Replacing CC in the aggregate

What Went Right: David Robertson
DH should be far down the list of needs

While he likely won’t do it during the final game of the World Series, CC Sabathia is sure to opt out of his contract with the Yankees. By now everyone knows the song and dance. The Yankees gave Sabathia the opt-out and so cannot take umbrage with his exercising it. They’ll clearly make an attempt to re-sign him, and the prevailing opinion is that they’ll succeed. All could be back to normal within a week or so of the World Series.

Still, no one guarantees Sabathia’s return. On the open market he might find a mind-blowing offer from a team on the brink of contention, such as the Nationals. If he does depart, it would leave the Yankees in a short-term bind at the very least. The pitching staff fared well this year, better than anyone expected, but Sabathia was the undisputed ace. Could the Yankees expect similar results next year, even with a lesser pitcher heading the rotation?

The scenario is reminiscent of a scene in Moneyball, both the book and the movie, in which Billy Beane and his staff pondered how to replace Jason Giambi. Beane’s solution was to forget about replacing Giambi with a comparable player. For starters, few existed. Even if one did exist, the A’s clearly could not afford him. Their solution: tally up the production of all their departing players and try to find their replacements in the aggregate. That is, find three players whose production equals the average of the three departing players.

The Yankees rotation features many departing players indeed. If Sabathia goes, they’ll be left with just A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, and Phil Hughes — though Hughes provides no guarantees at this point. They’d have to find two or three pitchers to replace the production of Sabathia, Freddy Garcia, and Bartolo Colon, which amounts to 548.1 innings at a 3.46 ERA and 3.51 FIP. That doesn’t exactly represent readily available talent. In fact, only 37 pitchers in all of baseball produced an ERA below 3.46, and only 34 produced a FIP below 3.51. And of those 34, only Sabathia and C.J. Wilson are free agents.

The lack of free agent pitching means the Yankees would have to acquire at least one starter, and perhaps two, via trade. With the scarcity of pitchers who produce at the required aggregate level, the Yankees would have to surrender quite a bit to acquire these arms. At that point they might want to just try their own internal arms, but are guys such as Hector Noesi and Adam Warren capable of producing all those innings at those impressive ERA and FIP levels? While it’s possible, it’s not something that a serious contender can count on. The Yankees simply have to do better.

This brings us all the way back to Sabathia. While the Yankees might have solutions in quantity, they simply cannot reproduce the quality that Sabathia has provided for the past three years. Even if they try to replace their three departing pitchers with internal and external options, it appears unlikely they can match that production in the aggregate. Sabathia is the one elite guy on the market, and the Yanekes have an advantage in pursuing him. Given that their most abundant resource is their capital, they should leverage it in order to bring back the one guy who will make life easier in 2012 and beyond. Otherwise they might find themselves scrambling to find suboptimal solutions to their pitching vacancies.

What Went Right: David Robertson
DH should be far down the list of needs
  • Matt :: Sec110

    Yanks are in an impossible spot. They need him, but another 7yr contract is crazy. I wonder if he’d be open to just adding 1 year and increasing the AAV.

    • Bryan

      Replacing in the aggregate doesn’t work for the postseason – aces give you the best chance of winning (ignore the Phillies).

  • Adam B

    what scares me is that CC isn’t the type that is purely just about the money, he has said in the past that he prefers the west coast and/or the NL… but I suppose he signed with the yankees anyways.

    • Brian in NH

      Both he and his wife have recently come on the record in the press saying how much they love NYC and the area and are very invested in staying there with there family.

  • j

    I know I’m in the minority but I’d let him walk. Decisions motivated by short term desperation rarely work out.

    • j

      The most I’d offer would be the rest of the deal he originally signed on for, probably even a year less – if he can beat that on the open market good for him.

      • Carl LaFong

        I couldn’t agree more, and unless it’s life & death, the minority can be a very cool place to be. CC is an ever expanding ticking time bomb. If he opts out, thank him for his time w/the club, turn the page, & look to the future w/a staff anchored by someone other than CC.

        Hal & Levine can bitch & moan all they want about how disappointed they are about not getting to the ws blah, blah blah, but it was brother Hank who sabotaged this club w/the albatross of A-Rod’s 10 year deal. No more deals like that EVER!

