Stop hating on Opp and Newman 30


Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, Mark NewmanAll Summer and Autumn Yankees fans have been clamoring for change. The focus of most of that noise was aimed at Damon Oppenheimer and Mark Newman. For a while I got caught up in the mentality of making some changes for the sake of making some changes, but I am seeing things a bit more clearly now. It’s easy for anyone to look at Oppenheimer and Newman and blame them for the injuries and ineffectiveness that the Yankees farm has endured for a few years now.

If nothing else, maybe their philosophies are not compatible with this system or the group of players that happen to be playing in it. Or maybe they are in fact doing something wrong that we as fans cannot put our fingers on because we are not aware of the day to day operations of the development system the Yankees have in place. So the natural response from a fan with little knowledge of the behind the scenes action would be to say that these men should lose their jobs because we’re not seeing the results fans wish for.

All of that makes sense… if you are willing to throw all logic out the window and fire people based on anecdotal data and injuries which are for the most part out of their control. It would also make more sense if Oppenheimer and Newman were stubborn men who weren’t willing to alter their philosophies. With the recent shift in organizational thinking, and adjustments to policies by upper management, it would be foolish to think that these two were hired despite being opposed to these new interventions. They are human beings and they are capable of doing things differently when asked to.

Picture yourself as a car salesman. You work for Hyundai. Would it be fair for your boss to fire you because 10 people got into car accidents while taking test drives with vehicles you were trying to sell them? Would it be fair for your boss to fire you because the Toyota salesman across the street was outselling you even though they clearly have a better product to sell? The correct response is “life isn’t fair,” however it’s not even about what is fair, it’s about what is smart.

In the Yankees case this analogy applies perfectly. Toyota, aka almost every other team in the majors, is dealing with a superior product. They have better draft picks year in and year out. People love to bring up Boston, but the fact is Boston has had higher draft picks every year than the Yankees. In addition to that their ownership has been thrifty enough to stockpile first round draft picks, something the Yankees hadn’t done at all until 2013. If some of the people who are so quick to criticize Brian Cashman for keeping these two on looked at the statistics, they would quickly realize that where the Yankees draft in the first round every year, there is an incredibly low probability of success.

It has been more than six years without a successful first round pick, but the fact is there is about a 1/6 chance that any first round pick where the Yankees draft will turn into a solid major league player. It’s safe to say at this point that Jeremy Bleich and Dante Bichette are failures. It’s still way too early to call Slade Heathcott, Cito Culver, Ty Hensley, and the three picks from 2013 failures.

The analogy also applies to injuries. As the salesman you cannot control what happens to a car during a test drive. Damon Oppenheimer and Mark Newman have no control over injuries occurring with Yankees farmhands. In point of fact, the Yankees hired Gil Patterson to help out with pitching development and try to avoid injuries this year. The guy is a proven whiz and yet the injury bug was far worse than 2012. They also fired the strength and conditioning coach, a move that suggests they may have found a potential source for some of the injuries.

The dozens of editorials out there criticizing the Yankees for re-hiring Damon Oppenheimer and Mark Newman are basing their assessments off nothing more than reactionary emotion. The data they are using to back up their opinions is flawed, and completely insufficient. The numbers they are citing do not begin to approach statistical significance. Personally, I feel it is irresponsible to call for another man’s job when you have no proof that they deserve to be fired.

Just remember, these guys aren’t getting paid like A-Rod, or even Brett Gardner. They are well paid members of the Yankees organization, however they are much more like everyday Americans than your average baseball player. They go to work everyday and work hard to try to reach their goals. Unless I have legitimate proof that these guys are doing something different than the rest of the MLB and are refusing to change their ways, I don’t see any justification for moving on.

Come back to me when you can show me some legitimate objective data. Then I will listen.


30 thoughts on “Stop hating on Opp and Newman

  • J Mayall

    You are a complete & total jerkoff. Look at Boston, St. Louis, etc. always having good seasons and finishing near the top but have good farm systems, scouts & player development people. Ours suck!

  • Tanned Tom

    Sure the results have been disappointing, but look at it from a different vantage point. If the Yanks have been failure's with the last 5 pick spots, what would you call the results they've had in Houston or San Diego, or Seattle, or….you get the point. There are numerous teams that routinely get much better position and yet routinely get little or nothing to show for it. But remember that the price one must pay to be able to sniff a Mike Trout (who's a once in a generation player anyway) or a can't miss player is to absolutely suck that previous year. Like Yankee fans would put up with that.

