CHICAGO (AP) — No panic for Hal Steinbrenner. No overt level of concern, either.
The managing general partner of the New York Yankees remains confident in his team while it wrestles for control of the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I said in the offseason several times that if we stayed healthy, which is something we haven’t been able to do the last couple years, and if the middle of the lineup produced, which they didn’t do last year, then we were going to be contenders, and we are,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday. “It’s still ours to lose.”
Steinbrenner made his remarks on a quiet first day of meetings for baseball owners in Chicago. A spokesman for Major League Baseball said there were 12 committee meetings, including panels on diversity, international affairs and youth marketing.
The owners also received an update on changes at MLB Advanced Media from Commissioner Rob Manfred and Bob Bowman, the CEO of the interactive media and Internet company that has developed into a cash cow for the sport.
Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League announced a media rights partnership on Aug. 4 that entrusts baseball’s digital arm with the hockey league’s streaming service and cable-television network.
“I think that they’ve done, Bowman and all, they’ve done a great job of building that company up,” Steinbrenner said. “I don’t think there’s anybody out there doing it better. They certainly have competitors when it comes to the streaming, the technology and all that, but they’ve done a lot outside of baseball, too. Got a lot of deals outside of baseball.”
The Yankees had a seven-game lead over the second-place Blue Jays on July 28, but Toronto pulled a half-game ahead Wednesday night.
Toronto traded for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and ace David Price before the non-waiver deadline, fueling its resurgence. New York has been quiet on the trade front, opting to hold onto Luis Severino and the rest of its top prospects.
Severino made his major league debut last Wednesday and is 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts.
“I really don’t think, especially with Severino coming and doing well at Triple-A, I don’t really think we had the kind of glaring need that you would address by giving up one of your top Triple-A prospects,” Steinbrenner said. “I just wasn’t going to do it, especially after a loner, for a guy you’re going to have three months or so. It’s not something we were going to consider.”
The quiet deadline and the spending spree by the Los Angeles Dodgers have helped change the reputation of the Yankees after they were the team known for lavish spending every time the owners gathered at another swanky hotel. But Steinbrenner said he feels no sense of relief in handing over that spot to another club.
“No, because it never bothered me that people talked about us when we were in that position,” he said. “I think what bothered me more was that we were in that position, and I have always felt and still feel that you don’t have to be in that position to win world championships.”