NEW YORK Hal Steinbrenner emerged from a closed-door meeting in manager Joe Girardi's office Wednesday to say he was disappointed in the New York Yankees' performance this year yet reluctant to trade prospects for veterans in hopes of a spark.
He cited injuries, plus inconsistent hitting and pitching. He specifically mentioned the performances of young pitchers Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, counted on to be regulars in the rotation. Both are on the disabled list after combining to go 0-7 in 15 appearances.
"The young pitchers at the beginning of year," he said, "it was upsetting at times. It wasn't what we thought. It didn't go exactly the way we thought it would go. But, you know, that's the way it is. We're highly confident in Kennedy and Hughes and that they're going to come back strong when they do come back."
Dressed casually in a polo shirt, the Yankees co-chairman caused his usually punctual manager to be a half-hour late for his pregame media briefing. Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman, who also attended, said it was just a regular update session that Hal gets whenever he makes the trip to New York from Tampa, Fla.
Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, the brothers who took over supervision of the team last fall from owner George Steinbrenner, agreed during the offseason with Cashman's recommendation that they keep prospects and not trade for two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana. Just this week, Cleveland dealt CC Sabathia to Milwaukee and Oakland sent Rich Harden to the Chicago Cubs. The Yankees' involvement in those trade talks appeared to be minimal.
Hal, who speaks publicly less often than Hank, said the Yankees were far more cautious when it comes to trading prospects than they were in the past. He called it a "a balancing act."
"We try to get an idea of what it is they'd want and try to get an idea of just what our chances would be to sign any one of those players for a long-term deal," he said. "We just felt it wasn't best for the organization to do anything with those two at this point."
Despite a major league-high payroll that was $209 million on opening day, the Yankees began Wednesday with a 48-42 record, 7 1/2 games back of AL East-leading Tampa Bay and 4 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL wild-card race.
"This is New York, and the fans deserve a team with marquee players," Steinbrenner said. "Where we want to end up is a tremendous mix of young talent and veterans. And the veterans, the free agents, they cost money. And we realize that. We are going to have a lot of money come off the payroll, and that's going to give us some options. But believe me, we're going to use a good portion of it to get this city the team it deserves."