Everything we hear about the Yankees' mixed-up files and philosophy sounds worse than the thing we previously heard, but former minor-leaguer Ben Ruta's recent story takes the cake.
New York is (hopefully, dear God, HOPEFULLY) entering an offseason of transition, with the seeds planted by whoever hired Brian Sabean, Omar Minaya and Sean Casey over the last calendar year. Could be Brian Cashman. Could be Shadow Cashman. Who knows?
An over-reliance on "traditional baseball guys" could lead to a lot of anti-analytics gumbo and "feel for the game" gibberish. A world where data is the be all, end all, though, removing any and all instincts? That also sounds a little spooky, especially if those in charge of interpreting the data are still years behind the curve. The Astros have one of the smartest nerd quadrants in the game. They also have Dusty Baker.
Analytics aren't the problem. The Yankees' analytics staff, still coasting on 2010s baseball and the juiced ball in 2019, is definitely part of the problem.
While New York still needs to decide what they are (Sabean definitely seems like someone who'd snap a nerd's glasses in half), the bottom line is they need an infusion of common sense in their player development ranks, which haven't produced an above-average offensive regular since Aaron Judge (under Cashman, it's Judge, Brett Gardner and, uh ... pass in 25 years). On Wednesday's episode of Foul Territory, the player-infused show that's opened plenty of doors lately on how the sausage is made, Ruta, a former Yankees minor leaguer from 2016-21, popped into the chat to feed host Scott Braun some very disturbing information.
Ruta's description of what goes on in the Yankees' minor-league system can best be described as a "WFAN Caller Uncle's Nightmare."
Yankees minor-leaguer claims fundamentals of baseball no longer taught at camp
Say it's parody, say it's parody, say it's parody...
Look. Ruta obviously has an axe to grind, and embracing analytics has worked for plenty of players in developing their swing paths and creating more impressive contact. Not Ruta, though, who saw his 2018 OPS of .791 decrease to .726 in 2019, then a dismal .566 when he left the system in 2021.
But there's a difference between embracing analytics and squeezing it so tight that baseball oozes out and flows down the street into the sewer. That's what Ruta is describing when he says that fundamentals, base running lessons, and other finer points of the game are outright gone in the Yankees' system. He didn't even mention chicken parm!
Hopefully he's either exaggerating tremendously, or those in favor of "hitting strikes hard and nothing else" all get cleaned out this winter in the post-Dillon Lawson purge.