In defense of Hal Steinbrenner • 01.26.15
As I’ve written several times, the real point of our annual Pinch Hitters series is to bring a fresh perspective to the blog. I cover the team from one point of view: that of a beat writer who didn’t grow up following the Yankees. I’ve gotten to know several players and other people in the organization, but I have no emotional attachment to the franchise itself. There are players who I like and player who I want to succeed, but I don’t get excited when the Yankees win and I don’t get upset when they lose.
It’s really not possible for me to write from the point of view that Mitchell presented this morning.
That said, in the name of balance and finding another side to the story, let me play devil’s advocate a little bit. For whatever it’s worth, Hal Steinbrenner has never personally given me a single tidbit of true breaking news, and I could write here that he’s a total bozo without putting my credentials or access at risk. I’m simply trying to present a counterargument to Mitchell’s previous take.
A few points of debate from this morning’s post:
1. I have a hard time knocking the Yankees for selling merchandise, selling ads, playing jingles at the stadium, or sending ticket offers to fans’ email addresses. These are such common practices at this point that I really can’t find fault in it, especially from an ownership group that has not sold the naming rights to one of America’s most well known stadiums (can you imagine how much money they could make off that?). A lot of people want Yankees gear, and a lot of companies want to align themselves with the organization. For many reasons — financial and otherwise — that’s great news for the Yankees; as is the overwhelming success of YES Network. As for the low-level seats, I think it’s a shame sports have drifted that direction, but that’s the way it is in the Bronx and beyond. In my opinion, ticket sales — especially for elite seats like that — have to be business driven, and if the Yankees find that they make more money by selling super-expensive, half-empty sections, I guess that says a lot about the way the “1 percenters” — as Mitchell called them — want to spend their money. Yes, the Yankees are giant business, but that was true long before Hal Streinbrenner was in charge. The Yankees’ business grew enormously under George Steinbrenner.
2. As for Hal, he’s operating under different rules than the ones George enjoyed during his free-spending days. The collective bargaining agreement successfully punishes teams for spending extreme amounts of money. With those methods of punishment in place, the Yankees are the only team to have consistently paid a luxury tax year after year, and they’ve done that under Hal. Because of the luxury tax, the cost of the Yankees payroll is far higher than the payroll itself. Almost every other team has never even come close to paying a luxury tax. The Yankees do it every year. This past year, they’ve also far exceeded their international spending pool, leading to yet another tax. Disincentives are in place and they’re significant, yet the Yankees continue to spend. I don’t think that should be casually dismissed.
3. Because the Yankees didn’t get into the Max Scherzer market, the Steinbrenners seem cheap this offseason. Yet it was only a year ago that they invested nearly a half billion dollars in new payroll. As Mitchell noted, there was some consideration toward trying to get under the luxury tax — a move that made enormous financial sense, and a move that the Yankees were poised to make because of Alex Rodriguez’s salary coming off the books for a while — yet the Yankees still blew past $189 million and spent lavishly on Masahiro Tanaka last winter. That decision wasn’t made in the name of cutting payroll; it was made in the name of building a contender at a very high cost. And those moves didn’t happen in some long-forgotten past life. It was last year. Under Hal. The Yankees also had that massive offseason of 2008 which directly led to a 2009 championship, and two years after that, it was ownership — not baseball operations — that pushed for a significant investment into Rafael Soriano. The current Yankees ownership isn’t always pulling back the reins.
4. I have to disagree with the notion that Hal “decided to change the Yankees’ spending habits cold turkey, not taking into account that the Yankees’ payroll was laden with bad contracts.” If that were the case, there’s no way Chase Headley or Andrew Miller would be here. The Yankees would simply have to deal with Alex Rodriguez at third base (for better or worse) and they’d have to get by with whatever their in-house pitchers can provide. More significant than Headley or Miller, changing spending habits cold turkey would have ruled out the Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury deals from last winter. Those were Boss-type signings in basically every way. Passing on Robinson Cano? That seemed to be an attempt to avoid a repeat of the 10-year mistake with A-Rod (whose current massive contract, by the way, was orchestrated by George’s sons, not by George himself).
