Money still talks the loudest. Andy Pettitte spoke emotionally about what it means to be a Yankee. CC Sabathia talks about the benefits of pitching in The Bronx and emphasizing there always is a chance to win.
Yet, there is another area that is very important to Gerrit Cole: information ranging from pitching to hitters, conditioning and nutrition.
“If you don’t have it he will challenge you,’’ a person who knows Cole told The Post on Thursday, two days after Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, new pitching coach Matt Blake and Pettitte met with Cole in Southern California.
Having pitched two seasons for the Astros, who are considered the most advanced analytical club in the big leagues, Cole’s career took off and Justin Verlander’s experienced a rebound thanks to that team’s data-driven approach.
“His work ethic was never questioned,’’ the person said of Cole as a Pirate, the team that took him with the first pick in the 2011 draft out of UCLA and dealt him to the Astros following the 2017 season. “The biggest turnaround for him was how open he was to analytics and how he goes after hitters.’’
The Yankees, who took Cole, a Southern California native, in the first round of the 2008 draft but lost him to UCLA, have committed money and manpower to the analytical department in years past, and Cashman made a promise in June they would continue to move forward in that area.
“There are loads of technology and analytics and data which we are on top of. What we are not on top of we will close the gap,’’ the general manager said in London on June 30 when he announced Sam Briend, formerly of Driveline Baseball, had been hired to be the organization’s minor league director of pitching.
Following the regular season, Cashman let pitching coach Larry Rothschild go with a year remaining on a contract and hired Blake, 34, who comes from an analytical background.
Cole’s appetite for information doesn’t stop with strictly pitching analytics according to another person who knows the stud right-hander, who could likely command north of $250 million in free agency.
“It’s everything: conditioning, nutrition, you name it,’’ the person said.
Cole’s numbers were good with the Pirates, for whom he was 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA in 127 starts, but the Astros’ advanced information led to two elite seasons in Houston. In 65 starts, he went 35-10 with a 3.68 ERA and fanned 602 in 412 ²/₃ innings after ditching a two-seam fastball and relying on a 97-mph fastball and lethal slider clocked at 89.
The Yankees’ contingent followed the visit with Cole by meeting free agent Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday in California despite an industry belief the 31-year-old right-hander, last season’s World Series MVP for the Nationals, will re-sign in Washington.
With the Angels, Dodgers and Yankees in a three-team competition to land Cole, money will play a huge part and, among those teams, there is no shortage of it. Having pitched in Pittsburgh and Houston, Cole hasn’t narrowed his choices to the West Coast. The Dodgers and Yankees have better chances to win now than the Angels.
So, Cole’s choice can hinge on which team can provide him with the type of information that made him so dominant as an Astro.
Hal Steinbrenner understands the value of analytics to a team, but prefers a balance between scouting and data.