Nov
13

Procedural changes only delay the inevitable for player development system

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Late last night, word came down from Hal Steinbrenner that the Yankees will not be making any changes to their player development system this winter. No major personnel changes, anyway. Damon Oppenheimer will remain amateur scouting director, Mark Newman will remain VP of Baseball Ops, and Pat Roessler will remain director of player development. This comes after nearly three months of auditing the farm system and trying to figure out why it was so unproductive this past season and has been over the last several years.

“Yeah, we have. We’ve made some changes,” said Hal to Andy McCullough yesterday when asked about the development staff. “The vast majority of the changes will be procedural. We’ve changed a few coaches, and we’ve brought in a few people. But [Brian Cashman] spent a lot of time, a good two months, looking at process: How we do things, how people communicate with each other. And we found some things that we were not happy with. So we changed them.”

“Procedural” changes. They’re going to change the way they communicate. They’re going to rearrange some furniture, slap some lipstick on the organizational pig, and go about business as usual. The problems were big enough to swap out some coaches and improve communication but not make wholesale changes. The guys in charge are on the right path, they just need to tweak some things and everything will be good. Change some procedures and ¯\_(:-/)_/¯. That’s one way to take that quote.

Now, let’s be serious for a second. Over the last few years, the Yankees have seen many prospects either stall out or go down with a major injury, especially pitchers. The last top pitching prospect, a “hey this guy could be really special” guy, to not blow out his arm in the minors was Joba Chamberlain in 2007. Andrew Brackman blew out his arm, Dellin Betances blew out his arm, Manny Banuelos blew out his arm, Alan Horne blew out his arm, Jose Campos blew out his arm, and Christian Garcia blew out his arm twice. Ty Hensley blew out his hip, so I guess he’s the exception right now.

There are always going to injuries (especially to pitchers) and there will always be some level of attrition. It’s completely unavoidable. But I think we’re beyond the point of blaming it on attrition or bad luck. The Yankees admitted to feeling the same way when Hal launched his investigation into the team’s farm system a few months ago. That was an admission on his part that something is going wrong somewhere, that things are not turning out the way they should be. Simply put, New York has not been able to turn their prospects into productive big leaguers. They fart out some relievers every so often but so does every other club, they aren’t anything special in that regard.

Now here’s the thing: I think the Yankees actually do a pretty good job of acquiring high-end talent, both internationally (before the spending restrictions were put into place, anyway) and in the draft. Yes, it could be better (it could always be better), they have made some questionable high picks in recent years (Cito Culver and Dante Bichette Jr., most notably), but they still walked away with top shelf guys like Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Greg Bird in the later rounds, for example. Williams has underperformed, Bird has dealt with injury, and Austin has battled both. The talent is there, they just can’t get these guys over the developmental hump.

As an outsider, evaluating a farm system and a development system is close to impossible because so much of it happens away from cameras and reporters. All we see is the results and, let’s be real here, the results stink. They’ve stunk for a few years now. The Yankees are in the middle of this weird transitional period where payroll is coming down and the last remnants of the dynasty years are fading away, so support from homegrown young players is vital. They haven’t been getting it though, the results are obvious. In the five years since Brett Gardner and David Robertson came up, the team’s best homegrown player has been Ivan Nova (104 ERA+ in 504 innings), and that’s just not good enough.

“It’s really easy to say, ‘Get rid of this guy. Get rid of this guy. And get rid of that guy,’” said Steinbrenner. “But that doesn’t always solve the problem. Sometimes it’s procedural or process, the way scouts influence each other because they’re talking too much to each other — somebody has a preconception about a player they haven’t even seen yet because they’ve talked to two scouts about them and they go in to go see the player with those preconceptions. So those are the kind of things we’re working on, communication. We’re teaching the scouts. We’re going to teach them to look for different things, maybe things they haven’t looked at before.”

I was being a jerk and downplaying the value of procedural changes before but they are important. Something had to change and something did. We don’t know the scope or extent of those changes but something is being done behind the scenes unless Hal is lying. It’s possible these adjustments will fix everything, get the position players on track and stop the top pitchers from visiting Dr. Andrews once a year. But I think the track record of developmental failure is too long to only make procedural changes. New sets of eyes and new voices could help the club crack the player development riddle no one in the organization seems to be able to solve. The Yankees had a chance to make meaningful changes to their farm system these last few weeks, but they opted for the half-measure instead.

Categories : Front Office, Minors

153 Comments»

  1. jjyank says:

    Meh. I don’t think we can really call anything a half measure if we don’t even know what was altered, or even what the root of the problem was/is. I’m not convinced that firing people would lead to any more success than tweaking the existing process.

    I’m sure this thread is going to be filled with people who disagree with me, however.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      Given how many advanced stats we have for actual performance, it’s frustrating as a fan to not have any actual, solid, unbiased data about a farm system’s development process. We’re too spoiled by information, so any scenario where we lack it, the instinct seems to be to jump to conclusions.

      Our system could have been better; the organization seems to have admitted that and started to make changes. Seems to me that it’s easier, and controls the variables to a greater extent, to make the procedural changes first, and if they don’t work, change the staff.

      Who knows.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Sports fans love a good fall guy, though.

        Of managerial/coaching firings that occur in sports, how many of the people let go are more symbolic firings than anything else?

        This is what people are going to look for here, and they’re going to claim the real world is like this, even though it isn’t about as often as it is (we’ve been through how different industries are just that on here before.) I actually think sports would be better if there were less fall guys and more actually looking at the problem.

        And, yes, you peckerhead, we live in a internet sports TMI world, where we suddenly think we know about the organization’s director of scouting, the director of development, and the strength and conditioning guy (my personal favorite) to judge their job description. I can’t even judge my job’s Development guy, and I’ve worked closely with him.

        This is the world that we live in, though, and it’s still a better world than only knowing the farm system through a page in the yearbook.

