Hal Steinbrenner, managing general partner of the New York Yankees, made a statement a year ago that still applies to today.
Many fans of the New York Yankees are restless right now.
There’s not enough happening.
The front office isn’t doing enough to recover from the debacle that was the 2012 American League Championship Series, in which the Yankees were swept by the Detroit Tigers.
There are free agents out there that haven’t been signed. And what’s the deal with this $189 million payroll thing?
We’re the Yankees, for crying out loud! We don’t work on a budget. We go out, get who we want and damn the cost.
This is what is being posted by fans on various websites and comment sections.
The LoHud Yankees Blog, by Chad Jennings and the staff of the Lower Hudson Valley Journal News, made a very salient point Friday morning, though.
It’s Nov. 16.
The season has only been over for 19 days. Pitchers and catchers don’t report to spring training for another three months.
The winter meetings are still 2½ weeks away, scheduled for Dec. 3-6 in Nashville, Tenn.
So maybe fans should just chill a little bit for the time being.
The biggest signing in free agency thus far has been former Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, who agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract with Detroit, as reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
What do you think about the $189 million payroll plan?
“It’s too early,” Steinbrenner said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we [made a major free-agent addition]. It wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t. Hate to be vague, but it is mid-November.”
That same statement fits as well now as it did then.
As Jennings pointed out on his blog Friday morning, as of Nov. 16, 2011, Freddy Garcia was unsigned. Hiroki Kuroda was still a free agent. Michael Pineda was still a Seattle Mariner. Russell Martin was still negotiating. Andy Pettitte was still retired.
Ponder this quote from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman:
“[The free-agent] process is still so early. It’s not necessarily, ‘Hey, we want this, can we do this today?’ I think it’s more everybody feeling out everybody else. I’ve had a hard time getting dollar figures from agents, to be honest.”
That was also said a year ago in Milwaukee. But it still applies today.
The budget restrictions, which have been discussed ad nauseum by the media types, are also a source of frustration for many fans.
They’re not happy about going the budget route or the prospect of another offseason spent signing bargain-basement veterans.
This is a fan base that is used to making gigantic splashes in the free-agency pool.
That dates back to before the days when free agency was just a fact of life in Major League Baseball.
On Dec. 31, 1974, the Yankees signed pitcher Catfish Hunter to, what was then, the largest contract in baseball history. The deal for the future Hall of Famer was for five years and $3.75 million. This was triple the salary of any player in baseball at the time.
From the signings of Reggie Jackson and Dave Winfield in the late 1970s and early 1980s through the contracts given to Jason Giambi and CC Sabathia in the early 21st century, New York has always been at the vanguard of the big spenders in baseball.
But it’s not the late George "The Boss" Steinbrenner signing the checks anymore.
Instead, his sons Hal and Hank call the shots now. Hal Steinbrenner has made it clear that getting payroll below the luxury-tax threshold for 2014 is priority No. 1.
Fans may not like it. Agents may really not like it. But as they say, it is what it is.
It’s the new normal for the New York Yankees whether anyone outside the organization likes it or not.