Friday, May 17, 2013

Hal Steinbrenner says 'scrappy' Yankees can win with $189 million payroll

One word which is never usually associated with the New York Yankees is "scrappy." Powerful, favored, high-priced and sometimes maybe even underachieving are words more apt to be used in describing the makeup of the team.

That was until Hal Steinbrenner referred to his team with the S-word in describing the depleted Yankees' surprisingly success a quarter into the 2013 season and holding forth on his commitment to get the payroll below the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million for 2014.

"I'm proud of them, my family's proud of them,"said Steinbrenner following an owner's meeting at Major League Baseball's Manhattan headquarters Thursday. "They've been fighting hard all year long, and despite significant adversity, they've persevered. It's fun to watch. They're scrappy. Coming from behind, it seems like certain times in the past, it's not something you had confidence in."

The Yankees are 25-16 and in first place, a game ahead of the Red Sox, despite using a team with a current on-field payroll of about $140 million — and that includes the return of Curtis Granderson ($15 million) this week. With Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez watching from Tampa, that, amazingly, leaves still more than $70 million still on the DL.

"I always believed it could work if ... the young players, which I've been saying all along, pan out and do their job," he said. "We still have [Michael] Pineda coming back, so we'll see how he does. I think he's going to do great.

"But the key is going to be the young players stepping up and really making contributions like they're doing right now."

Keeping the payroll under the threshold is going to be tricky for the Yankees if they plan on signing their best player Robinson Cano.  

Steinbrenner sounded optimistic about keeping his All-Star, and not because Cano's firing of Scott Boras and signing with Jay-Z's Roc Nation. 

"I still have faith that the player has a big say in it," Steinbrenner said. "I know that Robby wants to be there, and Robby knows that we want him to be here. We want him to end his career here. I think to me, whether I'm right or not, that plays a big part in it regardless of who the agent is. But we're going to continue to try and push ahead and get something done. We want him to be a Yankee."

And as for recent speculation about the Yankees being put on the market in the near future, Steinbrenner channelled his inner George. 

"Absolutely not selling the team," he said. "Have not been talking to anybody about selling the team. Have no intention of selling the team. What would I do?"

For now, the Yankees will stay the course by trimming the payroll and lowering the average age of the roster — for now.

"The math works to me if the young kids do their job," said Steinbrenner. "It has to happen. And I've been saying that for over a year now — that's the goal we're going to push for. But again, I'll reiterate what I always reiterate, which is we're always going to field a championship-caliber team."

There's that other S-word — succeed.

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