Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Yankees world according to Hal

Hal Steinbrenner gave an interesting if not terribly insightful interview to the Daily News’ Mark Feinsand in which he discussed many topics of importance to fans of the New York Yankees. But a few of his comments are worth highlighting:


·         Steinbrenner talked about how important it is that Derek Jeter retire as a lifetime Yankee. Re-signing Jeter will be a major priority for the Yankees if he declines his $8 million option after this season, which I suspect he will if he has another strong year. The Yankees don’t have a good replacement for Jeter, unless you consider defensively challenged Eduardo Nunez to be a viable candidate. The last contract negotiations left Jeter bruised and angry and I doubt that he is going to be very eager to give the Yankees a hometown discount. But Steinbrenner said the Yankees are going to do what they tried to do during the last round of negotiations, which isn’t very promising considering the Yankees let the supposedly private talks become very public and nasty. Hal has insisted that Jeter’s agent started the fight, which is illogical when you take a close look at the timeline of comments and the fact that he was the first to speak publicly about the negotiations, not Casey Close. If Hal refuses to take responsibility for his role in that ugly situation, I don't see much hope of preventing a similarly nasty disagreement with the Yankees Captain down the road.


·         The Yankees managing general partner reiterated that the $189 million payroll target to get the Yankees out of those annoying luxury tax repayments remains the goal and firmly stated that he does not believe a team needs a $200 million payroll to win the World Series. Spoken like a true businessman, though his father George Steinbrenner is probably spinning in his grave. However, Hal said that the team will absolutely not sacrifice fielding a championship-caliber team to reach this $189 million target. He also thinks he can get below that figure even though he will need a lot of cash to re-sign Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes. Personally, I don’t understand how Hal thinks he can have it both ways. He seems to be banking on the Yankees young pitching talent – Ivan Nova, David Phelps and Michael Pineda – making an impact in the next few years at relatively cheap prices. But the Yankees haven’t historically had much success relying on young starters so it seems a stretch to think that they can fill the void for a contending team.


·         Steinbrenner hit back at criticisms that the price of attending Yankee games is way too expensive. He argued that half of the Stadium seats are $50 or less and that the Yankees took on a lot of debt to pay for the brand-new ballpark. I understand his argument, but he has to understand that these are still economically-challenging times for fans, despite the soaring stock markets. If faced with the choice of paying rent, food and other bills or going to a Yankees game, the vast majority of fans are going to make the right choice and forgo the game. I myself will likely attend the fewest number of games this year than I ever have in my years as a Yankee fan and most of that decision will be driven by the costs.

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