CHICAGO — Plenty has happened to the Yankees in the five months since Hal Steinbrenner last spoke publicly about the state of his franchise, a frustrating stretch that once again left the team well short of a World Series for the 12th consecutive season.
And to date, not much has changed, aside from a reshuffling of the coaching staff. Aaron Boone received a three-year extension to continue as manager, and general manager Brian Cashman will remain in his position heading into the final year of his contract.
Beyond that, however, the managing general partner made no promises Wednesday when asked about Cashman’s future, other than offering his usual strong endorsement. Any contract discussions evidently can wait until after the 2022 season.
"I’m not even thinking about that," Steinbrenner said during a break at the MLB owners meetings at the Four Seasons. "And that’s an honest answer, because you should know me well enough to know that’s just not the way we operate. When a contract’s up, a contract’s up.
"If I made a decision now, I’d have less information, less data. One less year of performance to analyze when I’m trying to make a decision. It’s just illogical to me. But that’s the way I am. Doesn’t mean I’m right."
Speaking of analytics, Steinbrenner also pushed back on the perception that the Yankees have been too reliant on the numbers lately under Cashman’s leadership, to their detriment.
"Despite certain narratives, we very much value pro scouting," Steinbrenner said. "This isn’t 100% [analytics]. There are major league clubs that are more analytical than us. He understands it’s very important to me to be well-balanced between pro scouting and analytics.
"He gets a bad rap for being too analytical. It’s just not the case. Some teams are more. Analytics is information. It’s almost like a bad word sometimes ... but the more information you can get, the better positioned you are to make a decision."
Steinbrenner also bristled at the accusation that bringing back Cashman and Boone was destined for more of the same failed philosophy.
"I totally understand that," Steinbrenner said. "But I am involved intimately on a daily basis. And if there was a situation where we’re just stagnant in our thinking and stagnant in the way we approach problems and solutions and make decisions, then that would be a great concern to me.
"But the reality is Brian has been great going with the flow of what’s been going on in the industry, what other teams are doing and what different things we’re doing internally. It’s stagnation that would bother me. Not so much that somebody’s been here 20-plus years."
Steinbrenner also touched on a number of topics during his 20-minute interview, from Boone staying to Carlos Correa’s sign-stealing stigma to the future of Aaron Judge.
On keeping Boone as manager:
"Why did I rehire Aaron? He’s extremely intelligent. He’s able to assimilate the tremendous amount of information we get him — both analytical and pro scouting. He’s very well-balanced personality-wise, which is perfect for this place. And one of the main reasons is the players want to play for him. They respect him and want to win for him. It really wasn’t a tough decision for me."
On signing Judge to a long-term extension:
"I haven’t talked specifically to Cash about that. But I don’t think I’ve done an extension in my 12-year career [other than some smaller deals]. So I don’t know. Look, he’s a great Yankee. He’s one of the faces of the franchise and he’s a great leader. Great in the clubhouse. So it’s definitely something I’m willing to talk to Cash about, but nothing formal has happened yet."
On Correa’s cheating past not being a problem for Yankees:
"I think, hopefully, most people have moved on from that. I think it’s only healthy to move on from that instead of stewing on it year after year. But in general, we are going to look at every single option. So if Cash brings something to me, I’m going to seriously consider it."
On Joey Gallo’s struggles in New York:
"We got him because I love the lefthanded bat. I love the personality. He’s a great talent. And he walks a lot, too. Do I wish he had performed a bit better? Yes, of course. But I’m not worried."
On labor strife possibly holding up Yankees’ upgrades:
"We’re doing everything we always do. Cash has been talking internally about potential trades. It is business as usual. If the process speeds up for some reason, faster than in a normal year, we’ll try to keep up. But it’s not going to make me make any rash decisions."
On Cashman saying he has "some latitude" for 2022 spending:
"I’m not going to give you a number what our payroll’s going to be. But everything Cash said is accurate. Let’s leave it at that."
On concern over Gerrit Cole’s poor second half:
"I think the [hamstring] injury certainly had something to do with it. I don’t know if there was fatigue involved as well. You know he had that bout with COVID too. Am I concerned? No. He’s too good of an athlete with too-good tools."
Steinbrenner paid $324 million for Cole two winters ago, and with the Yankees wading into free agency again, it's a reminder of the risks involved. When it was brought up that the team's investment in Cole was massive, he replied, "That I will agree with, yes. And plural world championships has not happened yet."