Redskins

Steinbrenner won't address A-Rod return next year

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Steinbrenner won't address A-Rod return next year

NEW YORK (AP) Hank Steinbrenner says too much blame is being directed at Alex Rodriguez for Detroit's sweep of the Yankees, and won't address whether the slumping star will be back in New York next season.

``He was just one of quite a few that just had a bad time at the plate,'' the team's co-chairperson said Friday during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ``So is it fair to accuse him of everything but the Kennedy assassination? No, it's not fair, but we'll see what happens from this point on.''

The Yankees owe the third baseman $114 million over the next five seasons. Rodriguez, who has the ability to block trades, was benched for three games in the playoffs and pinch hit for in three others. A-Rod said he wants to stay in New York.

``I'm not going to get into that at this point,'' Steinbrenner said.

A person familiar with the situation said the Yankees want Rodriguez to focus more on baseball and less on being a celebrity, and hope he'll come to grips with the idea at age 37 he no longer is the player who won three MVP awards and needs to set realistic goals. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team did not want to its views attributed publicly.

With a major league-high $222 million payroll, the Yankees expected nothing less than their 28th World Series title. But Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Eric Chavez combined to hit .110 with eight RBIs and 57 strikeouts in nine postseason games.

``It was something to not be very pleased about,'' Steinbrenner said. ``Everybody is kind of a bewildered and a little angry, too. But that's natural.''

His younger brother Hal, the team's managing general partner and boss, issued a statement combining praise for the team and disappointment. He cited numerous injuries the Yankees overcame to win the AL East with the league's best record at 95-67.

``We fell short of our singular and constant goal,'' he said. ``Make no mistake, this was a bitter end to our year, and we fully intend to examine our season in its totality, assess all of our strengths and weaknesses and take the necessary steps needed to maintain our sole focus of winning the World Series in 2013. Great teams - and organizations - use disappointment as a motivation for future improvements and success. In the days, weeks and months ahead, we plan to do what's necessary to return this franchise to the World Series.''

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera had a season-ending knee injury in May, ace CC Sabathia went on the disabled list twice, left fielder Brett Gardner missed almost the entire season, Andy Pettitte was out for nearly three months and shortstop Derek Jeter broke an ankle in the ALCS opener.

``We may have fallen short yesterday but we never feel sorry for ourselves and never make excuses,'' Hal Steinbrenner said.

Among the position players, only Jeter (38), Raul Ibanez (40) and Ichiro Suzuki (38) had good postseasons at the plate. Mark Teixeira batted .281 but drove in just one run.

``Eventually, obviously we've got to get younger at some point. Every team does,'' Hank Steinbrenner said. ``But it wasn't age that did this this time. That's what has us kind of bewildered, because you've got to remember, Ibanez and Jeter did just fine. They're the oldest.''

New York's pitchers had a 2.76 ERA in the playoffs - more than a run below its 3.85 during the regular season.

``Our pitching was really good,'' team president Randy Levine said. ``We didn't hit. Why didn't we hit? I don't know the answer to that. I think that this is a team of well-known professional hitters who, top to bottom for the most part, except for a few guys, didn't hit.

``I don't think it has anything to do with age,'' he added. ``I don't think it has anything to do with type of hitters that were in there. You had guys who were contact hitters who went cold, guys who were home run hitters who went cold and guys who were a combination of both who went cold.''

Hank Steinbrenner said the team remains committed to lowering its payroll by 2014 to get under the $189 million threshold for the luxury tax, which uses average annual values. Under baseball's new labor contract, teams under the threshold that pay revenue sharing money would get some of those dollars back.

``We'll still do more than any other team would do to win, but at some point with the new rules it's going to become imperative to be a little more fiscally conservative,'' he said. ``That's where we've got to rely on our young players, and we'll still be able to get players when we need them now and then.''

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.