    • lightSABR says:

      I think you’re right. We don’t know what’s been causing the problems, we don’t know what procedural changes they’ve made, and we don’t know what alternatives they had to the personnel they’ve currently got. It’s entirely possible that Newman and Roessler are lousy at their jobs but the Yankees can’t fire them because they can’t find anybody they think will be better.

      If this had all happened two years ago, I would have trusted the organization enough to suspect they actually merited praise for actually focusing on fixing things instead of just firing a couple people for symbolic reasons and hoping things got magically better after that. I don’t trust the organization that much anymore, and I have increasingly come to suspect that Hal can’t tell a baseball bat from a joystick, but I still don’t have enough information to say that this is a huge mistake.

  2. blake says:

    it’s a process!

  3. Jay D says:

    They tried to fire the staff, but there was a setback.

  4. mitch says:

    I don’t think any of us know enough about how the system works to comment if this was enough of a change. Who really knows who/what is responsible for the lack of development and injuries? Only time will tell if these procedural changes were the right move.

  5. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I think you half-rescued this from the abyss, Mike. You can’t call the changes “lipstick on a pig” without either knowing what they are, or seeing how they actually function when put into place. Populist angst isn’t a reason to get people fired. If it was it, people would fired or re-hired for the same job all the time. Thank God we don’t get rid of presidents when they hit some approval threshold. They usually bounce back up from it when the next good thing happens.

    At the end of the day, no, we don’t know what the depth of the procedural changes are. We also simply cannot speak to the level of what is “enough.” Hal really does speak the truth with his statement. It makes for good headlines when you fire someone, but firing people doesn’t mean jack shit. Whether we’re at, not at, or beyond the point of procedural changes is nothing any of us can truly answer when we separate our populist fiery angst from the situation.

    I’ll say this again: What irks me about this system these past few years is time lost to injury and re-injury. It particularly irks me with Banuelos, Campos, Austin, Pineda, and Hensley who, in three of those cases, have lost serious developmental time due to injury, multiple seemingly-unrelated inury, and double-dipping the same injury. How the extent of these injuries is being detected, and what the subsquent recommendations are, needs to be strongly looked at, to me. Three of those guys should have been helping, or much close to helping, team in 2013. The other two could have been nearing High-A, or AA, at this point. That’s what’s important, not whether one person is doing it versus another. Other than that, Culver, DBJ, blah blah blah. Low-hanging fruit kinda shit.

    Of course, this will land me in the Pollyanna populist minority of blog comment sections, but we only drink the top shelf shit on this side.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      The oddest part of this whole conversation, to me, is that there’s still a chance that this is honestly truly just a fairly bad run of luck.

      I tend to side with you on the injury issue; that’s where I think the actual problem lies, but Lord knows I have no idea how to fix it, or what I’d actually be fixing.

      • blake says:

        I think it might be a function of a lot of things….picking late every year….draft strategy…..poor development and yes bad luck.

        If you look at the good players in MLB there is a fairly good sized percentage of them that the Yankees never even had a chance to draft because they were gone by the time they even picked…..also because the Yanks pick late I think they have gambled on high schoolers a lot trying to hit paydirt on talent later in the draft…..that’s ok but the bust rate is much higher with high school kids.

        It’s a lot of things most likely…..I think they had a really good draft in 2013 with regards to process though so maybe things have already turned around and we just haven’t seen the fruit yet.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

          I hope so, 2013 definitely seemed like it had a different direction than the past 2 years.

          • Mac says:

            Do you mean 2011-12 or 2010-11? Perhaps you do mean 2012, but I feel like the 2012 draft often gets forgotten because of Hensley’s injury. He was a consensus pick, though, and so was O’Brien. Aune was a reach, but a pretty conventional one in terms of grabbing a talented athlete who hadn’t concentrated on baseball yet.

            • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

              Yeah I actually meant 2010-2011. My bad.

              • Mac says:

                Didn’t mean to attack you there at all, I just really think that the majority of hardcore Yankees fans forget that the 2012 draft happened. In reading comments about the 2013 draft it’s always like “they finally took a consensus guy (3 really) for the first time in forever!” When it’s the first time in only one year and they took mostly consensus guys before 2010-11 too. I don’t know if 2010-11 was an experiment in a new philosophy or it was just a random coincidence that the guys they liked with their first picks were non-consensus, but it seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

            • blake says:

              I didn’t have a problem with the 2012 draft….most of the picks seemed reasonable for where they were drafted.

              The 2010 and 2011 draft were the obvious ones that are questionable….especially their first round picks where they went completely off the board and drafted guys that were really in nobody’s top 100 and they could have likely gotten later. Since those debacles they seemed to have improved at least in draft process.

              • Mac says:

                What besides the first round was questionable in 2010 and 11? I have to honestly ask it you’ve actually looked at those drafts outside the first round based on that comment:
                http://www.baseball-reference......g&
                http://www.baseball-reference......ranch_year

                Several of their best prospects came from those drafts: Williams, Austin, Bird, and Montgomery.
                Some other solid prospects: Gumbs, Gamel, Segedin, Cave, Cote, Camarena…
                Volume in RP prospects: Montgomery, Claiborne, Whitley, Barawa, Kahnle, Pinder.

                Obviously Stafford was hurt, but that’s a case where they actually diagnosed the injury before it was known about from what I remember.

                I don’t know what you expect from a draft class, but the chance for several contributors and maybe even a strong starter or two is about all you can really ask this soon after a draft.

              • Caballo Sin Nombre says:

                They were clearly in the Yankees top 100, so that’s not an accurate statement. Since neither of us have access to other teams’ draft lists, we don’t know that they weren’t in any other teams’ top 100 lists.

    • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

      Finally ;)

      Here’s my beef. Reading through the prior thread on this issue, I agree that it’s debatable whether we can say in a vacuum that the results are “horrible” without understanding context, reasonable expectations, specific responsibility for specific decisions, etc.

