Shelley DuBois of Fortune magazine recently interviewed assistant general manager Billy Eppler. It’s a good interview and even though DeBois isn’t a sports journalist, meaning she doesn’t go into specifics about the Yankees, she does ask a few questions that give you solid insight into the way things work.
I particularly liked the answer Eppler gave her when she asked him what the most important lesson he’s learned about managing talent was:
As soon as the season starts, somebody will play really well and somebody will start the season underperforming. [General Manager] Brian Cashman has taught me so much about not reacting too soon. I’ve learned that time and patience are extremely powerful weapons when used right.
Our season is so long — it’s a six-month season, but you have to look at it in two-month increments. There are three mini marathons to make this one large marathon.
This is actually something I’ve talked about before. It’s an idea going back to the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Baseball seasons are incredibly long. Sometimes it’s easy to react to one particularly bad loss or the inevitable rough patches during a seaosn. It’s important to keep in mind though that 162 games is a lot.
GM’s had all offseason to put together a team and the first part of the season is purely evaluation. The second part of the season, June and July, is spent trying to improve the team be it through a trade or a call up. The final part of the season is where you let the team you assembled in the winter and improved over the summer go out and play however capable they are of playing.
Anyway, go check out the rest of the article. It talks about what modern scouting is like, some of the things the Yankees like in players, and how Eppler tries to keep his emotions in check when dealing with players. It’s good stuff.