Yankees’ owner speaks on ‘awful’ season, their outlook for 2024, and strategy changes

MLB: Winter Meetings
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees‘ owner Hal Steinbrenner finally met with reporters over a Zoom meeting, speaking to reporters for the first time this offseason. 2023 was a ‘disaster’ as Brian Cashman put it back in August, and the team is aiming to make additions both on and off of the field. They’re trending toward the hiring of James Rowson, a former MiLB Hitting Coordinator for the team in two separate stints from 2008-2011 and 2014-2016.

It seems as if Hal Steinbrenner is adamant about his displeasure with the team’s performance this past season, but words won’t resonate with the fanbase unless backed by serious action and a new-look Yankees team in 2024.

Hal Steinbrenner Speaks on Disappointing Season For Yankees and Changes

MLB: New York Yankees-Aaron Judge press conference
Dec 21, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Hal Steinbrenner during a press conference at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Hal Steinbrenner was open about asking internal questions over the past few weeks, even regarding Aaron Boone, who was extended after the 2021 season. He mentioned asking multiple people about whether the Yankee skipper should return in 2024 and came away with answers that detailed he should. Steinbrenner also reiterated confidence in their training and conditioning staff, and while they could be viewed as areas of weakness in the organization, the players on the roster who have suffered injuries have historically been very injury-prone.

Asked about the moves that have failed over the past couple of seasons, Hal Steinbrenner opened up about the Joey Gallo deal and their thought process surrounding his acquisition, mentioning that the team felt confident in him as a player and did background checks to see if his mentality could handle New York. He also spoke on the Frankie Montas trade and Carlos Rodon signing, reiterating that the team felt as if injuries derailed their performance as Yankees and citing the trades they’ve done well in, such as Jose Trevino and Clay Holmes.

He didn’t hold back in his criticisms about the 2023 season, saying that it was “awful” and that the team accomplished nothing. Steinbrenner ended his call by saying they’ll do everything they can to right the ship, but financially there could be a limit as to what that looks like. While he did mention the team’s plan of being active in free agency and trying to fix the offense, he also mentioned that they shouldn’t need a $300 million payroll to win, as both the Rangers and Astros didn’t run $300 million payrolls in 2023.

A strategic change that we could see for the Yankees involves bunting, as Hal mentioned, Aaron Boone believed that the team didn’t teach bunting enough internally and that they hoped to improve on that front in 2024. There is a league-wide increase in terms of wRC+ on bunts, but the reasons for it could vary, and what bunting more will look like remains to be seen. Speed often creates success on bunting for hits, and the Yankees were baseball’s slowest team last season, but Hal Steinbrenner saying that the team will get younger in 2024 does hint at a desire to get a little bit faster.

mlb: toronto blue jays at new york yankees, aaron judge, anthony volpe
Apr 22, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe (11) celebrates with center fielder Aaron Judge (99) after hitting a two-run home run in the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

When asked about potentially handing out a nine-figure contract, Hal Steinbrenner said that “everything is on the table,” suggesting that they could be opportunistic spenders, but again the long-time Yankee owner wasn’t very specific. He did go into specifics about how Zelus Analytics will factor with the team, as they’ll have a year-long collaboration where the Yankees can get insight into how the company uses analytics and apply that to their organizational practices as well.

The consistent theme of this press conference has been communicating that the organization is not leaving any stone unturned in terms of strategic change, and he even mentioned the private meetings that have taken place routinely since the end of the season. Hal didn’t want to get into specifics on that front, but ultimately they do seem very alarmed with how 2023 went and set on making changes one way or another to the Yankees’ organization.

What that looks like remains to be seen, and how the Yankees will approach the offseason is also shrouded in mystery, but if there’s one thing we know, it’s that this team won’t function the same as it did this time last season.

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