5. For a long time, the Yankees thoroughly separated themselves in terms of payroll. But other teams have signed into lucrative television contracts, and revenue sharing has helped build some parity in the game, and so the gap is no longer as overwhelming as it used to be. The Dodgers are now spending money at the Yankees’ level, but there’s a pretty substantial gap between those two teams and the rest of baseball. Mitchell pointed out that 15 other teams seem poised to spend more than $120 million this season, but if that’s the cutoff, then the Yankees are over that figure by basically $100 million! That’s a giant gap. If $100 million isn’t a giant gap, why is anyone worried about the Yankees trying to cut something closer to $30 million to get below the luxury tax? If the Red Sox are such heavy spenders, why is Hal Steinbrenner such a financial monster for wanting to get his payroll down to roughly the Red Sox number?
6. Ultimately, there has to be a recognition of both sides. Ownership has to recognize that it has entered into the business of winning and losing, and earning the fans’ trust requires financial commitment. Fans and baseball decision makers have to realize that their team is a part of a larger business, and that means financial considerations have to come into play. There is a financial reason for not entering into a seven-year, $210 million contract with a starting pitcher like Scherzer, but there’s also a baseball reason not to make that deal (committing to Scherzer for that long means being tied to his performance for that long, enduring any decline or injury that might happen along the way). Not signing Scherzer doesn’t make the Yankees cheap, nor does the current payroll make the Yankees cheap. What will make the Yankees a championship-caliber team again? Spending money, of course, but spending it wisely. Getting younger, naturally, but only if those young players can actually contribute. The Yankees have to make decisions that make baseball sense, but we can’t be shocked or offended that those decisions must make business sense as well.
Associated Press photos
Pinch hitting: Mitchell Bard • 01.26.15
Up next in our Pinch Hitters series is Mitchell Bard, an assistant professor of journalism at Iona College. He is a life-long Yankee fan who attended his first game at the age of 4 in 1971, and he still remembers it well: “the Yanks lost 1-0 on a ninth-inning, seeing-eye single by Sal Bando past the outstretched glove of Gene Michael,” he wrote, “but at least Bobby Murcer had three hits.” Mitchell has attended hundreds of games since and still has a Friday night Yankees ticket plan.
For his post, though, he wrote about why Yankees fans might not be flocking to the stadium quite so often this season. He calls his post: We had a deal, Hal.
Hal Steinbrenner has to know that the Yankees’ business model of the past 20 or so years has been built on an unstated — but nonetheless understood — contract between the New York Yankees and their fans.
On the one hand, Yankees fans allow the Steinbrenners to monetize every inch of the Yankee world (short of selling naming rights to the stadium) without complaint. We pay higher prices for tickets and concessions at the new Yankee Stadium. We endure a new stadium that has a moat separating the 1 percenters from the masses, while pushing most middle-class Yankees fans into the upper deck. We turn the other way as every available space in Yankee Stadium, including the retro hand-operated scoreboards, is covered with ads. We pretend we don’t hear the PC Richard jingle when a Yankees pitcher strikes out an opponent, or the Modell’s theme song when a Yankees base runner steals a base. We quietly delete the mass of emails we get from the Yankees trying to get us to buy tickets for a lower-tier bowl game, a concert, or a soccer game at Yankee Stadium. And we willfully disassociate what we pay for cable with the enormous rights fees the Yankees collect from YES Network.
In short, we are on board with the Yankees making a fortune.
Why do we do it? Because, in return, the Steinbrenners agreed to keep one promise: They use their fortune to pay for a championship contending team on the field, year after year.
