What In the Hal Are the Yankees Doing?

by Nik Swartz | Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
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New York Yankees former owner George Steinbrenner

New York Yankees former owner George Steinbrenner

Late Sunday night I was told by an MLB reporter who has been covering the New York Yankees for over a decade, “there will be a deal done Monday morning and the Yankees are all in on this Yoan Moncada kid.” As it turned out, the Yankees “all-in” wasn’t enough. From all indications the team’s ownership put a cap on what they were willing to spend, and that cap was set by the two-faced villain of Gotham, Yankees’ owner, Hal Steinbrenner.

By no means would anyone call the Yankees reported $25 million offer low balling, but it wasn’t enough and that’s not good enough when you’re the Yankees. Yes the Yankees would’ve had to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax, because they had overspent on their international amateur bonus pool, but in the big picture, looking past the large signing bonus and penalty, the actual amount the Yankees would have had to pay to get Moncada isn’t that much, especially for a team that has tossed large amounts around for aging players for years.

Since the news broke that Moncada had signed with the Boston Red Sox, Yankees’ fan reaction has been mixed, with some backing the team the Yankees have right now, and others thinking how can you be upset about a player that isn’t MLB ready? What most aren’t getting is not signing Moncada is a sign of a much bigger problem – lack of direction, lack of a real plan and lack of dedication to winning.

Adding insult to injury was the fact Moncada signed with the hated Red Sox, who outbid the Yankees with a $31.5 million deal for the Cuban phenom.

According to multiple reports, the Yankees were willing to go as high as $27.5 million, which is a ridiculous amount of money, but in baseball terms, it’s not enough to lose the player who jump starts everything the Yankees have said they’re now all about, which is getting young and building from within the organization.

This offseason the Yankees passed on all the major free agents and talked of this youth movement, which helped ease some of the pain for Yankees fans who are used to the way George Steinbrenner ran the team, but passing on the big names in the offseason also made the Moncada signing seem as a “when, not if” for the Yankees; so what exactly is the Yankees plan? Does ownership actually have a plan, or are they facing something no one has had to before and now realize they have no idea what to do? Or is it the worst possible scenario, that being they don’t care?

Why Yankees’ brass (Hal Steinbrenner) would let $4-5 million keep the Yankees from getting the player who should have been the face of the teams’ commitment to getting young and building from within has no honest explanation – other than Hal isn’t as committed to the Yankees as much as he says he is. What Hal said in January at the owners meeting and what just happened are perfect examples of a man who is talking the talk, but not walking the walk.

“Look, it’s not over till it’s over,” Steinbrenner told reporters at the owners meetings in Arizona. “We still have a full month before spring training. We’re always going to continue to improve. I’m not putting a cap on it. We’ve certainly filled some holes that we had. We’ll keep going for the next few weeks.” These comments are just words, backed with no action.

What Hal said next is an absolute contradiction to what he did. “We’re still the New York Yankees, all you guys know that. We know what the fans expect. We know what the town expects. We’re not going to be afraid to spend money.” It’s a wonderful sound bite, but it’s really nothing but hot air and further proof that he has no clue how to win and he really does not care about the Yankees winning anything, as long as the team continues to line his pockets.

How can anyone believe Hal is truly committed to the Yankees winning? What he has said and what he has done, especially this winter, have been two totally different things. Some have blamed Yankees GM Brian Cashman for losing out on Moncada, but it wasn’t his fault, losing Moncada to the Red Sox over pocket change has Hal Steinbrenner’s fingerprints all over it.

It has been reported that Cashman loved Moncada and wanted to go as high as possible to get the 19 year-old infielder. The problem Cashman faced, when he was told by Moncada’s people that the initial offer of $25 million wasn’t enough, was getting ownership to ante up more on their offer. One would think this would be Hal’s fault, and it most likely was, but members of the Yankees’ brass are lining up to jump in front of the media bullet for Steinbrenner.

Cashman told reporters Monday, “If we were going to go all out, there would have been more. We went to where we were comfortable going, and it was an uncomfortable number to put forth. But it still fell short. We’re proud of the players that we did sign and the work we’ve done on the international side, but we’re continuing to look at what’s available out there, and we were involved in the Moncada efforts until the very end.”

