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:
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.