• Newman: Yankees Draft 100% Oppenheimer

    Posted by on June 11th, 2010 · Comments (16)

    I thought this was interesting from a NoMaas.org interview of Yankees Senior VP of Baseball Operations Mark Newman:

    SJK: As Senior VP of Baseball Operations, you are the boss of the entire player development system. What exactly does that role entail? How does the hierarchy work?

    MN: It works like this. We have exceptional people leading four different departments of player development. Damon [Oppenheimer] runs our domestic scouting. Donny Rowland leads our international scouting department. Pat Roessler is our farm director, and a guy named Pat McMahon leads our international player development efforts, which are centered in our complex in the Dominican. Each one of those guys has responsibilities.

    The nature of amateur scouting in the US is such that our guys do this all year. All in, it’s probably close to a twelve-month a year operation. They’ve got showcases in the fall, home visits in the winter — high school and college games in the spring leading up the draft. And then post-draft, there are summer leagues like the Cape, high school showcases, national team tryouts — there’s all kinds of things that our guys are involved in. Damon runs that department very well, and he has the authority to draft the players the Yankees need. Neither Cash or I tell him who to pick and who not to pick. We’re there to support, and evaluate his production, just like everyone else in the organization is evaluated.

    I do get more involved in international scouting, just due to the nature of the activity. I spend a lot of time down there with Donny Rowland.

    I find this very odd. The G.M. of the team is the head guy in charge. The buck stops with him. And, as we know, back in October 2005, Brian Cashman fought for having total autonomy on Yankees decisions.

    So, then, why is Cashman allowing Oppenheimer to decide who to pick and who not to pick without the need to run it by the G.M. first? That’s a pretty big decision – at least on the early picks – not have any input on it. Very strange…

    Comments on Newman: Yankees Draft 100% Oppenheimer

    1. MJ Recanati
      June 11th, 2010 | 10:18 am

      First, I don’t know how the other 29 front offices work to know if it’s so strange that a GM delegates the draft to his scouting director. Second, even if the Yanks are the only team that run the draft in this way, it doesn’t make that method a wrong one. Third, I don’t see what Cashman’s fight to have total autonomy has to do with anything. Presumably that meant that Cashman consolidated power within himself and streamlined the team’s organizational chart such that Oppenheimer and others report to him. Thus, Cashman delegating control of the draft to Oppenheimer is actually a product of Cashman’s fight for control. Consolidation of power doesn’t mean that delegation can’t occur thereafter, it only means that Cashman no longer shares power with others.

      Finally, you need to re-read the exact quote:

      “Neither Cash or I tell him who to pick and who not to pick. We’re there to support, and evaluate his production, just like everyone else in the organization is evaluated.”

      When Newman says “we’re there to support and evaluate”, he’s saying that he and Cashman are there to offer input. So you’re wrong to say that Cashman has no input on draft picks.

    2. Raf
      June 11th, 2010 | 10:19 am

      It isn’t odd when you think about it. Perhaps Cashman trusts Oppenheimer enough that he doesn’t have to run every pick past him. I doubt that on draft day Cashman’s like “who’s this guy, and why’d we pick him”

    3. June 11th, 2010 | 10:24 am

      @ MJ Recanati: I read “we’re there to support and evaluate” to mean “we’re here if he has any questions and needs us, and, we’re monitoring his performance on how he does” – and not that they’re there to offer input when not asked for it.

    4. June 11th, 2010 | 10:40 am

      Sometimes managing an organization means delegating responsibilities.

      Looking back at some of the drafts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, it appears that domestic amateur scouting is not Cashman’s forte.

      Since Oppenheimer entered the picture, the team has drafted guys like Hughes, Romine, Laird, Robertson, Joba, etc…

      Certainly makes sense, and is a sign of a strong manager (generally speaking), to drop back delegate to others in order to let their strengths contribute to the organization.

    5. MJ Recanati
      June 11th, 2010 | 11:07 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      I just can’t imagine that Cashman and Newman are sitting in a corner of the room attacking the deli tray and sitting silently while Oppenheimer and his staff do the work. Between running the draft and silent monitoring, there’s an entire universe of interactions that can take place which both allow for Oppenheimer to run the show and for Cashman to consult, ask questions, offer ideas, have conversations, etc.