This wasn’t a charitable endeavor for the Steinbrenners. When the Yankees are winning, Yankee Stadium is filled and YES ratings are high. I don’t think the Yankees would be successful getting people to pay more than $40,000 for a season ticket to see a consistently .500 team — just ask the Wilpons about their equally new but underfilled stadium in Queens.
The Yankees didn’t spend on players; they invested in players. Big difference.
But Hal has decided to go back on this two-decade-old bargain. It started two years ago with rumblings that the Yankees would try to get payroll below the $189-million luxury tax threshold before the 2014 season. In fact, Hal said they would have done it if not for the opportunity to sign Tanaka. The pursuit of $189 led to short-term, low-impact contracts like those for Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner before the 2013 season. It meant going into the 2014 season with Kelly Johnson, Yangervis Solarte and Brian Roberts the options to man second and third base. Not surprisingly, the Yankees failed to make the playoffs both seasons, only the second and third time in the last 20 years.
But Hal, we had a deal.
Hal loves to say that the results of the World Series the last few years show that you don’t need a $200+ million payroll to win a championship. That statement, taken on its own, is certainly true. But, in context, it is also disingenuous.
First, Hal cut the Yankees’ payroll at the exact time that teams around the league were spending a lot more due to increased local television revenue and limits in the CBA on investing in international amateur free agents and players in the U.S. amateur draft. Bad timing.
Second, Hal decided to change the Yankees’ spending habits cold turkey, not taking into account that the Yankees’ payroll was laden with bad contracts that were producing little or no value to the club (A-Rod, Teixeira and Sabathia combine for a more than $70 million luxury tax hit for 2015, even as they could end up contributing next to nothing on the field this season).
On Jan. 14, Hal said something that illustrates the problem: “We started out with a payroll that was already high before we did anything. We knew we had a certain amount of dollars to work with, and I think Cash did a great job.”
There are two big problems with Hal’s statement.
First, “high” relative to what? Not relative to what the Yankees earn, and not relative to where the gap between the Yankees and the rest of the league traditionally stood.
As of this writing, Baseball Reference has the Yankee estimated 2015 payroll at $213.9 million. The Dodgers, though, are at $264.6 million, and the Red Sox, who still have money to spend, stand at $181.4 million. The Tigers are spending $170.9 million, the Giants are at $160.5 million (and still could sign Shields), the Angels are at $146.6 million (and still have arbitration eligible players to sign) and Washington was already at $141.8 million before signing Max Scherzer.
No less than 15 non-Yankee teams are spending over $120 million.
So how is Hal keeping up with his end of the bargain? By spending $11 million more than the Red Sox (who, again, may not be done) and $50 million less than the Dodgers?
Second, why did the Yankees only have “a certain number of dollars to work with” this offseason? That figure is not based on keeping the Yankees afloat, but on an arbitrary number of how much Hal wants to make in profit this year. Kiley McDaniel wrote in November that a Yankee source told him the Yankees “could break even financially with a $500 million payroll expenditure (including luxury tax).” We don’t know if that number is precisely correct, but it is quite apparent that the Yankees take in a huge amount of income, and, again, the fans are a big part of that. So why does the budget have to be kept to Hal’s arbitrary number? So he and his partners can make more money?
That’s not the contract, though. To make the crazy money from the fans, the deal is for the Yankees to spend a lot of it on the field.
And are the 2015 Yankees better? If Andrew Miller is better than David Robertson, great. But I really don’t want to hear that they saved $2.5 million a year in making the swap. I don’t go to the games to see Hal earn $2.5 million more.
One last point: This piece is not to say the Yankees should have signed Scherzer or Lester or should necessarily pile more long-term contracts onto the roster. The dynasty teams didn’t just spend, they spent wisely (mostly). But there is a lot of gray area between the absolutes of Scherzer v. Capuano or Cano v. Roberts. Going into the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons, the Yanks could have spent more and spent wisely.
The bottom line is that Hal wants to charge Jean Georges prices but serve TGIF meals. But the basis for the Yankees’ ability to charge so much has been the team’s on-field success. Hal seems to have forgotten that part.
