Friday, June 10, 2022

By floundering in another key game, Gerrit Cole isn't doing Aaron Judge's contract drive any favors

By now, you know that Gerrit Cole last night threw Home Run Derby to the Twins, giving up five trips to Mars before the good citizens of 'Sota had downed their first 30-ouncers. It looked like a blowout loss, our second in three nights. Fortunately, our lineup scored 10, and we won going away - another sure sign that 2022 will bring us more than another measly wild card? Right? 

I don't mean to rip Cole, whose ERA soared to 3.63 - a serviceable number for, say, Michael Pineda or J.A. Happ, or any of the other walking widgets who briefly occupied the Bronx torchlight since 2009, our last parade. Cole ranks 19th in ERA among AL pitchers. That's not god-awful. And in the dugout, he's always back-slapping teammates. He's a joyful employee, overall. 

But not one worth $36 million per season, and that's a problem. 

Less than one-third of the way into Cole's nine-year contract, it's hard to gauge what the Yankees will get for their eventual $324 million investment. (A ring would be nice.) It's no fun, pondering what he'll be like in 2028, at age 37. Will he be a Verlander? Or a Chien Ming Wang? Already, Cole has twice spit the bit in October, the only games that matter. With the exception of a wondrous shutout over Houston last summer, it's hard to recall a crucial game where he dominated. 

Last night, the Yankees faced the prospect of blowing their first series in a month. Going in, it looked like a big game - and Cole flopped. 

Which brings me to the elaborate mating dance - now through October - between Aaron Judge and Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner. 

If Judge continues his superhuman, MVP pace, sometime around November, he will demand at least $36 million per season - Gerrit Cole money. And he will surely get it, somewhere, maybe across town.

For all his miserable penny pinching - (and there is nothing lower than a poor-mouthing, born rich billionaire) -Hal will enjoy one huge excuse for holding the line: Gerrit Cole.

Lately, a parlor game among Gammonites is to imagine Judge's future salary. It's like cruising Zillow and putting yourself at poolside, next to a Kardashian. The money he'll get, if he keeps hitting? You might as well count sand fleas in the Mohave. Let's just say, it will be closer to infinity than to zero. 

If he keeps hitting... 

In 2017 - Judge's greatest season, thus far - he was Babe Ruth in the first half, and Babe Dahlgren in the second. Before the Home Run Derby, Judge hit .329 with 30 HRs. After it, .228 with 22. They said he strained something during the derby, an event he has since avoided. (He'll be under enormous pressure to do it this year; let's hope he says no.) There are reasons to believe Judge can stay hot - he's now a savvied veteran, no star-crossed rookie - and, of course, to do what we do best on this blog: To expect the worst.

We all want Judge to be a lifelong Yankee. And there is absolutely no reason why the franchise should be outbid for him. Still, if he wants to go home to California, or if somebody offers absurdist money - that is, another Robbie Cano - Hal will have a golden excuse to let him walk. Gerrit Cole. 

Of course, the loser will be MLB. If the Yankees lose Judge, they will merely raid another team's clubhouse. (Mr. Devers, your pinstripes will be waiting.) And if the Yankees can't keep their stars, who can? 

(Hey, a final note: Scottish Yankee Fan... if you're out there, drop me a note at A friend of the blog is headed your way. You might get a free beer out of this.) 


DickAllen said...

It has become common practice to compare Judge to Mike Trout, and assume he will command a Troutian salary. It's absolute hogwash.

It boggles the mind to think a guy with two pretty good seasons under his belt should be paid that kind of monopoly money. Trout has earned his 37MM for having the audacity to have twelve years of MVP seasons. Already at age 30, he is showing signs of being a mere mortal and he's locked in until age 38. Even he will continue to regress until he's doing the Pujols Shuffle (after the years he's had, he's got to be tired.)

So, let Judge go wherever he can get that kind of contract. He's not on my list of must-see tv. At least not yet. Not until he can put up the kind of numbers Trout had four years ago. And five years ago. And six years ago. And...

JM said...

Good point, Dick. I'd like Judge to stay, but this is just one year. This and that half season as a rookie are great. In between, not so much.

Sadly, Cole actually is a good cautionary tale. I don't object to the players getting whatever they can out of the colluding class, but it's clear the big money contracts aren't really worth it. Though they do balance out the underpaid years when a player was great and got bupkus.

So...yeah, I can see where we might not hold onto the big guy. Which would be sad.

AboveAverage said...

Great post, Sir duque.

Hey Scottish Yankee Fan - Hoo's it gaun? How ye daein?

All of us here are now deeply concerned that you have taken your eternal sleepers in the belly of Nessie at the bottom of the great Loch Ness.

Even so, how's the wifi coverage down there? Have you been keeping' up with most of the broadcasts? I hear that the Loch-Lag can be really boggin-jobby.

Doug K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug K. said...

Cole was a very good pitcher made great by the sticky stuff. Like Bonds or McGwire without steroids he's a solid addition to your team. Just not a Super Duper Star.

I still don't understand how the Yankees signed him without doing due diligence.

I don't mean on Cole. They knew!

I mean on the league...

For all of Hal's surrendering/pandering for the overall "Good of MLB", for all his toeing the line and not breaking from the pack when he has the $$$ to do so, you would think he would have been warned, or really, be, "In The Know", that in terms of the sticky stuff, the times they were a changing!

