ORLANDO – If he lacked the passion and profanity of his longtime ace CC Sabathia and tried to move forward, Hal Steinbrenner made his point clear on Wednesday: he disagrees with what the Astros did to its Yankees three years ago.
"When the report from (Rob Manfred) was published, I was (like) everyone else annoyed," said Steinbrenner, general partner of the Yankees, at the meetings of Major League Baseball owners in his first public comments since the Astros announcement. News. “There was clearly a direct impact on my organization, our team, our team from 2017.
“But at some point I think we all have to keep going for the good of the game and the good of the game. Everyone has to make this decision themselves if that is the point. I who stand here on February 5, move forward and look forward to the hill where the 2020 season begins. That is currently my focus. "
Manfred, of course, published a report on January 13, stating that the Astros in Minute Maid Park was found guilty of illegal electronic theft of signs during the post-season 2017. In this playoff run, seven games of the American League Championship Series were played over the Yankees, in which the home team played won every competition. Manfred suspended Astros president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Every year for one year, and Houston owner Jim Crane fired both men on the same day.
When asked if he was thinking about "what if?" – whether his Yankees would have insulted the Astros in 17 if Houston hadn't cheated – Steinbrenner said, "I think enough people have made me aware of this, and i am a reasonably smart guy. I sure thought so, yes. "
Interestingly, Crane did not attend these meetings, which may be a good thing considering how much hostility other clubs continue to have against the Astros.
The scandal is beneficial for the current Yankees. The Astros have been rocked like no other sports team and have lost picks in addition to their best baseball player and respected skipper Hinch Draft. They also lost co-ass Gerrit Cole to the Yankees' $ 324 million contract. In addition, the Red Sox fired their manager Alex Cora after Manfred revealed him as a mastermind in the "17 Astros" program when Cora worked as Hinch's bank coach, and exchanged their best player Mookie Betts for the Dodgers.
Add that up and the American League is more profitable than ever for the Yankees, who haven't qualified for a World Series since winning in 2009.
"I think we have a very, very good group of young players, and that will continue to be the case in the next two or three years," said Steinbrenner. "We'll see what happens when one of these guys hits the freelance agency. But we've had a good, solid base here for a good three years, I think.
"It will always be a difficult division. Tampa will always be tough. Boston, they will be back. If they are not here this year, they will be back. But Tampa will certainly be heavy this year."
This three-year period covers the period before outfielder Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez can reach the free agency. When asked if he could sign such young players for overtime to keep them free, as the Yankees did for Aaron Hicks and Luis Severino last spring, Steinbrenner said the next year would be an easier one would than now.
"We obviously made a few additions last year," said Steinbrenner. "I think it is important to show our other players and fans what we believe in. And we believe, especially the children who go through our system or who we get when we are young, whether we draw them or through ours Go through the system by keeping them and wanting them to be in pinstripes for a very long time, so we did what we did a year ago.
"There's only so much we can do in a given year. You can do the math. I'll have some payroll flexibility next year. We'll see where we end up and what we're doing to recruit people or existing players to expand. "
Starting players James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka, center-back DJ LeMahieu and full-back Brett Gardner can act as freelance agents after the 2020 season. Since the Yankees' payroll is likely to exceed the highest luxury tax threshold of $ 248 million, Steinbrenner currently has little financial motivation to detain one of his players.
According to Cole, the Yankees' key newcomers may be the people who hired them to massively reorganize their medical and conditioning protocol, a necessity after injuries shook the club in 2019.
"We brought some people on board who will really change the entire culture in this clubhouse, from the weight room, exercise room, physiotherapy, mental health and performance science," said Steinbrenner. “I think all of the changes we made will allow us to be a much healthier and stronger team. That is my hope and my belief. "
It is certainly a problem to have so many right-handed people and so few left-handed people in our daily line-up, said Steinbrenner, and was curious to see how third base resolves. Miguel Andujar hoped to be able to return and challenge Gio Urshela at the top corner. But, as he noted, the Yankees' many right bats hit right-handers pretty well, and the situation on the third base looks more like luxury. Steinbrenner sounds pretty stress free compared to his enemies.
“I think we had a championship team last year and last year. I think we absolutely did that, ”he said. "We are doing even better this year."