“Sunday night they said they were going to make a decision and wanted our best offer. We presented that. It just didn’t work.” Also jumping in Monday was a report from ESPN’s Wallace Matthews and CBS Sports Jon Heyman, who reported Hal had “strong interest” in Moncada and it was “others” in the organization who weren’t comfortable going the extra mile and dropping $60M+ on a teenager.

The funny part to the last report is it is hard to believe Hal couldn’t overrule anyone in the organization and if there is someone who does overrule him the team is a bigger hot mess that anyone could imagine. The late report seems more like someone at the top of the Yankees food chain leaking something to the press to help Hal not look like the tightwad he is perceived to be.

Losing Moncada would have stung no matter who ended up with the future star, but the Yankees being beaten by the Red Sox again is a sting that will not soon dissipate.

The Red Sox already had a solid group of young players, in their top five minor league system, adding Moncada makes the Red Sox’s future even brighter. The Yankees’ minor league system on the other hand has been middle-of-the-pack to mediocre the past decade, and the club’s ranking has dropped three straight seasons in a row, according to Baseball America.

Not many things make a Yankees fan more sick than watching the Red Sox win; sadly it’s starting to look like a whole bunch of humble pie will be headed to the Bronx for the foreseeable future.

The Red Sox are set-up nicely with a good GM and owner who have shown they are committed to winning. The Red Sox have won the World Series more recently than the Yankees and most likely will win another one, or two, before the Yankees sniff a game in October; all of this should be unacceptable to Yankees ownership, but it won’t be until their poor decisions affect the revenue that’s brought in by the team.

Hal’s father George had his faults, and he did many things wrong when he was running the Yankees, but the one thing no one could ever question about George “The Boss” Steinbrenner was his commitment to his beloved Yankees winning; can the same be said for his son Hal?

The team the Yankees have heading into the ’15 season is loaded with aging players, and the farm system is average at best, which makes the thought of the Yankees not having a plan a scary one for all those who love the Yankees.

Making this even more infuriating is Hal Steinbrenner’s comments about commitment to winning and having no cap on what he is willing to spend because winning is everything, yet he has failed to show that his comments are more than just words. Monday ended ones of the Yankees least productive and plan-less off-season’s in recent memory, and could prove to be the first of many.

Follow Nik Swartz on Twitter @Sweetnesz13


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Nik Swartz
About the Author

Graduate of Penn State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and Psychology, currently a counselor in Philadelphia. I started writing professionally in 1999 as the Penn State beat writer for the Milton Standard/Lewisburg Daily Journal in Pa. I have worked at eight daily newspapers as a Sports Writer/Editor - covering all high school sports, the NFL, professional baseball and professional hockey. A few sites I've written and/or contributed articles for include Rant Sports, Bleacher Report, FanSided and Pro Football Spot. Follow Nik on Twitter @Sweetnesz13.

  • From the looks of it both Jim Buss and Hal Steinbrenner are struggling to live up to what their fathers built up in their perspective dynasties. You can no longer spend the big dollars to purchase a championship these days. The smaller market teams have figured out a way to outsmart the bigger market teams.

    • Nik Swartz

      Derrick I never thought about Jim Buss, but you’re totally on-point with that comparison. I do think you can still spend big and still win titles. I just think you also need to be able to draft and teach young talent; something the Yankees have not been able to do in recent seasons.
      One of the things so many say about the Yankees is they buy championships, but if you look at the core of those teams in the late 90’s early 2000’s, you will see a bunch of homegrown players on the roster. That’s not happening anymore and I’m not really sure the Yankees have anyone, other than Cashman, who has any idea how to rebuild a championship team.
      As much as it pains me to say this, the Red Sox seem to be doing a great job of spending and winning big. The difference between the Yankees and Red Sox now, is the Red Sox have a very talented minor league system and an owner who has the nuggets to take chances. I hated even writing that, but it’s true. Thanks for taking the time to comment and read the article. Very much appreciated.

  • pete strangello

    Nik, I dont believe it has anything to do with being a risk taker. Hal S doesn’t give a shit about the Yankees or the fans. I believe Yankee fans and NY deserves a team that can win it all every year. When I go to a game I spend well over $100. I don t give it a second thought. Hal is all about he money. His penny pinching ways have us knee deep.

  • Harvey

    Hal is graduate of the Wilpon School of Baseball Ownership.

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