New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said Wednesday that the team's recent decision to fire manager Joe Girardi was a long time in coming.

Steinbrenner spoke to reporters in his first public comments since the club ended Girardi's 10-year tenure in the Bronx three weeks ago. Steinbrenner said he was in full accord with general manager Brian Cashman's decision to change managers -- even though Girardi led a young Yankees team to a wild card berth and a first-round playoff upset of the Cleveland Indians.

"This was not a decision we took lightly, and not a decision that had to do with 2-3 weeks. It had to do with 2-3 years, and observing things and hearing things,'' Steinbrenner said at the MLB general managers meetings. "We felt it was time to move in a different direction.

"As I told Cash, I wasn't following his recommendation: I agreed with it. He and I have had these discussions for a considerable length of time, over and over again. This isn't something we just decided we wanted to sit down and do at the end of the season. We've had a lot of discussions through the years.''

In the aftermath of Girardi's firing, Cashman cited Girardi's "communication and connectivity'' issues with players as the main reasons for the change. Steinbrenner indicated that the issues were of sufficient concern that the Yankees might have switched managers even if Girardi had led the team to a World Series victory.

"I'm sure there would have been more pressure,'' Steinbrenner said. "It would have been maybe a more difficult decision to make. But I would have made it because I felt like that was best for the organization moving forward.''

The Yankees, dubbed the "Baby Bombers,'' progressed ahead of schedule with a young roster this season and made the playoffs as a wild card team with 91 victories. They took the eventual World Champion Houston Astros to the limit in the American League Championship Series before losing in seven games.