Update: VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman will retire after the season, other changes possible

Game 145: Game One
Warren can't shut the door, Orioles walk-off with 2-1 win in extra innings
Newman.
Newman.

The Yankees will likely have a new voice running the farm system next year. Vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman is believed to be retiring after the season, reports George King. The team has not made an official announcement and both Newman and Brian Cashman declined to comment on the matter, so this isn’t final just yet.

Newman has been with the Yankees since 1988 and has been running the farm system for the last 15 years. He came under some scrutiny last season when Hal Steinbrenner was unhappy with the team’s player development system. King says there is some belief the Yankees would decline to renew Newman’s contract after the season even if he doesn’t decide to retire. Sounds like he’s a goner either way.

The Yankees tend to promote from within, so it’s no surprise that King says special assistant Trey Hillman is expected to replace Newman. Hillman, who managed the Royals from 2008-10, rejoined the Yankees this past offseason. He managed in the team’s farm system from 1990-2001 and has also spent time managing in Japan. Hillman spent this season working with minor leaguers, I believe.

In addition to Newman, the Yankees are also likely to cut ties with director of player development Pat Roessler after the season, according to King. He has been in that role for quite a while now. King says former Yankees hitting coach Gary Denbo will likely replace Roessler. Denbo has been with the team as a scouting and player development consultant since 2009.

The Yankees only made what they called “procedural” changes late last year after reviewing their farm system, and many fans (myself included) weren’t thrilled about that. Procedural changes are boring because we can’t actually see them at work. Replacing Newman and Roessler would be substantial changes to the player development system though. I have no idea how qualified Hillman and Denbo are for those positions, but they will bring new voices, and hopefully that leads to some production from the system. The Yankees definitely need it.

Update: Newman has already informed Hal Steinbrenner that he intends to retire, according to Mark Feinsand. Steinbrenner plans to conduct a “total evaluation” of the player development system that could result in a “complete overhaul” after the season. Feinsand says Denbo, Roessler, amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, and player development staffer Jody Reed could all be replaced. Furthermore, Feinsand hears any replacements are expected to come from outside the organization “as the Yankee brass believes that new ideas and a new direction are needed.”

Game 145: Game One
Warren can't shut the door, Orioles walk-off with 2-1 win in extra innings
  • EndlessMikeJr

    Fire Damon please.

    • RetroRob

      He’s well thought of within the industry based on what I’ve read. The belief is the Yankees have had problems developing the players after they’re drafted, and that’s Newman’s area.

      • YakaTanaka

        All of these things hinge on such tiny samples that differentiate success and failure, involving so much luck that it’s really pretty tough to say what is the problem (are the problems) from the outside. A few players over a few years and maybe even just one star differentiate huge success from failure.

        Yankees neglected their system for years, then suddenly expected (or at least fan expected) everything to work out as soon as they invested in it. Just not likely to happen. It’s been a combination of things that have led to it not working out: some bad picks, some kids didn’t develop in the minors, some got hurt, some were traded in both good and bad trades, some made it to MLB and failed there on the Yankees and elsewhere… And a few guys have succeeded.

        Human nature seems to be to look for one cause. One scapegoat. I would say life is rarely that simple, though. Certainly not when talking about a complex organizational endeavor like player development with an extremely high attrition rate.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      The Cito/DBJ picks were terrible, but otherwise I think the Yankees have done a good job of acquiring talent. Turning that talent into MLB players has been the problem.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        It was an attempt at a strategy. It failed. They moved away from it after two seasons.

        • mattpat11

          I’m not sure “Oh, fuck it, just pick anyone” is really a strategy.

          • RetroRob

            …except that wasn’t their strategy.

            • The Big City of Dreams

              What was the strategy?

        • YakaTanaka

          I think it’s more a two pick sample that geniuses like this guy below me take out of context than anything.

      • YakaTanaka

        Kind of questionable whether DBJ was Opp’s call, given that he is the manager’s godson. Still, doesn’t look like that bad a pick right now.

        Culver has flamed out pretty spectacularly, but that was a high risk/high reward pick.

        • BearNJ

          At the time I don’t think anyone except the Yankees had that high of an opinion on Cito as a first rounder, It wasn’t like he was a super talent who dropped over signability issues. They swung and missed at that one almost as baldly as Culver has on the field.

    • YankeeBill

      Oppenheimer’s not the problem. The teaching and development at the lower levels is. So many of these guys have decent raw abilities but they aren’t good baseball players. Unless you have the skills of a Puig (who’s a great talent but is still learning the subtle skills and fundamentals), you get exposed as you approach the big league level.

  • Chip

    Hillman has a pretty strong track record of developing young players when he’s working with them as a coach/manager – whether that’s enough to know how to build a development structure I don’t know. The same could be said for Denbo who did a lot of good things for young players like Jeter and Bernie when they came up. But there’s a big leap between coaching and building an organizational structure.

    Again, without knowing their specific backgrounds – I would think that they are imparting their instructional philosophies in the minor leagues so that players are shown a certain way of doing things with emphasis put on specific areas of growth. That doesn’t necessarily address the issue of player evaluation though.