      However, no one with a straight face could say the results are anything better than average. IOW the debate isn’t between average and good. The debate is between average and bad. Arguing otherwise is extremely silly IMO.

      With that granted, I’m not sure how 100% of the people in a system keep their jobs – and very likely annual pay raises and bonuses – when the results are somewhere between bad and average. I find it impossible to believe that procedural changes are going to make anything other than a small, marginal difference. Perhaps barely enough to get us to consensus “average” up from bad. But certainly not enough to get us to good, or better.

      Mike is right. This is delaying the inevitable, and worse, it’s a sign that the franchise remains mired until demonstrated otherwise. As a very long time fan, this can only be viewed as extremely disappointing.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Dude, come on. I’ve said this more than several times.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

        Any kind of improvement can never be viewed as “Extremely Disappointing” by anyone with realistic expectations.

        • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

          I disagree, and completely. If it improves thing .00000001% is that not extremely disappointing? It sure as hell is to me.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

            So then geez, what would a .00000001% decrease in improvement do to you?

            • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

              Obviously it would throw me completely off the rails.

              Still not clear to me why so many people seem happy with meh.

              • The Big City of Dreams says:

                I don’t think they’re happy with meh it’s just taking the opposite approach when looking at the situation. I’m not saying Jim is playing devil’s advocate because I truly feel he believes in what he says.

              • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

                So there’s no room at all between “EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTING” and happy?

      • jjyank says:

        “This is delaying the inevitable, and worse, it’s a sign that the franchise remains mired until demonstrated otherwise.”

        But you, and Mike, don’t actually know that. That’s my beef with discussions like this. People seem so damned certain that the Yankees are going to be stuck in mediocrity until they lop off Oppenheimer’s head and put it on a pike outside Yankee Stadium. We don’t even know what changes were made, so how can we know if they will have an impact or not?

        • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

          Again, mired until proven otherwise. Said another way, the proof will be in the pudding. But, absent information to the contrary (ie better results going forward) this latest (non)development is best taken as a sign that things will continue more or less as they have which, per the above, is somewhere between bad and average. For the most storied franchise in sports, that sucks.

          • jjyank says:

            But changes were made in the process. People weren’t fired, but some changes were made. Whether or not those changes will have an impact, we don’t know. But you’re choosing to think that they won’t, and you have nothing to back that up. I refuse to be that pessimistic.

            • The Big City of Dreams says:

              I refuse to be that pessimistic.

              ————–

              I hear what you’re but the pessimism from some fans comes from the fact that things haven’t gone well as the Yankees have hoped. We all know they aren’t going to be loaded with studs waiting to come up but the results have been ok to say the least and that’s being generous. If these changes improve the system and the tree bears fruit fans will have no problem admitting the right changes were made. Until then the pessimism will remain.

              • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

                “but the results have been ok to say the least and that’s being generous”

                Nope, it’s not. It’s being reasonable for a system ranked in the middle of a pack by any and all reputable people who do rankings.

                • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

                  Riiiiight. A system which, until very recently, had the benefit of a bottomless wallet as its primary competitive advantage, and still was no better than average. That competitive advantage was removed due to slotting and the rest of the draft rules and now ifa rules as well. Then we made no substantive changes to said system (I do not define procedural stuff on its face as substantive, sorry) and there’s little cause to believe things will get better.

                  Until proven otherwise, our system is meh and this news does nothing to change that.

            • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

              I have loads and loads and loads to back that up. Not sure which world you’ve been living in but when it comes to drafting and player development the performance has been average at best and more realistically worse than that. So, minor changes (which is how I define procedural changes as a general rule) do not bode well for materially changing results.

              As I said, the proof will be in the pudding. But when things are meh and the meh is ongoing nothing changes until there’s less meh.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Yet it may be better than it was ten years ago, if you think about it. Debatable, of course, but worth thinking about.

            • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

              I’d have to go back and check the rosters, drafts, etc from that period. Ten years ago is an interesting time because George was back obviously, we’d recently had a shit ton of success, and George probably thought he had a lot to do with it. It wouldn’t surprise me if things were worse (and also dysfunctional) then.

              But, as with dating, going from a 2 to a 4 still ain’t pretty.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        “However, no one with a straight face could say the results are anything better than average. IOW the debate isn’t between average and good. The debate is between average and bad. Arguing otherwise is extremely silly IMO.”

        Overall, I’m not thrilled, but it really is for the reasons I stated above. I actually am very happy the team has gotten some value out of mostly unheralded prospects in the past few years. Ivan Nova was not a top prospect. What Warren, Phelps, and even Claiborne have brought isn’t nothing. David Robertson is an elite MLB reliever. You need guys like to build a solid bullpen without overpaying on the market. We overlook that way too much on here.

        “With that granted, I’m not sure how 100% of the people in a system keep their jobs – and very likely annual pay raises and bonuses – when the results are somewhere between bad and average.”

        A small bone to pick here – 100% didn’t keep their job. That strength and conditioning person is gone. New scouts have been hired, while others left. We don’t have a staff listing. We know the top people are still here. Perhaps some want heads to roll and see them as the be-all-end-all, but it’s not 100%.

        • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

          The positive results you point to aren’t being forgotten (by me at least). I count them in the debate of where on the spectrum we are between bad and average.

          Granted on the 100%. And yes the injuries do seem a system wide bugaboo though that can be looked at in two ways. Good news because it’s system wide and presumably therefore can be fixed somehow. Bad news because system wide problems likely involve many people, not just one. And since many people were apparently not let go then I’m not especially optimistic that things will get materially better in this regard.

          We may have better luck (and shit how could we not?) but that’s a tough thing to hang the hat on.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Honestly, I’m going to say I don’t think it’s a string of bad luck. I think there’s something to how we’re bringing guys back, and how we do promotions, that’s off.

            For all the complaining about the Yanks not being aggressive because there’s not a Jose Fernandez moving from A ball to the majors, there are many people who argue that the franchise is too aggressive sometimes.