    6. Raf
      June 11th, 2010 | 11:39 am

      Sean McNally wrote:

      Looking back at some of the drafts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, it appears that domestic amateur scouting is not Cashman’s forte.

      Looking back, it didn’t seem to be Michael’s forte either, though he had a pretty good pick with Jeter. Watson had some decent picks, as did Harding Peterson.

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      I just can’t imagine that Cashman and Newman are sitting in a corner of the room attacking the deli tray and sitting silently while Oppenheimer and his staff do the work.

      That’s a funny image :D

    7. June 11th, 2010 | 11:47 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      I just can’t imagine that Cashman and Newman are sitting in a corner of the room attacking the deli tray and sitting silently while Oppenheimer and his staff do the work.

      Did you miss the part where Newman said “[Damon] has the authority to draft the players the Yankees need. Neither Cash or I tell him who to pick and who not to pick”?

    8. June 11th, 2010 | 11:54 am

      Sean McNally wrote:

      Since Oppenheimer entered the picture, the team has drafted guys like Hughes, Romine, Laird, Robertson, Joba, etc…
      Certainly makes sense, and is a sign of a strong manager (generally speaking), to drop back delegate to others in order to let their strengths contribute to the organization.

      Oppenheimer took over from that nightmare Garrett in 2005. So, CJ Henry, JB Cox, Andrew Brackman, Gerrit Cole, Jeremy Bleich and Scott Bittle are on him. Yes, Brackman’s done a little better lately – but he’s still far away. The rest of these are busts. Basically, it’s been Hughes and the 2006 draft that Damon’s lived off of here. And, that was 4 years ago. It’s time for him to start showing that wasn’t a fluke.

    9. MJ Recanati
      June 11th, 2010 | 12:44 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Did you miss the part where Newman said “[Damon] has the authority to draft the players the Yankees need. Neither Cash or I tell him who to pick and who not to pick”?

      What does that have to do with what I said. Let me repeat myself then:

      “Between running the draft and silent monitoring, there’s an entire universe of interactions that can take place which both allow for Oppenheimer to run the show and for Cashman to consult, ask questions, offer ideas, have conversations, etc.”

    10. June 11th, 2010 | 12:44 pm

      Here’s another spin to consider.

      Cashman is the Teflon GM. The bad moves never are his fault.

      Cashman knows the risk in draft picks.

      Perhaps it’s much easier for him this way. When the pick/draft is a bust, he can simply throw Damon under the bus and say “Our scouts had good reports. It didn’t work out as planned.”

    11. MJ Recanati
      June 11th, 2010 | 12:54 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Oppenheimer took over from that nightmare Garrett in 2005. So, CJ Henry, JB Cox, Andrew Brackman, Gerrit Cole, Jeremy Bleich and Scott Bittle are on him. Yes, Brackman’s done a little better lately – but he’s still far away. The rest of these are busts. Basically, it’s been Hughes and the 2006 draft that Damon’s lived off of here. And, that was 4 years ago. It’s time for him to start showing that wasn’t a fluke.

      WTF??

      1) CJ Henry was traded a little more than a full calendar year after he was drafted in the Abreu trade. That he didn’t pan out is of no consequence to the Yankees because he was traded for an established, All-Star caliber player.

      2) JB Cox’s career was derailed by injuries. There isn’t a scouting director alive that can predict which players will have injuries cut short by injury, especially for someone that didn’t have any significant red flags at the time.

      3) Gerrit Cole isn’t a bust. You’re literally the only Yankee blogger or Yankee fan that I know of that keeps on insisting that the Yankees made a mistake by picking Cole. Cole misled both his agent Scott Boras and the Yankees. Period.

      4) Jeremy Bleich…see #2 directly above. Plus, how is Bleich a bust in only his second full professional season at AA? You think all college pitchers make it to the big leagues as fast as Kennedy and Chamberlain? Think again.

      5) You can’t talk about Oppenheimer “living off 2006″ because you have no idea how the 2008-2010 classes will turn out. Specifically, there were a lot of players in the 2009 class that are doing very well this year.

