Yankees GM: Quant Analysis Key To Winning
IU: In terms of management, talk a little bit about managing that on-field payroll. Describe how you work with your team manager in terms of the player rosters and the day-to-day lineup.
Cashman: I’m the head of baseball operations, so I set policy on the baseball side and I’ve hired the manager. In this case it’s Joe Girardi, and he is an extension of my philosophy. I hired someone that I knew thought along the same lines as I do. I acquire the players. I put the roster together, and then he takes that roster on the field. When I hire a player or replace a player, I define the role to Joe, such as, this guy is going to be our everyday center fielder, right fielder, first baseman, what have you. Then he executes. He does the lineups. I’ll make suggestions on lineups and we may disagree at times, but ultimately he puts forth the lineup and the construction of the lineup the way he sees it, but plays the players that clearly I have acquired and for the reasons I have acquired them.
He’s executing my philosophy and it’s the philosophy I was taught by [former Yankees General Manager] Gene Michael, a longtime baseball expert. We’re executing the Gene Michael playbook, which is very similar to the [former Baltimore Orioles General Manager] Earl Weaver playbook.
IU: How many times a day do you talk to Joe during the season?
Cashman: Oh, I talk to him all the time. It’s a nonstop, full-time communication. You have injuries, you have inferior performance, you have personality conflicts; there are a number of different things that take place over time. Plus, you’re constantly communicating with the public through our large media vehicle here in New York City, and because we’re covered by so many different media and the Internet, it has to be a constant. Communication is very key.
IU: Let’s stick with the building of your team in the same light as people tend to build investment portfolios or even organizations. Where do you tend in terms of baseball to be more conservative, say, in pitching, and where do you tend to be more aggressive? Or is it really a case-by-case scenario?
Cashman: It is at times case by case, but in a general setting, we’re very conservative. We have learned over time to be very conservative and cautious in acquiring pitching talent from Japan, for instance. It’s a different game there. The mounds are a different size. The pitching routines are different. They have two days off every week, where we don’t. And so the workload, and frankly everything, is completely different over there, even though you’re playing a very similar game of baseball. There are a lot of important differences and therefore the transition from Japan to the States is very volatile. So we have become very conservative in that market.
We’re very aggressive in team building. You want to be strong up the middle [of the field]. From the amateur world, you’re constantly looking for catching, shortstops and center fielders. Those are the guys that you try to find in the amateur world. You can usually translate those guys to get bigger and stronger. A lot of the backbone of your amateur talent base is going to be gravitating to the guys like that in the front end, and then you move from there.
IU: What is the key to identifying that new talent and then actually developing it?
Cashman: In the amateur pool, you have the domestic and international scouting departments, and like any business, you have to have a process, you have to teach that process, and then you have to hire people to execute the process. We do have profiles that we gravitate to. It’s a tool-based assessment on the amateur world. Then once you sign these players, eventually that’s where the quantitative analysis department comes in to conduct performance-based analysis. After a period of time of development, players can have all the tools they want, but they have to translate those tools into consistent success. And that’s what starts to separate the players as they move up the ladder. From AA [minor league ball] on up, performance scouting becomes more vital than the tool scouting for the situation.
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