            Is it possible that the franchise is in a race against itself sometimes in order to prove that the system is, in fact, working? Again, worth throwing out there.

            • Bo Knows says:

              It’s possible that they are both at the same time, it might sound contradictory but it really isn’t. I’ve always thought that the Yanks weren’t aggressive enough, but I’ve been recently thinking that the Yankees being overly aggressive in some areas and too passive in others.

              With their pitchers, they don’t rarely let their young guys throw even 100 innings in their first full season. That is in big contrast to most teams especially those who have great success in developing pitching. In those other organizations, you see these 19 yr olds throwing 110-120 innings in a season. With the Yankees, I don’t recall seeing any of their HS draftees throwing that many innings at age 21 and if they do, they are barely eclipsing that.

              At the same time, after these extremely small samples, these guys are promoted and placed against much stiffer competition while also being forced to deal with learning how to manage fatigue.

              In a nutshell NYY has things ass-backwards, they should try to get these young guys exposed to more innings younger so they can understand how to handle workloads in a lower stressed environment, with the bonus of them getting experience in delivery reps.

            • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

              Something is indeed off in (at least) this regard, very much agreed. We seem to lose whether we rush guys or take our sweet time with them.

      • Mac says:

        A few things…

        100% of people didn’t keep their jobs. The P development staff was turned-over last off-season with a very highly respect outsider coming in, so it would have been pretty premature to shake things up again. The hitting coordinator was changed. Coaches were changed.

        You can absolutely make HUGE changes without turning over staff. Just no doubt about it. This is not an MLB team where the skill sets necessary are so rare that you just need more talent. That’s why no GM or scouting director is making $25 million per for 10 years. Their skill set isn’t common, but it’s just not that incredibly rare. IBankers and consultants with the same level of experience are making more money. Think more about a traditional company than a sports team here, because these guys are managers not athletes.

        The question isn’t really whether their results have been bad, average, or good recently. It’s whether the underlying process has been good and how you expect that to translate into results going forward.

        • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

          Already acknowledged about the 100%. Still, I disagree that the procedural changes such as they have (not) been described amount to anything other than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, until proven otherwise. I think you place far too much faith in the ability of a system made up of individuals to change dramatically, particularly without a change at the top. That didn’t happen here.

          Not sure what your point is about gm salaries, bankers and consultants. There are obviously individuals and even entire systems around the league with demonstrably better track records over the long term than that evinced by ours. Last I checked we didn’t bring any of them over to our side.

          As for process vs results, obviously the proof will be in the pudding. But it’s 100% clear that the results to date have not been anything better than average and that’s being generous. What this non-development is saying is that they are changing the process but not (on the whole) the people involved in it. When this system is and has been meh for a decade I’m not sure how or where to find comfort or optimism in that.

          Let me ask you this: if our system produces the same quantity and quality of MLB over the nest decade as it has over the last, would you be satisfied? I would not. Given what you know or believe right now, which do you believe more likely, that the talent going forward will be better, worse, or the same as prior?

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            “Still, I disagree that the procedural changes such as they have (not) been described amount to anything other than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, until proven otherwise.”

            Yay! Something recently written to respond to.

            The common thread to a lot of what I’m reading from you that you’re interpreting decisions made to mean something negative until proven otherwise. Another person could do just the opposite, or just to remain curious and right in the middle (which is where I stand), and no one’s technically wrong here. Everyone’s looking at the same painting and finding something different.

          • Mac says:

            I don’t see much reason to speculate on whether or not the procedural changes will work. I have no idea what they are, let alone whether they will work.

            My point was that this is not a talent thing to the extent that the game itself is. This is an organizational decision making and management thing. A matter of applying knowledge that’s out there. Certainly there is a talent component, but the point with salaries is that if these guys were perceived as being scarce and valuable they would be getting the player salaries and vice versa. Their skill set is not judged as being anywhere near as valuable by the market.
            This speaks to your assumption that you have to poach talent from other organizations in order to improve yours. On the field, yes. That’s the only way to quickly turn it around because talent is so scarce and it’s largely a thing that a player either has or doesn’t have at a certain point in his development. In the front office I am arguing that this is not the case.

            I don’t find comfort or optimism. I have no idea what changes they made. Neither do you. I don’t see how you can find pessimism in something you know nothing about. I’m just waiting and seeing.
            I think that results have a lot to do with luck. These same top guys produced a ton of talent from about 2005-8. If this is simply a talent issue, did they lose their talent?
            By the way, if they changed the people without changing the process, I don’t see why you would be any more comfortable with that.

            You know that Robinson fucking Cano debuted in 2005, right? Yes, if they develop a Cano, Gardner, AJax, IPK, Melky, Hughes, Nova, Robertson, Montero, etc. in the next decade I would be happy with that. Abso-fucking-lutely. I don’t know where you came up with a decade from, but I think you are incorrect in using that time period. From 2005 to maybe 2008/9 the Yankees’ system was about as productive as any system in baseball.

            I have no idea what the talent will be compared to before. Nor would I if they brought in a bunch of random scouts from several other organizations to come together in roles they’ve never had before in a grouping with no track record. A lot of people seem to assume that new blood would necessarily be better blood, which is very questionable.
            And, again, you are judging these guys entirely on results. Results include a lot of factors outside of their control. If the Angels pass on Trout and the Yankees take him, how incredibly happy are you right now? The Yankees development staff would have been no better in their decision making for that to happen. It would have relied entirely on another team not doing something. Similarly, if I knew for a fact that without their injuries Banuelos and Pineda would be top-end SPs… how happy are you with our farm system right now? (I know they didn’t develop Pineda, but developing Montero allowed them to get Pineda.)

    • jjyank says:

      A thousand times this. We don’t know jack shit, and claiming that someone needs to be fired is really just demanding a scape goat. I find that logic dubious at best, and immature at worst. Firing for the sake of placating the ignorant fans is not the way to go about business.

      • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

        For my part, I’m less claiming that someone “needs to be fired” than I am that given the information we have it’s more likely than not that results going forward will strongly resemble results to date. Yes, the proof will be in the pudding. And so this debate has to wait for results in order to be settled.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

          And your claim is based on such a tiny, tiny sliver of information that it’s basically meaningless.

          Nothing anyone’s doing here is remotely meaningfully predictive.

          • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

            Disagree. When most of the same people are being led from the top by huge same people I think there is far far more reason than not to believe things will be more similar then not.

            Remember, tomorrow’s weather is best predicted by looking at today’s.

        • jjyank says:

          I don’t think that we can conclude that anything will be more likely than not, based on the extremely limited amount of information we have.

    • Mac says:

      I agree with almost all of what you said, but the injuries you list are so uncorrelated that I just don’t think there is a trend there. There could be a link. You’re just talking about guys who hurt completely different body parts at completely different levels (Hensley had a pre-existing condition even that I can’t remember whether was genetic or not). It’s really frustrating when you delay surgery on a guy only to have him need it or for a guy to re-injure himself, but I don’t know how unusual that it. I don’t follow other teams nearly as closely, yet I always hear about player x (Matt Harvey recently) who thinks he might avoid surgery through rehab and certain injuries can just be chronic.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        It was a tough tightrope to walk trying to tie those four guys in together, which is why I got caught up in too much “well, three out of these guys had this, and two of these guys…..”

        The constant to me is extra time spent on the sidelines and, yes, there’s multiple, and possibly unrelated, reasons for that.

        • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

          Hard to know too how much is selection bias. But as it happens I share that bias. We’ve seemed snake bit.

    • hogsmog says:

      What seems strange to me is that, in this day and age, there are so many injuries and fewer preventative diagnosis. In a sport with this much money involved, I feel like the vast majority of injuries should be freak accidents, not stress/strain related (ie, TJS). If Banuelos went down for say, a comebacker to the ankle, that would be much easier for me to swallow. Instead, I feel like we have to ask why there isn’t a doctor giving a checkup to every pitcher after every game?

      Yeah it would take a long time, yeah it would require another doctor on staff. But even if you had to throw him a million dollars a year, and even if he only prevented one guy from going into surgery per year, I would count that as more than worth it. It just seems to me that for all the medical advancements we’ve made, baseball (not just the Yankees) is being sort of backwards about how they keep players healthy.

    • bpdelia says:

      Gotta agree. The main issue with development has been injury. And more frustrating re-injury. And the other big one has been the lack of a clear development plan. Obviously everyone is different. But the Yankees have been particularly aggressive with pitcher promotions while simultaneously being hilariously conservative on innings limits. These seem like opposed ideas to me. There is no doubt that the Yankees have a pattern of promoting pitchers through levels with tiny amounts of innings.

      If you want to have very very conservative innings limits fine. But then you can’t promote guys two levels a season or you end up with guys in the upper levels ( where results MATTER and the pressure is on) without having developed the skills to excel. I have very little issue with the position player development other than a serious problem with rehab schedules.

      Right now the process is broken and haphazard. It’s the obvious place to start.

  6. Mike Myers says:

    “They fart out some relievers every so often”

    Ha. Thanks for that. feel free to take the rest of the day off.

  7. Dan says:

    Shark Sandwich, more like Shit Sandwich.

  8. Mac says:

    I would really urge you to actually analyze the available evidence rather than inferring causation from a small sample of results. Perhaps, as a journalist, you could actually reach out to experts in organizational behavior or baseball for their takes rather than just laundry listing your complaints. But my core suggestion would be to audit the info we have. Who were the guys acquired years back with a chance to come up over the last few years? What happened to them? How does that compare with league wide expectations? You’re making a lot of claims about how terrible this and that result is without doing anything to anchor it.

    Changing the personnel without changing the system would have also been a half-measure. And making personnel changes if the issue was clearly a systematic one might not have made any difference at all.

    You are also ignoring all the personnel change that they actually made. They turned over the P development staff just last season, and one of your major complaints (however unfounded it might be) is about P development. You wanted changes and they made the changes. You just have to actually acknowledge them and give it more than one season. Then this season they changed hitting coordinators.
    The guys at the top of the food chain are likely managers with only so much influence over the actual players. Certainly they are ultimately responsible, but the internal audit might have found them to be strong managers with weak talent executing below them. Could be a bit like what happened with Tom Coughlin a few years ago when the Giants stuck with him and fired the coordinators.

    You’re lumping in two guys who came into the organization with pre-existing injuries (one known, one unknown) in Brackman and Hensley with guys that got injured in the system. If almost 1/4 of your examples don’t fit and you have to ignore several success stories right before or during the period to make your point… it might not be as strong a point as you think it is. It possible that there was a flaw that caused all those issues (and, again, they did turnover their P development staff just last year), but it’s just as possible that a string of injuries to different body parts at an extremely injury-prone position at different levels throughout the system was just a bit of bad luck.

    • Mac says:

      Sorry, over 1/4 of your examples. Not almost.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Excellent comment.

    • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

      The results have been average at best, no two ways about it. And frankly that’s being generous. When most of the same people are being led by the same people at the top the chances for meaningful change in results is extremely small IMO. Until proven otherwise the system is meh and will stay that way.

      • Mac says:

        BECAUSE I SAY SO!!!!!

        • Havok9120 says:

          To be fair, that’s all anyone has got at this point.

          We can look at the lack of the firings and be incensed and feel not enough was done or we can be encouraged that the team is trying to make changes without a white wash and blaming it on one or two senior people whose role is murky to begin with.

          Either way it’ll just be a feeling, a guess, because none of us have all that much detail to go off of. And sure as heck none of us can see the future.

          • Mac says:

            I have no problem with stating your opinion. I do have a problem with stating your opinion as fact.

            “no two ways about it”

            “Until proven otherwise the system is meh and will stay that way.”

