In Wake of Moneyball, “Cash Does it the Right Way”

The book and soon to be movie, Moneyball has been a hot topic since the day it came out as it seems to have caused a decently sized large rift between the old school style of baseball and the new school.

Lately people seem to be turning around to its way of thinking though as advanced statistics become more prevalent. Even during yesterday’s pregame show on YES, announcer David Cone ran explained some of the more popular modern statistics, what they are and why they are important. It’s getting to the point where even Michael Kay is beginning to understand.

However that doesn’t mean that statistics have taken over the game. They certainly have become a big part of the game, but traditional scouting is in no danger of going away. The best teams are the ones who seem to be doing a good job of recognizing this and combining the two.

That’s where the quote from the headline comes in. In a recent column from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal he discussed the Yankees and how they’ve adjusted in the wake of the Moneyball movement.

It was slow going at first for the Yankees who didn’t exactly let Brian Cashman run the team until 2006. Even after Cashman took control and started moving toward more statistical analysis there was resistance from then manager Joe Torre.

That all changed thanks to the Red Sox of all teams. They embraced Billy Beane‘s philosophies early on and forced the Yankees to adapt. Today the Yankees are not only ahead of the curve when it comes to statistical analysis, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that the Yankees and Cashman are doing a great job merging the two.

“Cash does it the right way,” Towers told Rosenthal. “The way he works the room in meetings, it works. If he wants the analytical view, he asks (the analysts) a question and they provide the information. They usually only speak when asked.

“With the Yankees, it’s not, ‘these guys and us.’ They’re all kind of one.”

That bodes very well for us fans. The Yankees have long had the monetary advantage, but for various reasons they didn’t always have an advantage in other areas. That has changed and to paraphrase something Brian Cashman said a few years ago, ‘God help the rest of baseball.’

Just take a look at the way the current team in contracted. Even ignoring the core four three, the Yankees have a very solid base of young players contributing regularly, like Robinson Cano, David Robertson, Brett Gardner, Ivan Nova, and lots of other players filling all sorts of roles. They also have used prospects to add important players to the team like Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher.

Of course those players are supplements to the Yankees biggest area of strength, their ability to outspend. Yes, CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira are big contributors, but you can’t win in baseball by spending alone.

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12 Responses to In Wake of Moneyball, “Cash Does it the Right Way”

  1. I should add that moneyball doesn't mean using statistics. It is more about trying to find market inefficiencies. Statistics become a big part of this because back in the day teams were very emotional when evaluating players. Statistics help you avoid biases and let you know true value of players.

  2. Harcore Yankee Fan says:

    I find it terribly ironic that Moneyball focused so much on the A's 2002 draft and how excited the A's were about the haul they got and how they stole so many great players using their statistical techniques. Apart from Swisher, who was a well known non-Moneyball commodity at the time and wanted by everyone, and a mostly mediocre (or very slightly better) career by Joe Blanton, everyone else amounted to squat, even though they had 7 1st round picks.

    • I think you missed the point. Whether or not the A's succeeded the lessons learned were solid ones. Stop evaluating players based on how good they look in a uniform and start trying to find unbiased ways to evaluate them. By doing that you make it easier to find market inefficiencies. They just used that draft as a tool to demonstrate their new way of thinking. Doesn't meant hey are going to hit on every player picked.

      It's an idea that is not necessarily limited to just baseball.

      • Harcore Yankee Fan says:

        I understand the point that they are trying to make. But since so much of the book emphasized the "tools" and the context around using that for the draft, my point still stands. It's extremely difficult to judge high school, and even college players using the Moneyball approach. I can understand the concept of using it for free agents who have shown what they can do in a major league setting. Or even evaluating players that have several years of minor league experience.

        And let's be real here, baseball has ALWAYS been judged by numbers and not "how good they look in a uniform". That might be the approach for teenagers, which as far as I can tell is probably much better than looking at stats. As for numbers, while they may not have used the full complement of appropriate numbers in eras past, the analytical and technological tools and abilities didn't exist then either. It has nothing to do with "Moneyball". Once is better off attributing the fulcrum shift to Bill James or Voros McCracken.

        • Don't take this the wrong way, but you clearly have missed the point. The "moneyball approach" as you call it isn't to judge high school or college players. It is simply to find market inefficiencies. That is all.

          Plus, I wish your statement about numbers was right, unfortunately that is NOT how it worked for the good portion of a century. Even when they did look at numbers, they often looked at the wrong ones like batting average, wins, and RBI's.

          • Harcore Yankee Fan says:

            No one suggested that the numerical approach over the last century was done perfectly correct, but it was numerically based, and mostly right. And they also focused on HRs and SLG% and extra base hits and walks that DID provide a lot more insight into the whole of a player. OPS and OPS+ and WAR and everything else is just a derivation of all this put together anyhow. They're not fundamentally looking at ANYTHING new, just a new way too look at it. The underlying performance measures are the same, they've just added some quicker analytical tools to get to the answer quicker and easier, which is a great thing. But everyone knew that Mantle, Mays, Williams, Ruth, etc were studs.

            As for the "moneyball approach", yes one can talk about finding market inefficiencies, but that is a term that's been thrown around in the context of Wall Street and corporate finance for decades before Moneyball brought it to light. Moneyball is a book about baseball. And in that context, market inefficiencies are about obtaining players that may be underrated. The bulk of players are "obtained" by drafting. With all due respect, I think it's you who is missing the point and trying to put a holy grail spin where it is utterly undeserved.

          • You should read Rosenthals entire article, not just the Yankee parts.

            Don't miss this part:

            "The book was not about how the A’s, a team at the bottom of baseball’s economic food chain, relied on less traditional statistics such as on-base percentage (OBP) to compete with wealthier clubs.

            No, it was about how the A’s tried to find players with undervalued skills so they could acquire those players cheaply, exploiting inefficiencies in the market."

          • Harcore Yankee Fan says:

            Rob, I have no doubt that Moneyball brought the use of more advanced statistical measures to light, which is a good thing. But to think that it was any kind of a profound book or had any insightful ideas is hogwash. A good chunk of the success during the A's heyday rested on great young pitching which is a total wild card to begin with. If the A's are really the lone sample, over the course of a few years, that exemplify Moneyball, it's difficult to even know whether it was all luck or not.

            The BEST players of all time are predominantly found and groomed based on "how they look in a uniform". Arod or Jr as high school players did not put up stats that you couldn't have found many times over with other high schoolers. But they were clearly designated by far the best based on "how they look in a uniform". Examples of this literally go on and on. The scouts have been very much right in the draft process without focusing too much on numbers.

          • Players often never got a chance because they were "soft" or too fat or because they were black and weren't intelligent enough to play.

            If your argument is that moneyball hasn't changed anything I think we can't take this conversation further. Please go read Rosenthal's article…and maybe moneyball too.

          • Harcore Yankee Fan says:

            Rob, I've read them both. I just don't let other people do my thinking for me.

          • Wow. I am speechless.

          • Harcore Yankee Fan says:

            Why, because someone disagrees with a position you hold?