We had a deal, Hal. Live up to your end of it, or Yankee fans may stop living up to ours.
Associated Press photos
Here’s Bob Baum reporting for The Associated Press from the Owners Meetings in Arizona:
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — Major League Baseball owners gathered Wednesday for their annual January meeting in the desert with one big item on the agenda — honoring Bud Selig in his final gathering with them as commissioner.
About 250 people were expected at a dinner in his honor Wednesday night, held in a huge tent set up on the grounds of The Sanctuary resort on the south slopes of Camelback Mountain. A series of speakers were lined up to praise Selig, who at age 80 will end his 22-plus years in charge of the game when he is succeeded by Rob Manfred on Jan. 25.
“He’s been great for our game in growing the game,” said Joe Torre, the longtime player and manager who now works for Selig as executive vice president of baseball operations, “just for his love of the sport and his respect for the sport.”
New York Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said there are three main parts to the legacy of Selig, who will become commissioner emeritus.
“He wasn’t a small-market guy, not a big-market guy,” Steinbrenner said. “He did what he thought was best for baseball. Sometime that went a particular owner’s way, and sometimes it went against a particular owner.”
Steinbrenner mentioned two of Selig’s major accomplishments.
“I think the drug policies have come a long way under him,” Steinbrenner said. “We have one of the best in the business now. And I think another thing you’ve got to look at is, when you run a company that deals with a union and for 20 years you don’t have a work stoppage, that’s a significant accomplishment. And I think that’s going to be a big part of his legacy, the relative labor peace that we’ve had.”
Selig walked through the resort from a meeting room on Tuesday but did not stop to talk to reporters.
Torre said he was 16 years old when he first met Selig, who owned a car dealership and had provided a car for Torre’s older brother Frank, who played at the time for the Milwaukee Braves. Joe Torre said he bought his first car from Selig’s company in 1960.
Selig became a part owner of the Braves but sold his interest when the team moved to Atlanta.
“Probably the toughest time in our relationship was me as a young kid, at 24 and 25,” Torre said, “when we were moving to Atlanta and had to stay (in Milwaukee) for the ’65 season.”
Selig, Torrre said, ‘was bitter and unhappy” but through the years maintained a relationship with stars of that team.
“Then it was no surprise when the (Seattle) Pilots relocated there, because he was determined to do that.”
The Pilots were awarded to Selig and his investors in bankruptcy court just before the 1970 season and the team was renamed the Brewers.
Selig was still the Brewers’ principal owner when he helped lead the group that forced Commissioner Fay Vincent’s resignation in 1992. Selig was voted chairman of the executive council, becoming baseball’s top official, and repeatedly said he wouldn’t become commissioner. When he was elected commissioner in 1998, he transferred control of the team to daughter Wendy Selig-Prieb. Selig’s family sold the Brewers to Mark Attanasio in 2005.
When Selig first took over MLB, Torre thought he’d have an inside track with the boss.
“My first World Series in ’96 we got rained out the first game, so it eliminated the day off,” Torre said, recalling when he managed the Yankees against Atlanta. “I remember we started on a Sunday and a Monday and then I called him. I said ‘It’s not fair we don’t get a day off. … He told me ‘sorry.’”
Associated Press photo
Speaking to a small group of reporters at today’s Owners Meetings, Hal Steinbrenner seems to have said most of the things you’d expect him to say: He likes Brian Cashman’s offseason moves, fully expects Alex Rodriguez to show up in shape for spring training, and creates a sense of doubt that the Yankees will sign Max Scherzer.
“We had numerous goals,” Steinbrenner told reporters including the Post’s Ken Davidoff. “Two of the goals were to get younger and get better defensively. I think we’ve done that. I think our bullpen’s better. I think it’s one of the best in baseball, quite frankly. My opinion.
“So there have been some improvements. We started out with a payroll that was already high before we did anything. We knew we had a certain amount of dollars to work with, and I think Cash did a great job.”
