over 20 years. What comes out of it is a picture reminiscent, as Penn and later Cliff Corcoran at Bronx Banter noted, of Michael and Sonny Corleone from The Godfather.

The highlights:

  • Hal became more involved when Steve Swindal left the picture. Hank joined him a few months later when it became clear that the younger Steinbrenner could use some help.
  • He doesn’t hate the media: “Am I comfortable dealing with the media? Probably not as comfortable as Hank is. Definitely not as comfortable as my dad was. Have I had disagreements with them in the past, disagreed with things they’ve written and the reasons they wrote them? Yes, of course. But again, I understand what the deal is.”
  • The brothers always assumed that Swindal would lead the team, and Hal wanted to be with his family. He’s happy with the way he’s balancing his duties now.
  • George really did want to get rid of dental benefits in 2003, but Hal talked him out of it.
  • Brian Cashman‘s job is not on the line over the Santana deal.

To me, the most important part of the interview is Hal’s understanding of the Yankees’ situation with regards to their young pitchers. “The Super Bowl this year was unbelievable, and the one thought I took away really has a lot to do with us this year, with these three young pitchers. Eli struggled a bit his first couple years. I think New York fans might realize now that if you give a young kid time, great things can happen,” he said.

There really is no better analogy. Now, I’m not saying that the Yanks’ pitchers are going to struggle, but good things come to those who wait. The Yanks can’t trade years of future success for instant gratification. Hal recognizes what the Yankees have in their young arms, and he won’t quickly surrender that advantage.

Meanwhile, in news that should warm the hearts of Yankee fans, the Steinbrenner sons are just as dedicated to winning as their dad has been, and the two don’t plan on selling the team anytime soon. Sounds good to me.

Brothers in arms

Confirming what Brian Cashman said last week, Peter Abraham spoke to Voice of the Yankees Howard Rubenstein today about the current upper management power structure. “They share the power,” Rubenstein said of Hank and Hal, the sons of George. “They are equal partners for both business and baseball. I spoke to them about it today and that’s the situation.” Hopefully, having two people in charge won’t leave the Yanks paralyzed when the time comes to make a move but the brothers disagree on it.

Cashman: Yankee organization has a new power structure

As a follow up on my post from Friday about the shifting organizational structure in the Yankees Front Office, Yanks GM Brian Cashman has confirmed what we’ve known for a while. The Steinbrenner brothers are taking a more active role in running the team, and Cashman’s autonomy, granted to him by George in 2005, is waning.

Speaking at a Boston fundraising on Saturday, Cashman gave the media some insight into his current role in the organization.’s PeteAbe has the word from Cash:

“The dynamics are changing with us. When I signed up with this current three-year deal, and this is the last year of it, it was with full authority to run the entire program. George had given me that. But things have changed in this third year now with the emergence of Hal and Hank Steinbrenner and that started this winter,” he said, “I’m learning as I go along, too. But it is different. But one thing is that I’ve been with this family, the Steinbrenner family, for well over 20 years. So I’m focused fully on doing everything I possibly can to assist them in their emergence now as decision makers.”

Meanwhile, an article on has a bit more from Cash and his relationship with the Steinbrenners. “Everybody has their own style,” Cashman said. “And Hank has obviously taken charge on behalf of his father, along with his brother, Hal. They have different styles. Hal is more quiet and Hank is very available, but my job is to continue to line up the structure of the organization that can find the amateur talent.”

On Friday, I wrote about how the new relationships affect the Santana deal. Today, we can extend that look to the entire organization. Right now, Hank talks a lot — maybe too much — and Hal is the quiet, behind-the-scenes guys. While Brian Cashman knows and understand that he doesn’t have the same unilateral power that he had during the waning days of George Steinbrenner‘s reign, he stills has a very influential position of power within the Yankee organization.

From his comments, it’s clear that he is the de facto leader of any sort of transitional organizational team in place ensuring that the Yankees continue down the solid path they’ve built up of developing young players and making smart free agent signings to fill in the holes. While George got away from that plan earlier this decade, the younger Steinbrenners are seemingly much more willing to let this plan unfold.

