The Yankees are in the middle of a pretty important offseason for the ballclub, with the future of Aaron Judge still up in the air. They’re coming off another disappointing postseason that saw the Houston Astros sweep them out of the playoffs and growing calls from fans to see some sort of change.
Hal Steinbrenner sat down with YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits for a pretaped interview that aired on Monday. Among the topics covered were Aaron Judge, the disappointment of the season and the team’s leaders Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman.
Here are three takeaways from the sit-down.
Where things stand with Aaron Judge
Whether the Yankees slugger stays or leaves the Bronx will define the offseason for the Yankees. Steinbrenner didn’t give a concrete answer about where things stand between the two sides, though he did seem to indicate some positivity. The Yankees boss revealed he had “more than one conversation” with Judge since the season ended and he characterized them as “very positive.”
The answer, when asked about his confidence level about Judge staying, was a little less cheery.
“I made it clear to him that it is our wish,” Steinbrenner said. “He means a lot to this organization and I made it clear to him that we’re going to do everything we can to make it happen.”
Steinbrenner did say he would consider making Judge captain if he re-signed with the ballclub. Judge has been the face of the franchise for some time now, but this season really cemented that point home.
“If it doesn’t happen, we will move on the best we can,” Steinbrenner said. “But there’s no doubt he means a lot to the organization and a lot to the fan base, rightfully so.”
Steinbrenner doesn’t think Yankees are ‘stagnant’
The notion that the Yankees as an organization are stagnant isn’t one that is sitting well with Steinbrenner and he made that clear during the sit down with the Yankees broadcast partner. New York hasn’t won a world series since 2009, they lost to the Astros for the third time in six years and both Cashman and Boone are expected to be back next season.
Yet Steinbrenner pointed to injuries as a major reason why the season went south in the Bronx. The Yankees did get hit by a number of poor timed injuries during the second half of the season.
“I think we all have to realize, the team that we fielded Opening Day that [Brian Cashman] put together was one of the most dominant teams for months, not weeks, months,” he said. “Then we got hit by a lot of significant injuries, a good amount of significant injuries. Not pulled hamstrings, I mean season-ending injuries in numerous cases. And it affected us.”
Still, there is something to be said for an organization that fell short of its stated goal a number of times now. Steinbrenner said that the notion the team was stuck in its ways was “just not accurate” and that the ballclub was constantly evolving.
“If it was, then we would make changes here,” Steinbrenner said.
Some criticisms of Boone justified
Steinbrenner may have said that some of the criticisms of Boone’s in-game decisions during the playoffs were fair, but he still very much backed the Yankees skipper. Steinbrenner made headlines when he said that Boone’s job was safe back in October and defended Boone again during the interview.
“Because the players respect him and they want to play for him and they want to win for him,” Steibrenner said. “If I didn’t think that was the case, as in years past, I would have made a change. But Aaron Boone wasn’t responsible for our offense, the slide they experienced the last couple months of the season rolling into the postseason. That was not his responsibility. And we had a lot of injuries.”