Are Yankees re-pivoting to the old-school approach?

Aaron Judge during a Yankees training session.

Table of Contents

Many people in baseball think the Yankees are too analytically driven. However, after the team hired Brian Sabean and recruited Omar Minaya, who are from the “old school,” many in baseball see this as a sign that the Yankees want to be less analytical and more “balanced” in how to approach baseball.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletics claims that a former scout told him “Sabean is a bigger signing than Judge for Yankees and would control the nonsense from the front-office nerds and treat the player development and scouting staffs as the important pieces they were when the Yanks dominated the postseason.”

Rosenthal says that the scout’s point of view is extreme, but it indicates how some baseball veterans think. “They hope that teams will suddenly stop using analytics. That’s a ridiculous idea. Information is here to stay, and more are being added all the time. But the Yankees and every other team are still trying to find the right balance between what they think and what is true.”

But this shows that the New York Yankees are viewed as drawing too close to an analytics-heavy approach despite they are having members representing the old school, such as special assistant Jim Hendry, baseball operations VP Tim Naehring, farm director Kevin Reese, and pro scouting director Matt Daley.

Sabean and Minaya have worked in baseball for more than 75 years between them. Both of them started in 1985. Sabean was the general manager of the Giants for 20 years. Before that, he worked for the Yankees, where he was one of Cashman’s mentors in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Cashman tried to get Minaya, who was a general manager for the Expos and Mets for nine years. The Mets gave the Yankees permission to talk with him. But Minaya, who worked as an ambassador for the Mets and as an amateur scouting consultant for Major League Baseball, was not ready to jump.

But general manager Brian Cashman has said that this is not true. He doesn’t agree with the idea that they are too dependent on analytics. The general manager pushed back against the idea that the two former GMs were hired because the Yankees had too much focus on analytics and not enough on pro scouting.

“I feel we are balanced,’’ Cashman said. “I think there’s an inaccurate depiction of what really happens behind these walls. I think people who are analytic haters try to present things inaccurately. I think we have one of the best analytic departments in the sports industry. And we have one of the largest pro scouting departments in baseball. The job is to merge all of the performance science, player development, pro scouting, analytics — they’re all different pieces of the puzzle. And one piece isn’t any bigger than the other.”

“It’s always been a blend no matter what people say. I want to hire people and surround myself with people that are gifted and experts in very specific areas. All I care about is making sure that when we go through our decision-making process, we have every tool in the toolbox. The information is there for us to digest and ultimately make a decision on. That comes from the scouting arena. That comes from the analytical arena. That comes from the technology and performance side, from the mental skills side. We combine all that stuff.”

The additions of Sabean, who didn’t renew his contract with the Giants after it ended this winter, and Minaya, who the Yankees unsuccessfully attempted to recruit twice before, are going to add more diversity to the decision-making process in the organization, not because the Yankees thought they might have become too data-driven.

But Yankees great Alex Rodriguez differs. According to him:

“With Sabean and Minaya, the Yankees have added two great baseball minds to their front office. The Yankees have the right mix of smart baseball players and smart people who use analytics.”

Jack Curry, a well-known and longtime baseball writer in New York who now works for the Yankees’ YES network agrees as well. According to what he said:

“Both Minaya and Sabean are known for their scouting and talent evaluation skills. Both executives will now join the other voices in the Yankees’ decision room. It’s important to combine analytics and scouting information.”

Since they won the World Series in 2009, the Yankees haven’t been back, and in three of the last six seasons, they’ve lost to the Astros in the ALCS. But they won the World Series in Cashman’s first three years as manager, and they haven’t had a losing season in Cashman’s 25 years in charge.

Yankees need to focus on the human side of the game

In his Thursday address, Omar Minaya admitted that the game has changed and that everyone should be open to new information in all its forms. This is important for building teams and organizations, but balance is also needed.

“I take a lot of pride in learning new ideas and working with all these new ideas and people who have new ideas of the game. I’m a big believer in the human element. I’m a big believer that the human element counts. I think anytime you make a decision, it’s got to be a balanced decision.”

Minaya, for his part, thinks the human side of the game has been pushed to the back as a whole. The Yankees will get a lot of that from him and Sabean.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the Pinstripes Nation!

Your Daily Dose of Yankees Magic Delivered to Your Inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Don't Miss Any of the Latest Yankees News, Rumors, and Exclusive Offers!