    12. MJ Recanati
      June 11th, 2010 | 12:56 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Here’s another spin to consider.
      Cashman is the Teflon GM. The bad moves never are his fault.
      Cashman knows the risk in draft picks.
      Perhaps it’s much easier for him this way. When the pick/draft is a bust, he can simply throw Damon under the bus and say “Our scouts had good reports. It didn’t work out as planned.”

      What, Cashman told Mark Newman to paint a picture that lays accountability at Oppenheimer’s feet? A giant conspiracy theory is a-brewing?

      Good grief, you never quit trying to find another ridiculous way to make a point that has no merit, do you? Give it a rest Steve, seriously. It’s preposterous.

    13. jay
      June 11th, 2010 | 1:21 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Here’s another spin to consider.
      Cashman is the Teflon GM. The bad moves never are his fault.
      Cashman knows the risk in draft picks.
      Perhaps it’s much easier for him this way. When the pick/draft is a bust, he can simply throw Damon under the bus and say “Our scouts had good reports. It didn’t work out as planned.”

      This will probably get under your skin, but whatever, it makes the point: You don’t seem to understand the difference between responsibility and accountability and how delegation of authority is involved with those concepts. If the situation you’re describing above is allowed to happen, it’s an indictment on Cashman’s employers moreso than Cashman himself.

    14. Scout
      June 11th, 2010 | 1:38 pm

      I think what Newman says is pretty simple: Oppenheimer is accountable for the performance of Yankees draft choices. Cashman is accountable to the Steinbrenners for the performance of the Yankees overall, in particular at the major league level. His job is to put the Yankees on top and keep them there. Oppenheimer’s job is to develop talent, whether for use by the Yankeees themselves or in trades for other players the major league team needs. Cashman will judge Oppenheimer, Newman, and others by how well they do their respective jobs. It strikes me as a rather straightforward delegation-accountability organization model.

      Scouting directors get judged by their performance over time. To my mind, the jury on Oppenheimer is still out. We are still waiting for the fruits of several recent drafts and it is too early to judge.

      I made no bones about my unhappiness with his decision to select Culver in Round One this year; I believed Culver would be there later. But that’s now over and done with. I hope I am proven wrong.

      (BTW, although Oppenheimer claims another GM called him to say Culver would be gone by the time the Yankees picked again, I am very skeptical. Has it ever occurred to those who buy this argument that the scouting fraternity is just that — a small circle of people who help look out for each other? So when one of them comes under heat, another has his back. After all, it doesn’t hurt the mystery GM here to stand behind Oppenheimer, whether or not it is true that the other team would have picked Culver.)

      What has not been discussed yet is whether the Yankees will make available enough money to sign some of the very promising talent they selected this year. Culver is not going to be their most difficult signability case. If the organization is prepared to spend heavily on its draft picks, this could turn out to be an excellent draft. If not, when August 15th or 16th rolls around, it will no longer matter who the Yankees selected.

    15. Garcia
      June 11th, 2010 | 1:46 pm

      Steve, I’m with MJ here, how an organization structures responsibility doesn’t mean everything has to go through the head. The “head” being Cashman, one man/woman can’t manage all streams and decision making. He simply provides direction.

      For example, couldn’t Cashman’s direction have been the last few years to say: “Yo, Big Oppie, can you draft me some effing pitchers?” and Oppie replies, “No doubt, Cash-money”? And this year Cashman probably asked him to focus on position players or picking the best talent based on the scouting reports.

      That’s what MJ was talking about, there’s communication thru the chain of command, where before, Cash didn’t have complete autonomy and communication thru the rank-and-file.

      That said, a fish rots from the head. So if Cashman’s direction is not reflective of the Yankees team needs in future years, then yes, he’s at fault.

      If Oppie has a good draft then of course Cash gets some of the accolades, the same way if he doesn’t have a good draft, then it does ultimately fall on Cashman. But that doesn’t mean Cashman has to micromanage everything, which is your point, Steve.

      Would you comment on the org structure of a fortune 500 comment? That’s in essence what you are doing, I can’t say with any level of confidence how even my own company’s org structure deals with responsibilities at the various levels. Are you implying you know exactly how the org structure of the Yankees and other MLB teams actually works?

    16. UNC Tarheel
      June 11th, 2010 | 4:40 pm

      Didn’t the Yankees, under Cashman’s leadership, just win the 2009 World Series?

      Seems to me he is doing just fine.

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