That's some first class negligence right there.

As to Cole the pitcher...

He seems too tightly wound to be at his best in big games. So he's a two or really a terrific three.

This year we have some big game pitchers and, based on what I'm seeing, starting him in a Game One or a Game Seven would be a mistake.

ZacharyA said...

Aaron Judge's last 162 games
.293/.372/.579 (.950 OPS) 49 HR, 180 H, 80 BB, 116 R, 118 RBI

Aaron Judge's previous 162 games
.277/.377/.557 (.934 OPS) 46 HR, 163 H, 89 BB, 114 R, 96 RBI

Aaron Judge's previous, previous 162 games
.275/.399/.560 (.959 OPS) 45 HR, 161 H, 122 BB, 121 R, 108 RBI

Judge has always been great. The only thing that has held him back is health.

Recently he's been more aggressive at the plate, trading walks for hits and seeing a drop in strikeouts (30.7 K% in 2017 to 25.3 K% in 2022). Did you know that Judge now strikes out less than Mike Trout?

Since his rookie season in 2017, Judge ranks across all of MLB:

1st in HR
3rd in WAR (behind Trout and Betts)
2nd in OPS+ (min. 1500 PA)

You can try to convince yourself this guy isn't a great player, but that's nonsense.

Now, will Judge receive the Mike Trout contract (12-yr/$426.5M)? Hell no.

He's not as good as Trout was at his peak and Trout was younger.

But in negotiations, you always ask for more than you are going to get and meet in the middle.

All Judge has to do to "win" the negotiations is make more than the Yankees offer of 7-yr/$213.5M. Given his season, I think he'll be able to do that.

The Hammer of God said...

El Duque: "I don't mean to rip Cole .... With the exception of a wondrous shutout over Houston last summer, it's hard to recall a crucial game where he dominated."

Well, Duque, I am going to rip Cole. Because, you're absolutely right, there has been hardly a single big game where he was an "ace".

Before the game, during the Yankee Ma and Pa pregame show, I heard the Master say Cole has got to be an Ace today and stop this losing skid at one. It was a good thing that I wasn't in the middle of a glass of water (I was having dinner), because I burst out laughing. When has this guy been an Ace in an important game during his Yankee career? This guy is unbelievably predictable. I knew he was going to get his butt handed to him yesterday.

Cole is one day going to set some truly astonishing Yankee (and MLB) records for pitching FUTILITY:

1. Giving up 9 home runs to start off the game (on 9 consecutive pitches).

2. Giving up 3 home runs to the first three hitters in the opposing lineup, in their first three at-bats, for a total of 9 home runs.

3. Giving up 3 grand slams in the 1st inning.

And he could never have done it without that brainless trained monkey Aaron Boone pushing the blinking lights on the rocket console!

Wow, does Cole suck or what??? This guy is not the epitome of the arsonists. The title of Arsonist-in-Chief belongs to Aroldis Chapman of the vaunted Yankee Arson Squad bullpen. This Cole is the Chief of Rocket Scientists, a Specialist in engineering opposition moonshots. Should we just give this guy to the other team, or what? He might help the Yankees win a game, if he pitched for the other team.

The Hammer of God said...

And I almost forgot ... Cole had to pitch to Higashioka last year because Sanchez sucked. That appears to have been his excuse last year.

This year, Cole has to pitch to Trevino, apparently because now Higashioka sucks.

So last night, Cole was pitching to Trevino. And he got rocked.... And he got socked.... And he got clocked.... And he got f***** .... (****there might be children reading this)

So what gives? I know, it was Gary Sanchez's fault. Sanchez was distracting Cole by making funny faces from the dugout and the on-deck circle. Sanchez, who almost touched one off against Cole in his first at-bat, should be banned from the ballpark whenever Cole pitches.

borntorun999 said...

Going off topic for a minute: does anyone else feel like they’ve gone to a livelier ball over the last month or so? Not only are there more home runs, but there seem to be more 400 ft + shots. Some of those balls in the Minny series looked like they came out of a cannon

The Hammer of God said...

Judge is going to get a $50 million/$500 million/10 year offer from a California team, either the Angels or the Dodgers. You heard it here first.

It'll be up to Ebeneezer Hal whether he'll match that to keep Judge in pinstripes. My guess is that he'll let Judge walk. We'll get nothing for him.

Since the Yankees have the best record in baseball, it's pretty hard to justify trading Judge. It figures that he'd put up a good year and stay healthy in his walk year. Whoever gets him, he'll almost certainly have a down year in the first year of his new contract.

The Hammer of God said...

@borntorun999 I thought the exact same thing! Wouldn't be surprised to hear that MLB had the factories doctor the ball. If the players can't be juiced, we can juice the ball!

Doug K. said...

BTR and Hammer

I have to agree. There were a suspicious number of Home Runs yesterday. Nine in all.

Alphonso said...

I always confuse flounder and founder.

I thought one was a fish.

I thought one was a person who established something (e.g. a university or a bank ).

And I thought either could describe a sinking ship.

Both differ from bounder, however, as in, " over the bounding main."

And neither is like a grounder.,

As in ' " the bounder bobbled the grounder and floundered in front of the founder."