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Tag: Cole

Sign of the Times: Cole Wins His First Day as a Yankee

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Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

There is a commonly used expression when a newly hired coach or player is introduced that goes a long way to determining success:

He won the press conference.

Say something witty for the scribes. Make their job a tad easier. They’ll cut the new guy a little more slack when the early results are disappointing. Say something uplifting for the fans and they’ll forgive some missteps as part of the acclimation process.

Yep, if you win the press conference, you set yourself up to win, not just the day, but the town.

Congratulations Gerrit Cole, you just offered up a flawless primer in how to win the press conference, not an easy accomplishment when there are a lot of media and fans mumbling, “Is any player worth $324 million?”

That won’t be answered for a few years. If Cole leads the Yankees to multiple World Series titles (plural, as owner Hal Steinbrenner said) than $324 million is the down payment on a dynasty.

 If not, well, the Yankees are one of the few American sports franchises that prints its own money. They’ll sign a dozen more sponsors. Surely some auto parts company wants to be the official hubcap of the Yankees.

But neither Cole nor the Yankees have to fret over this signing today because of, well, a sign. The handmade sign that an 11-year Cole held up in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Arizona reads:

Yankee Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever.

It was yellowed after spending the last 18 years in a closet in his parent’s house but what a time for that sign to come out of the closet – when he was officially introduced as the latest next great Yankee in the Legends Club.

“I just wanted to say I’m here, I’ve always been here,” Cole, 29, told reporters.

Yes, Cole is here, the No.1 starting pitcher believed by Yankees ownership and front office to be the missing piece needed to win the first World Series title in 11 years.

 Pressure? Not to Cole.

“Pressure is a privilege,’’ he said. “Pressure comes in situations that you’ve earned. You pitch in big games in September and October because you played well all year. With that in mind, you have to have a process that you know you need to stick to to perform in those games. We can say it’s just another game, but we know when you get to October, it’s really not.”

No, it’s not. The Canyon of Heroes has been litter-free in October since 2009. The Yankees have gotten close several times but close translates into failure for this franchise.

 Cole’s signing is a sign of the times. The Yankees have gone too long since winning title No. 27. It was time to break the bank.

“We have an incredible team right here, right now,’’ said Steinbrenner. “What happens three years from now, you can never predict. Clearly, I felt it was time to strike, to really get that final big piece that can make a difference with the way things have been going.

“We need to win some world championships and I believe we’re going to do that, sooner than later. I believe that. Plural.”

That’s the sign Yankees fans are looking for: World Championships, Today, Tomorrow….

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Cole Contract Could Be A Risk But Yankees Gladly Did It

Go back to October and the Yankees failures with their at bats were the major and contributing factors coming up short again to the Houston Astros. It was not Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, James Paxton, J.A Happ.

And it wasn’t the open bullpen and Chad Green that failed. The culprit this time, and failure to reach a World Series for the first time in a decade was their inability to have that dominant pitcher.

They got  Gerrit Cole, their target. 

 But, Cole does not hit the ball. He throws strikes and a majority of his outs come with the strikeout. That could get the Yankees their first World Series championship since 2009.

And of course, the Yankees had the resources to pay Cole, nine-years, $324 million, a record contract. The Yankees always seem to get what they want but this was different in many respects.

They upped their offer to obtain the prize free agent on the market. Could have been the Dodgers or the supposed front running Angels, but the Yankees had the resources to do this.

And  the magnitude of this contract is not what the Yankees have been accustomed for via free agency and acquiring a pitcher they feel will get them to the top.  They haven’t been in this market since Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia. and it shows their desperation to win it all and for a long time.

A long time with Cole, before his opt of five years, but it does come with a risk.

You see, long term contracts of this magnitude can backfire for a position player, and more so with a quality and durable arm that is Gerrit Cole.

So if this fails, then we are talking about another bust of a contract, The Yankees now have two of the $300 million and record contracts, the other Giancarlo Stanton and that has proved to be a failure.  

