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5 takeaways from Hal Steinbrenner’s hot stove interview

Last night, the YES Network aired a short interview with Meredith Marakovits and Hal Steinbrenner.

Here are five major takeaways (all quotes are paraphrased)

On whether the season was a failure

“We won 103 games. Won the division for the first time in six years. We had a ton of adversity and kept battling. In the end, in October, we didn’t get it done. But we had a great division series. We failed at the end, but I wouldn’t call the season a failure.”

Translation: I’m okay with this quote. The Yankees dominated the division all year, especially Boston. They showed up in big games as well. Considering the 39 IL Stints and 103 wins, I can’t call the season a failure either.

On the reason for the ALCS loss to the Astros

“Our biggest problem in the postseason was timely hitting. Two or three more key hits would’ve made the difference. Our hitters were not as disciplined as they were in the regular season. We held the Astros to 22 runs in the series, and we would’ve signed up for that every time.”

Translation: There are obviously semantics involved here. Yes, a couple of huge clutch hits could’ve made the difference. But the facts are that the Yankees won the two games in which the starter went six innings, and lost the other four. It was obvious that the starting pitching wasn’t good enough. It’s also obvious that the relievers were exhausted. Zack Britton even said so himself! On the flip side, Hal doesn’t want to hurt Cash’s leverage in the starting pitching market.

On what the team needs to get over the hump

“We’re going to be active in the free agent market. I like our rotation right now. As of now, I like our 2020 rotation better than I liked our 2019 rotation…

(Mentioned Paxton, Tanaka , Sevy Monty, Happ and Loasigia)

“However, starting pitching is my focus.”

Translation: This is pretty much a non-answer. He indicated he was happy with the Yankees current rotation, but he would be open to improvements as well. I think all Yankee fans are tired of hearing about injured pitchers coming back, however.

On if he will pursue Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg

“I won’t speak about individuals, but anything that crosses my desk, I’m going to consider seriously.”

Translation: Nothing to take from this. He said the same thing last year regarding Machado and Harper. He may be too cheap to pay Cole or Stras. But even if they are heavy on both of them, he’s not going to make it too obvious.

On if he would go over the third luxury tax threshold

“There are obviously some major problems with that involving draft picks and different things. It’s something I would prefer not to do. But it’s something I would consider.”

My take: The draft pick compensation is laughable. Moving back 10 spots in the draft to nab Gerrit Cole would is akin to being forced to pay for one tank of gas in exchange for a brand new Ferrari. Hal doesn’t want to pay the 50% tax on anything over $248 million. He sees that as profit lost. If the Yankees are going to sign Cole, they’re going to have to pretty much let everyone walk. I’m completely okay letting Didi, Dellin and Romine walk if it means signing Cole. But if they let those guys walk AND cheap out on a starter?

That would be malpractice.

Related interview note: I am sick of Cashman and Hal implying that the Yankees were “one or two plays” away from getting the to the World Series. They weren’t. The reality is that by failing to even force a seventh game, they were at least nine innings away.

Even if they had miraculously survived Game six, Gerrit Cole was rested and ready for Game seven. The Yankees would’ve countered with a barely stretched out Severino and a bullpen on life support. They weren’t a few plays away from making the World Series. They were a miracle away. Then, that gassed bullpen would’ve had to somehow survive another six or seven games.

You need 11 wins to win it all, and the Yankees didn’t even get halfway there. They weren’t that close.