            Especially that last one… a “meh” system one year can be a great system a year later and vice versa. So many fans on here seem to think that farm systems are these consistent things that produce the same level year after year. Prospects tend to come in fits and starts.

  9. Kevin says:

    I think people lose sight of the fact that our system has been ranked more middle of the pack than horrific. Which isn’t bad. The question isn’t: Why are things so grotesquely incompetent down there? It is: how can we improve to make sure that some better things happen in the future? We aren’t trying to invent a product, just tinker and improve the one we have.

    We as Yankees fans have been treated to something very unique in baseball over the past decade or so: Stability. Our manager doesn’t change, our front office doesn’t change, most of our players year to year stay the same (2013 being the big exception). As a result, I think we constantly look at other teams that change everything up all the time and see only the ones who succeed. That’s where the calls for a giant sell off, or firing the whole front office, or firing everyone in scouting and development; come from. What we don’t see is how hard it is to get to average, to get a winning team, because we expect that.

    Most of the time when the manager gets fired, there is a cycle of shitty managers coming and going. Most of the time after a fire sale, the team takes years to get back to where it started. Most of the time, don’t count on things coming out ok in a year or two.

    • jjyank says:

      Well said.

    • blake says:

      again I think it’s possible that they are actually running things better and we just haven’t seen the fruit from it yet…..the last 2 drafts have been better with regards to the thought process of the picks IMO….especially 2013.

      It’s really too early to know if they did well in those drafts or not but it seems like they at least got good value for where they picked.

      Lets remember that although you can find talent anywhere in the draft….the Yankees virtually never get a shot at the low risk top 15 type guys…..they never get the David Prices or Evan Longorias or Manny Machados because they are gone by the time they pick.

      That doesnt mean they can’t improve or shouldn’t get better at finding those diamonds in the rough and developing them…..but it is harder when you are always having to draft riskier guys and never get that low risk top guy to hang your system hat on.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        “again I think it’s possible that they are actually running things better and we just haven’t seen the fruit from it yet…..”

        Absolutely possible.

      • Mac says:

        What do you mean by “thought process” other than picking guys the media outlets you read ranked highly?

        I ask in part because I think people tend to blow two picks out of proportion. Before 2010, Opp had largely taken consensus guys. A process might have led to taking DBJ in 2011 and Aune in 2012. A similar process might have led to Culver in 2010 and Katoh in 2013.

        When you are only looking at one pick per year as representative of their entire philosophy, the sample is likely way too small. If they had 3 first round picks in 2010 or 11, they might have taken two consensus NCAA guys and the guy they went with. If Clarkin was off the board, they might have taken a completely out of nowhere guy (Katoh even?) in the first round in 2013. It’s just two decisions that they made in two particular situations.

      • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

        Until those guys get injured too ;)

  10. Ed says:

    My gut feeling is that the problem lies with the medical staff. Not just in the minors but system wide. So many players, pitchers especially, have had arm problems in the minors. Some of them I can’t blame the team for – they drafted Brackman knowing he needed TJ surgery. Hensley’s issues were genetic. Heathcott had injury issues in high school. But Baneulos in particular sure seems like he was mishandled. Lots of other guys had injuries as well.

    Over the past few years we’ve also seen a lot of injuries at the major league level. This year’s team had an absurd number of injuries. We’ve also had a lot of setbacks in recovery – Jeter, Tex, A-Rod, Cervelli spring to mind right away this year, and Gardner’s elbow injury really set him back last year.

    It feels like they can’t keep guys healthy, and once they’re hurt, they botch the rehab leading to more problems.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Also, we know Brackman was a swing-for-the-fences situation, and that both he and Hensley may have not even been around for the Yanks to pick if there weren’t concerns.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I’d separate Jeter and Tex there. I think that’s a bit more of a overtrust-the-vet/warrior thing going on.

  11. adeel says:

    I agree we do not know what is going on. The “narrative” that scares me the most is the one of the big company that is so full of itself, it becomes resistant to change. While the rest of baseball is adapting and improving their player development, it feels as if the Yankees are just clinging to the same 20 year old system because they are the Yankees after all.

    I hope its not true, but I would not be surprised if spreadsheets, OPS and WAR are a foreign language to many of their scouts. If they have an injury problem, why aren’t preventive MRI’s done for their top prospects so they can be shut down before they break something? People like Michael Pineda and CC should have an elective MRI every six months or so in order to detect the inflammation before something breaks!

    I would love to believe the Yankees have their act together, but it just feels to me more and more that this organization is a lot like blockbuster, barnes and noble, woolworth’s and other venerable companies that thought their business model was timeless.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I don’t think this is the case at all.

      I think the Yankees have certainly prioritized veteran players, even as they were working in the Core Four in the mid-90′s, for a very, very long time, and that THAT’S certainly an “old school” mentality. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, though.

      That shouldn’t be confused with how they synthesize data and look at players, which I sincerely doubt is a bunch of guys with cigars telling the players to just rub some spit on it and that it will go away.

    • Mac says:

      I’m not sure that narrative actually exists.

      The Yankees have been very, very clear in their desire to develop cheap homegrown talent for years now. They are openly talking about falling short of expectations now and looking for causes and solutions. I don’t think there’s much doubt that they see the direction baseball is headed in, because they talk about it publicly. Seeing it and executing on it are two different things, but they definitely see it.

      The Yankees have something like 14 people in their stats department, so I don’t think there’s much doubt they are using statistical analysis. At the same time, stats only tell you so much about prospects. Even guys in AAA, let alone guys in HS.

  12. Hardy says:

    From 2005-2008 the Yankees had a great run of graduating players to the majors: Cano, Cabrera, Gardner, Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Chamberlain, Robertson.
    They should just do things again like they did back then.

    • Mac says:

      Who knows, but they may be doing things the exact same way. They may just have had exceptionally good luck in that first run and then bad luck in the more recent run. Seeing as they have many of the same guys in leadership roles, I think that might be the most likely explanation. It’s certainly also possible that the guys in place are just not executing as well.

    • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

      You forgot Nova, but that still only makes 3 guys I’d want on the roster.

  13. The Big City of Dreams says:

    but they opted for the half-measure instead.

    —————

    They could have done the half measure approach yrs ago. They needed this past season to talk more and look at things differently??

    • Mac says:

      I don’t understand where this narrative that they have not made any changes until now comes from. They turned over their P development staff just last year. I would guess that there have been incremental changes and reevaluations over the years.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

        It comes from a lack of research, a processing of sound bytes you hear from various sources, and a misplaced belief that this whole thing should be easy and predictable.

        • The Big City of Dreams says:

          It shouldn’t be easy or predictable but they should be further along than they are now.

          Or we can just blame the whole thing on bad luck.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

            Or we can realize that we don’t know, and everything here is guesswork.

            • The Big City of Dreams says:

              So then there is no point in discussing this at all . Not saying that in a rude way but if the belief is we don’t know what’s going on so hush up then what’s the point.

              • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

                No, you can talk about whatever you’d like.

                I’m just saying that you’re most likely wrong.

                • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

                  Only one side of the argument is wrong. Either they didn’t make the right changes (or enough of them) or they did. We simply won’t know until things play out.

                  But I don’t see much of anything that points to things looking too different than they have in the past. And with a meh system that’s not good IMO.

                  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

                    This is not a zero sum game. We’re not destined to be either 1st or last.

                    There is a whole range of outcomes, some better than others. It’s highly unlikely that any of us are “Right” or “Wrong” except by chance. You don’t have any better information than I do.

                    Just saying so doesn’t make it true.

                  • Mac says:

                    I think you are misunderstanding the argument. You are arguing that they didn’t make the right changes. No one is arguing that they did make the right changes. People are arguing that they don’t even know what changes they made, so your extreme opinion is coming entirely from a place of ignorance.

          • Mac says:

            No one is blaming the whole thing on luck. Just trying to explain to you that luck does play a large role, and you need to try to account for that role if you actually want to understand what is going on.

  14. PunkPitch says:

    I agree in principle with what your assessment implies.I would add that it is the GM’s job to work closely with staff to ensure that the club has access to the best talent possible. There should be no excuses, ie. Injuries, communication issues, etc. If Cashman fails in this regard, he is not doing his job – period.

  15. mick taylor says:

    gil patterson was instrumental in building oakland’s great pitching staff. hopefully he will help turn yankee minor league pitching around

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      I look forward to see what he can do over time. I think it should benefit the team in the long run.

    • Mac says:

      Somehow Mike has ranted about the farm system for months now, and I don’t know if he’s every mentioned this. Perhaps early on, but I haven’t seen it at all recently. Tons of talk about how terrible they are at developing Ps without any mention that the guy responsible for that has been in his role for one freaking years.

      • The Big City of Dreams says:

        I’m sure he mentioned the Patterson move. Gil can only influence what happens from here on out. So yea he isn’t responsible for the short comings of the past but as a whole their pitching development is still meh.

        • Mac says:

          “as a whole their pitching development is still meh.”

          Again, you have one year to base that on. The guy who is in charge has been there one year.

          “I’m sure he mentioned the Patterson move.”

          He mentioned it last year, sure. My comment was specifically about the last couple of months: “Mike has ranted about the farm system for months now”

  16. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    stop blaming late picks. Yes, that precludes you from drafting…whomever the first pick is. Look at home many great producers come from outside the first 100 picks.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      “Look at home many great producers come from outside the first 100 picks.”

      WAY less than 5% of those drafted. You go look it up, because clearly you didn’t.

      • I'm a looser baby so why don't you kill me? says:

        It ain’t the % of those drafted! It’s the draft position of everyone on all MLB rosters. Did you look that up and do a scatter plot?

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

          No, in response to the “Outside the first 100 picks”, it’s about the numbers, and the percentages. Do more research than “I thought about it for 3 seconds” before you get into this discussion.

  17. Anthony says:

    If you fire someone, you have to replace them with someone. I’m interested in knowing who Mike would have liked to come in and who he would have liked to have seen let go.

    Maybe the Yankees have a person or persons in mind but they’re not yet available? As numerous people pointed out, you can’t bash what they’ve done without knowing exactly what they changed and what they did before.

  18. TheRealGreg says:

    You look at the Cardinals and Rays. Hell, look at the Red Sox. Despite having mostly winning seasons in the past decade, they have been able to draft and develop good talent.

    So there should no excuse as to why the Yankees can’t do it as well.

    You have to give the impression that something is being done. And it really needs to be tangible. Changing procedures is not really tangible.

    I agree that the medical staff is the problem, and that goes throughout the whole organization, including at the major level. Botching recoveries, hiding the seriousness of inbjuries, etc.

    It has to stop

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      Your face has to stop.

    • Pat D says:

      People I refuse to take seriously anymore:

      1) People who watch American Idol
      2) People who like Sarah Palin
      3) People who constantly mention the Cardinals, Rays and Red Sox as why the Yankees suck
      4) People who call themselves members of a group the include the words “royal,” “veteran” and “presents.”

      Actually, I take back #4.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

        You know what I thought about while I was reading about Sarah Palin’s new wardrobe and listening to some Candace Glover? How amazing it would be if the Yankees could hire the minor league guys from St Louis, Boston and Tampa, and how that would fix everything.

      • TheRealGreg says:

        Fair enough.

        But regardless of the organization that I am comparing it to, the point still stands.

        • Pat D says:

          Actually, if you change the organization you use in the comparison, the point doesn’t still stand because the point becomes different.

          • TheRealGreg says:

            Depends on what you think the main point is.

            My main point is that the Yankees in the last decade have been unable to develop a consistent chain of good talent. They’ve developed one major superstar (and some even question that) several average to below average starters and , to their credit, some good bullpen arms.

            Now a major reason for this seeming lack or development has been an inordinate injuries to key prospects and players, which leads me to my point about the medical staff.

