The biggest thing the Yankees had working for them in their pursuit of C.C. Sabathia, was had Sabathia not been wearing a Yankee uniform come the 2009 season, he would be playing somewhere else for less money. A situation that would have brought huge conflict to Sabathia’s status in the players union. Few players attempt to go against this union (ask Jim Thome when who wanted to take less money to stay in Cleveland- or when A-Rod wanted to take a pay-cut to help facilitate a trade to Boston)- and in the end, whether C.C. wanted to play in California or not- he heeded to the old adage my mother loves to say, “Money talks, bullshit walks”.
So now, it appears as if the Yankees are on the cusp of getting their man, and immediately the fans will either praise ownership for catching the big fish- or knock them for over paying for a pitcher who’s postseason resume looks less than impressive. But make no mistakes about it, this was a move the Yankees HAD to make- at a time where their window of opportunity is closing fast. Without Sabathia, and the recent retirement of Mike Mussina- the Yankees would be looking at a starting rotation that featured Chien Ming Wang………..and that’s it. If you’d like to pencil in Joba Chamberlain, sure- I think that’s a likely fit. Now if you’d like to write, in your lightest handwriting, Phillip Hughes and Ian Kennedy- you’re still looking at four starting pitchers. Yes, there seems to be a likely chance that Andy Pettitte will be back. But you’re still looking at a rotation that has Wang, Chamberlain (Can his arm withstand a full season?), Hughes and Kennedy (and their combined 0-8 record last year), and, the lefty, Pettitte (if he chooses to sign with the team). Now, with Sabathia in the mix, he immediately gives you front-line ace and the rotations looks more legitimate…
3. Pettitte (perhaps)
A formidable rotation indeed when stacked against the other rotations in the American League.
Of course the verdict is still out on Hughes, but a glass is half full guy will mention that all signs seem to point to him bouncing back this upcoming season, based on his starts in September this season, and his dominance in the Arizona league this winter (30 ip, 3 ERA, 1.13 WHIP). You can also point to a broken rib he was pitching with at the begining of last season, to his sudden drop in velocity. And of course, questions are a plenty with Joba’s ability to throw 150+ innings. But without C.C. in the mix, suddenly you have a safety net in place for one of these two youngsters potential for a big fall. You have a potential 20 win guy, with 200+ innings covered for. Not to mention, he’s a prized lefty pitching in a left-handed hitters paradise. The Yankees needed help in the front of their roatation and they got it.
I think it also bares mentioning that had Chien Ming Wang not be lost early in the season, the Yankees would, at very least been competing for the wild card with the Red Sox. The team ended up six game out of the wild card spot- and did that all with their #1 started being replaced by the likes of Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson. Yes, the Yankees window is closing fast- but this team isn’t that far away from being back in the playoffs. Will they keep going after starting pitching or is Mark Texieria next?
That remains to be seen.
Feel free to leave your thoughts on the signing.