Cashman, Steinbrenner reflect on 2023 season

November 9th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox. national reporter Bill Ladson contributed to this edition of the Yankees Beat newsletter.

NEW YORK – Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman spoke to the media separately on Tuesday.

Steinbrenner was stoic but didn’t mince words on what he thought about the 2023 season. The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and finished fourth in the American League East with an 82-80 record.

“It was awful -- we accomplished nothing,” Steinbrenner said. “We didn’t win a division, didn’t make it to the playoffs. We didn’t win a series in the playoffs, much less a championship. The fans didn’t get what they deserve, but we are all very passionate about this. We are working our [tails] off. We are going to do everything we can to right the ship for 2024. But, a bad year [in ‘23].”

Cashman, on the other hand, was on the defensive at the GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. He acknowledged the Yankees were hit hard by the injury bug, the worst coming in early June when Aaron Judge suffered a torn ligament in his right big toe that caused him to miss almost two months.

But Cashman was not happy when reports surfaced that the team’s analytics department caused the Yankees to miss the playoffs. New York hired an outside company last week called Zelus Analytics to evaluate how the team operates its analytics department. Steinbrenner wants to make sure that the team is making the right decisions on the field. Zelus will work with the Yankees throughout the season. 

“People talk about how we’re analytically driven, right?” Cashman said. “We had the smallest analytics department in the AL East. We had the largest pro scouting department in all of baseball. No one is doing their deep dives, they're just throwing [bull] and accusing us of being run analytically. To say we're guided by analytics as a driver is a lie."

The Yankees' front office recently had intense discussions in Tampa, Fla., about how to improve the ballclub. On average, the meetings lasted eight to nine hours per day, according to Steinbrenner. One of the most pressing topics was the Yankees' need to fix their offense, which ranked 25th in runs scored in the Majors. They are currently looking for a new hitting coach after Sean Casey decided to go back into broadcasting with MLB Network after the 2023 season. 

“We did not get where we needed to be with run production -- it was probably our biggest problem,” Steinbrenner said.

Cashman said the Yankees are looking for two left-handed-hitting outfielders to play left and center field. They thought switch-hitter Jasson Domínguez was going to be the long-term solution in center, but he will start the 2024 season on the injured list because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He is not expected to be on the field until maybe after the All-Star break.

The Yankees used 10 left fielders, including Oswaldo Cabrera and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, this past season, but their offensive output was underwhelming as a whole. The team thought Cabrera’s production in 2022 would carry over into ‘23, but he struggled in the batter’s box, hitting .211 with just five home runs. He even spent some time in the Minor Leagues.  

New York needs to improve its starting rotation. Besides Gerrit Cole, who is a finalist for the American League Cy Young Award, the rest of the rotation missed a lot of time because of injuries. Left-hander Carlos Rodón dealt with a left forearm strain and neck stiffness, while Nestor Cortes dealt with right hamstring and left shoulder issues. When those two were on the field, they were hit hard. Right-handers Frankie Montas and Luis Severino saw significant time on the injured list, but they are free agents.    

The Yankees also have a surplus of infielders. They have to find a way to get Oswald Peraza in the starting lineup at third base. Gleyber Torres will be a free agent after next season, so he could possibly be used as trade bait to land a pitcher or a left-handed-hitting slugger.    

“Torres had one hell of a year, he was our second-best hitter behind Judge,” Cashman said.