There are no expectations that the 2019 season of Cole, with a Major League leading 326 strikeouts, league leading 2.50 ERA in 33 starts, 20-5, and runner up for AL Cy Young Award will duplicate that in 2020. 

He could still be that dominating pitcher, 35-10 and that 2.68 ERA in 65 starts for the Astros that was seen the past two seasons.Cole can still be the ace of a Yankees pitching staff that will deliver their long awaited World Series title and first of the new decade.

But, the 29-year old  Cole needs to stay healthy as that innings eater. It is a risk the Yankees took. However, Cole has mastered his curveball and his four-seamer over the two-seam fastball made him that dominant ace.

Said a longtime AL scout, who has seen Cole often, “That change brought him to this level. Keeps it low in zone and that’s what gives him so many ground balls.”

Ground balls from Cole will be important at his new ballpark in the Bronx.

And the Yankees now have flexibility to do more. GM Brian Cashman will look into the contracts of Tanaka, Paxton, and Haap, all up for free agency after the 2020 season.

All of those interesting elements come into play for the Yankees. But in the end, as much as pitching and defense win ball games, as the Yankees have, that potent lineup needs to hit in timley situations.

Their 2019 postseason was a failure at the plate and that was the difference.

So throw away the theories of collusion from the owners. Zack Wheeler, in the $100 million plus range, Stephen Strasburg (Nationals $245 million) and now Gerrit Cole.

The big three on the pitching market are off the table. But the Yankees got what they wanted. They have changed direction and salary thresholds to them, and staying away from the long term and lucrative contract are no longer a part of their policy.

Cole, as manager Aaron Boone said, “is a lot of ways, that’s a game-changing type of talent.”

The Yankees got their game changer, but at what risk? If Gerrit Cole helps to deliver one or more World Series titles then this will not be a risk.

The Yankees got their investment with Sabathia and a World Series championship and years before his knees got worse. Though this could always be that enormous risk of a contract.


Comment: Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Cole’s Signing Can Only Mean One Thing – Another Yankees Dynasty

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

The elephant that once resided in the Yankees clubhouse has been replaced by a mammoth elephant of a contract.

The Yankees reportedly got their guy, agreeing to terms with pitcher Gerritt Cole, the unquestioned No.1 free agent on the market. The cost was staggering, shattering every baseball contract and then some.

For the chance to field another dynasty, the Yankees will pay Cole a reported $324 million over nine years. And dynasty is what this is about, not one World Series championship, but several.

Of course, the fact that the Yankees haven’t paraded down the Canyon of Heroes in a decade was the driving force in acquiring Cole. Ten years without that 28th championship is hard time for a franchise that measures success in rings or bust.

It’s amazing how quickly the Yankees’ years of fiscal restraint went over the short porch in right. That’s what happens when the Yankees have to watch the Red Sox celebrate twice in the last 10 years.

Hal Steinbrenner might not be impetuous like his late father but he too is a competitor, one who fully understands the Yankees don’t compete for the A.L. East title. They compete for historic success, which required a historic contract.

Cole’s deal shatters the seven-year, $245 million contract the Nationals ponied up to retain Stephen Strasburg. Cole’s $36 million per season also eclipses Mike Trout’s $35.54 million per season.

It’s almost as much as Mayor Pete’s city of South Bend, Indiana’s 2020 budget of $358 million. Cole’s signing automatically makes the 2020 Yankees the favorite to win the World Series.

 At the age of 29, Cole is at the peak of his game. He went 20-5 last season with a career-best 2.50 ERA. His 326 strikeouts (also a career best) broke the Astros single season record of 313 set by J.R. Richard 40 years ago.

The Yankees now have a starting rotation that is as formidable as their lineup.

Cole becomes the ace followed by James Paxton, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka in some order. Remember, the Yankees didn’t have Severino for most of last season. Now they have Cole, Severino, a workhorse in Tanaka, and a Paxton who adjusted to New York and got stronger as the season went along.

All this can only translate into success if the Yankees do what they did just before the turn of the century – three straight titles and four in five years. That’s what $324 million buys – the next elephant in the room.