Last October, the Incompetent Empire blamed all its problems on a strength and conditioning coach named Dana Cavalea, the lone person to be fired, after the team finished out of post-season. This came six years after the Evils fired Cavalea's boss, a guy named Marty Miller. It's a great Machiavellian strategy for survival at the Yankee summit: When the team stinks, somebody must take a bullet.
It looks as though Mark Newman, the longtime director of minor league operations, plans to drink the Drano this winter - announcing his retirement - so his cronies can keep their lanyards and parking spaces.
Newman's exit popped up in the Murdoch Post this weekend, barely two weeks since news rolled out that Brian Cashman will stay on as Chief Procurer to the Throne. This weekend brought Bill Madden's Sunday column, which kicks Newman around, gives Cash yet another free pass, but asks a couple questions, suggesting trouble in paradise.
Keep in mind that Madden in 2010 wrote Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, a biography whose title certainly salves the souls Hal and Hank. It's not hard to believe that when Madden spouts, the heirs might be nodding agreement.
Here's what Madden said:
[G]etting rid of Newman alone isn’t going to solve the Yankees’ problem, which is one of the most consistently barren farm systems in all of baseball; a talent dearth that has forced them to continually dip into the free agent market and grossly overspend on contracts such as those for CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Brain McCann, Carlos Beltran — and, of course, A-Rod — that are choking them now.
(Damn straight, Madden got that right.)
What has to change are the policies of Newman, and for that to happen the Yankees are going to need to overhaul the entire player development and scouting department. The question is: Who will do that? It’s looking fairly certain GM Brian Cashman will be back — it’s hard to fault him for any of the moves he made in an effort to improve the team this year. Where Cashman can be faulted, however, is the minor league system.
Back in 2005, he threatened to leave as GM if Yankee owner George Steinbrenner didn’t put an end to the longstanding separate fiefdoms in both Tampa and New York and give him control over the entire baseball operation. But once in charge, Cashman did nothing to change the way the minor league system was run. Newman remained and was allowed to continue hiring his cronies as scouts and coaches, many of whom never even played professionally (while at the same time running off, among others, Dick Groch, the scout who signed Derek Jeter, and Fred Ferreira, the scout who signed Bernie Williams), and Damon Oppenheimer continued as scouting director.
This is interesting. And if true, why hasn't more been made of it until now?
I’m told the morale throughout the Yankees’ minor league system was at an all-time low this year as Newman had minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson calling minor league managers in the middle of ballgames and ordering them to remove pitchers with rising pitch counts. Yet in spite of all the failed draft picks, and pitchers who were never allowed to pitch out of jams, and the absence of any impact position players coming through the system, Cashman nevertheless approved Newman’s policies and all his hires — which makes you wonder about his own judgment and whether he should be the one to conduct the needed overhaul of the Yankee player development and scouting systems.
Yep. He goes, and everybody else stays. So clean, so perfect...
At least Madden here touches on the frustrations that Yankee fans feel about the front office - anger that will not end with Mark Newman. Good grief, if this guy was such a malignancy, why didn't Cashman fix it years ago? By what metrics do the Yankee brass manage to declare themselves successes? And how is it that Hal Steinbrenner rubber stamps what these bozos do - again and again?