Spring Training News & Notes: Gerrit Cole Speaks, Astros Press Conference, & More

We’re entering the initial stages of a routine for the 2020 season. Aaron Boone had his first press conference of the year yesterday. We’re seeing amazing cell phone video of pitchers’ first bullpens. And we’re beginning to get our first public comments of the year from the players. We’re a little more than a week away from our first game. This is all exciting. Let’s get to the notes of the day.

1. Gerrit Cole Continues To Win The Press Conference: Gerrit Cole is an incredibly engaging player. Beyond having the privilege of watching him pitch every five days, we will bear witness to his impressive insight on the craft of pitching. We caught a glimpse of it after his victory in the Game 3 ALCS, but nobody in Yankeeland really cared about that at the time. Cole’s first press conference as the official ace of the Yankees was a brief masterclass. Here is Gerrit talking about the importance of a catcher’s set up in regards to the strike zone:

As knowledgeable baseball fans, we understand the general concept of a catcher setting up to aid the pitcher in executing a pitch. Most of us understand this as a technique to throw a strike. In the video above, Cole emphasizes the importance of intent rather than a pure result. Pitching is a complicated process. In its simplest form, a pitcher’s objective is to get a hitter out. This is much easier said than done. It demands a high level of execution and intelligence to keep a lineup down. Cole combines both and the result is one of the best in the business. It’s really cool to hear him break down some of the processes.

Cole was innings away from winning a World Series last year with that team from Texas. The Nationals came back in Game 7 to win the title. Gerrit was left sitting in the bullpen as his fellow pitchers blew the game. Jack Curry of the Yes Network asked Cole about his feelings regarding the pressure of playing for a title with the Yankees:

This dude is the perfect fit for this team. We knew that before he signed. It was obvious in his introductory press conference. The more I hear him embrace the Yankees’ edict my excitement increases exponentially. It aligns perfectly with his makeup as a competitor. This is going to be really fun.

Cole was asked about the Astros sign-stealing scandal. He said that he didn’t have any knowledge of what was going on. This response was expected. We won’t ever get to the bottom of this scandal. One of the reasons for that is in our next note.

2. A Comical Display of PR Malpractice: The Astros held a press conference this morning to address the sign-stealing scandal and it did not go well. Jim Crane, manager Dusty Baker, Jose Altuvé and Alex Bregman were in attendance. Crane took center stage in this theater of absurdity. Here is the first ridiculous statement from Houston’s owner:

This is a sterling display of privilege. Crane defiantly dismisses facts here. He fired his wildly successful general manager and manager precisely because they permitted a scheme that directly impacted games. Two other men lost their jobs for the same offense. Crane knows all of this and still chose to exhibit smug defiance. The best part of this exchange is a few moments after saying the sign-stealing didn’t impact the game; Crane denied saying that the sign-stealing didn’t impact the game. This is truly incredible nonsense.

This sham of a press conference lies at the feet of Commissioner Rob Manfred. He didn’t punish the players out of fear of the MLBPA. He went out of his way to praise Crane’s run as an owner. This is just really bad stuff all the way around.

The comedy didn’t stop with this quote though. Marly Rivera of ESPN asked Crane directly how does sign-stealing not affect competition and if he truly believes that why were the Astros apologizing. Crane’s response was “we’re apologizing because we broke the rules.” Rivera followed up:

Oof.

3. Astros Players Attempt to Apologize: After Altuvé and Bregman read prepared statements masquerading as genuine apologies; multiple Astros’ players spoke to the media about the scandal:

Everyone reading this can feel free to arrive at their own conclusions.

4. The Big Stache: Following the tradition set by Don Mattingly, Jason Giambi, Brendan Ryan, and Alvaro Espinoza, James Paxton arrived at camp with an impressive mustache. Here it is in all of its glory:

I like the look. There is a little more intimidation with Paxton now. Hopefully, he keeps it following his return from back surgery. The big lefty does believe a May return is possible. The team is being more conservative with their timeline and anticipate a June return. The important thing is Paxton being at full health and ready for a long run into October. The rotation is more than equipped to handle the loss of Paxton for the first few months of the season.

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9 Comments

  1. I'm Not The Droids You're Looking For

    Views team: having the same issue where none of the embedded videos show up for me on my desktop (late model Mac) using two different browsers: Chrome and Safari. Everything on latest version, no special blocking enabled. They *do* show up on my iPhone.

    • MikeD

      Something new? Meaning was it working on those devices prior?

    • Mill Rock

      They are embedded tweets, I can see them just fine. Do you have something on your desktop mac that blocks access to Twitter?

  2. DJ Lemeddardhieu

    1. He’s a True Yankee and a Cy Young, Randy. I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. I think he’s the 2nd coming of our Savior. He will lead us to many many many championship rings. I knew he wasn’t involved in that awful cheating scandal. He just couldn’t be. No Yankee has been implicated or even under suspicion while they were a member of the Yankees. That’s a sign of a good clubhouse.

    2. They just need to shut up and play baseball. The best way they could silence their critics would be to go out and win this year knowing they won’t cheat under all this scrutiny. It most certainly had an impact on the game and cost us a ring or two.

    3. Edmund Burke once said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. That’s what happened here. Verlander coulda stopped it, he didn’t. McCann coulda stopped it, he didn’t. Hinch coulda stopped it, he didn’t. Carlos was not this unstoppable Godzilla character. They said nothing because they were winning and that’s all that mattered, which seems to be a theme of these last few years. It sets up a good battle of good vs evil between our clubs and for once the Yankees are the good guys.

    4. We’ve never been mustache fans unless it’s a good one like Tom Selleck. If it helps him pitch better, keep it. If it doesn’t, shave it. I do like the Yankee facial hair policy so our players don’t look like cave men.

  3. Mungo

    Catching up on the quotes from earlier today.

    “It’s time we move forward.” Multiple players. Translation: We don’t want to talk about all the things we did wrong.

    “No, I don’t think I should be held accountable.” This from Jim Crane, the owner, is easily the worst and shows the overall arrogance of the Astros under Crane.

    “Our opinion it (the cheating) didn’t impact the game.” Also from Crane. That’s a ludicrous statement.

    Basically, Crane, the man at the top of the management chain, wants to accept no responsibility. He previously said he knew nothing about this going on. So, if he didn’t know anything about this, how could he possible have all these strong opinions on what the cheating did or didn’t do?

    Lunhnow is the guy everyone says created this culture. It goes up one step higher. It was Crane and all Crane. He should be suspended from MLB.

    • MikeD

      It reminds me. How much did all the other owners hate George Steinbrenner that he was suspended twice? The Commissioner works for the owners, which is why Crane hasn’t been suspended. The owners know if they allow him to suspend one of them he could end us suspending others. So for George to be suspended twice, including once with a life-time ban, tells us how much he was hated. The lifetime ban was total nonsense and fortunately was eventually dropped.

  4. chip56

    As for the Astros…the only thing they’re sorry about is getting caught.

  5. chip56

    “He said that he didn’t have any knowledge of what was going on.”

    Sorry, but this doesn’t cut it. You’re in the clubhouse with players who ADMITTED to cheating and you’re going to claim ignorance? That’s just weak. At the very least say, “I’m going to let the Astros worry about the Astros” but to pretend you were oblivious for two years to what was a pervasive culture in Houston is laughable

  6. Rob

    I hate it when people who mess up say they want to look forward. Of course they do, because they want to take the focus off their mistakes.

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