About the Off-Season: Change That Makes a Difference
About the Off-Season: Change That Makes a Difference
By Tim Kabel
October 19, 2023
Many years ago, I worked in retail in a management position. I was actually very good at it, even though it probably wasn't the best fit for me. At one point, I set a sales record, and I won two consecutive awards for controlling inventory by stopping employee theft and shoplifting.
Eventually, I went to work for a very small sporting goods company. It was owned by a husband and wife, who were in the process of opening a few stores in their chain. They brought me in because they were having a lot of problems and they wanted changes.
Within my first week on the job, I conducted a complete inventory on all the merchandise in the store. I took items that were gathering dust in the back and created a whole new display utilizing open wall space in the store. I suggested the owners implement a much more generous employee discount, so their staff would be disinclined to steal. I also broached the topic of paying the employees overtime, which was anathema to the owners. I planned on conducting regular inventories to control stock. The owner said they were quite impressed with my ideas.
Two weeks later, the owners had dismantled my beautiful display which had led to many sales and packed it into a box along with all the merchandise and shipped it off to their other store, hoping to drum up business there. I was now left with no merchandise and bare wall space. I was told to figure something else out. They decided against giving the employees more of a discount and frowned upon the notion of paying overtime. In addition, they regularly began shipping merchandise out of the store I was managing to their other store, without telling me. Therefore, my inventory was useless.
One of my responsibilities was making the schedule. Unbeknownst to me, the owner and his wife were each also writing schedules. I was unaware that there were three different schedules posted in the back room. One day when I was off, the owner's wife called me in a tizzy because no one showed up to work. The employees all followed different schedules. The owner's wife demanded that I report to work and straighten out the mess. I arrived and told them that the mess was because there were three different schedules. The owners told me that things weren't working out. I told them that they brought me in to do a job, but we're not willing to make the necessary changes to let me do that job. I left in less than a month. I do not believe I qualified for a pension.
The point is that the Yankees can talk about making changes all they want. They can bring in new players. They can make trades. They can promote people from the minor leagues. They can also sign free agents. Heck, they can even bring in new coaches. None of that will matter unless the overall way of doing business changes for this team.
I have stated on the record that I believe Brian Cashman should be replaced as general manager of this team. However, I realize that is very unlikely to happen. Hal Steinbrenner has repeatedly stated that Cashman will be back. He is under contract, after all. I think the only possible way his role could change would be if he were given some type of promotion and removed from the day-to-day running of the team. Perhaps his old protege, Kim Ng, could return to be the general manager. She did a very good job with the Florida Marlins. It would be interesting to see what she could do with a team that is actually willing to spend some money.
Whether or not Brian Cashman remains in his current role, there needs to be major changes. Apparently, there is minimal communication throughout all the layers of the organization. That needs to be corrected and streamlined. I strongly believe that a new manager should be brought in, since a large part of the blame for the breakdown in communication can be laid at Aaron Boone's doorstep.
In addition to communication, the role of the analytics department needs to be changed. As part of the overall miscommunication, it seems that many of the players were flooded with a great deal of information about hitting and so forth. Since many of these players are young, they were clearly overwhelmed. Oswaldo Cabrera, who regressed in 2023, openly stated that there were too many voices in his head. Oswald Peraza apparently felt the same way and eventually they both reverted to their old ways of doing things, which had brought them success and led to their promotions to the major leagues in the first place.
The miscommunication spread to the area of injuries, health, and recovery of the players. We have gone over several times that the way the Yankees mishandled the injury situations with Jose Trevino, Anthony Rizzo, Jasson Dominguez, and quite probably, Aaron Judge. This was and is a major problem that needs to be rectified.
The Yankees also need to make personnel changes on the team. They need more left-handed hitting and better hitting overall. They could use another solid starting pitcher and at least one quality arm in the bullpen. However, none of those changes will matter unless there are overall changes to the entire organization which are embraced by everyone from top to bottom.
If Brian Cashman is retained is the general manager, he needs to change the way that he conducts business. He, himself, needs to change. He cannot do things the way he has been. The last time the Yankees were in the World Series was 2009. He needs to realize that the way he has been doing things has not been successful. He can act smug and condescending about it if he chooses to but, the facts are the facts.
Since Cashman chose Aaron Boone to be the manager, perhaps that is one of the changes he should make. The combination of Cashman and Boone is not effective. If Cashman is staying, Boone should go.
In addition to replacing the manager, the way Cashman works with his manager and the rest of his staff needs to be different. It starts with communication, but it includes having a clear focus and direction that need to be followed. The overall reliance on analytics needs to be examined carefully. It is great to have a lot of information but, If that information is not clear and is in fact overwhelming to the players, it is useless.
It is wonderful to talk about change. It is nice to embrace change. However, if you bring someone in to fix your business, you had better let them do it. If you have three people making up three different schedules for the employees, chaos will occur. It will be very interesting to see what changes will be made to the organization of this team. If Brian Cashman remains as general manager and does not change anything about the way he does business, there is no reason to expect a better outcome for 2024. If the script for a play is terrible, you can get the best actors in the world, and it will still be an awful play.