The Yankees’ offseason is going about as well as the actual season. No changes have been made to the front office, dugout, clubhouse or roster and everyone within the organization continues to talk about how great everything is.
1. After the last day of the miserable, embarrassing 2023 season, the Yankees went quiet for 36 days. More than five weeks of nothing from the organization. Over that time, every other major-league club either kept playing or held some sort of end-of-the-season post mortem to explain what happened over the previous six months and why it won’t happen again. Some teams even decided during that time to move on from their general manager and/or manager, a concept foreign to ownership in the Bronx.
2. The Yankees chose nothing: say nothing and do nothing. They decided against holding their standard end-of-the-season press conferences with their general manager and manager. They decided against replacing the two people in those jobs. They went into hiding as an organization, choosing only to hold internal meetings in Tampa where they decided to run it back with the same front office and same staff. And when they report to spring training in a little under three months, they will make it apparent they are running it back with the same roster as well.
3. It was only recently the Yankees came out of hiding to publicly answer questions for an 82-win season, and the only reason they did was because they had to. Brian Cashman had to attend the General Meetings and show his face in public, and Hal Steinbrenner knew Cashman had to attend these meetings and would be questioned, so he too came out of hiding. Knowing he had to be the first person from the organization to say something, anything since the end of the regular season, hours before Cashman went on an expletive-filled tirade, Steinbrenner popped open his laptop and virtually addressed the media like a coward.
4. “I’m proud of our operation,” Steinbrenner said. “I think we have a great group of baseball people. I think we have a very strong process that has served us well up until what happened this particular season.”
The Yankees have such a “strong process” that they finished fourth in the AL East and eighth in the AL, producing more runs than only the Tigers, Guardians, White Sox and A’s. So what did Steinbrenner tell his “great group of baseball people?”
“I told them this season is completely unacceptable.”
And yet, that “group of great baseball people” are still employed by the Yankees in the same positions they held during the “completely unacceptable” season. Those employees keeping their jobs includes Cashman and the equally untouchable Aaron Boone.
5. “I think he’s a good manager,” Steinbrenner said of Boone. “He’s extremely intelligent. He’s hardworking. The players respect him as a manager. They want to play for him and win for him.”
If the players want to win for Boone, why didn’t they do that more often? Of course players want to play for him. Boone is a dream boss. He’s the ultimate player’s manager. Make the first out of an inning at third? He likes the aggressiveness. Give up seven runs in two innings? He thought the stuff was great, but there were just a few pitches the starter would like to have back. Jog down the first-base line like you’re a valet attendant retrieving a car? Turn your back on the pitching coach after allowing eight runs without recording an out? He’ll say he would have disciplined the pitcher in question, but it’s late in the season.
As for Boone being “hardworking,” maybe he is, but it doesn’t mean the work he does is good, and what is Steinbrenner basing Boone being “extremely intelligent” or a “good manager” on?
6. Steinbrenner admitted to wavering on if Boone should continue as manager of his team. Why would Steinbrenner even think about replacing someone who is “extremely intelligent” and “hardworking” and a “good manager” the players “respect” and “want to play for” and “want to win for.” Those are the exact characteristics every MLB team is looking for in hiring a manager, and yet Steinbrenner was willing to move on from someone he has under contract who possesses those traits. Why? Because Boone doesn’t actually possess those traits.
Steinbrenner said he changed his mind about a possible managerial move after consulting with Andy Pettitte, Nick Swisher and Aaron Judge. Steinbrenner’s own intuition nor his highly-paid “great group of baseball people” mattered in the decision. Instead, a former teammate of Boone’s, someone who never played with or for Boone and the team’s current captain (who gets to enjoy an accountability-less work environment) acted as the driving force in Boone getting a seventh season to manage the Yankees.
7. Nothing Steinbrenner said made me feel any better about being a Yankees fan going into 2024. Truthfully, unless he guaranteed he would stop at nothing to acquire Juan Soto, he wasn’t going to make me feel better after retaining his general manager and manager. But then Cashman spoke and suddenly all of the lies and excuses that came out of Steinbrenner’s mouth didn’t seem so bad.
In Cashman’s first run-in with the media since the end of the season, he behaved in a manner wildly inappropriate for someone of his position. He spoke about his job and his team as if he had put a few back in the hotel lobby before meeting reporters. Not only did he ideologically challenge anyone who thinks or talks poorly of the disastrous roster he has built, I was waiting for him to physically challenge media members for saying or writing anything critical of him or his team over the last year.
“I think we’re pretty fucking good,” Cashman said with microphones in his face, and that’s all he needed to say. That one sentence sums up the state of the Yankees better than any words I can put together possibly can. Coming off their worst season in 30 years in which they had the highest payroll in the AL, Cashman still believes the Yankees “are pretty fucking good.”
8. The lack of accountability within the organization is startling. Steinbrenner said the season was unacceptable, and yet, he didn’t fire a single employee. Cashman has blown through more than $3 billion of payroll over the last 14 years without producing a single World Series appearance let alone World Series win and still believes his team is “pretty fucking good.” Boone has a litany of performance-related excuses for his players after every single game and those players spend all season talking about tomorrow until there are no more tomorrows and then they talk about next year.
9. When Steinbrenner was asked about Cashman’s unhinged appearance, he said, “While I don’t condone the cussing, I do like the passion.”
Steinbrenner doesn’t condone Cashman’s language except he does, since nothing came of it. In mid-July when Carlos Rodon blew a kiss to heckling fans in Anaheim, Boone said, I would like him not to do that … But I think it was better than getting into a shouting match or doing something that he would regret.” Rodon shouldn’t have reacted and blown a kiss to upset fans, but hey, at least he didn’t verbally or physically assault a fan! Every single member of ownership the front office and clubhouse lacks accountability and it trickles down from Hal, who won the birth lottery, all the way to someone like Harrison Bader, who condescendingly responded, “No concern,” to Meredith Marakovits when asked about his level of concern regarding the team’s place in the standings in early August.
10. Early in the 2023 season, a friend of mine told me he believes the Yankees are operating as a social experiment: a test to see how far the organization can push its fans while still maintaining a fan base. At first I laughed because of the comedic way it described the 2023 Yankees’ season, but as the season progressed, it became hard to ignore as a possibility.
Maybe the Yankees are just fucking with all of us? It sure would explain Steinbrenner recently saying Boone thinks the team needs to bunt more or Cashman opting to criticize his second-highest-paid position player’s injuries unprovoked. It certainly would explain everything the two said over the last two weeks. It would definitely explain everything that has gone on with this team for a long time now.