He’s not the best color man in the league for nothing, folks.
David Cone interviewed but was overlooked for the job when the Yankees were seeking a new pitching coach over the winter, so the YES Network analyst self-deprecatingly engaged in a comedic exchange on air with Yankees manager Aaron Boone about the subject on Wednesday.
Boone was mic’ed-up during the fifth inning of the Yankees’ spring-training game against the Nationals. After play-by-play announcer Ryan Ruocco asked him about injured starter Luis Severino’s pending Tommy John surgery, Cone jumped in with a tongue-in-check question about the man who beat him out as the replacement for longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
“You have a new pitching coach, Matt Blake. We’re hearing a lot of rave reviews from the pitchers. How’s that gone so far?” Cone asked, via NJ.com. “Anybody else in the offseason you interviewed that you might have been impressed with, too?”
Boone let out a laugh and played along, replying, “Some broadcaster came in!
“Coney was great in our interview process,” Boone continued. “It was a rigorous process that we went through. We interviewed a lot of guys, and Coney, by the way, you did it great and everyone feels that way about you and knows all the things that you bring just with who you are and your knowledge in pitching. But ultimately, we did settle on Matt Blake.”
Cone, who tossed a perfect game in 1998 and won four World Series rings in six seasons with the Yankees in a 17-year MLB career, is widely considered one of the game’s foremost game analysts, mixing in an old-school mentality with an appreciation for modern technologies and analytic statistics. He co-wrote a best-selling book last year with YES studio analyst Jack Curry entitled “Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher.”
Blake, a 34-year-old former minor-league instructor with the Indians, is considered an expert in analytics and progressive pitching philosophies, something GM Brian Cashman and the Yankees sought in their search to replace the 65-year-old Rothschild.
“Sounds like the right choice to me,” Cone said to Boone during the interview.
“He’s been great,” Boone added. “Matt’s got his understanding of delivery and pitching and obviously a lot of the new things that are used in the game. He’s very up to speed and understands.
“He’s really got a good way about him that he’s easily able to connect with people, and I think that’s really shown up here so far in camp, and I feel like we’re off to a really good start as a result of him.”
Cone also asked Boone about modern-day players “getting more involved with some of the new data and technology” at their disposal and the trend of well-versed analytical coaches such as Blake moving into coaching jobs at the big-league level.
“These (players) are more and more familiar about how they’re being measured and the tools used,” Boone replied. “Some guys you see more and more incorporating these things on their own in the offseason, so there is more of a knowledge of it.
“It’s been interesting to see our guys kind of amongst each other. When they’re in the bullpen and throwing ‘pens and there are four guys down there, they’ll kind of communicate with each other. ‘What are you seeing?’ They have an idea of what they’re looking at from some of the informational things that we are able to bring them. That communication between players is happening a lot more than even a year ago.”