Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner spoke with the media on Wednesday in Tampa. Here's what we learned...
- Expectations are high, like always, even though there will be lots of young players added to the mix who have to prove themselves.
- The Yankees will always field a championship-caliber team, making sure they have a good mix of marquee veterans and young players.
- The Yankees love Joe Girardi but won't deal with a potential contract extension until after the season.
- There's nothing personal going on between the Yankees and RHP Dellin Betances as the arbitration process plays out.
- Steinbrenner's message to the fans is that they should be excited about all the young talent in the organization.
- Alex Rodriguez will be at Spring Training once or twice per week serving as an instructor.
- As far as OF Jacoby Ellsbury, "the stats are what the stats are," but Steinbrenner has enjoyed having him on the club.
The Yankees have been trying long and hard to convert the roster from a glut of aging veterans to a mix of youth and veterans. The organization is finally getting to the point in which younger personnel is expected to play a key role in the performance of the club, and the farm system has more prospects ready to contribute in the coming years.
This season - more than any in the recent past - the Yankees have the potential to field a squad with a handful of starting players in their first or second seasons in the big leagues. The "excitement" Steinbrenner refers to runs rampant among many fans, but that feeling will dissipate if the youth movement is not given a reasonable chance to succeed.
Steinbrenner stressed that the young players must "prove themselves," but in order to do so they deserve a legitimate opportunity. The Yankees cannot award a young player with a starting role and then remove him based on a small sample size of work. I understand the Yankees want to remain competitive, but if there is a season to sit back and analyze what the youth movement can produce, this is the one.
This is a team in transition, not one knocking on the door to a pennant, and in my opinion the Yankees should provide a substantial amount of rope to the young players in an effort to adequately evaluate which ones can become mainstays for the future.