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The Training Staff Shake-Up Begins

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Matt Krause - Photo Courtesy of

Matt Krause – Photo Courtesy of

To-date, the Yankees have had a pretty good off-season, particularly since many of us are still glowing from the Yankees’ successful pursuit of Gerrit Cole. Despite that, one elephant has remained in the room even despite the good news: the Yankees had been mum about their internal assessment of training, conditioning, and rehabilitation protocols following a season that highlighted problems that clearly went beyond coincidence. According to Spotrac, no teams’ players lost more games to injury than the Yankees in 2019, and it’s not particularly close. Brian Cashman noted during his season-ending press conference that the Yankees were in the process evaluating what changes were needed within the organization to prevent the issues that occurred in 2019 from being a defining feature of future Yankee seasons. Until Saturday, we did not have an answer as to what changes the Yankees had planned, if any.

We have at least the beginning of the Yankees’ answers to their injury and rehab struggles this year. George King of the NY Post reported that the Yankees have fired Strength and Conditioning Coach, Matt Krause, with what is believed to be 2 years remaining on his contract. Krause came to the Yankees with some fanfare, having won Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by the Nationals Strength and Conditioning Association in 2017. Here are my thoughts on the move:

The Yankees had to do something after last season, but frankly, the Yankees have had some problems with rehabilitation for years. Last year was egregious, though. Betances and Severino both had significant setbacks during their rehab programs. The Yankees way underestimated Aaron Hicks and Luke Voit’s rehab times last year. Add in the sheer volume of injuries, and it was obvious that a shakeup was coming. The person running strength and conditioning is an obvious target when players start going down in droves, so it does not surprise me to learn that Krause has been let go.

By the same token, it is very difficult for outside observers like myself to really have a good handle on exactly what needs to change with the Yankees strength, conditioning, and rehabilitation protocols and staffing to help improve the current situation. Until this season, Krause had a very positive reputation. I can’t say for sure that firing Matt Krause was the right move, but I also respect the fact that the Yankees feel that they had to make this move, even with time remaining on Krause’s contract.

Some people may try to say that this move is at least partially eye wash. The Yankees know that they need to make a statement regarding the problems they’ve had with injuries and rehabilitation. Firing the Strength and Conditioning coach certainly makes a public statement. That said, I’d like to think that the Yankees are above making moves just for the sake of public perception. Even if the Yankees are sensitive to the perception that poor conditioning and rehabilitation procedures and staffing led to all of the injury problems that plagued the team this year, I think that any moves they make to that effect are based on internal data and auditing.

By no means do I think that this is the only move the Yankees are going to make this off-season. I can’t even be certain that this is the first significant change the Yankees have made internally this off-season, as it is entirely possible that the Yankees have been making protocol and staffing changes since October, and we’re only just learning about some of them now. Strength and conditioning in NY is just one aspect of the total picture. I would be shocked if the Yankees do not also make staffing and rehabilitation protocol changes down in Tampa (Yankee rehab headquarters) as well.

There is no way to know how much impact this decision will make at the current time. Much as the Yankees clearly had some internal investigation to do after the problems they’ve had on the injury and rehabilitation fronts, I’m not sure that we’re going to be able to remove the coincidence factor from the data to say definitively that this move worked for years to come. However, the Yankees have made a commitment to moving the organization forward with new philosophies with regards to training and mechanics, as evidenced by the hiring of coaches like Rachel Balkovec and Matt Blake. I fully expect the Yankees to hire a Strength and Conditioning coach with a similar background. The Yankees next Strength and Conditioning coach will likely be someone who has a track record of implementing training protocols that complement the the mechanics and philosophies of the Yankees’ new coaches. The same goes for new procedures and staff in Tampa and throughout the Yankees’ affiliated minor league clubs.

As someone on the outside looking in, the move makes sense, and I’m glad the Yankees have taken their time to make these decisions. Assemble the coaching staff you want first, then assemble a training and conditioning staff that fits those philosophies. I am very happy to see that the Yankees are making progress towards hopefully ensuring that the issues that have occurred in the past do not affect the Yankees moving forward. I am looking forward to see what public moves are made next.

Given that the Yankees next Strength and Conditioning Coach is likely to be someone whose implementation strategy complements the philosophy of the Yankees’ new coaches, I have no idea who the next coach will be, but I’m looking forward to learning more about them once the Yankees make a hire. The Yankees have proven that they are willing to hire integral pieces to the coaching puzzle from non-traditional backgrounds, so I think the next Strength and Conditioning coach will come from outside of the current Major League pipeline. Or, of course, I could be completely wrong and the next coach could be an MLB lifer, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Matt Krause’s firing is the first public move the Yankees have made with regards to training, conditioning, and rehabilitation programs and staffing this off-season, and it certainly won’t be the last. With any luck, all of the changes the Yankees make will lead to more concrete return timelines for injured players, smoother rehabilitation processes, and ultimately fewer injuries.


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