The next captain? Yanks 'would consider' it for Judge

November 15th, 2022

NEW YORK – Naming as the Yankees’ next captain “is something we would consider” if the free-agent slugger returns, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in an interview that aired on Monday by the YES Network.

The Yankees have not had a captain since Derek Jeter retired following the 2014 season. Without title, Judge has taken on many responsibilities typically ascribed to a captain, prompting teammates like Anthony Rizzo and Nestor Cortes to say Judge should be named captain.

Asked if he believes if that would be important to Judge, Steinbrenner replied: “That, you’ll have to ask him.”

Steinbrenner said that he has had “more than one” conversation with Judge since the Yankees’ season ended in the American League Championship Series, describing the conversations as “very positive.”

“I have made it clear to him that [remaining with the Yankees] is our wish,” Steinbrenner said. “He means a lot to this organization, and I’ve made it clear to him we’re going to do everything we can to make that happen.”

Steinbrenner later added: “If it doesn’t happen, we will move on the best we can. But there’s no doubt he means a lot to the organization and a lot to the fan base, and rightfully so.”

The second part of Steinbrenner’s interview with YES will air on Thursday. Part 1 saw Steinbrenner and Meredith Marakovits touch on various other topics.

The postseason outcome

Speaking shortly after the Astros’ World Series victory over the Phillies, Steinbrenner said that he remained “disappointed” by the outcome of the ALCS, when Houston swept the Yankees in four games.

“We had high expectations, particularly the way we started out this season, more than half the season doing so well,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re just going to keep plugging away like we did last year. We improved on defense; we improved in other areas. We’re just going to have to sit down like we always do and see what areas we need improvement. … It’s unacceptable, what happened, no doubt about it.”

In recapping the Yankees’ 2022 performance, Steinbrenner indicated that he believes injuries kept the club from maintaining the terrific pace they showed on July 8, when New York was 61-23 and held a 15 1/2-game lead in the American League East.

“Had we rolled into the postseason relatively healthy, particularly with a couple of players like [Andrew] Benintendi and [DJ] LeMahieu, really good contact hitters – I think we would have done better in the playoffs,” Steinbrenner said.

The next generation

Steinbrenner mentioned “three young kids” that the organization is “excited to see more and more of,” identifying shortstop Oswald Peraza (the club's No. 3-ranked prospect), infielder/outfielder Oswaldo Cabrera and shortstop Anthony Volpe (Yanks' top prospect, MLB's No. 5). Steinbrenner said that “it’s certainly my intent” to field Peraza and Volpe in the middle infield.

“We’re very excited about Peraza, Volpe, and we saw what Cabrera can do,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re excited about some very young people. They’re going to get playing time. We’ll see how it works out in Spring Training.”

Aaron Boone’s return

Under contract through 2024, Boone will return for a sixth season as the Yankees’ manager. Steinbrenner said that he believes Boone continues to be the right man for the job “because the players respect him, they want to play for him and they want to win for him.”

“Aaron Boone wasn’t responsible for our offense, the slide that they experienced the last couple of months of the season, rolling into the postseason,” Steinbrenner said. “That was not his responsibility. Again, we had a lot of injuries, but the players respect him and they want to win for him. That’s an important thing.”

Regarding Boone’s in-game decisions, especially during the postseason, Steinbrenner acknowledged that “some of the critique is justified.” Steinbrenner then added: “I think he does his homework quite well, deals with his coaches quite well and listens to their advice, even in-game. He makes a lot of good decisions.”

Brian Cashman’s status

While Cashman has said that Steinbrenner has expressed interest in having him remain as the club’s general manager, a role he has filled since 1998, Steinbrenner said that he would not discuss Cashman’s contract situation. Though Cashman’s deal expired on Oct. 31, he has continued the day-to-day duties.

“I think he’s one of the better GMs in the game,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m not saying there’s going to be a change there, but we do not have an agreement at this point.”

Moving forward

Largely unprompted, Steinbrenner bristled that “we get accused of being a stagnant organization sometimes. We’re not. We’re constantly evolving.” Steinbrenner pointed to the club’s recent investments in performance science, saying that the organization’s decision-making is balanced between analytics and pro scouting.

“There’s a lot of opinions out there I could probably get emotional about,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s just not accurate. If it was, then we would make changes.”