About the Off-Season: They Said What?
by Tim Kabel
November 16, 2023
Last week, Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman rousted themselves from their hibernation to address the media. Hal appeared via a zoom call while Cashman had a full-fledged public temper tantrum at the General Managers' meetings. His tirade was laced with profanity and what could best be described as barely controlled anger. Both men admitted that 2023 was a disaster for the New York Yankees. However, they did not accept any responsibility, assess any blame, or even articulate a precise plan as to how they would improve things in 2024.
They did promise big changes and said that there would be better results. Cashman indicated that he wanted to acquire two left-handed hitting outfielders. Hal stated that the Yankees would begin working on bunting throughout the entire system. Other than that, there wasn't any substantive discussion regarding a realistic plan for improving this team.
Just when you thought you had seen everything, here they go again. Those two were back in the news this week. Many of us hoped Hal would bring Brian up short regarding his comments and inappropriate language last week. After all, he is the general manager of the New York Yankees. Should he really be swearing and making angry statements to members of the media as if he were some inebriated fan on the Number Four train? Is that the look the team wants? Well, apparently it is.
This week, Hal issued the following statement, "While I don't condone the cussing, I do like the passion There are too many false narratives out there about our organization, being pushed by uninformed and uninvolved people. It is, needless to say, frustrating." that's a reprimand the Hal Steinbrenner way. When you address the inappropriate language in passing, you are in fact giving it a free pass. Hal has joined the pantheon of sons who just don't quite live up to their father. He is the Alan Hale, Jr, Frank Sinatra Jr, and Ron Reagan of Major League Baseball. If you ever wondered what would have happened if Fredo had taken charge of the Corleone family instead of Michael, look no further than the Yankees.
Another one of Cashman's ridiculous statements came to light this week. Apparently, the heat in Scottsdale, Arizona last week must have gotten to him. Because he said the following about Giancarlo Stanton. "We can talk about it and we are talking about Stanton trying to limit the time he's down but I'm not going to tell you he's going to play every game next year, because he's not. He's going to wind up getting hurt again more likely than not because it seems to be part of his game." He later called Stanton injury phone.
Let's take a look at that statement. Is it true? Yes, it is accurate. Stanton does miss a lot of time. Because he has so many muscles, he must feel obliged to pull one every now and then. However, for the general manager of the team to matter-of-factly say so about Stanton, who is on their contract through the 2027 season, was not a very prudent move. He may well have alienated Stanton. And if Cashman was seriously considering trying to trade him, he just adversely affected his ability to do so. He is essentially telling other teams, "I have a player for you, but he's injured most of the time and can't play." Now, that is what we call salesmanship.
Back to the notion of alienating Stanton, I'm not sure if Cashman statements did that but, they definitely upset his agent, Joel Wolfe, who issued the following statement: "I think it's a good reminder for all free agents considering signing in New York both foreign and domestic that to play for that team, you've got to be made of Teflon, both mentally and physically, because you can never let your guard down. even in the off-season."
If you think it's bad to offend one of your players, a player you need to either bounce back and have a productive year or two or at least get to the point where you can trade him to some other team, it actually gets worse.
It has been well documented that one of the Yankees' primary targets this off-season is Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the star pitcher from Japan, who is 25 years old, and most likely will be the most sought-after starting pitcher in free agency. Well guess what? His agent is Joel Wolfe. Yes, the same Joel Wolfe who said that players need to be made of Teflon to play for the Yankees. So, not only did Cashman alienate Stanton's agent and possibly Stanton himself, he also potentially poisoned the waters as far as signing Yamamoto. Yamamoto will presumably get a lot of offers this winter. He will have options. If his agent, who is guiding him through this process has a negative opinion of Cashman and the Yankees, then the likelihood of Yamamoto wearing pinstripes next year is not very great.
It's a pretty simple concept, really. If your spouse is not a very good cook but you wish to remain married, there are a few things you can do. You can do the cooking yourself. You can hire someone else to do it. You can dine out. You can encourage your spouse to improve his or her cooking by buying cookbooks or videos. The last option is to accept the situation for what it is and keep your mouth shut, unless you're eating. You would think that Cashman would have a lot more common sense than this, especially considering he has been on the job for 25 years. Perhaps he was trying to aggravate Stanton so much that he will wave his no-trade clause in his contract. However, considering that Wolfe is Yamamoto's agent, that would have been too risky a maneuver.
Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner have accepted no responsibility or blame for the 2023 season and the overall decline of the Yankees. Yet, they promise that 2024 will be a better year. It's hard to see how that could be possible if they continually shoot themselves in the foot. To borrow a line from the reboot of Frasier, which I will address to Cashman and Hal, "You are your own saboteurs."