Hal Steinbrenner is not his father. While the late George Steinbrenner generally acted rashly to stretches of bad baseball and was not afraid to fire — or certainly put pressure — on his managers, Hal is looking towards the guys who play.
Steinbrenner recently backed his manager while simultaneously putting pressure on the players.
“The coaches are doing a good job,” Steinbrenner said, via ESPN. “These are professional athletes. They’re the best baseball players in the world, and sooner or later it comes down to them, on the inside, to push through whatever it is they’re going through and to persevere.”
Steinbrenner is half right. The problem is not with Girardi. He’s never presided over a losing season in New York, has five playoff appearances, three division titles, and one World Series win. He didn’t just forget how to manage effectively.
While the problem is indeed with the players, they’re not to blame for the situation. Realistically, players can only be excessively blamed if it’s felt that they’re not trying their hardest. That’s not happening in New York.
Sure, Luis Severino is struggling to adjust in his first full Major League season, but that’s not terribly uncommon. Michael Pineda is having a rough year, but he’s never been a top-tier starter.
Most of these players are simply playing up to their potential which, sadly, is not that good. The Yankees are simply an old team and are now seeing the drawbacks of giving long-term, big-money contracts to so many players.
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and C.C. Sabathia are all 35 or older. Jacoby Ellsbury is only 32, but has consistently had problems staying healthy throughout his career.
These are all key players on New York’s roster. It shouldn’t be surprising that the Yankees are 17-22 and sit in last place in the American League East.
Steinbrenner is right. These players are not playing well and that’s helping contribute to a losing record. But the blame for the failures goes to the front office that put this roster together expecting to compete for a championship.