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Yankees clubhouse manager helps seal Gerrit Cole deal with wine

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Gerrit Cole signed with the Yankees for $324 million and, one suspects, that the $324 million was the primary inducement for him to make that deal. But the Yankees sweetened the offer with aromas of cedar, red berry, pipe tobacco and a whiff of toasted oak on the finish.

That may sound like a snooty wine review, but it’s apt because some snooty wine helped the Yankees win Cole.

During Cole’s introductory press conference yesterday, he explained how he has become close with Yankee Stadium visiting clubhouse manager Lou Cucuzza over the years. He noted that, on one occasion, Cole showed Cucuzza photos of a vacation he took to Florence, and a meal he had which was accompanied by a Masseto Merlot, which is apparently an amazing bottle of wine that registers in the “Ace Starting Pitcher” price range.

Cucuzza remembered this and tipped off the Yankees brass. When they went to court Cole at his California home earlier this month, they brought him a couple of bottles. Cole:

Aaron [Boone] brought a couple bottles of it and one of the vintages they brought was one of the exact same vintage from the anniversary dinner that my wife and I had in Florence. I was a little bit back on my heels. I remember trying to stay focused on the meeting and not thinking about booze the entire time, but I still couldn’t figure it out.

“When I came home, I was telling (my wife) Amy, ‘How the f— did they pull that off?’ Not many people in the world know that that’s my favorite wine … I laid my head down at like 11:30 at night and didn’t sleep much that day. I flew back up and I was like, ‘LOU!’ I remembered the conversation and I guess it went from Lou to (Brian Cashman) to Boone.”

It’s the little things.

And the big things too. Let’s not undersell that $324 million, OK?

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.