    • YakaTanaka

      Don’t know if someone can do something until they have a chance (though they can at least vet his plans in interviews), and even then there’s sample bias and a learning curve. Can’t imagine much better preperation for running a system than managing in one then at the MLB level than advising in the system, though.

  • RetroRob

    It’s possible he knew they weren’t going to renew his contract after this season, so he opted for the graceful exit of retiring.

  • Scout

    Promoting from within may be good for morale in any organization, but I don’t see that it brings a fresh approach or a critical perspective on how things are done. I would prefer the Yankees do an open search that includes internal candidates but also invites others. And I would like to see the Yankees actively encourage well-regarded player development people in other organizations to seek these jobs.

  • YankeeBill

    Denbo and Hillman have spent considerable time in different organizations and may very well be able to impart some wisdom to a structure that needs some fresh thinking. Let’s hope so.

  • hornblower

    Any of the minor league problems with the Yanks are not related to who runs it. Look in the mirror and ask yourself when you pushed for this or that free agent and were willing to give up high draft choices.

    • YakaTanaka

      Not much critical thinking goes on around here. The whole talent in-talent out thing somehow gets lost, and don’t even try to explain to most anyone that luck (things outside the org’s control) plays a huge role in player development. Or even that the farm had a pretty solid year in 2014.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        Or even that the farm had a pretty solid year in 2014.

        —————–

        That’s good but now they need for more of those guys to progress and have solid yrs on the ML team.

  • Cuso

    I understand that Denbo and Hillman probably earned promotions and the moves would show that the FO is holding some level of accountability.

    However, I’d like to have seen them at least interview people from outside of the organization. For all we know, Denbo and Hillman were part of the decision making process that actually made the minor league pipeline somewhat stunted or unfruitful.

    I guess the point is, Denbo and Hillman may be just as culpable as Newman.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      No offense, my friend, but that’s grasping for some pretty major air there…..is that even a metaphor? I can’t find the right metaphor here.

    • RetroRob

      Hillman was just named special assistant within the last year.

      • Cuso

        Doesn’t change my opinion they should’ve at least interviewed people from outside the organization.

        • RetroRob

          Well you may get your wish. I think what’s clearer over the last day since the original story ran is nothing is quite clear beyond changes are coming. Supposedly Hillman may “not have an interest” in the position, so they may go outside the organization. We’re at the mercy of what the Daily News and George King is reporting, and in that I have little faith. Yet it feels like some substantial changes are coming after this season.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Suddenly, all the REAL injury timetables are revealed!

  • dkidd

    i get the desire for some shiny toy from st louis, but hillman and denbo are by all reports fantastic at instructing/refining young players

    this is a very positive development imo

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Congrats to both of them. They get to show their stuff in new areas.

    • YakaTanaka

      People are just looking for something to whine about.

      Farm system looks pretty good right now. Not sure what else anyone expected this season. Zoilo is about the only guy I can think of with a shot to help out who didn’t. A few RPs, I guess, but overall the Ps helped out a lot.

  • mattpat11

    Oh thank God.

  • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

    Oh, so they WILL bring in people from outside the organization?

    THEY’D BETTER COME FROM THE CARDINALS!

  • Posada_20

    HALLELUJHAH!!!

  • BUDDHABING0

    Who put these guys into the position they are in? How can upper management not get any of the blame?

  • CashmanNinja

    Anything is better than the ones we currently have running things. Newman seemed to thrive on his secrecy with injuries. A day-to-day injury suddenly became a 3 month injury. I understand the cautious approach, but he seemed to go above and beyond and I for one also grew tired as the lack of development. Guys would show what they could do, but then regress to a point where they were worse than they had ever been (i.e. Mason Williams). We definitely need some fresh faces and new opinions on how to run a minor league system.

    • YakaTanaka

      What does their public reporting of injury recovery timelines have to do with anything at all?

      Interesting how when someone, say Mason Williams, faces increasingly better competition he tends to do worse and

  • bardos

    My take is that Hal should be looking outside the organization… say to a farm director whose MBL team has a better than good record of player development. Then offer him a huge salary increase. Period. These development people are not 10 year $250 million contracts.

    • YakaTanaka

      Good chance you’d hire someone who was in almost no way responsible for his team’s success with that approach.

      Certainly they can (and should, and almost definitely will) look outside the org for options, but there’s a better way to do it than just hoping someone knows what he’s doing because his team developed a few players.

      • bardos

        Think about it. These folks are not like us. They don’t speculate all that much like we do. They are all either players or front office people. They belong to the same guild, ply the same craft. Word gets around. They know who does a good job and who’s lame.

        • YakaTanaka

          Doesn’t really go to my point, which was that his team’s success in developing players is a questionable selection criteria. Player development, more so these days with the CBA rules, is as much about resources (picks and position, IFA pool) and luck (thing outside the team’s control like injuries, physical development, mental makeup beyond the obvious, etc.). So, you might be picking from a team that was lucky rather than good. Then there’s the matter of actually getting a guy who can replicate the success by building/tweaking an entire system. Getting the guy who can teach one skill or spot one thing doesn’t necessarily make your whole system good.

