Ex-pitcher bites Yankees back citing disconnect, rift in the team

Former Yankees pitcher Zack Britton
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Inna Zeyger
Wednesday November 29, 2023

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Following his official retirement from MLB last week, Zack Britton has openly discussed the challenges facing his former team, the Yankees.

In a piece featured in The Athletic on Nov. 20, Britton acknowledged that the Yankees no longer evoke the same level of intimidation as they did in the past. Now, during an episode of “The Show” with The New York Post’s Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman, he is shedding light on the perceived “disconnect” players felt with the analytics they were expected to implement.

When questioned by Sherman about his opinion on Yankees‘ manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman, Britton expressed his support for them. However, the crux of the matter, as highlighted by the 2016 Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year award recipient, lies in the discrepancy between the team’s analytics and the overall team culture.

Britton offered a revealing perspective on the integration of analytics within the Yankees organization.

Britton shows a mirror to the Yankees

During this week’s episode of “The Show,” The Post’s baseball podcast hosted by Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman, Britton, the former Yankees and Orioles reliever who recently retired, shared insights into the team’s use of analytics. Given the discontent among Yankees fans due to the team missing the playoffs this year and not securing a championship since 2009, Britton was questioned about his views on whether manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman are suited for their roles.

Britton, who played for the Yankees from 2018 to 2022, praised Cashman and Boone for their baseball knowledge but expressed criticism regarding the organization’s utilization of analytics.

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AP

While acknowledging that Cashman had “great” communication with him on a personal level, Britton highlighted a broader organizational “disconnect” in the application of analytics within the team.

Britton mentioned that he believes sometimes, as it happened to him personally, when analytics are involved, they have access to iPads. He expressed a concern that delving into analytics can lead individuals down a rabbit hole, allowing them to find data that justifies various perspectives. According to Britton, numbers can be manipulated to fit a desired narrative or picture by skewing them in different ways.

Britton indicated that for Brian, it could be advantageous to strike a balance between different approaches, implying a blend of traditional methods with analytics. However, Britton clarified that his insights were limited to his experiences as a player and weren’t comprehensive regarding the behind-the-scenes operations within the front office.

While he didn’t offer specific details, Britton further explained the existence of a “rift.”

Britton expressed a lack of specific awareness regarding the ongoing discussions within the organization. From his experience as a player, he highlighted a common disconnect felt within the clubhouse between the information or strategies presented and the actual observations and experiences on the field.

He expressed that this lack of connection occasionally caused a rift within the team, which wasn’t conducive to a positive clubhouse culture. He stressed the significance of alignment between communication from the front office and on-field performance, indicating that at times, these aspects didn’t seamlessly connect as desired.

He mentioned that players often proposed strategies, suggesting what they believed would work effectively based on their experiences. However, there were occasions where these suggestions, when translated into data-driven decisions, didn’t align as expected. He hinted that he wasn’t the sole player who shared this sentiment.

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Yankee slams Yankees beyond Cashman

He conveyed that he didn’t attribute this issue solely to Brian Cashman or Aaron Boone. Rather, he perceived it as a broader organizational matter that extended beyond any individual person.

Apart from their dependence on data, Britton praised Cashman and Boone for the work they’ve accomplished.

Britton praised the Yankees GM, acknowledging him as the longest-tenured general manager in baseball. He described Cashman as an exceptional baseball professional, expressing doubt about finding someone more proficient or experienced in various methods of securing championships.

Britton spoke highly of Aaron Boone, emphasizing his strong baseball pedigree within a renowned baseball family. According to Britton, the Yankees manager possesses an impressive résumé as a player, making him stand out. He commended Boone’s adept handling of players, noting the positive player-manager relationship and asserting that Boone is well-suited for the dynamic and diverse nature of the modern player. Additionally, Britton praised Boone’s communication skills with players and his ability to manage the media effectively, affirming that Boone is the right fit for New York.

Even with numerous victories and playoff appearances, Britton acknowledges the difficulty of satisfying the Yankees’ fan base.

Former player of the New York Yankees, Zack Britton
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Britton shared that upon arriving in New York, he received valuable advice from a player (whom he chose not to name). The advice emphasized the heightened expectations of the Yankee fan base, which anticipates All-Star level performances from every position on a daily basis. Britton acknowledged the validity of this expectation, considering it fair.

He extended this expectation beyond just the players, indicating that it applies to the manager, general manager, owner, and others involved. Additionally, Britton acknowledged the restlessness among the fan base due to the team’s prolonged World Series drought, understanding that this leads to scrutiny and critique of everyone associated with the team.

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