Friday, January 20, 2017


I'm just guessing, but something tells me the length of an eternity is different depending on whether you're a Yankee fan or you're a Yankee owner.

Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, perhaps better known to Yankee fans as the Boss's daughter or the new boss Hal's sister, said this past Wednesday that her family intends to keep the team in the family for eternity. 

“We’re all in,” Swindal told Dan Martin of the New York Post. “I hope we own the team for eternity. You never know what life will bring, but we’re in it for the long haul.”

Photo: New York Post
Swindal, one of the team's general partners whose primary responsibility is to oversee the team's many philanthropic endeavors, said that ever since her father became too ill to run the team, the four Steinbrenner siblings have pitched in to make things work and now the entire family is more involved than it ever was before. She credits Hal's leadership with pulling them all together, and added that with her son Steve Swindal Jr. coordinating baseball operations the third generation of Steinbrenners is now not only fully invested but involved full-time in running the team. 

Now, I know there are some Yankee fans out there who feel like it's been an eternity since our last championship and are probably less than enthused by  Hal's tight grip on the free-agent purse strings these last two winters and a rotation filled with more fault lines than San Francisco Bay.

So maybe the revelation that the team's ownership isn't likely to be changing in their lifetime -- or even in their after lifetime--  isn't the kind of news they want to hear right now. 

But those fans should take some solace that further on in Martin's article, he referenced comments made by  Brian at the Hard Rock Cafe only the day before that shucking the salaries of Alex, Tex and CC at the end of this year should put the team in a position where "at the end of the day, we are going to be in a position to do a number of things and maybe we can turn the clock back to be big-game hunters that we have been accustomed to being.”

(Aug. 6, 2016 - Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)
Brian Cashman's no fool and he understands exactly what "turn the clock back to be big-game hunters" is code for in Yankee Universe. 

(Aug. 16, 2016 - Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)
And knowing how he likes to play it small when it comes to deal-making -- and even smaller still when it comes to managing expectations where it involves Checkbook Hal's budget fetish -- his Hard Rock remarks can only mean that with the savings realized from those expiring fossil contracts and a few others, if even one or two farm kids can stick with El Kraken in the Bronx this year then Hal will at long last bag his elusive unicorn of bringing payroll under the competitive balance tax threshold. 

Then it's lock and load time for B'wana Brian. 

Remember, the winter of 2008? There was no Hot Stove that year. There was just Brian on a search and destroy mission with Hal feeding him ammo while the rest of the league howled and ran for cover.

Most seem to forget Hal wasn't always a tightwad. He dropped nearly a half billion dollars the first time  his father's team missed the postseason. The problem then was dad had already been running payroll well beyond the tax threshold for years, so the business model was already strained. Large extended contracts to multiple players with big mileage on their odometers had win-now-pay-sooner-than-later stamped all over it. But it was a must-win situation and so they won. Man, did they ever. It was a sight to behold.  The aftermath, though, has been a slow rot drawn out far too long by an obsessive love affair with past glory and a blind eye to new romances that has allowed far too much young talent to languish or flee the system unrequited.

This time, with the tax rate reset, leveraged by a farm loaded top to bottom with recognized prospects and a checkbook that no longer automatically adds 50 cents to every dollar he writes, Brian would be in a unique position to loot the 2019 free agent zoo and beyond at the end of this year -- before the cages are even unlocked. The team could conceivably be stacked for a serious run at a ring exactly one year from this  Opening Day. And thanks to the new focus on player development, the model should be sustainable for quite some time.

(Oct. 1, 2016 - Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America)
A big hairy Harper, a man-eating Machado, a killer Kershaw and a few other critters would make nice trophies for a big-game hunting GM trying to lead his team out of the jungle to championship contention. 

And for the owner who's tantalizingly close to bagging his personal unicorn, what better way to celebrate the end of his quest than to send his GM out on a new mission.

The team may not be making all the moves we'd like to see as quickly as we'd like to see them. But all the moves are  being made with winning, spending, family and eternity in mind.

Meet the new boss... same as the old boss.

 --Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

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