The Yankees search for a “New School” pitching coach is on. Will they go as far as hiring an opinionated pitching genius like David Cone…
Former Yankees pitcher, David Cone, has hinted on several occasions he would like to return to baseball in some capacity. Several reports led by Brandan Kuty in nj.com indicate that Cone would, if asked, be interested in the Yankees opening for a pitching coach.
His pedigree as a major league pitcher is well-established. David Cone pitched a perfect game, won a Cy Young Award, won 20 games in a season for both the Mets and Yankees while capping his career with five World Series rings.
But what does that have to do with the Yankees “New School” philosophy about pitching? That spurred the dismissal of Larry Rothschild and all but one (David Phelps) of the pitching coaches in their entire organization?
The answer is everything because the New School is going to be fully immersed in analytics and sabermetrics.
The Yankees, more and more, will not even consider an interview with someone who is not a “techie” in the baseball sense of the word. So, how about David Cone – does he fit that bill?
Yankees: “Just the stats, please.”
Writing for Newsday, Neil Best says Cone “got ahead of the curve when his agent, Steve Fehr, used advanced data to win two arbitration cases in the 1990s”, long before “analytics” became a synonym for major league baseball.
Since joining the YES Network’s broadcast team as an analyst in 2011, David Cone has found his niche as an opinionated but always knowledgable with the “facts” to back up his thoughts and ideas about pitching during in-game situations.
Those facts are translated via stats that seem to fly out of Cone’s mouth at a record pace and with the ease of someone sharing a conversation about baseball over a beer.
Here’s the catch, though, and it has everything to do with whether or not the Yankees will dare to bring Cone on board.
Will the Yankees buy into David Cone – and vice-versa?
David Cone understands the overuse of analytics as an analyst. Let Cone himself explain (from the Newsday story):
“There’s definitely, especially with respect to on-air, a time to do it and a time not to do it,” he said. “If I can’t explain it fairly concisely, I probably don’t understand it well enough to be talking about it anyway. It has to be digestible.”
This suggests the genuine possibility that David Cone, as a pitching coach, is likely to follow the same way of thinking in doing his job.
Above all else and the reason for his success in broadcasting, Cone is a storyteller, and he convinces by the nature and weight of his personality and character.
Yes, he’s a numbers guy. But Cone is also a pitching theorist who is capable of explaining his art in everyday terms. He’s the person engaged in a discussion that says, “Don’t confuse the issue with facts.”
David Cone, in the same way, is most apt to tell one of his pitchers – “Listen to me. You are not finishing your pitches. Now, do I need to take you into the video room to show you, or will you try this one simple adjustment for me”?
After all, Cone has spent nine years in the business of voicing his opinions. Save for Paul O’Neil, debate seldom rages. Though when there is dissent, Cone will always resort to his treasure of stats to prove his point.
All of which begs the question – is David Cone too strong for the Yankees? How deeply will he invest in the so-called New School philosophy that is destined to be spread by missionaries throughout the organization? Non-believers need not apply.
They’ll need to talk this one out
If Cone sincerely wants to return to baseball, it’s natural for him to be in uniform as a pitching coach.
Couple that with his ties to the Yankees, and his popularity among fans witnessed by loud cheers at the annual Old Timer’s Day, and Cone becomes a natural for the pitching coach position.
If the Yankees decide to interview David Cone (and they should), the conversation promises to be intense. Living in the public eye for nearly all of his adult life, the Yankees know more about Cone than he knows about them.
Cone will dig deeper into what the Yankee’s New School entails, and how he is expected to fit in. He will have probing questions of his own.
David Cone has a career. But despite the fact his job is with the Yankees owned YES Network, David Cone is not a “yes man.”
Cone is perfect for the job – but will the Yankees dare to hire him?