With the Yankees falling two games under .500, team senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner is weighing in -- and he says he wants to see more effort out of baseball's best-paid team.
"The bottom line is that the team is not playing the way it is capable of playing," Steinbrenner, said, according to the New York Post. "These players are being paid a lot of money and they had better decide for themselves to earn that money."
Steinbrenner, who runs the Yankees with his brother Hal, has faith that the team will improve. But he wants to see greater effort, or else changes are going to be made, according to the report.
"This is going to get turned around," Steinbrenner said. "If it's not turned around this year, then it will be turned around next year, by force if we have to."
"We have good professional hitters and I have a lot of faith in them," Steinbrenner said, according to the report. "I'm not saying they are not giving the effort, but they need to be playing harder."
The Yankees have been without a pair of injured starters in third baseman Alex Rodriguez and catcher Jorge Posada. But Steinbrenner says that's no excuse.
"We've got to forget about all the injuries and start playing our butts off," Steinbrenner said, according to the newspaper.
Steinbrenner did not completely blast his team, according to the report, making a point of praising pitchers Chien-Ming Wang, Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Mike Mussina and Darrell Rasner and stating his confidence in the club's ability to turn things around.
But he pointed to the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays, who have taken two straight from the Yankees, as an example of a team playing the game with passion, saying his team has "got to start playing the way the Rays are playing," according to the Post.
"[The Yankees] need to start treating it like when they were younger players and going after that big contract, like they're in [Triple-A] and trying to make the majors," he said, according to the report. "That's the kind of attitude and fire the players have to have." Steinbrenner also defended Chamberlain's fist-pumping after getting outs, which has been a hot topic of late in New York.
"He's a great kid and I'm behind him 100 percent and he's not the only pitcher to do that," he said, noting Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon is similarly emotional on the mound. "Joba is special to me and he means no malice by what he does."