When you sign a pitcher to a record-breaking nine-year, $324 million contract, you better know he can handle pressure. New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has zero doubts that Gerrit Cole can handle pitching in New York.
In fact, Boone thinks Cole will “thrive” in the city.
Boone on Cole: “I think he’ll thrive. His greatness, for one thing. His mindset. We got to spend a lot of time together & really learn about him, & him about us. Everything in him suggests that this is a guy that would thrive anywhere, but I’m confident, especially in New York.”— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 11, 2019
Boone chalks that up to Cole’s “mindset” and “greatness.” He admits Cole would likely thrive in any city, but believes Cole is well suited to do well in New York.
That’s obviously a good thing considering the Yankees are depending on Cole to pitch like an ace. The 29-year-old Cole is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.50 ERA over 212 1/3 innings. Cole also struck out a league-high 326 batters. If Cole can come anywhere close to those numbers in New York, both the team and its fans will be happy.
Any time a premier free agent signs with the Yankees, there are inevitably questions regarding whether that player will be able to handle New York. The Yankees play in the biggest city in the United States and are among the most popular teams in all sports. Because of that, the team has one of the most rabid and passionate fanbases on the planet. They have a media presence that’s just as relentless.
There’s a line of thinking that suggests some players aren’t built for that type of scrutiny. It assumes those players would be better off staying in a tiny media market where one bad performance doesn’t turn them into a pariah.
Whether that’s a real thing varies from person to person. Some will swear A.J. Burnett didn’t have the extra gear needed to pitch well in New York. Others will argue that it takes immense concentration and mental fortitude to make it to the majors at all, and pitching in a big city is nothing compared to what those players faced coming up through the minors.
Where will Cole fall on that scale? While we won’t have that answer until he takes the mound, it’s usually safe to bet on the numbers as opposed to the nebulous idea that some players can’t make it in New York.
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