    This is pretty much 1+1=2. If you are going to be the most successful team in organized sports for the last 20 years, you are going to get crappy draft positions year after year. Which means you will be forced into trading young players for proven players, and filling many of your needs on the free agency market. They only way to break that cycle is to tolerate a period of total suckitude, or to get lucky. And we kinda did get lucky, Cano has turned into the best 2B in the game, and Gardner into a very good player. And even if you suck, you still have to get lucky, otherwise we'd be talking about the looming Padres-Astros world series.

  • tom

    Since Yankees had strapped financially, Yankees had done nothing good and racked up 2b-limited prospects and low ceiling pitchers. As long as luxury tax plays factor, Yankees should find someone to replace Oppenheimer and Newman. Problem is who. I can't pretend I know someone who will do better draft than Oppenheimer.

    Also, if the S-Brothers had not signed Arod behind Cashman, Cashman would have better options to play around the budget and we won't worry about prospects.

  • caspian

    I understand the point the author is trying to make, and I certainly think sports fans — and NY fans in particular — can sometimes get overheated about things. But let’s remember that Cash has been GM for 15 years now, with full autonomy for the last 8 years, and still hasn’t built a fruitful farm system. Yes, the high placings have hurt their drafts, but you can’t keep making excuses forever. Cash just hasn’t shown the kind of imagination and creativity needed to work around the dilemma the Yankees have been in. The results speak for themselves.

    And before anyone asks, no, I’m not upset that Yankee fans might be facing a brief rebuilding period. I became a Yankee fan back in the ’89 to ’92 period and truly understand what a dark period feels like. I actually believe the club should have had this kind of re-tooling or reboot period several years back and acquired or nurtured some young players to develop so as to avoid the pickle they’re in now. Instead, they spent the ’00s duplicating what they did in the ’80s, which was to keep bringing in veterans and neglecting their player development. Yeah, the spending binge bought us a title in ’09 but at what price? That’s pretty apparent now.

    Also, the pattern of players underperforming in the Bronx and then blossoming once they move on is a disturbingly common trend that hasn’t been addressed by the current player development people.

  • NYStateOfMind

    Why Newman is being included in this piece makes no sense. He's been with NYY since 1989 & was instrumental in the development of the Core 4, Bernie Williams & Robinson Cano . What the writer of this piece didn't mention is there are 50 rounds in the June draft. Instead of focusing on statistics of 1st round successes & failures, what about the drafting history from rounds 2-10? Look at any MLB roster & see how many productive players were drafted after the 1st round.

    It's obvious where the failure lies…

  • YankeezFan

    I think the writer is trying to hard to convey a particular idea. The Toyota has to be trained and helped in making it a better auto than the Hyundai…. These players are not AUTOMOBILES… they are people they have to be mentored and tutored. The Yankees development staff has sucked big time, not just recently… but for the last 20 years ever since, lets see 1995. The Franchise need capable people scouting what the coached can develop. Somewhere in the chain of events 1 or the other has failed misserabily. The only quality player the Yankees can say they have big league ready is Robertson. Really, just Robertson. Now I know the Yankees select low, but how many pitchers have the Cardinals developed or the Rays lower than the 25th pick. Why cant we just pay the Rays and Cardinals scouts and coaches more and have them come over here… I mean really, is there a saiary cap on coaches. Lets face it, the Yankee coaching, farm system and player development sucks, and I doubt the organization cares, as it looks toward free agents to fill holes left by other free agents.

  • Tim

    A quick look at St. Louis proves the point our scouting/player development NEEDS improvement. The Cardinals have been very sucessful in the standings but despite their relativelty poor drafting position, they have one of the best farm systems in the big leagues. Its more than ist round picks! Rounds 2 thru 50 also produce major league players. The Cards have excelled at finding those lower round gems.

  • gcorcoran

    First it was the Marlins, then the Devil Rays, then it was the Padres, then the Giants. Now it's the Cardinals. Next it will be the Royals. No team has been able to consistently do it over more than one generation of players. And most of these teams did it by either trading all of their top players or having high draft picks year after year.

    There's no consistency to it, which makes me believe there is no perfect system when it comes to farm development with the exception of maybe being a bad team year after year. Even that doesn't work for teams like the Royals or Pirates. Even the Rays… how many rings do they have? What do they have to show for their awesome farm in the 2000's? It just diesn't make sense to me how much people complain sometimes.

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