Hal Steinbrenner likes what he has seen from the Yankees over the past month, even if the team continues to do a frustrating dance with the .500 mark.
“The last month has been promising, yes,” the Yankees’ managing general partner said Monday before a fundraiser for Harlem RBI in Manhattan at which baseball commissioner Rob Manfred was honored.
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“Look, I think the offense up and down the lineup is starting to produce. (Chase) Headley certainly had a rough start. He’s hitting now, and you’re starting to see other guys contribute, too.
“So I like what I’ve seen the last month. We just have to stay healthy.”
That is a much more cheerful take than the one Steinbrenner offered on May 18, when he expressed frustration with the team’s slow start and was bluntly critical of some players. The Yankees were 16-22 at that point. Now they are 34-35.
Does Steinbrenner believe the Yankees have what they need on the roster, or will they have to add more pieces before the trade deadline to compete?
“We’ll have to see at the end of July, the way we always do,” he said. “At the end of July we’ll take a look at everything. We’ll see what injuries, if any, we’ve had from here to then and where the deficiencies are and we’ll go from there. But if we stay healthy, I‘ve always believed we have a shot.”
Conversely, if the Yankees fall out of realistic contention, might Steinbrenner be open to an un-Yankees like move in which the team becomes a trade deadline seller rather than a buyer?
“I’d have to be there to answer that,” he said. “You know me, I’m not big on hypotheticals. Let’s just see. I believe we’re going to be right smack in the middle of it come the end of July.”
The Yankees’ paid attendance is down about 2,000 per game compared to this point last year. Does Steinbrenner believe fans will respond if the team continues its recent uptick in play?
“You have to give them a product to watch,” he said. “I think the last two homestands have been good. We’ve seen some good play, some good defense and decent pitching. We’ll go from there, but we’ve got to give them a product to watch. I understand that.”