Yankees Farm System: What procedural changes actually mean

Jason Szenes

If you didn't know already, the Yankees have decided to retain both Damon Oppenheimer and Mark Newman, effectively eliminating the idea of any major changes to the farm system. Instead, Hal Steinbrenner opted to make "procedural change" and from what he said, it seems pretty clear what he means:

"Again, it's been disappointing with players like [Dellin] Betances and [Manny] Banuelos, guys we thought would really do well. As of yet, they haven't. But we looked at this thing from top to bottom. And it's really easy to say ‘Get rid of this guy, get rid of this guy, get rid of that guy.' And there's certainly some owners that might do that. But that doesn't always solve the problem.

"Sometimes, it's a procedural, or a process. The way scouts influence each other, because they're talking too much to each other. Somebody has a pre-conception about a player they haven't even seen yet, because they've talked to two scouts about them. And they go in to go see the player with those preconceptions.

"Those are the kind of things we're working on: Communication. We're teaching the scouts. We're going to teach them to look for different things, maybe things they haven't looked at before. Things that Cashman feels is important and Mark feels is important.

"All I can tell you is it was a two- to three-month deal, from top to bottom. And we made dozens of changes that we're just going to have to see, as we're writing them."

Basically it sounds like he, along with Oppenheimer and Newman are blaming their entire scouting department for not being able to properly scout prospects. As if professionals employed to make judgments on players were incapable of doing so without being influenced by other opinions. If you don't trust the people you hired to do the job they were hired to do, either fire them and get new scouts, or you're completely wrong in your assessment.

It doesn't seem like the problem is that scouts are being told that a guy is better than he is and he's believing it, it sounds like the problem is that the player should be better than they are but they're not. Steinbrenner's solution is actually compounding the problem by ignoring the issue and just paving over it so scouts "know" how bad their players are rather than be surprised at how underwhelming they have been when they should be better.

Andy McCullough even tried to harp on that, responding "but it's more than just the scouts. It's the development, too." To which Steinbrenner replied:

"The other thing we're doing: Gil Patterson, for instance. I like to have top-notch roving guys. A hitting guy, a bunting/base-stealing guy. We hired Jody Reed. He's going to fill that role. Really top-notch guys like Gil and Jody for all the different aspects of the game. They're going to be around all the different minor-league teams, working with the coaches and fixing problems that they see."

That's not really what he was getting at. Yankees prospects aren't failing because they don't know how to bunt. They're failing because, for some unknown reason, the farm system hasn't been able to take their potential and translate it into actual talent. So if a player doesn't end up as good as he was thought to be, it's not because the scouts were wrong on him, it's because the system in place is failing them. But it seems as though Steinbrenner is convinced the best thing to do is to pretend that there is a small problem so they don't have to acknowledge a much bigger one.

Whether he's protecting his "boys" Oppenheimer and Newman, or allowed them to blame the whole thing on others, Hal Steinbrenner is not fixing anything. There isn't really a reason either men should still have their jobs. What exactly have they accomplished? He says change for the sake of change is bad, but no change for the sake of avoiding change is much worth, and potentially even scarier.

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