Tuesday, December 21, 2010
This ain't Hal's father's Yankees
By Andrew Marchand ESPNNewYork.com
Before the Derek Jeter saga unfolded, an agent told ESPNNewYork.com that we would learn a lot about how Hal Steinbrenner's Yankees will be run, about how Hal will be different from his old man.
The typically shy Hal immediately went to the airwaves to say that the Jeter negotiations could become "messy" -- which was just like King George -- but his reason was very un-Boss-like.
Hal Steinbrenner isn't his father. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, no one knows -- yet.
"I'm running a business," Steinbrenner said on 1050 ESPN New York's "The Michael Kay Show."
Further evidence of how Hal's business will be run came in the form of Tuesday's AP report that the Yankees' luxury tax is $18 million, which is the lowest for the team in seven years.
Yankees' salaries were dropped to a still major-league high $215 million in 2010 from $226 million in 2009, and an upbeat GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday they are currently in the $170 million range.
The Yankees aren't turning into the Pirates -- as their offer to Cliff Lee showed -- but this latest piece of information further demonstrates how Hal's Yankees will be different.
From Hal's reluctance to speak in public to his reliance on spreadsheets, he is unlike his father in many ways, except for one -- the way he will be judged by his team's fans.
He must win and win big or his budgets and business-like approach will be as unpopular as his father's bombastic style was during the mid-'80s.
You can run a business, play "messy" with the Captain and even lower the luxury tax, but, if you do it, at these Stadium prices, you better win.
Hal has not let us know him like George did, but, from what we do know, it is hard to imagine that Hal took the loss to the Rangers in the ALCS as hard as his father would have. It is difficult to think that it has driven him as much as a defeat would have eaten at the Boss' soul. With Hal, we are still learning what it all means to him, if he burns to win as much as the fans and his father always did.
The impracticality and ruthlessness of the Boss has been replaced by a more measured approach. The Yankees offered Cliff Lee a lot of money, but they never brought out the CC Sabathia deal, seven years and $161 million. They wanted Lee, but Cashman made it clear they didn't have to have him.
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After the Jeter media conference to announce the Captain was coming back, Hal, when talking about Lee, made a point to emphasize that he likes his budgets. This might play well in a board room, but it is doubtful it will be as popular in the bleachers; especially if it becomes evident that the Yankees' failure to go all the way with Lee cost them a title.
These are Hal's Yankees, where the GM clearly states that Plan B is patience. Again, touting a stronger farm system, this may turn out to be the right approach. Cashman has until July to match Boston's big offseason.
Cashman seems to be relishing the chance to show brains instead of just bucks, sounding almost as though he is bragging that the current payroll is lower than it's been in years.
This more measured, budget-conscience long-range approach may turn out to be lethal on the competition. It better be, because if the Yankees stop winning, the fans will be furious at the Boss' son and the Bombers' new-found restraint.
Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.More from ESPNNewYork.com »