Gerrit Cole, George Steinbrenner, Rudy Guliani
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Yankees best course of action this Hot Stove season involves horse Gerrit Cole and a blank check that speaks for itself. 

I miss the George Steinbrenner-run New York Yankees. There was no denying two things: they were going to out pay you in the offseason and outplay you in the postseason.

The last time the Yankees embraced the good ole’ Steinbrenner mentality was 2009, when they signed CC Sabathia (seven-years, $161 million), Mark Teixeira (eight-years, $180 million) and A.J. Burnett (five-years, $82.5 million) in the same offseason.

Guess what happened? They won the World Series the same season, the first at new Yankee Stadium.

They haven’t been back since.

The Yankees became more conservative—happy to outspend the middle market teams but not wanting to go over the magic number: 275 million.

A.K.A the luxury tax.

It’s a philosophy I’ve never quite understood. If you’re going to spend $250 million to get knocked out in the ALCS, why not spend $300 or $325 million to win the whole thing?

It just doesn’t seem like smart business.

Signing free-agent superstars Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg to massive contracts don’t guarantee you a World Series. (Of course, Strasburg has already re-signed with his hometown Washington Nationals.)

It’s the beauty of the sport: nothing does. But knowing you have an ace who can go seven innings of one-run ball completely changes your team.

The Yankees are really one ace pitcher away.

Reports came out over the weekend that New York has a seven-year, $245 million offer on the table for Gerrit Cole, according to the New York Times’ Bob Klapisch.

Cole could very well take that. Seven-years, $280 million would likely get Cole to sign on the dotted line. Do it.

The argument that the Yankees couldn’t beat the Astros in the ALCS because of their hitting has plenty of accuracies, but having an undisputed superstar ace at the top of their rotation would change everything.

Bottom line: lack of runs or not, the Yankees lost to Houston because they didn’t have the depth of starting pitching to matchup up with Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander in three consecutive games.

In the six-game series loss to the Astros in the ALCS, they allowed zero or one run twice (Games 1 and 5). Surprising to no one, they won both. In the other four, they let up 3, 4, 8 and 6.

Their bats didn’t show up as they did in the regular season. Hitting 306 home runs, best for second all-time in Major League Baseball history (one behind the 2019 Minnesota Twins), juiced baseballs or not, getting those run totals down to one or zero with a Cole or Strasburg would almost have certainly guaranteed a longer more competitive series. And, very possibly, a World Series appearance.

Having that G.O.A.T. you can send out on the mound changes your confidence. You know if you score two runs, that might be all you need for the night.

Your bullpen is more rested. Your other starters know they don’t have to carry the load. Just do their job.

It also does mental Olympics to the opposition. Knowing you just can’t beat the guy on the mound you’re facing.

With Domingo German, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and James Paxton, the Yankees had great pitchers in 2019. But they didn’t quite have that.

Gerrit Cole was unhittable last year (regular season: 20-5, 2.50 ERA, 326 strikeouts in 212.1 innings pitched; 4-1, 1.2 ERA in the postseason). Strasburg was too, especially when it mattered most, winning the 2019 World Series Most Valuable Player and helping the Washington Nationals seal their first championship in franchise history. (Regular Season: 18-6, 3.32 ERA; 251 strikeouts in 209.1 innings pitched; 1.98 ERA in the 2019 playoffs, wins in Game 2 and 6 of the World Series).

The Yankees have settled for third or fourth place far too long. It’s been over a decade.

They are the New York *bleeping* Yankees for a reason. It’s time to start acting like it.

Give Brian Cashman a blank check. It looks like the Yankees will. Cole will end up on the Yankees if they really do. Mark my words.

I understand the appeal of Cole wanting to play in California, the coastal beaches of Cali where he grew up, but there’s nothing like playing in the Bronx.

Baseball in pinstripes is different. Any former or current Yankee will tell your hat. The Yankees have their sites set on Cole. They won’t be denied is the quote.

When on an even slate, Cashman plays chess when everyone else is playing checkers. If the Steinbrenner’s aren’t willing to write. A blank check for a Harper or trout, there’s nothing Cashman can do.

But on the same playing field, Cashman will destroy the competition every single time.

Why?

  1. Because it’s the Yankees
  2. Because it’s Yankee Stadium
  3. 27 rings (annoying to many but very very true)
  4. They can pay you the most money
  5. With 32 players on the IL, this team won over 100 games, their division, and was two wins from the World Series.
  6. I’m not going there with the “if Houston didn’t cheat the Yankees would’ve won” argument.

Even if it may be true, I don’t like to play in hypotheticals. Houston won. The Yankees didn’t. Whatever comes of the sign-stealing scandal isn’t changing that.

The Philadelphia Phillies gave Bryce Harper a 13-year, $330 million contract. The Washington Nationals, the team he spent the first seven seasons of his career, won the World Series (their first in franchise history), the very next season after he left.

Albert Pujols (10-years, $240 million) went to Anaheim and stopped being “The Machine.” Just a lot of money you couldn’t get anyone else to take on. Jacoby Ellsbury (seven-years, $153 million) got hurt, disappeared and never played for the Yankees the last two years. He was extremely ineffective when he did.

Throw in Barry Zito (seven-years, $126 million) with the San Francisco Giants and Carl Pavano (four-years, $39.95) with the Yankees into that mix too.

Trying to predict free-agency contracts can, admittedly, be kind of a crapshoot. This one is different, though.

Give Cashman a blank check. Let him work his magic.

Gerrit Cole will be in pinstripes, helping the Yankees win championship numebr 28. Just wait.

I’ve got goosebumps already.

NYY

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NYG

NYJ

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NJD

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