The New York Yankees' external audit is officially happening -- or, at least, Hal Steinbrenner is pow wowing with somebody? An external company is going to be looking at ... or talking to ... or interfering with ... ok, you know what, we still don't know. But we know who's involved, and it's a big-name group rather than a complete farce, so that serves as a win in our book.
Hopefully, though, the efforts aren't coming too late, considering the official start to the offseason is just five days after the World Series, which has already ended.
Steinbrenner's preferred consulting group, per someone who spoke to The Athletic's Brendan Kuty on the expectation of anonymity, is Zelus Analytics, a firm founded by former Dodgers front office members Doug Fearing (founder of LA's research and development department) and Dan Cervone (principal data scientist).
As Evan Drellich reported in a lengthy examination of Zelus' practices in 2021, their goal is to outflank professional organizations by hiring fleets of decorated and "lavishly educated" specialists in the field (and, of course, the Dodgers' tried and true methods are the basis of their organization).
Yankees hire Zelus Analytics to run Hal Steinbrenner's audit
Obviously, anyone who does something like this privately is in it for profit, so take that with a large grain of salt. But at least Steinbrenner's tapped some of the best instead of some ruthless efficiency expert who couldn't care less about professional sports or the Yankees' legacy/iconic brand.
Regardless, something funky this way comes, and it's Zelus' job to pick up the pieces and execute their mission. Based on what they recently told TechCrunch, that mission involves "building models" to better "contextualize historical performance" while evaluating players.
Of course, Zelus won't actually be doing this for the Yankees (probably?). They'll just be showing the Yankees how they would attack the information presented to them, hoping to lead New York's braintrust to water rather than make them drink.
Zelus' staff is referred to as a “dream team of analytics" by Vince Gennaro, an associate dean at NYU whom Kuty spoke to. They've also, unshockingly, been recently funded by RedBird Capital, the firm that helped the Yankees invest in and take over AC Milan last season. Hopefully, this is a furthering of the relationship between the two parties rather than a handshake deal to raise Zelus' profile.