Steinbrenner didn’t go into detail about specific free agents still on the market, but he cited his own previous statements about wanting to cut payroll and believing a team should be able to win without spending an overwhelming amount of money.
Little surprise that Steinbrenner said he considers rotation health to be the Yankees most significant lingering concern — “It’s just a question of not having what we had last year, which is not having four guys out by the All-Star break,” he said — but it’s kind of interesting that he declared the bullpen to be an overwhelming strength. I think most agree that the bullpen is a strength, but Steinbrenner’s words suggested the Yankees are not at all interested in acquiring a veteran closer to fill the ninth inning.
“Getting (Andrew) Miller, getting (David) Carpenter, getting (Justin) Wilson, having (Dellin) Betances, I think the seventh, eighth and ninth inning, we’re looking pretty good,” Steinbrenner said. “So it does shorten the game somewhat for these guys, take a little bit of pressure off of them. But we’ll see. You can’t predict injuries. We know that.”
Associated Press photo
This was the first week of the offseason, and it was full of stuff pretty typical of the first week of the offseason. Most notably, both Hal Steinbrenner and Joe Girardi spoke publicly about their disappointment.
“I apologize,” Steinbrenner said. “We did not do the job this year. We know what you expect of us, and we expect the same thing of ourselves, and we certainly did what we thought we could do in the offseason to field a pretty good team come April 1, but it didn’t work out for reasons we’ve just discussed. And we’re going to get right back to work.”
Getting back to work begins with hiring a general manager. Brian Cashman’s contract expires at the end of this month, but all parties involved seem to expect a new deal to be worked out. Steinbrenner acknowledged that he and Cashman have already discussed a new deal.
“Overall, everything Cashman does — dealing with you guys (in the media), dealing with the coaches and the manager — he is a good GM,” Steinbrenner said. “So, yes, we have been talking about that, but there is no deal done.”
Steinbrenner was less supportive of the Yankees coaching staff, indicating it’s possible we’ll see some coaching changes this winter.
“If I do deem that somebody is liable,” Steinbrenner said. “Or if I do deem that somebody is responsible, that things could have been better, I will act.”
• Both Girardi and Steinbrenner indicated — just as Brian Cashman did last week — that the Yankees plan to bring Alex Rodriguez back next season, and they’re hoping to have him play a lot of third base. Rodriguez is working out in California, but he’s missed all of one year and most of another. Hard to have any idea what to expect.
• As expected, Carlos Beltran underwent surgery to have his bone spur removed. Dr. Chris Ahmad also removed loose pieces from the elbow.
• Derek Jeter wrapped up his Farewell Tour — he might not like the name, but that’s clearly what it was at the end — but doing a pair of television interviews, first with a morning appearance on Today and then with an evening appearance on The Tonight Show. Nothing new revealed, just Jeter being a retired celebrity. He’s honestly pretty good in those situations.
• Bigger news from Jeter came in his announcement that he has started an online media platform called The Players’ Tribune, which is designed to give athletes a chance to present their thoughts without the filter of typical media. Interesting idea. We’ll see how it plays out.
• Eric Jagielo will have to skip the Arizona Fall League after being hit by a pitch to the face during instructs. He’s been replaced by Dante Bichette Jr.
• Speaking of the Fall League, baseball is going to try some new pace-of-game initiatives out there. I like the idea. Shaving game times by just 15 minutes or so would be a positive thing for the league.
• Brett Gardner was announced as the Yankees nominee for the Hank Aaron Award, which goes to the top offensive player in each league. Says a lot about the kind of season Gardner had, but also about the kind of season the rest of the Yankees hitters had.
• A possible offseason target, Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, became an eligible free agent. Would be an chance to add power potential for right field. Obvious risk, though.
• The playoffs got started. Some awesome nights for the Kansas City Royals. Not such good nights for Joba Chamberlain.
