Gerrit Cole loves to talk pitching, and his teammates love to listen. Focused and in pursuit of perfection – it’s something that $324 million can’t buy.
Gerrit Cole is baseball’s version of the TV commercial, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen”.
Cole is a magnet for Yankees pitchers who want to talk pitching with someone who sets the bar at its highest level.
A tinkerer at times, and a thinker at all times, Cole leaves little doubt as to why he is the leading contender to win the AL Cy Young award in 2020.
Writing for the New York Post, George A King III reports of “an instance early in camp Cole stood in front of his locker in the middle of the clubhouse chatting with Jordan Montgomery. Zack Britton joined the chat, and guest instructor Andy Pettitte rolled up.
The session went on for 20 minutes and likely continued after the media’s access was finished.”
A good teacher, however, is an even better listener. And with Gerrit Cole, another dimension is added to the depth of character and a never-ending search to make himself better at his chosen craft.
For instance, when Masahiro Tanaka took his turn for a bullpen session the other day, Gerrit Cole was watching every pitch he threw.
Why? Because Cole is enamored with the balance Tanaka maintains on the mound.
Gerrit Cole: Poised To Deliver The Goods
To be sure, the Yankees did not spend $324 million to hire a pitching coach.
Gerrit Cole was brought here for the same reason the Yankees invested handsomely in CC Sabathia in 2009 – to end an embarrassing drought by bringing a World Championship back to the Bronx.
Sabathia went 19-8 over 34 starts and then went on to excel in the postseason, winning the MVP award in the ALCS, as a decided contributor to the Yankees 27th World Title.
Number twenty-eight is all on Gerrit Cole.
All the rest of it is a bonus, part of the package you receive when you sign a Gerrit Cole.
Intangibles And Makeup
The Yankees, in early December, knew this immediately when their contingent arrived in California for a sit-down with Cole, his spouse Amy, and player’s agent Scott Boras.
Leaving the hotel following the four-hour session, Yankees manager Aaron Boone left no doubt, referring to Gerrit Cole as “A guy that is certainly in the prime of his career. This is the kind of person that has all the winning intangibles and makeup.”
The keywords “person”, “intangibles”, “makeup”, the Yankees knew would make all the difference.
Avoiding The Hiccups
Following Cole’s signing and amidst the surrounding euphoria, all hell was breaking loose with the uncovering of the sign-stealing episode in Houston.
It did not go unnoticed that Cole was a Houston Astro for the last two seasons.
On arrival in Yankees camp, Cole took the questions head-on, insisting the Astros “played fair and square” last season and said he didn’t see any teammates cheating in 2018 either.
Inevitably, that raised a few eyebrows. But this is where a person of Cole’s reputation and character – and especially a non-hitting starting pitcher – can cash in a few chips to sway public and teammate opinion in his favor. Crisis averted.
Cole And Sanchez – Mind Readers
Cole’s competitiveness raises the bar across the board for Yankees players.
This was seen in yesterday’s one perfect one-inning debut by Cole and its effect on Gary Sanchez.
Obviously, the duo has never worked together before, and there seemed to be an extra-step in Sanchez.
Realizing perhaps that his very best was required in establishing what Aaron Boone referred to as an ability to “read his (Cole’s) mind”.
To which Sanchez replied, “Read each other’s mind? That would be nice,” said Sanchez, who used his new lower stance for the first time in a game. It is designed to help Sanchez frame low strikes better.
“It’s a work in progress, Sanchez said It is something new to me, something I am still learning.”
And that’s the whole point about having Gerrit Cole on the Yankees. He inspires learning at all levels and at all times.
And that’s why there are three-hundred and twenty-four million reasons to be looking forward to the Yankees 2020 season.