Perspectives: Say What?
by Paul Semendinger
October 13, 2023
It seems as though the Yankees' organizational meetings are over. Here is some feedback on the meetings via ESPN:
Hal Steinbrenner said:
"We're going to be making some changes. Some may be more subtle than others, but I think we've uncovered certainly things we can do better,"
When asked about the changes, Steinbrenner said:
"Possibly personnel, but not necessarily personnel."
In other words, Mr. Steinbrenner said a whole lot of nothing. "We might change some things, but the changes might be small. We might change some people, but maybe not."
As a fan, this talk does not inspire me. After hearing Mr. Steinbrenner's words, I'm not saying, "The Yankees have figured it out." No, not at all. Instead, I am saying that the Yankees seem as clueless as ever. What these comments mean to me is that the Yankees are stumbling in the dark. They don't seem to know which direction to go. Steinbrenner seems like a person who says after each person speaks in a meeting, "You know what, he's right!" even when the points contradict one another. If every person is right, then no one is, and nothing well get done to move the team in a positive direction. Let's remember, the problems the Yankees have been facing were building for years and the team is in a pretty bad spot right now.
The Yankees might be serious about getting better, but the comments from the owner do not give that impression at all. Each time I hear the Yankees' leaders talk, I feel as though they are losing touch with so much. What they don't seem to grasp is that the fans, more than any time in my life, are angry, frustrated, and fed up with so much. I feel that the Yankees spokespeople say words just to say them, but that they don't believe what they're saying. I think they also believe that statements like these will placate the fans. They won't.
What will make the fans happy will be seeing a quality team put on the field. The fans want to see winning. Unfortunately, I don't see 2024 being the year the Yankees start winning again.
Many fans have called for Hal Steinbrenner to sell the team. Don't count on that happening. In that same article, Mr. Steinbrenner noted:
"I've got a niece that helps my sister run the foundation. I've got three nephews that are involved, including Stephen, my oldest, who's a big part of a lot of decisions we make," he said. "So this truly is a family business. We have four or five of the grandchildren in it. So that is clearly the intent. I will not be doing this forever."
Hal Steinbrenner won't be doing this forever, but it seems his extended family has plans to.
Of note, we have heard from the Yankees, specifically Mr. Steinbrenner, a lot, over the last decade or so about the luxury taxes and the need for spending limits and the like, but, if the Yankees were struggling financially, do you really think the extended family would be rushing to get involved with a struggling or failing business or a business that wasn't making tons of money?
No, it's just the opposite. The Yankees are making tons of money. Tons and tons. They print money. They can afford any player they want. More, they can afford any players they want.
This idea that the Yankees, worth billions and billions of dollars need to contain costs is a ridiculous talking point. It's one the Yankees have used, though, to avoid putting the best possible team on the field year-after-year.
I wonder if that's a not-so-subtle change the Yankees will make for 2024. Is it possible that the Yankees will put a well-balanced team on the field?
Somehow, I doubt it.
I have heard from so many people, many on this site, who claim that the reason the Yankees haven't been able to reach a World Series is because baseball doesn't allow success over a long time. We're told that there are no dynasties, and that the playoffs are a crap shoot.
If all of that is true, how does any of it explain the Astros? Here's the Astros the last seven years:
2017 - World Series Champs
2018 - Reached Championship Series
2019 - Reached World Series
2020 - Reached Championship Series
2021 - Reached World Series
2022 - World Series Champs
2023 - Reached Championship Series (so far)
To me that looks like a dynasty of sorts. Seven consecutive years reaching the Championship Series. Four World Series appearances. Two World Championships.
In six of the last seven years, the Astros have finished in first place in their division.
If the Astros can do this, why can't the Yankees?
The great book leadership book Good to Great makes the point that good is the enemy of great. You can't have a great organization if you're content having a good one.
The Yankees of today celebrate the fact that they're always over .500. That's good. It's nice. It's not great. This is goodness being the enemy of great.
If the Yankees celebrate being slightly better than average, don't expect meaningful changes that will move this ballclub in the right direction.
The Yankees seem to feel that good enough is
It's not. At all.
I went over this a few days ago on the "Dr. Sem Yankees Show," but if you were to look at the Yankees as they stand right now, they have questions, big questions, at the following positions:
The Starting Rotation
Right now, this is a shell of a team. There are a ton of holes to fill. A ton. Will the catchers hit? Is Rizzo healthy? Is Volpe a big league hitter? Who will play third base, or left field, or center field? Will Jasson Dominguez even play in 2024? Which pitchers are healthy?
For an owner and leadership team that can't even decide if there will be big changes or little changes, this seems like a task well beyond their abilities to solve.
I hope I'm wrong.
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