Associated Press photos
Steinbrenner: “They’ve got to step it up” • 08.14.14
Baseball’s owners are in Baltimore this week to vote on the next commissioner, which means Hal Steinbrenner was in a convenient spot for reporters to ask about the state of the Yankees. As you can imagine, the Yankees owner isn’t exactly pleased with the performance of his offense. He’s not quite his father when it comes to public statements, but Steinbrenner did call on his big-money hitters to start coming through. Here’s Ron Blum:
BALTIMORE (AP) — Sounding much like his late father, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said his team’s offense has to snap out of its funk and he’s optimistic New York will return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
Steinbrenner spoke at Major League Baseball’s owners meetings before the Yankees played the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, a few blocks away. New York began the night third in the AL East, seven games back of the first-place Orioles, and 2½ games behind in the race for the American League’s second wild card.
He was especially disappointed with New York’s batters.
“They’ve got to step it up and they know it,” Steinbrenner said.
New York began the night tied for 19th with 471 runs, a disappointment given the offseason additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. Steinbrenner said the inconsistency “needs to change.”
The Yankees’ starting rotation has been decimated by injuries to Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, who returned Wednesday to make his first big league appearance since April 23. Pineda was suspended for 10 games for using a foreign substance, then injured a right shoulder muscle.
“The injuries have been as frustrating as they were last year,” Steinbrenner said. “‘When you lose four of your starting pitchers by the All-Star game … it’s going to have an impact.”
New York entered the day 61-57, the same record it had after 118 games last season. The Yankees finished fourth last year at 85-77, their poorest record since 1992.
Steinbrenner said there remains time for a late-season spurt.
“I am confident,” he said.
Steinbrenner said he will wait until after the season to turn his attention to a new deal for Brian Cashman, whose contract is expiring. Cashman has been the Yankees’ general manager since 1998.
Steinbrenner expects Alex Rodriguez will return to the Yankees next season after serving his one-year suspension for using banned performance-enhancing drugs.
“That’s what he’s planning for. That’s what we’re planning for,” Steinbrenner said. “Alex will be ready.”
Rodriguez, who turns 40 next July, is owed $61 million over the next three seasons.
Associated Press photo
Hal speaks on Yankees issues • 06.04.13
Hal Steinbrenner was grilled on a variety of subjects before last night’s 7-4 win over the Indians. Here are some more highlights besides expressing the Yankees’ disappointment in Alex Rodriguez’s past escapades and his praise regarding how the team has done despite their injury adversity:
On Robinson Cano and his expiring contract: “There’s nothing new to report. If something significant (happens), believe me you guys will be the first to know.”
On whether Cano changing agents from Scott Boras to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports is a positive thing: “We’ve had a good relationship with Scott, so we’ll see. … There’s been a lot of years and my dad certainly had his dealings with him and Scott’s been around a long time, so it is what it is. Whoever the agent is, that’s who we’ll be dealing with.”
On the challenges of meeting the sub-$189 million payroll goal for next season: “Again, tell me how the young players are going to continue to develop. Tell me how Pineda is going to do. It’s too early to speculate.”
On how George Steinbrenner would cope with losing to the Mets last week: “He went through a few, so I mean sometimes he handled it better than others, right? … Maybe he would have been fine. Maybe he would have surprised everybody. Maybe not. But it’s a long season. It’s a marathon and we’re right in the middle of it. We’re right in the middle of it.”
More on getting swept by the Mets: “Look, they are the crosstown rivals. There’s no doubt about that. But I concern myself maybe a little bit more with the teams in our division. You have to. But does it feel good? No. Does it sting? Yes, absolutely.”
On Brian Cashman’s comments to ESPN about Alex Rodriguez not being about to live up to his contract: “It’s big contract to live up to. I didn’t see Brian’s comments to be honest with you. Look, we just hope he comes back healthy as he did in ’09 after the surgery and we hope he contributes in a big way. I mean, he’s a heck of an athlete, and if the surgery has fixed the problem, you may see good things out of him. We hope so.”
