Yankees AGM diverges from Cashman, owns up to shortcomings
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NASHVILLE — During the Winter Meetings on Monday, Yankees assistant general manager Michael Fishman found himself in a defensive position as he engaged with reporters. His acknowledgment was in sharp contrast to the all-out rant of GM Brian Cashman.
Fishman emphasized the necessity for the Yankees to make substantial changes but in a strategic and intelligent manner. He stated that the objective is to assemble the best roster possible. He emphasized the importance of avoiding overreactions and making hasty decisions under pressure. Instead, the focus should remain on making decisions that are ultimately in the best interest of the franchise.
Yankees AGM talks on criticism on team’s analytics focus
The AGM expressed understanding, stating that they have high standards which haven’t been met. He conveyed their commitment to continually strive for improvement.
Fishman navigated his responses with some difficulty, articulating his comments thoughtfully as he tackled sensitive subjects, such as the team’s collaboration with Zelus Analytics and the manner in which statistical information is conveyed to the players. He endeavored to justify and uphold a specific aspect of the organization that has recently faced significant criticism.
When questioned about his response to fans who have voiced criticism regarding the Yankees’ analytical approach, Fishman delivered a clear and succinct message. Merely expressing that sentiment won’t be sufficient to satisfy Yankees fans. Their expectations center around tangible results, especially following the disheartening and calamitous 2023 season. During this season, the Yankees fell short of making the playoffs, concluding just three losses shy of experiencing their first losing season in three decades.
The choice to collaborate with Zelus during this offseason was motivated by the aim to steer the club in the correct direction, particularly in terms of how the Yankees interpret and employ numerical data. Fishman clarified that this isn’t an audit; rather, the Yankees will maintain confidentiality by keeping all their records closed during this evaluation, focusing solely on scrutinizing the data models provided by the external analytics firm.
Fishman conveyed that they would have access to what the external analytics firm has accomplished, emphasizing that the firm wouldn’t be granted access to their internal work. He explained that the responsibility would rest on their team to discern how to integrate the external work with their own, making decisions on when and how to use the information and implementing necessary adjustments.
He mentioned that the process of implementing changes based on their findings will be a prolonged one. In certain instances, it might extend over several months, potentially until the next offseason. This timeframe could pose challenges as the Yankees are required to make numerous adjustments this winter to reposition themselves for a postseason appearance in 2024. Owner Hal Steinbrenner had committed to “big changes” earlier in the offseason, extending beyond mere player acquisitions.
AGM respects criticism
Fishman acknowledged that they have not done a satisfactory job in the past, stating that there was always room for improvement. He expressed the belief that certain aspects could have been explained or educated more effectively.
The manner in which the organization conveys analytics is distinct from the perspective, opinions, and approach that Zelus will offer. Captain Aaron Judge was among several prominent Yankees, both past and present, who criticized the methods used to communicate numerical information to the members of the team’s roster.
Fishman guaranteed that communication is a topic actively under consideration for the Yankees. He has engaged in internal dialogues with players to understand their perspectives and collaboratively explore potential adjustments.
However, Fishman holds the belief that the Yankees excel in continuously refining and adapting their analytical models, avoiding complacency despite any success achieved. He also praised general manager Brian Cashman for his skill in assembling a diverse inner circle, emphasizing how their varied backgrounds contribute to establishing a well-rounded balance across all facets of the organization.
During the GM Meetings last month, Cashman vociferously supported the analytics department in a media session marked by strong language. Fishman conveyed that Cashman acknowledges the efforts of the analytics department. According to him, Cashman understands that the analytics department has generated a wealth of valuable information, tools, and recommendations throughout the years.
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