          • captainmike

            you went off track, you don’t use ONE criteria to evaluate who to hire.

            • YakaTanaka

              That’s part of my point, smart guy.

              Try following the whole conversation.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Huh?

          • captainmike

            sorry that went over your head, it made sense to me.
            you know which of your co workers or vendor reps etc are competent from working with them constantly

    • RetroRob

      As is the case with many teams, it’s no longer just one person who runs a specific area. It’s not one person in the Cardinals who make them strong at drafting and/or player development, so going out and hiring someone from the Cardinals is not necessarily going to improve the Yankees player development. Could even hurt it. From experience (granted in a non-baseball setting), often the best people to lead change come from within an organization. They understand where the problems are and in many cases are chosen because they have a difference view and approach. None of this is meant as an endorsement for Hillman or Denbo. No one here as the ability or knowledge to assess them.

      • captainmike

        someone usually puts together a winning organization, it doesn’t happen by chance
        winning companies always have someone at the top who hires people who get the best job done

        • YakaTanaka

          That’s overlysimplistic and largely misses the point.

  • YakaTanaka

    Really tough to judge any of this from outside the org. Pure speculation, really.

  • captainmike

    bring in someone at the very top who has built winning organizations in the past and clean the yankee house and start over

    • YakaTanaka

      No one in baseball has built more winning teams than… Brian Cashman. So, by your logic the Yankees should bring in Brian Cashman. Might try rethinking that logic.

      • captainmike

        you and others that think that have no clue what they are talking about, he inherited the work others before him did
        Paul O’Neill was not acquired by cashman but you want to give him credit for the 2000 WS don’t you ???
        people need to do research before making uninformed statements

        • LazerTown

          You do realize that no other team has even come anywhere close to the # of playoff teams, and wins that the Yankees have gotten under Cash?

        • Billy

          Cash became GM in 1998. Guys like Justice, Clemens, El Duque, Brosius, Mussina, Soriano, and a host of valuable role players and pitchers who lead them to four straight world series were acquired under his helm. Besides the fact you ignore that Cashman obviously had an important role in the organization for the few years prior to ’98 and you really have no clue how involved in the process he was. As we see with today’s current Yanks, the top guys under the GM have a lot of influence…

          • captainmike

            then you are all lucky that Hal and Hank won’t return my calls.

        • YakaTanaka

          You seem to have missed my point. What MLB exec has built more winning teams than Brian Cashman? However you want to define teams he built vs. teams they built (every GM inherits assets so you have to discount all of them something, though not as much as Cash).

          I’m not saying anything about Cashman. I am saying something about the logic you are employing.

  • PunkPitch

    Get outta town Cosmo! The ghostvof Gabe Paul has spoken.

  • Deep Thoughts

    Hal Steinbreddard.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Twenty guys on here simultaneously ejaculated.

    They…..they were all wearing CARDINALS HATS!!!!!

    DUCK!

  • MTU

    All I can say is Hallelujah.
    :)

  • Bigdan

    “We looked at this thing from top to bottom,” Steinbrenner said at last November’s owners meetings. “It’s really easy to say, ‘Get rid of this guy, get rid of this guy, get rid of that guy’ – there are certainly some owners that might do that, but that doesn’t always solve the problem.”

    ————

    This reflects the thinking and philosophy of Hal. I wrote a lot about this last winter. Hal is different than his father in that he’s very process-oriented. I surmised last off season that Hal realized last August that the farm had failed him and began taking more complete control of Yankee operations. But he didn’t fire anyone because the process was to put everyone on notice first and then evaluate. And as part of that process, you need to search for alternatives. It’s becoming clear, at least with respect to Newman, Hal has completed his evaluation. And I bet, knowing how process managers like Hal operate, he already has replacement candidates in mind.

    I’ve posited that Hal really didn’t take full hands-on control of the Yankees until last summer. Prior to that point, he was heavily reliant on his subordinate managers. But they failed him by causing him to ditch his most precious goal–Project 189.

    Now the Yankees belong to Hal and it seems he’s about to leave his imprint by bringing his own people in to manage his operations. It’s interesting that he’s apparently taking this journey with Cashman by his side, his honorary step-brother. But something is definitely happening now as the Education of Hal Steinbrenner enters a new chapter.

    • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

      I’m just curious then, since you wrote so much. Do you think this is good or bad?

      • BearNJ

        I’m not sure about the end result of Hal’s imprint but I agree with his reading of him. Being older I remember George’s acting like a guy in the bleachers hiring, threatening and firing everyone was exasperating. George won when he let good basball people run the team like Gabe Paul in the 70s and Stick/Watson/Cash in the 90s.

        Hal has shown he’s willing to spend at times. It obvious we need to do a better job drafting and developing our own.

  • forensic

    Furthermore, Feinsand hears any replacements are expected to come from outside the organization “as the Yankee brass believes that new ideas and a new direction are needed.”
    Wish that extended to the Major League side of things too.

    • http://www.google.com Tanuki Tanaka

      Heads sure are rolling now.