Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is definitely his own man and the runs the Yankees differently than his father, The Boss, George M. Steimbrenner III.
Hal is calmer, more patient, and likes who he has working for him.
That is why general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi have been here for 19 and nine years, respectively.
If George were still around, how many managers and GMs would he have gone through since 2012, the last time they won a playoff game?
Instead, Hal has praised Girardi and Cashman throughout his time in charge, including a month ago at the MLB Owners’ meetings, where he made clear he thought they were doing a great job and that the slow start was on the players not performing.
With the Yankees at 34-35, there is a lot of consternation and concern that they will not turn it around, and for the first time in almost 25 years, be “sellers” at the trade deadline in late July.
“I believe we’re going to be smack in the middle of it by the end of July,” Steinbrenner said at an event on Monday.
“We’ll have to see at the end of July, like we always do. We’ll take a look at everything. We’ll see what injuries, if any, we’ve had from here to then, and where the deficiencies are. We’ll go from there. If we stay healthy, I’ve always believed we have a chance.”
Of course, those thoughts were echoed by one of his employees.
“I agree, I mean, I think health is the first thing that you have to say, and remain healthy during the course of a season,” Girardi said. “We have to play better, we have to be more consistent, and we have to stay out of winning five and losing four. Keep winning series and take advantage of being home for nine days.
“Hal has belief in this club, I have belief in this club, and we have to go out and do it, and that’s the bottom line. Belief is not enough we have to go out and win. It’s nice having an owner that always believes in us.”
Steinbrenner is right to be patient, as the Yankees are a team built for now, with the arguably the best bullpen trio in the league, with Dellen Betances and Andrew Miller setting up flamethrowing closer Aroldis Chapman.
While they have players that are definitely win-now guys like Carlos Beltran who leads the Yankees with 18 home runs and 48 RBI, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann, Cashman has brought in plenty of young talent like Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks.
The thinking is – because they are free agents and could bring back a lot in a trade – that the Yankees will shop Chapman and Beltran at the deadline if they’re out of the race.
The Yankees entered Tuesday just six games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East, and with 92 games left, there is plenty of time to make up that ground.
People have to remember that these are the Yankees and they are never out of it. Even when they missed the playoffs in 2008, 2013, and 2014, they stayed alive until the final week of the season.
June has been a favorable schedule, and the Yankees have taken advantage with a four-game sweep of the Angels at home two weeks ago and they took three of four in Minnesota this past weekend.
The Colorado Rockies are here for two Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Twins are in New York for three over the weekend. The homestand concludes with a four-game series next week against the Texas Rangers, who are in first place in the AL West.
“I think it’s really important that we get over this hump that we haven’t been able to get over a few times, get over .500 and stay there,” said Girardi on Tuesday afternoon. “When you talk about our team, it’s built for our ballpark, and it’s important that we play well here.”
The Yankees have six weeks between now and the trade deadline. After this nine-game homestand, they go on the road for 10 games, with three in San Diego, three at Chicago against the White Sox, and four in Cleveland. After the All-Star Break, they have 10 at the stadium, with three against Boston, four with Baltimore, and three against San Francisco.
One of the Yankees that has stepped up lately and has to keep it up is center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who is hitting .279 with a .341 on-base percentage, with three home runs, 24 RBI, and 30 runs scored.
“I think he’s a big reason we have gotten back to .500 in a lot of instances, what he’s done offensively,” said Girardi. “I think we were eight or nine games down and he got pretty hot, and he was on base, and scored a lot of runs, and continuing to do it, and that’s really important for an offense. He sets the tone, so we need him to continue to play well.”
So do the rest of the Yankees if they are going to reward Hal’s faith.