The New York Yankees appeared ready to run back the status quo when they re-upped Brian Cashman to a four-year deal and retained Aaron Boone at the end of another somehow-unsuccessful season.
Cashman, Boone and Co. really had to work hard to put a damper on this particular season after the Yankees raced out to a 49-16 record and threatened to shatter previous MLB high-water marks, but by gosh, they did it, enduring (and helping to cause) an August collapse before the team petered out in the ALCS.
In response, the Yankees’ front office managed to retain their biggest star (and box office presence) in Aaron Judge while naming him captain, in addition to adding bonafide star left-hander Carlos Rodón to pair with Gerrit Cole in the rotation. This strategy was called, “Doing Exactly What Was Necessary,” and it inspired some confidence in the seasons to come with Judge locked in as a centerpiece. However, the question remained whether Cashman’s team was the right bunch of people to maximize the talents of the Yankees’ supplementary pieces.
This week, New York’s brass looked to vary things up by importing two veterans of the game to assist Cashman in his duties. Brian Sabean, a three-time World Champion with the San Francisco Giants and partial assembler of the Core Four/Bernie Williams, stated plainly that his goal was to win a World Series in the Bronx. In fact, when his contract expired in SF, he reached out to the Yankees specifically because he knew he could help.
Omar Minaya, formerly of the Mets and Expos? While he’s never won the World Series, he also brings an old-school scouting eye to the table. It certainly feels as if the Yankees are filling the room with baseball intellectuals who know how to read the numbers presented to them and interpret them properly without callously throwing off the chemistry in the room.
Alex Rodriguez tweeted on Thursday that he’s a big believer in this plan and the balance it creates. Based on Rodriguez’s post-career passion for arguing against the home run and endorsing the bunt, it seems like he might be hoping the team will skew “throwback” rather than striking the right chord.
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DISCLAIMER: This is hard. Baseball is hard. No one knows what’s going on in the room. Those who “distrust analytics” only do so because the Yankees haven’t gotten past the finish line since 2009, and because the Houston Astros have better players on the roster.
That said, it certainly seems like the team occasionally uses wrong-headed justifications for their maneuvers (or processes their data incorrectly). Additionally, they’d never have the old-school stones to start a rookie in Jeremy Peña from Opening Day. Instead, they’d look for a lower-upside MLB stopgap unless absolutely necessary. Hopefully, Sabean and Minaya’s keen scouting eyes can help prevent such scrambling.
For what it’s worth, Ken Rosenthal spoke with Brian Cashman after both hires, and the Yankees’ GM rebutted the notion that the team was finally, blessedly ignoring analytics, the lifeblood of modern baseball.
“It’s always been a blend,” but people “say what they want.” Sounds about right.
Rodriguez has probably been closer to the Yankees’ front office than us outsiders in recent years, but not by all that much. He’s impatient, just like the rest of us. He might perceive a fracture that isn’t there and never has been.
That said, the addition of two great baseball men — one of whom pledged to go all-out in pursuit of a recently-elusive championship — shouldn’t bother anyone or upset the apple cart. If Cashman allowed their arrivals, and they bring different perspectives, then clearly something needed to be shifted. Rodriguez isn’t wrong.