Nobody realizes it yet, but the next 30 days are critical for the Yankees and may be the team’s most important month of the season.
In case you missed it, the usually veteran-happy Yankees are finally letting the kids play. Outfield prospect Everson Pereira recently debuted. Fellow youngsters Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells should soon make theirs. Even Oswald Peraza is getting an extended look at third base.
And yet, there’s an almost hidden sense of urgency underneath the excitement. Recently, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner spoke to reporters and offered an interesting assessment.
The New York Yankees, ever the big-bucks mom-and-pop operation under the Steinbrenners’ ownership, could look for help outside the organization. Specifically, for the teams’ analytics department which has thrived under general manager Brian Cashman.
“We’re going to take a very deep dive into everything we’re doing,” Steinbrenner said, per Mark Didtler of the AP. “We’re looking to bring in possibly an outside company to really take a look at the analytics side of what we do. Baseball operations in general. We’re going to have some very frank conversions with each other. This year was obviously unacceptable.”
He’s not wrong. The Yankees tried to run it back after winning 99 games in 2022. Instead, injuries and underperformance tanked the season. Worse yet, analytics darlings Harrison Bader and Josh Donaldson proved so ineffective that the team cut bait early. Bader was claimed off waivers by the Reds Thursday, while Donaldson was outright released Tuesday.
As if those moves didn’t put Cashman in the crosshairs enough, he’s now under the microscope for a completely different reason. The next month, and he surely realizes this, is a referendum on the Yankees’ player development.
So what does that mean? Do Dominguez, Wells, and the other youngsters each need a monster month to appease ownership?
No, not at all. In fact, any outside company will probably call the Yankees’ system objectively good. Having seven prospects in Baseball America’s Top 100 proves that.
Rather, the next month is likely just to see if everyone can handle MLB pitching, even if the results aren’t quite there. All the rookies really need to do is show they can hit MLB pitching hard and are otherwise competent in the field.
If we think about it, an outside consultant would probably focus on the Yankees’ application of said data and how it’s used to measure talent. Steinbrenner said in the same interview that his team “traded away too many guys” the last few years. This includes the numerous prospects to land Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo, and other veteran players.
This time, however, the Yankees are going all-in on their youth and with a trial by fire. Longtime nemesis Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros are next on the schedule. What better way to make an impression than performing well not only against a key rival, but the defending champions?
And in a month’s time, the Yankees will come to a fork in the road. Down one path, they have their young core in place. Jasson Dominguez, Everson Pereira, and the others take good swings and are given the grace to have some growing pains.
Down the other is one where the Yankees, in all likelihood, overhaul everything from top to bottom, and not just analytics. Lucky for Cashman, his owner seems to be on the same page regarding the youth.
“We’ll learn a lot in September, and we’ll learn a lot in the spring,” Steinbrenner said. “So, I think it will be exciting.”
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