Though describing himself as "angry," "mad" and "frustrated" about the Yankees' brutally inconsistent start to a season that began with the highest of expectations, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner made clear Thursday he will not be channeling his famous father anytime soon.
At least not in-season.
Translation: Fans expecting, or hoping for, some kind of heads-will-roll pressure put forth publicly by the owner on general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone will be left waiting.
"Absolutely," Steinbrenner said, via Zoom Thursday morning, of his confidence in Boone, who is in his fourth and final season under contract. "Look, everybody on the coaching staff has dealt with these players in the past, we've had some great offenses, and some great teams. Nobody's working harder than the coaches. And the most important thing to me, always any given year, is that the players respect the coaches, believe in the coaches. And that's absolutely the case here."
The results, as no one in the fan base needs reminding, have not been there, which Steinbrenner is not oblivious about.
"The offense," Steinbrenner said of what has frustrated him most about the 41-39 start (the Yankees were rained out of their game against the Angels Thursday afternoon). "It's perplexing. It really is."
But Steinbrenner isn’t pinning that on Boone or, for that matter, Cashman, the club’s general manager since 1998.
"Brian and I have been doing this a lot of years together," Steinbrenner said. "He's extremely intelligent. He understands the deal when it comes to relying on pro scouting, relying on analytics, but also building areas that all teams are building, like analytics, like performance science. We communicate very well. There's not much that happens without him running it by me first. He knows that's the way I want it. I think he's done a good job."
It goes without saying, George Steinbrenner, who passed away July 13, 2010, likely would have made the kinds of wholesale changes — maybe twice over — that many fans are clamoring for Hal to make if the Boss was overseeing this current underperforming operation.
Steinbrenner understands the comparisons and questions when it comes to his father, and even embraces them.
"It’s a very justified question to ever ask and to always ask, because he was one of the greatest at what he did," Steinbrenner said. "There's no doubt I'm a little less spur of the moment than he was in a lot of ways. But all I can assure everybody is I do my best. And it's a legitimate question to always ask, it never bothers me, I love the man. He was the greatest and it's just understandable."
And as Steinbrenner correctly pointed out, history doesn’t always accurately portray those often circus-like times when his father changed managers, general managers and other team staff like socks.
"He certainly did that a lot," Steinbrenner said. "I think what people forget is it oftentimes didn't help, didn't work. And oftentimes, quite frankly, he was criticized for it. I'm just a believer in seeing an entire body of work from an employee . . . at the end of the year, I'm going to look at their performance, and I'm going to make a decision whether to continue with that person or not continue with that person, regardless of whether or not they're under contract. But doing it [as a] knee-jerk reaction to appease this person or that person in the middle of the year when I really don't think there's a problem, that's certainly something I'm not going to do."
What is Steinbrenner prepared to do?
In saying that ultimately blame for the subpar season to this point is on "the players," Steinbrenner, whose team currently has a payroll of roughly $207 million, said he is not against surpassing the $210 million luxury tax threshold.
"If I feel we're not good enough, we need another piece to be the championship-caliber team that we want to be and expect to be," Steinbrenner said, "then I'm going to seriously consider doing whatever I need to do."