Report: Yankees Make Major Changes to Training Staff

The Yankees fired Matt Krause, their director of strength and conditioning for six seasons, at the end of December, per the New York Post‘s George King III. Fans and analysts alike both anticipated the move, which came after a brutal 2019 season in terms of injuries. At the time, there was no speculation about what would come next. It made sense, though, to think that it would be a sweeping overhaul. Last year was that bad.

Last night, The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler broke the news (subs req’d) that major changes are indeed coming. Eric Cressey of Cressey Sports Performance “will oversee their training and strength-and-conditioning departments”, per Adler. This is a significant hire by the Yankees.

Cressey is a big name in these circles. Clients of his include Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, and Noah Syndegaard. His well-known philosophy “emphasizes kinesiology and biomechanics” and appears to be on the cutting-edge of his field. In fact, Matt Blake — who has many of the same characteristics — worked for Cressey in the past.

For the Yankees, Cressey will take the lead on creating strength and conditioning programs. He’ll also play a leading role in personnel decisions, as one would expect. Interestingly, the Yankees will not prevent him from working with non-Yankee players during his tenure. This is similar to the arrangement between the Reds and Driveline’s Kyle Boddy.

Unsurprisingly, other moves followed. Adler notes that longtime trainer Steve Donahue will become “trainer emeritus”, or something like it. Former assistant athletic trainer Michael Schuk will be promoted into Donahue’s old role. These moves mirror the team’s massive overhaul of its pitching apparatus following — and during — the 2019 season. It seems to be an overhaul to the same degree, with a focus on progressive, advanced techniques. I personally think that’s good news.

Of course, the timing makes sense. The 2019 Yankees onslaught of injuries was a sight to behold — and extremely frustrating. The team sent 30 (!) different players to the Injured List a total of 39 times last year. Yankee players spent a whopping 2,804 days on the IL. It sure seemed like a number of players got hurt while rehabbing or progressed more slowly than anticipated. I’m not ever one to cheer when a person loses their job, but it sure did seem like the Yankees needed to make a change here. Let’s hope that 2020 is a much healthier year for the Bombers.

Further Reading/Listening

Cressey, as I mentioned, is a prominent name in sports performance. He hosted a popular baseball podcast called “Elite Baseball Development” that is worth checking out. Here are some links to get up to speed:

I’m sure there’s more out there, but this is a pretty good start. I’m glad to see the Yankees continue to improve/innovate despite their success. It’s the mark of a good organization and I hope it pays dividends in 2020 and beyond. That would be nice.

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6 Comments

  1. Mungo

    I’ll say one thing about Cashman, he’s not afraid to make bold moves at a stage in his life when he could have simply kept going to the same playbook. A man in his early 50s, who’s held his job for 22 years, has the comfort knowing he has the full support of ownership, leading to six pennants and four World Series titles, could easily lose his edge. Instead, he built one of the best analytics groups in the game, refocused the farm to begin producing talent, in the process rebuilt the MLB team without incurring a losing season, traded for undervalued prospects, booted a successful manager and replaced him with someone he thought could better work with the younger players, and now he’s totally revamped the pitching development and training staff. He’s yet to add another notch to his belt since the 2009 championship, and that will be critical for his legacy, but I suspect that will end soon, hopefully in 2020. He’s definitely not resting on his laurels. I’ve had my issues at times with Cashman, but he’s a man right now at the top of his game.

  2. chip56

    The Yankees are doing something I’ve never seen before in any sport. Teams will often hire people who worked for these companies like Cressey or Driveline. The Yankees are hiring the people who FOUNDED these companies.

    It’s like a bunch of restaurants wanting to specialize in southwest cuisine hiring people who used to work for Bobby Flay and then one place just hiring Flay himself.

    • Mungo

      Chip, maybe figuring they’ll also know who the right people are to hire.

  3. RetroRob

    His clients include “Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, and Noah Syndegaard.” Is this supposed to make us feel better?

    Kluber missed virtually all of 2019. Scherzer’s injuries limited the overall volume of work this year, probably costing him a Cy Young. Syndegaard has his own injury list, with some speculating that he trains so hard it hurts his effectiveness.

    Is that how it’s down on the internets these days? Just trolling, obviously, but a reminder that injuries will happen regularly in sports. Some good people on the Yankees training staff might have even lost their jobs in this sweep, but a team is going to and has to make changes when it deals with the volume of injuries the Yankees did in 2019.

    • Ernie

      Retro, it’ll be an interesting storyline to watch in 2020. It’s not just that the Yankees rebuilt both their pitching development team top to bottom, and have done the same with their training staff, it’s that they’ve brought in a group of outsiders who have a very non-traditional approach. If it works, you’re a genius, if it backfires, you’re questioned. That’s why I said above that Cashman is not afraid to make bold moves.

  4. Hobie

    Cressey is an animal. Great hire.

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