Despite entering the season with many questions about whether they had done enough to improve, the Yankees have been the best team in baseball. Behind the right-hander Gerrit Cole and the left-hander Nestor Cortes, the pitching rotation has been the backbone of the roster. The bullpen has found stability in Clay Holmes and Michael King while Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Jonathan Loáisiga dealt with injuries.
But most improved are the lineup (notably dropping its strikeout rate) and the defense, by replacing catcher Gary Sanchez with Jose Trevino and shortstop Gleyber Torres with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and moving Torres to second base.
“I didn’t spend $300 million to do it, but I think most people are pretty happy with Isiah and the job he’s done,” said Steinbrenner, presumably alluding to the team’s record payroll for luxury tax purposes of $259 million, which trailed the Mets ($288 million) and the Los Angeles Dodgers ($302 million). Steinbrenner faced criticism in the off-season for holding on to top shortstop prospects and not signing a prized free-agent shortstop such as Corey Seager or Carlos Correa.
“I knew we had a team that was capable of great things, but I’m not going to sit here and say that I absolutely knew that they’d be off to the historic start that they are,” Steinbrenner said. He called the team special not only for its performance on the field but in the clubhouse.
Steinbrenner also pointed to new members of Manager Aaron Boone’s coaching staff — specifically the hitting coach, Dillon Lawson — as key reasons this season has gone better for the Yankees, who were 92-70 in 2021 and fell to the Boston Red Sox in the A.L. wild-card game. After ranking below average last season, the Yankees’ offense (five runs per game) has trailed only the Dodgers (5.04 runs per game) in scoring this year.
In terms of potential ways to fortify the roster ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline, Steinbrenner said he had not yet sat down with the front office. He said a team could never have enough pitching, and he reiterated his reticence to trade top prospects.