New York Yankees fans have been hit with a surprising amount of turmoil in 2021, a year that was supposed to feature Championship No. 28, and instead featured the most expansive roller coaster we’ve ever seen, ending with the Red Sox and Astros battling for the right to face an 88-win Braves team or snoozeworthy Dodgers unit in the World Series.
The campaign is over, but the horrors still remain. Aaron Boone was brought back on a three-year deal this week (which could stretch to four!) and that wasn’t even the worst part.
Complacency and consistent pride in being a playoff-esque team and banking on an October hot streak have long been the Yankees’ biggest issues, and nothing seems poised to change this year as they bring back the same braintrust that’s tried to outsmart the Tampa Bay Rays at their own game, operating as the world’s most skinflint $200 million team.
Has Hal Steinbrenner authorized Brian Cashman to spend from time to time? Of course. Gerrit Cole is here. Giancarlo Stanton is here. You can’t put a straight face on and claim the Yankees never pay.
However, it’s more than fair to take the team to task for their reticence to spend at the margins, especially after just sitting through a 2021 season meant to dip below an imaginary salary cap in a pivotal year of Cole’s prime. For goodness sake, the Yanks forced the Rangers and Cubs to pay Joey Gallo’s and Anthony Rizzo’s entire remaining salaries to facilitate deadline moves. The Yanks sent one of their best relievers to the Boston Red Sox — and tacked on a prospect.
So when Brian Cashman attacked the media for daring to question Steinbrenner’s spending when there are, in fact, obvious questions to ask really rubbed us the wrong way.
Yankees: Yeah, we’re gonna question Hal Steinbrenner’s spending, thanks.
If Cashman’s reins have been loosened, and the Yankees plan to overwhelm Aaron Boone with so much expensive depth he can’t possibly mismanage things moving forward, that’s great!
But in terms of profit percentage reinvested in the team, Steinbrenner is clearly content to live with a representative 2005 payroll as his pockets get thicker. In ’05, the Yankees’ payroll was $208,306, 817. Last season? $203, 319, 863. Unfortunately for those who want to simply endorse stability yet again, the Bombers’ profits doubled in the 15 years between ’05 and ’20, pandemic aside. Doubled. Yet none of that windfall was reinvested in the team.
The Los Angeles Dodgers wiped the floor with the Bombers in 2021, outspending them by over $60 million. Can Brian Cashman compile a winning team at $203 million? Sure. But what about with the payroll restrictions already in place from previous Stanton/Cole deals, and with a new mandate suddenly imposed upon him, giving him ~$8 million of wiggle room?
Oh, and Brett Gardner’s got to fit in there somewhere. Sounds tougher! Yet Cashman is the one daring us not to question ownership? Where does he get off?
Yes, it is unfair to claim Hal Steinbrenner never spends. Yes, Brian Cashman should be able to win without a $260 million budget.
But claiming no one has the right to question the luxury tax limbo and the lack of profit utilization is disingenuous, and Cashman’s trip into anger felt unearned.