            I could even compare it to the teams that sucked in the last decade i.e the Pirates and Royals and I still dont know if you would find a rash of injuries like that at any level

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        What if I STOPPED watching Idol several seasons back?

    • Mac says:

      The Rays hadn’t had a single draft pick from their own system taken after they started winning debut in the pros until Beckham got a September call-up, so that’s not a valid example. Their recent successes have come from guys brought into the system a long, long time ago or trade acquisitions.
      The Red Sox have one super-prospect, but otherwise they haven’t produced much in years.
      So… one example. Obviously the Yankees can be much better, but not being as good as the best in the league at something doesn’t tell us much about how successful or unsuccessful they’ve been.

      Unless you have an idea of what procedures are being changed, it’s pretty tough to comment on whether or both they are tangible. Why do you feel they aren’t tangible?

  19. Newman says:

    As you say, much of this process is invisible to us, but this is . . . how do I put it? Weird? “Sometimes it’s procedural or process, the way scouts influence each other because they’re talking too much to each other…”

  20. Cuso says:

    Oh, and by the way: Big “I told you so” to everyone who thought there were going to be wholesale changes made to S&D. They did nothing. NOTHING. They fired some poor bastard that actually needs the Christmas bonus and gave all the sniveling dirtbags that mucked up the minor leagues stays of execution.

  21. Cuso says:

    “They fart out some relievers every so often but so does every other club…”

    I’m sorry, but I’m at the office reading and I got to that line and I’m trying hard to not to laugh out loud because everyone in the office is busy working. It feels like I’m back in 8th grade. Why am I laughing at this? I don’t know. But I can’t read any further until I go somewhere and laugh.

  22. Mike, I value your opinion quite a bit but I have to say this post bothers me. I think it’s completely irresponsible to call for a man’s job when you have no proof that what he is doing is wrong. There is no statistic in the world that shows that the two seasons of innumerable injuries is anything more than just a run of bad luck. There’s also no proof that the state of the Yankees farm has to do with anything other than the fact that they haven’t had a top 10 draft pick since the Derek Jeter draft.

    Look at the statistics from the 10th draft pick onward. There’s a pretty low percentage of success thereafter. You can ring off some names but that would not be objective evidence, for that you must look at the largest possible sample size and assess the percentages. Where the Yankees draft EVERY year those percentages of success are extremely low.

    While I am in no position to say that these guys are doing their jobs well, you are also in no position to say the opposite. You don’t provide any proof except for anecdotal evidence in your post that they should be fired. You don’t remark on how they could improve or who the Yankees could go after that would do a better job.

    • Havok9120 says:

      Everything here must be said a million times.

      I understand the frustration. I’m a Yanks fan too, after all, so you can bet I’ve been pretty frustrated. But calling for firings after admitting that we don’t actually know how much blame belongs where is incredibly ill-conceived. It is knowingly calling for scapegoats.

      So much of this article is just angst for its own sake. While probably cathartic, I’m not sure it encourages (let alone takes part in) any useful discussion of the topic.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      you are also in no position to say the opposite

      —————

      Based on the results it’s hard to say they are doing it well.

  23. qwerty says:

    I recommend the yankees call the Cardinals or Rays and ask them for some advice on what to do.

  24. Tom says:

    Here’s the one problem I have with all this. Let’s assume the staff is not the issue and is incredibly strong:

    Why is it now that they are just finding a bunch of things to fix procedurally and things like “communication”.

    If the organization was indeed well staffed with effective personnel and well run, procedural fixes should be a continuous improvement process. I have to wonder how they seemingly found so many procedural things to fix when Hal said “what’s going on” – to me this makes it sound like this was not a priority in the past (or a bunch of low level people going cowboy and ignoring organizational processes, which seems unlikely)

    I think that so many things had to be fixed is a reflection of the quality of some of the personnel responsible for this part of the organization. It shouldn’t take a senior boss threatening a shakeup to get a careful look at a department’s processes.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      “what’s going on” – to me this makes it sound like this was not a priority in the past
      ——————

      Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe they got sp used to looking and analyzing information a certain way that it just became the norm. When Hal; says something like:

      So those are the kind of things we’re working on, communication. We’re teaching the scouts. We’re going to teach them to look for different things, maybe things they haven’t looked at before.”

      As someone looking from the outside you say what haven’t you looked at before. Obviously not every scout is going to come to the same conclusion but is the Yankee bubble structured in a way that doesn’t lend it self to looking at thins differently.

    • Mac says:

      What’s your work history? I would guess it’s pretty limited or at least limited to smaller organizations. An organizational audit, whether in-house or by a consulting firm, is extremely common. There is a gigantic industry dedicated to going in and “consulting” for organizations, and the Yankees basically did an internal consulting project here. Sometimes you need to reimagine processes in an organization as complex as a farm system. There are tons of moving parts. Extremely talented people can be just too close to the problem or too busy with their actual job to realize a different way of doing things even exists. Again… this is why consultants exist. It doesn’t mean every employee of every fortune 100 company that hires a big 3 firm is incompetent (and probably every single fortune 100 company has consultants on speed dial). Many of them are extremely talented. They still need someone to step back and reimagine processes from time to time.

      I would also point out to you that this is all a PR tactic. The Yankees aren’t airing their organizational laundry to the press so openly by accident. They were purposefully very public about this to let fans know they are trying to get better. They may do something like this every year and just be making a bigger deal out of it this season. A lot of teams shake up their organization, and I’m not sure how many have ever gone so far out of their way to alert the press about their internal workings.

  25. nick says:

    Fact: Yankees actually do as good a job as any MLB club at getting players to the big leagues that aren’t necessarily atop draft boards. They can identify talent, but somewhere in the process comes a stagnation of sorts for many of the top level guys. Really having fingers crossed that anyone, anybody, of the big names starts kicking down the door in 2014, ManBan, Pineda, Austin, anyone.

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