Yankees GM: Quant Analysis Key To Winning
IU: One of the things that we’ll hear a lot about in the financial world is value investing. Everybody wants to find that beaten-down investment that is going to pop for them. Similarly, you’ve had some success in the free-agent market finding that low-cost, high-return player, such as Eric Chavez last year. Anybody out there that you see that has that potential? I know the trading is hot and heavy right now, but can you identify anybody out there that you’re looking at?
Cashman: I can’t, because it’s slim pickings. This is a very low free agent market. However, I can identify players that have been signed that have great upside. They’re cheap players coming off of whether it’s a subpar year or injuries or what have you. The Chicago Cubs have signed a number of players that fit that idea. I think Nate Schierholtz, the right fielder they signed from the Phillies, is one example. I thought that was a nice coup for them. I thought their signing of free agent Scott Feldman from Texas is another. Texas didn’t pick up his option and Chicago scooped him up. These two players are good low-risk, low-financial investments with higher upside.
But in terms of what is available to us as we move forward, it’s been slim pickings. Sometimes you have some difficulty, especially if it’s a marketplace that is thin, like this winter. We were a 95-win team, and a lot of times, those players—if it’s a very slim market—want to gravitate to rosters that are a lot thinner than ours, and so we have difficulties at times securing those.
IU: Let’s talk a little bit about customer-retention management, which is of course important to every business and financial advisor. What is the biggest complaint your customers have about the Yankees, and what do you do to address that?
Chapman: Well, the pressure point is winning. George Steinbrenner set the bar so high: a world championship or nothing. We’ve had more success than any other baseball organization, but unless you’re delivering a World Series title on a yearly basis, the natives are restless. So, we had the best record in the American League last year, 95 wins, but we got knocked out in the American League Championship Series, four games short of a World Series appearance. And as I said, the saber-rattling takes place rather quickly.
IU: Can other teams, such as my hometown Pittsburgh Pirates, emulate the “Yankee way” or model, if you will, or does it simply come down to money?
Cashman: No, the markets are different. I think to emulate the Yankee model you have to be in a pretty significant market. I know the Red Sox have emulated the Yankee model, but there are some other teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies. I’m not sure what the difference between the city of Philadelphia and the city of Pittsburgh is, but Philadelphia is turning into a behemoth financial stronghold here in the National League East as well as in all of baseball with their contract commitments and their success. They built the new ballpark, had World Series appearances and won a recent World Series as well. As you may recall, we were able to beat them the second time when they were in the World Series here recently.
I do think that they have to take a different path, but I think there are a lot of organizations that have shown there are different ways to climb that mountain. Those franchises that have exceeded the expectations for the markets they are in, have maintained consistency and success for quite some time. For instance, in Minnesota’s [Twins] case, they have jumped classes, so to speak, if there were a lower class, a middle class and upper class. Maybe they went from the small class to the middle class. They’ve got a brand new ballpark and I’m sure revenue streams jumped because of it. That’s credit to their longstanding, consistent road to winning and consistency that they have stuck to.
Our annual fixed-income conference is coming up in a little more than a week and I can’t wait.
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