  • Supernova

    I would lose a lot of respect for CC if he chose to opt out after his poor peformance in the postseason. He didn’t help us win a WS this yera and shouldn’t be given another penny until he does, period.

    • gc

      You’re living in a fantasy world.

    • Matt :: Sec110

      so you’re saying you wouldn’t opt out? Knowing the team that you’re leaving offered Cliff Lee 7yr 140 million dollars, and that you would be by far the best FA pitcher on the market?

    • Yank The Frank

      The Players Union would make him opt out. I really think if it were up to CC he wouldn’t.

      • Gonzo


        • J.R.

          Posada had an opt out and the players union didn’t make him exercise it. Lee was offered more money by the Yankees and the players union didnt make him take it.

          You cant be serious.

          • Gonzo

            Yeah, I think he might be joking. I am not sure though.

    • J.R.

      He wasn’t great for 7 or 8 innings. That is clearly outweighed by the 600+ IP over the last 3 years. If you dislike the opt out clause the only person to blame is Cashman.

      • caldr62np

        If that opt-out’s not included in the original contract, the 2009 WS win may not have happened because he may not have signed.

        I say offer him 2-3 more million a year and no extra years. May even grit my teeth and offer him 4 mill per. If someone’s willing to give him 7 years, PEACE.

        But then again I’m kinda crazy for a Yankee fan. I’m OK if they win once every 7 or 8 years on average as long as they make the playoffs every year and have a CHANCE to win. I know I’m BAT-@#$% CRAZY!!

        • J.R.

          My point was that he would lose respect for him simply because he used a contractually granted opt out based solely on the small sample size. CC could opt out and sign with another team and I wouldn’t lose respect for him.

      • Esteban

        When in doubt choose the minuscule sample size over the large sample size. ALWAYS.

    • vin

      “He didn’t help us win a WS this yera and shouldn’t be given another penny until he does, period.”

      So not only should he NOT opt-out, he shouldn’t accept another paycheck until they win the WS? Yeah, that’ll happen.

  • Gonzo

    I am not in favor of signing CC to a huge deal like his original one. I do think they should up his remaining contract somewhat.

    If he leaves, thanks for the great three years Big Guy. I’ll miss him, and I won’t hold a grudge against him either.

  • Dennis

    More money less years always the way to go.

    • Adam B


  • moose

    what about giving him a 4 year deal with the bump in the salary per year, with a 5th year team option and a very friendly team buyout? lets say 4 years at 25.5 (102) and a 5th year team option at 28 mil with something like a 15 mil buyout – the highest buyout ever perhaps but at that point he will be like 36 or 37, perhaps even with a failing body. Does this guy really want to pitch till hes 38 or 39 ?

    I think the yanks would be nuts to give him 7 more

    • Brian in NH

      I like that for a heavy set guy who will be on the wrong side of 32 but i can’t see him taking less than 5-6 years guaranteed

  • J.R.

    I was thinking about milestones and how a 7 year contract would almost guarantee CC 300 as a Yankee. Then I actually did the math and he would still have to average 17.7 wins per year to hit 300.

    It really shows how the game has changed.

  • vin

    Logic tells me that Cashman fully intends to re-sign/extend CC. Cash gave him the opt-out, and knows that players of CC’s caliber and age will take advantage of it.

    Publicly, Cashman and CC explain the opt-out as a way of making sure the player is comfortable in his new environment. However, truth is that the opt-out just gives the elite player a chance to make more money. Of course that story doesn’t play well in the papers, so they stick with the line of “making sure the player is happy and comfortable.”

    If CC opts-out, it is not because he is “being all about the money.” The team absorbed this risk in the inital contract knowing that it is a lop-sided benefit for the player. Cashman’s not naive. He knows the Yankees aren’t likely to be outspent, and if they are, it’s 50-50 whether CC leaves. CC seems to like playing for the team, he is invested in NY (in terms of real-estate).

  • dean

    I want CC back but if he left they could sign Wilson and trade for Danks (maybe) and they’d be ok. I don’t think he’s leaving but they could find a way to spread his 25 million around and still field a playoff team.

