BREAKING - Brian Sabean to Yankees Front Office
by Paul Semendinger
January 3, 2023
THIS IS VERY INTERESTING. (My thoughts below.)
Quick background from wikipedia:
"Sabean began his involvement in Major League Baseball as a scout for the New York Yankees organization in 1985. Sabean was promoted to Director of Scouting in 1986 and Vice President of Player Development/Scouting in 1990. With the Yankees, he drafted or signed as amateurs the likes of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, J. T. Snow, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte. Sabean joined the Giants in 1993, serving as assistant to the general manager and vice president of scouting/player personnel. Sabean served one year as senior vice president of player personnel in 1995 before his promotion to general manager in 1996."
"He served as the team's general manager for eighteen seasons, from 1997 to 2014. He succeeded general manager Bob Quinn. The Giants had a winning record in thirteen of the eighteen seasons in which Sabean served as general manager. Prior to his tenure, the team had suffered losing seasons in five out of six years."
My quick thoughts:
I have generally been pleased overall with Brian Cashman's work as far as his ability to build teams that compete and win during the regular season.
Brian Cashman has had a great deal of success in finding under-valued players and having them succeed for the Yankees. The list of players who fit that definition is long indeed and includes Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius, Luke Voit, Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela, Jose Trevino, Matt Carpenter, and many others.
I do feel that Brian Cashman buys into these surprise players' successes and holds on to them hoping that they'll continue to over-perform when it might be better to trade the player while he has value. (Luke Voit is an example here.)
While Cashman has been successful at finding bargain basement players, that approach has frustrated me more and more as a Yankees fan because I think the Yankees should always be going for the best players, not trying to find less-expensive options. (I'm not pleased that they seem to be going that direction with left field for 2023.)
I don't believe the "let's get frugal after spending huge amounts on superstars" has worked for the Yankees, but I'm not sure if that is Brian Cashman's approach, Hal Steinbrenner's approach, or both.
While Brian Cashman has brought the Yankees much success, as measured by regular season wins, his record of delivering World Championships hasn't been very good. The Yankees have won one World Series since 2001. That's just not good enough.
I believe that leaders have a shelf-life. I think organizations thrive when they replace leaders, even good ones, after a period of time. I believe that ten to fifteen years is a good approximation of the shelf-life of a leader. After that time, any approach starts to get old. New thinking helps keeps an organization fresh.
I believe leaders have blind spots. Brian Cashman has not built teams that have a good balance of quality left-handed hitters, especially lefty power bats. This blind spot, I believe, has hurt the Yankees for years - and it doesn't seem, at this moment, if it's being adequately addressed for 2023.
I think the Yankees do need some new thinking. I was frustrated when Brian Cashman stated last October that the process matters more than the results. No, in baseball, it's the results that matter. The results come from a good process. The process is important, but that's only part of the equation. A process that doesn't result in World Championships, or even World Series appearances, for a team like the Yankees, that does spend big, is in the biggest market, is the sport's most successful franchise, and the sport's most valuable one, just isn't good enough. The lack of World Series appearances demonstrates, clearly, that the process isn't working.
If leaders remain in a place for a long period, because they are still doing good work, it becomes important to bring in other voices to challenge the narrative and to keep the organization fresh and cutting edge.
Even great leaders rely on great advisers. One great example is written about in the book Team of Rivals that focuses on the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Most successful leaders have great people working with them.
The Yankees have not had much turnover in the highest levels of leadership for a long time. The same people have been making the big decisions, and, again, the team isn't winning World Series (which should be the standard of success for the Yankees).
Brian Sabean was with the Yankees, he had great success in New York, and then he's had great success in San Francisco. He is a respected and very smart baseball executive. He has been part of a host of teams that have won World Series - numerous times more recently than the Yankees have won.
Brian Sabean might be just the fresh new(er) voice, for the organization to possibly look at things a little differently which should result in the team being that much better.
I am all in favor of bringing bright minds and successful people into an organization.
I think this was a smart decision. I applaud the Yankees for doing this - and I applaud Brian Cashman for bringing in a successful baseball thinker to assist him with important decisions.
This was a great move for the Yankees.
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