TAMPA, Fla. - Yammerin' Hank is at it again.
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He might have topped himself Monday.
In questioning the hunger of last year's 95-win team, which came within two victories of a return trip to the World Series, Steinbrenner seemed to indict his captain.
"I think, maybe, they celebrated too much last year," he told a handful of reporters Monday after Alex Rodriguez held his first news conference of spring training. "Some of the players [were] too busy building mansions and doing other things and not concentrating on winning. I have no problem saying that."
The "mansion" Steinbrenner apparently was referring to is Jeter's 30,875-square foot, seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom, English Manor style waterfront home on nearby Davis Islands. Jeter, of course, has completed construction on the rather large home. When reminded of that, however, Steinbrenner said his comment wasn't meant for anyone in particular.
"I was just saying, maybe they were riding the wave of '09 a little too much, and it happens sometimes," he said. "This year in spring so far, from what I've seen and what I've been told, they've come in with a real, new drive and determination - the kind they had in '09."
Though Hank Steinbrenner is largely irrelevant in the sphere of organizational decision-making, he does count as another member of the front office taking a swipe at Jeter. In December, after signing a three-year contract with a player option for a fourth season, the shortstop admitted to being "angry" at how the negotiations played out. Jeter was especially incensed at comments made Nov. 23 by general manager Brian Cashman, who suggested that if Jeter didn't like the Yankees' original offer, he could look elsewhere.
Jeter's agent, Casey Close, had used the word "baffling" to describe the Yankees' negotiating strategy. Cashman responded by saying, "We're trying to get him to sign. But at the same time, he's a free agent. If he doesn't like what we're offering him, if he can find a better opportunity with more money, that's fine. Whatever's important to him."
Jeter has since said that is all in the past and that he no longer is upset. "It's done with," he said Sunday.
Steinbrenner, however, wasn't done. He targeted baseball's revenue-sharing and luxury-tax programs, which he said will cost the Yankees about $130 million.
"We've got to do a little something about that, and I know Bud [Selig] wants to correct it in some way," Steinbrenner said. "Obviously, we're very much allies with the Red Sox and the Mets, the Dodgers, the Cubs, whoever in that area.
"At some point, if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets, or don't leave teams in minor markets if they're truly minor. Socialism, communism, whatever you want to call it, is never the answer."