    • Granderslam

      I’m hoping we can somehow trade for Danks even if CC comes back.

    • JohnC

      No guarantee CJ wants to come here, and I would not overpay to get him here. He is not a legitimate number 1 starter. More like a 2 or 3 and is not worth 15 mill or so that it would cost to sign him. Same with Darvish. Dice K was supposed to be a sure thing but what happened? he was a 1 year wonder

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Carl Pavano is white. Carl Pavano has failed. Therefore white starters will fail.

        Props to whoever said that first.

  • jon

    yu darvish and CJ wilson would prob cost less on the payroll that resigning CC

    • FachoinaNYY

      They wont, in reality, but you make a decent point.

      Its going to cost 100+ for either guy, but that would give you two rotation spots filled, not one.

      I still think CC is the best option though.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

    I’d give him the moon, honestly. They’ll be down to Alex and CC as the albatrosses by that point and everything else wuld have ran its course.

    I’d love for one of these guys to just stand put one day with money they couldn’t possibly even figure out how to spend anyway and NOT opt out.

    • FachoinaNYY

      If he does opt out it would likely be for more years, which I don’t fault him on at all.

      If I was CC, it would be nice knowing where I would be to essentially finish off my career.

      • John

        he doesn’t need to opt out to know that. He could have his current contract run it’s course then re-sign later. Opting out isn’t some big time must have now occurrence.

        If i were CC, and i love NY as much as I say i do, I would/could finish this deal then sign a brand new contract later on. But since its for more money obviously opting out and getting a brand new contract worth more than the current one is priority number 1.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella (formerly Nuke LaDoosh)

    Opt outs are funny. CC was ALWAYS going to opt out. Soriano was NEVER going to opt out.


  • SMK

    It won’t be a popular opinion, but theoretically replacing CC with C.J. Wilson would be a relative push.

    Both will give you over 200 IP, and both will be in the top 10 of most relevant statistical categories. The whole “who’s an ace?” argument is one big hang-up, imo.

    Unless you have a vintage Dave Stewart or Jack Morris, who really knows how a starting pitcher is going to respond to postseason pressure, and that’s when it really counts, right?

    • Staten Island

      Stewart & Morris? How about Pettite and Cone?

    • JobaWockeeZ

      That assumes 2012-2017 CJ Wilson is comparable to 2011. It’s possible but would you gamble on it?

      Tough choice from that or having an insane pitching contract in CC.

    • Esteban

      You never knew what you were getting with Jack Morris in the playoffs either. He was great in 3 starts 1984, terrible in 1 start in 1987, mediocre in one start in the 1991 ALCS, Great in 3 starts in the 1991 WS, and terrible in 4 starts in 1992. Overall he a 3.80 ERA in the playoffs over 13 starts. It’s not like he was the greatest postseason pitcher ever.

  • CMP

    They have no choice but to sign CC. He’s a true number one starter regardless of how he pitched in the playoffs. The blame for his shaky postseasn pitching should fall on Cashman and Girardi for going to that ridiculous 6 man rotation as CC never regained the dominance he showed up to that point.

    What’s more disappointing is Girardi’s comments about Burnett the other day.
    I guess we have to endure 2 more years of utterly putrid pitching from AJ because Girardi and Cashman have pretty much no inclination to remove him from the rotation no matter how bad he pitches.

  • caldr62np

    How about upping the remaining 4 years by 3-4 mill per as I said previously. If they have to absolutely give him more years do the following:

    2 more years at 12 mill per + incentives. 2 million for an All-Star game appearance plus 4 mill for a CY Young award. If he’s pitching well enough to meet incentives like that those last 2 years then I’m all for paying him. Obviously innings incentives will be part of any incentive-laden deal. 2 mill for 220 innings. If he meets those incentives it gets him up to 20 mill.

    If he can get a better deal than that Cashman needs to say, “Love ya big fella but I must bid you adieu.”