On Cashman saying that nobody can live up to the contract: “Well, that may be true. That’s a philosophical argument there, I guess. It’s a big contract. But we all hope he’s going to act like a Yankee and do the best he can to live up to it.’’
On how the investigation into Biogenesis has complicated the relationship between the team and A-Rod: “We haven’t been told anything, so it hasn’t complicated it at all. He’s been in Tampa. He’s been rehabbing and we hope he comes back strong. But there’s innocent until proven guilty, right? We haven’t heard a thing.”
On the decline in attendance: “As I said a couple of weeks ago, I think there’s a lot of factors. We’re not the only major-league team by a long shot that’s down and I still think the economy’s not great and there’s other things going on, too. The weather was horrible in April as you know, but we’re starting to see better crowds now and that’s going to continue with summer coming, and I just urge people to come out and support this team. Number one, they need it right now. They’re in the fight of their lives. And number two, they’ve earned it.”
Also, here’s a link to my story today on the Yankees finally finding some offense last night, plus my feature story on Nick Swisher and his return and Lyle Overbay stepping into right field for the first time in a regular-season game since 1999 in rookie ball.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees deny team to be sold • 05.24.12
It didn’t take long for the Yankees to try to shoot down today’s Daily News story that the Steinbrenners are thinking about selling the team.
Here’s the statement from Hal Steinbrenner:
“I just learned of the Daily News story. It is pure fiction. The Yankees are not for sale. I expect that the Yankees will be in my family for many years to come.”
And here’s a statement from MLB:
“Major League Baseball has received no indications from any representatives of the New York Yankees or anyone else that the Club is for sale.”
On behalf of the Steinbrenner family, Hal Steinbrenner this afternoon released an official statement mourning the death of Christina Taylor Green.
“The Steinbrenner family and the New York Yankees organization join the entire nation in mourning Christina and send our deepest condolences to Dallas Green and his family as they deal with this tremendous loss. This is a tragedy that is beyond words and our thoughts and prayers are with the Green family, as well as all of the affected families.”
Dallas Green was a manager of the New York Yankees in 1989 and his son John, Christina’s father, pitched in the New York Yankees organization in 1989 and ’90.
• Mike Lupica did a terrific job of capturing Dallas Green’s emotion in the wake of tragedy.
• Wally Matthews talked to a baseball executive who said the Yankees, ” would be crazy not to at least consider (Andruw Jones).”
• One of those risk-reward pitchers on the free agent market, Brad Penny, seems to be close to choosing a team.
• Interesting work by Doug Gray combining some research to come up with a value-based ranking of each minor league system. The Yankees landed in sixth place (tip of the hat to the guys at River Ave. Blues).
On his way out of the Orlando’s Waldorf Astoria this morning, Hal Steinbrenner shed no new light on the Yankees ongoing talks with Derek Jeter or any other free agent.
“I would like be relaxing Christmas Eve,” he said. “But it will take as long as it takes. The important thing is we don’t make it personal because we have a lot of respect for one another, and we keep talking. That’s the deal. We have to keep talking. And we will.”
In the past 24 to 48 hours, a handful of reports have surfaced that suggest the Yankees are very close to making their initial offer to Jeter’s camp, and that the thing most dividing the two sides might be years, not money.
Steinbrenner refused to comment beyond saying he’s happy with the “tenor” of these negotiations.
“This is a business negotiation,” he said. “None of us want to make it personal, because it’s not personal. Both sides have a lot of respect for one another. My family has a lot of respect for Derek, and I believe it’s a mutual thing. It’s been a good history. We’re going to do our best to keep it by the book.”
There is nothing new to report, Steinbrenner said, on Mariano Rivera, who has certainly taken a back seat to Jeter in terms of public curiosity.
“These are two great Yankees,” Steinbrenner said. “We realize that. It makes it a bit different, but as I said two days ago, the process is still the same.”