Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner vowed to keep manager Aaron Boone, general manager Brian Cashman and the core of his team, shaking off a crushing loss to the Los Angeles Angels in which New York wasted a four-run, ninth-inning lead.
Steinbrenner spoke with reporters Thursday, the morning after the 11-8 defeat in which New York scored seven runs in the first inning. The Yankees are 41-39, fourth in the AL East, nine games behind first-place Boston.
“It’s absolutely aggravating, maddening," Steinbrenner said. “It has been tough to watch and the players know that. They’re better than this. This is not the product that we expect and it's not the type of play that they expect themselves.”
New York had discussed the availability since Monday, and the 51-year-old owner was clear that he does not act like impulsive father George, who ran the Yankees from 1973-2008 and changed managers 21 times.
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“He certainly did that a lot. I think what people forget is that often times it didn’t help, it didn’t work. And often times, quite frankly, he was criticized for it, right?” Steinbrenner said. "So I’m just a believer in seeing an entire body of work from an employee, irregardless of what department they’re in. And we do that year to year to year and every year.
“Even somebody’s in the middle of a contract, at the end of the year, I’m going to look at their performance and I’m going to make a decision whether to continue with that person or not continue with that person, irregardless of whether or not they’re under contract. And doing it knee-jerk reaction to appease this person or that person in the middle of a year when I really don’t think there’s a problem, that’s certainly is something I’m not going to do.”
Steinbrenner usually discusses the state of the Yankees after quarterly owners meetings, but because of the pandemic had not held a question-and-answer session with reporters since February 2020.
“I’m aggravated, frustrated, angry," he said. "But again, that’s not going to push me into a knee-jerk reaction to get rid of somebody that I believe the players respect, want to play for, want to win for and overall has done a good job keeping that clubhouse together through this difficult three months.”
Steinbrenner is constantly compared with his father.
“It’s a very justified question to ever ask and to always ask, because he was one of the greatest at what he did,” Steinbrenner said.
“And all I can do is do my best, be my own person, make the decisions in the way that I've always made decisions, which is putting in as much thought into a decision as possible, taking the time if I have the time to do just that. There's no doubt I'm going to live a little bit less spur of the moment than he was in a lot of ways.”
New York has had just three managers in a quarter-century: Joe Torre (1996-2007), Joe Girardi (2008-17) and Boone. After Wednesday's loss, some of the few fans who remained chanted “Fire Boone!”
“I’m not afraid to make changes as we saw with the manager a few years ago,” Steinbrenner said. “But the changes have to be made for more than just the sake of making changes. I know I'm stating the obvious, But again, I’m going to be looking at everybody’s performance at the end of the year throughout the organization, baseball ops or not, and that’s what I do every year, and it’s not something I tend to do in the middle of the year. Do I like consistency, do I (like) having the same people around, that I am used to, that I communicate well with, that we can kind of understand each other? Yes. But not if we're having serious problems with that person’s performance or in the way that players or in other departments, other employees look — respect or don't respect that person.”
He voiced support for Cashman, the general manager since 1998.
“Brian and I have been doing this a lot of years together. He’s extremely intelligent,” Steinbrenner said. “He understands the deal when it comes to relying on pro scouting, relying on analytics, but also building areas that all teams are building like analytics, like performance science. We communicate very well. There’s not much that happens without him running it by me first. He knows that’s the way I want it. I think he’s done a good job. This team that we put together leaving spring training was a very, very good team. And they just haven’t played up to their potential that I believe we still have.”
In the loss to the Angels, Aroldis Chapman walked three batters and gave up Jared Walsh's tying grand slam. Chapman is 1-2 with a 17.47 ERA and two blown saves in six chances over his past eight games after starting the season 4-0 and a 0.39 ERA and 12 saves in 13 chances over his first 23 appearances.
“I don't think awful night maybe doesn't do it justice,” Boone said. "That's ultimate tough gut punch, as difficult a loss as you can have in the regular season, and we wear that."
Boone's relationship with Steinbrenner is different than how his predecessors dealt with George Steinbrenner, who died in 2010.
“I don't think he's ever screamed and hollered at me or anything like that,” Boone said. “He's been pretty pointed with some comments at times about what's going on and hey, this needs to be better."
Steinbrenner made clear where he finds fault.
“The majority of the responsibility, whether it’s the responsibility of inconsistent offense or bad baserunning, etc., that responsibility lies with the players. They're the ones on the field, right? 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 fan base, rightfully so, has had enough, quite frankly. It's enough.”