Yankees elevate self-scouting to new heights in high-level meet

The Yankees team celebrates after an astonishing win over the Brewers on Sept 10, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

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Around this time every year, some of the best evaluators from the New York Yankees‘ pro scouting department go out to watch their major league team play. The task is to pretend that they are working for another team and scouting players. The scouts have a job to find out how to defeat the Yankees.

This yearly tradition, which has been going on for over ten years but isn’t talked about much in public, shows how important it is to have a strong pro scouting team. This is especially relevant now because many teams are reducing jobs in this area.

Yankees’ self-scouting changes in 2023

This season, they did things a bit differently, and it all wrapped up with a meeting at Yankee Stadium. In the meeting, there were important people like GM Brian Cashman, the coaching staff, and the Yankee scouts who had been watching the team closely. They talked about more things than usual in this meeting.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone explained that this year, they took a slightly different approach. According to him, usually, their focus during this time was on closely examining the team’s tendencies and preparations for the playoffs, and this was why they did it during this particular timeframe. He explained that they had the scouts observe their team for three weeks late in the season.

LeMahieu is seen with his Yankees teammates Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo.

However, according to Boone, this year they expanded the scope of the process. They now sought the scouts’ opinions on the players, their thoughts on areas where improvements could be made, and an evaluation of both strengths and weaknesses. Boone emphasized how valuable it was to receive an independent perspective from the scouts, especially after they had been closely observing the team for a few weeks. This unfiltered feedback allowed them to gain a better understanding of their team.

A valuable tool for the Yankees

Just like the Yankees usually do, they encourage teamwork and collaboration between different parts of the organization, rather than sticking to old or new ways of doing things separately. So, it’s not only the pro scouting team that takes part in self-evaluation but also the people who analyze the quality of play and those who scout ahead to plan for future games.

Over the years, just like other things, Yankees scouts have had various jobs, like trying to figure out their own team’s secret signals and watching to see if the pitchers and catchers give away any hints or signs. The idea is that if they can notice these things, then other teams might notice them too.

Even though the Yankees have no chance to make the playoffs, they are already preparing for the offseason and beyond. In addition to that, Boone and his team want to use the expanded part of the meeting to talk to the players about what they should focus on improving for the rest of this season and during the offseason.

This might involve having formal exit meetings with players, which is something usually seen in the minor leagues where they focus on developing players. The Yankees would prefer to be playing in the playoffs instead of having these meetings. But if they don’t make it to the playoffs, they will use the last days of the season to create personalized plans for each player on the team.

The Yankees team celebrates after an astonishing win over the Brewers on Sept 10, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.
NYY

Yankees’ pro scouting remains while others are scaling back

The Yankees are still very focused on scouting their own players, even though many other teams have reduced their scouting staff. For example, the Washington Nationals recently let go of six scouts. In the past few years, teams like the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers have also made their scouting teams smaller.

To solidify their reasons, the people in charge of these teams say they make these choices because sending scouts to watch games can be very expensive. They also mention that, like in any job, some scouts are better at their work than others. In smaller cities, where team owners are more careful with how much money they spend on running the team than they are in New York, the General Managers (GMs) have to make tough decisions about where to cut expenses, and the pro scouting department is often one of the areas that gets affected.

Both the Yankees and the Mets have no intentions of reducing their pro scouting, as per sources from both teams. Hal Steinbrenner and Steve Cohen, who own these teams, have the financial means and realize how crucial pro scouting is, so they will continue to invest in it.

The Yankees also rely on data quite a bit. They have a big team of analysts who work with the players, even in the clubhouse. Gerrit Cole, one of their star pitchers, has praised analyst Zac Fieroh for helping come up with successful game strategies this year.

According to Aaron Judge, t it’s beneficial to have both scouts and former players share information with the players currently on the team. He stated that it wasn’t solely about numbers or what appears on a computer screen but the importance of observing the game was key to a team’s success.

In the future, an even larger portion of the information that Judge and his teammates receive will originate from the Yankees’ own pro scouts. According to Boone, the information from the scouts provides insights into things they might be overlooking and need to improve or refine.

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