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.
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:
- About Eric Cressey
- CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Mike King
- Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Adam Ottavino
- CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Understanding the Throwing Elbow with Dr. Chris Ahmad (Yankees Team Doctor)
- CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Using Data for Development with Sam Fuld
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.