Hal said he's happy with this year's crop of free agents, but said the Yankees are not done (Image: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports)

Yankees News & Notes: Hal speaks, Nunez back to utility role

As Yankees fans, when the owner speaks, you make it a point to listen. New York Yankees owner, Hal Steinbrenner spoke yesterday with Wall Street Journal’s Brian Costa, in a lengthy interview about the state of the Yankees. In a separate article, GM Brian Cashman revealed that Edurado Nunez will be a utility player for the Yankees in the immediate future.

One of fans’ main concerns this offseason was the lack of spending on big free agents on multi-year deals. It’s a departure from how the Yankees usually operate, but a concept the Yankees have embraced, and Steinbrenner said he’s happy with this year’s FA class:

“We’ve signed three or four of the biggest free agents on the market. We’re pretty happy with that. It’s great to have Andy (Pettitte) back and (Hiroki) Kuroda and Ichiro (Suzuki). (Kevin) Youkilis I’m excited about. I’ve always liked him as a player. We’ve got some work to do, still. We need another bat. We’re not done yet.”

He also reiterated that in order for the team to stay a championship-caliber club, younger players are going to have to step up and play to their potential. Players like Brett Gardner, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova, etc. will need to step up and perform well in order to offset the decline of many of the older players.

Our own Alex Pugliese wrote last week on whether ownership was still committed to winning even with the new austerity budget. Steinbrenner added that things could change if the product on the field isn’t performing at that championship level:

 “I’ve been resolute that that is our goal. And that is our goal. But I’ve also said, including at spring training a year ago, that in order to achieve that goal, these young players have to step up and get the job done. How many World Series winning teams the last 10 years had a payroll over 189? One. You don’t have to have a $200 million payroll to do that. And I’m a big believer in that. But you’ve got to have a good mix of veterans and young talent. … If the young players, the [David] Phelps of the world, who did step up continue to do that and some of the other guys like [Manny] Banuelos, [Michael] Pineda we’ve yet to see. If they get the job done, the math works.”

There are a couple more good nuggets of information in that article, go check it out.

In other news, the enigma that is Eduardo Nunez will most likely need to play multiple positions in order to make the big club this year, reports Andrew Marchant of ESPN. Nunez has had trouble with the fielding aspect of his game, often making terrible throws after flashing more range at shortstop and third base than we’ve seen in years. Cashman revealed his stance on Nunez for 2013:

“If he is at the big-league level, he is going to have to. We have everyday guys at other positions. If he makes our club, it will be at a utility role.”

Nunez makes a ton of sense as a bench player. He might not have the fielding prowess needed for a full-time gig, but his bat and speed play well in that Yankee lineup. The 25-year-old is often seen as the next-in-line at shortstop after Derek Jeter retires, but two years filled with question marks about his defense, he’s beginning to lose favor.

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