Sure, they may be in on Santana, but right now, Hank has listened to Cashman and Hal, the two anti-trade forces in the organization. Because of that, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera are both still on the Yankees and slated for pinstripes in 2008. While some of Hank’s more outspoken critics may not like what Cashman is saying, the Yanks haven’t made any off-season mistakes yet this year, and I’m willing to believe that the Steinbrenners are letting Cashman do his job. He did say after all that his job is to “assist them in their emergence now as decision makers.”

Make as much of that as you will, but in the end, that’s the General Manager’s job. Every signing, every contract, every trade in baseball will always have the seal of the team’s owner’s approval. The Yankees — even with Cashman’s so-called autonomy — were no different the last few years, and they will be no different going forward. The difference instead lies in the mental health and acuity of the men at the top, and the younger Steinbrenners seem prepared to build up a fiscally strong and talented Yankee team with the help of a top-notch General Manager. I can’t argue with that one.

Steinbrenner brothers take the helm

The New York Post reports that Hal and Hank Steinbrenner are now in charge of baseball operations for the New York Yankees.

“There’s always been a succession – and that’s myself and my brother,” Hank told The Post in an exclusive interview.

He said he and Hal will have final say on baseball decisions as well as the running of the YES Network and the construction of the new Yankee Stadium.

“I’ll pay more attention to the baseball part. The stadium, that’s more Hal. But basically everything will be decided jointly.”

This move was foreshadowed late last week when Hank announced that Joba will start in 2008. The NY Post article quotes Hank as saying “That’s something I’ll insist on,” when referring to Joba and Phil starting 2008 in the rotation. I’m beginning to grow fond of Hank Steinbrenner.

“I tend to be more volatile than my brother,” Hank said. “Hal is calmer – and that will probably be a good influence.”

Behind the scenes, the boys have impressed.

“Both Hank and Hal are extraordinarily smart, extraordinarily articulate and, like their father, very genuine people,” said Levine. “And they like each other a lot. I think the Yankees are in very good hands.”

This is starting to sound good. True, this article is probably a PR pitch. But it’s nice to know that 1) we’ll have a fiery guy at the helm in Hank, and 2) he’ll have a counterbalance in Hal. I really do think that the brothers will work well with our front office tandem of Brian Cashman and Damon Oppenheimer.

The best news of all from this is that the Yankees won’t be sold. I know it was a longshot when it was mentioned earlier in the year, but at least we’ve put it to rest.

Yanks face end of an era, but which one?

Everyone likes to point their fingers. (Photo from Newsday/Paul J. Bereswill)

When the dust finally settles in a few days, an era of Yankee baseball will end. How this drama plays out, though, will determine which era ends, and the end result could be something of a surprise.

In one corner, we have George Steinbrenner threatening the end of the Joe Torre Era. If you take the interview with Ian O’Connor at face value, Torre’s gone. The Yanks didn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs for the third year in a row, let alone win a World Series, and King George is not happy.

For now, the going school of belief seems to be that Steinbrenner’s threats were not idle and that Torre is gone. The Yankee skipper spoke of the team not as a “we” but as a “them” during the post-game press conference last night. Peter Abraham noted a few other indications concerning the imminent departure of Joe Torre, and Bill Madden at The Daily News speculates that the Tony La Russa-Dave Duncan team may be Bronx bound.

But what if? What if George Steinbrenner’s interview featured the words of an aging and nearly deposed dictator? What if Brian Cashman enlists the help of the heir-apparent Hal Steinbrenner to push for Torre’s return? What if the rumors of Tony La Russa’s arrival in the Bronx raises too many alarm bells among the Yankee decision-makers?

If the Torre faction within the Yankees can outlast those doubting him, another era will end in the Bronx. The Era of the Boss would officially be over. We know, thanks to Portfolio magazine, that george is not well these days. If Joe Torre keeps his job, Steinbrenner’s public words and Yankee clout are all but gone.

Right now, no one really knows what should happen. Joe Torre made a few bad managing mistakes this week that cost the Yankees at least game two and maybe game four. He has a history of mismanaging the bullpen, but he knows how to handle the Yankees. Furthermore, the players – such as free agents Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada – love him. If he goes, they may go too.

So it becomes a showdown yet again between the Boss and the only man more powerful than the Boss in the eyes of the New York sports media. In a few days or hours or minutes, someone will win and an era will end. Whatever the outcome, it will affect the Yankees for years to come.