Thursday, March 19, 2015

The questions Bill Madden neglected to ask Hal Steinbrenner in his exclusive interview

It's payback time! New York Daily News MLB columnist Bill Madden has snagged what is billed as an "exclusive" interview with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. But despite that access, the interview is a real snoozer. And there are many unanswered questions here -- both in lack of follow-ups to Hal's points, as well as in questions that are never raised in the first place.

So I decided to help rectify that. Here are the things Madden should have asked in his interview, but didn't:

1. Hal, you don't like being called a cheapskate for not signing Yoan Moncada, and you said the following regarding that issue:
“I found that very interesting,” he said, smiling, “given that we offered $25 million (for Moncada) and spent substantially in the international market (a reported $26.82 million in bonuses and penalties for greatly exceeding their bonus allotment). I’m not saying we’ll never give another seven-year contract, but going in you know you’re probably only going to get three-four good years out of it. It remains my goal to get under that $189 million (luxury-tax threshold), but it’s not going to happen for at least two more years when these big contracts we have expire. But I’ve continued to say you shouldn’t need $200 million to win a championship.”
Do you understand that spending $7M more on Moncada would have been a better risk than the money spent on international bonuses, which were given to 16-year-old players without Moncada's track record? And given your opinions here, then why did you give out two seven-year contracts just last year: a $153M deal to Jacoby Ellsbury, and a $155M deal to Masahiro Tanaka? Also, are you aware that giving a three-year, $45M contract to an aging, injury-prone Carlos Beltran is essentially paying for the worst three years of a seven-year deal, without getting the good years?

2. You tell Madden you are excited about the NYCFC playing at Yankee Stadium. But what about the concerns from Yankee players about what this was going to do to the field? Mark Teixeira told the Daily News that "it's going to suck" and "tear up the infield," and Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury have also expressed concerns with soccer being played on the field. So what is in place to make sure the field will be pristine for baseball?

3. You said this winter that you gave Brian Cashman a contract extension because of the moves he made midseason to help the team. But are you aware that the Yankees had an identical winning percentage -- .514 -- both at the end of July, and at the end of the season, despite Cashman's dealing? Also, did you know that the Yanks and Kansas City Royals both had the same 55-52 winning record at the end of July, yet even with Cashman's pickups, the Royals, not the Yanks, made the postseason?

4. If you are so sold on the current players in the farm system, then why are neither Rob Refsnyder nor Jose Pirela given the chance this spring to compete for the second base job? What does it say to the folks on the farm when Stephen Drew gets $5M plus incentives for the spot, despite hitting below the Mendoza line last season, and the team refused to consider putting a rookie in the role, even though Drew has been hitting under .100 for most of spring training?

5. Why did you give Brian Cashman a contract extension and a raise when you acknowledge how poor player development has been, and how badly the minor league system was managed? In Yankeeland, does the GM hold any responsibility for the people under him? Under Cashman's watch of the farm system, there has been exactly one superstar -- Robinson Cano -- and zero No. 1 starting pitchers. Does that concern you?

6. Are you aware that when all is said and done, your team will have paid Martin Prado $10M for two months of his services in a year when your team didn't even make the playoffs?

7. Your team's front office has anonymously made negative snipes to the media over and over about Alex Rodriguez, including criticizing him for showing up *early* to spring training.  On the other hand, your team's Twitter feeds -- both the @Yankees and @YankeesPR -- have not mentioned him once this spring, completely ignoring his good performance in spring training. Do you think this a professional way to run a ballclub?

8. You told Madden that the team needed to get off to a good start in order for the team's attendance to be good. What if they don't? Aside from all the number retirement ceremonies this year, how are you going to put fannies in the seats, as your father would say, if this team is a snoozer this year?

9. You told Bill Madden, "we have to win," and claimed that there actually would be accountability if the Yankees don't make the playoffs again this season, saying, "We’re all accountable here, starting with me. I’m the one who approved all these contracts." Does that mean you will fire yourself if the Yankees miss the playoffs this year?

10. And finally, since you approved all these contracts, including the performance contract giving A-Rod $6M each time he reaches a certain home run milestone, why are you now trying to wriggle out of paying him? If it is because of him doing steroids, than why are you honoring admitted PED user Andy Pettitte with a retired number and a plaque in Monument Park?

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