  • Kevin

    I know it might mean we miss the playoffs or a championship but I’m not in favor of gutting the farm system to trade for pitchers.
    The Phillies did just that and have nothing to show for it other than a baren farm system that will be unable to replace many of the players they traded away. And as for us, we aren’t getting any younger. Finally, it wasn’t the pitching that cost us a trip to the World Series this year, it was the fact our 4-6 hitters were ice cold in the playoffs.

  • David, Jr.

    It is another reason why they need to keep Montero and play him. A cheap middle of the order hitter for several years helps them do things that they need to do, like resign CC.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Monteroisdinero (spent elsewhere).

  • Michael K. read that article by joel shermann. I agree totally with him. Great pitching is not always needed. Look at the rangers. I say offer CC 5/121 and if he can get something better than let him walk. Yanks do not need so many players at the age of 37 making 20 plus million a year. I don’t care how much money yanks have. As long as the yanks still have a great offense they will be fine. If they signed Wilson and acquired a John danks or someone not a ace but pretty good number 2 without giving up montero or double b’s(sorry brackman)the yanks would be quite alright. besides 09 its not like cc been such a monster in the playoffs. as long as you have a very deep line up which yanks currently have and a deep bullpen which yanks currently they would still be a very good team. I don’t want to see cc walk but if its going to be another a-rod type contract then see ya big fella. Too me yanks are in the driver seat. If CC loves NY like him and his wife say then prove it. don’t play hardball because something tells me at the end of the day cashman and co. won’t play it.

    • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

      I don’t the Rangers are a good example of not needing good pitching because the other teams in their division are 3 of the worst offenses in baseball. In the AL East, you need one great starter-all the other teams have one (except the orioles)

    • Hardy

      The Rangers are 3rd in rotation fWAR this year. They are not the best example to argue against the need for great starters.

  • hubba bubba

    I don’t know if i would trade for Danks unless the asking price was low…but i do like CJ Wilson and possibly someone like Mark Buerle as a stop gap until the 2012-13 crop of free agent pitchers come around…i wonder if Matt Cain or Gio Gonzalez will become available…maybe a trade plus signing CJ Wilson could make more sense than resigning CC…he has a lot of innings on his arm and that might be his undoing…to give him more years and more money,which is probably what he’ll get,sounds a little crazy to me.

  • UncleArgyle

    If C.C. Opts out, all I offer is 4 years – 92 million. Exactly what he had left on the contract. Bottom line is the Yankees shouldn’t pay Sabathia likes he’s the best pitcher in baseball when he is CLEARLY not. If he wants more money and more years let him walk. The 2012 team will probably suffer. But the 2013-2017 Yankees will be much better off without a declining, overweight lefty making 12.5 percent of the total payroll.

  • IB6 UB9

    CC will be back.

    Instead of C.J. Wilson what about trading for Wandy Rodriguez? He is a lefty, a healthy solid 3rd starter and would get $12 per for his age 33, 34 and 35 seasons, which is a little steep but with a shorter commitment than Wilson would require. The Astros have tried to move his salary and need a SS, so Eduardo Nunez could do it.

    Wandy could replace Garcia/Colon innings and not block the 2012 free agents like Wilson might.

    • David, Jr.

      I am guessing that the Yankees wouldn’t do that. Wandy is about a #5 starter in our league, and Nuney is quite a valuable player when looked at in the context of our roster. The left side of the infield will need plenty of days off, and his athleticism definitely added something to the team.

    • Hardy

      It was reported that Wandy was available as a pure salary dump at the trade deadline. The Yankees do not seem to be interested.

      • IB6 UB9

        The Rockies claimed him and the Astros didn’t let him go, so they want something for him. He ended with good numbers and has been better than Greinke over the past 2 seasons.

        • Hardy

          You’re right. I missed the August story. Thanks.

  • toad

    I’m guessing CC gets a raise and no more years. Maybe a team option for a fifth year with a decent buyout.

    Long-term contracts only make sense for young guys.

  • Peepee Hands

    Awesome post. Thanks Joe! Why I love RAB!

  • Preston

    Give him the seven year deal and front load it. Everybody back-loads contracts and it makes no sense. You’re paying more in the years that the production will be less. Give him 30/2, 20/3, 15/2 (150/7). I have no doubt that we can afford to overpay CC the next two years. We’ll actually be saving money in the two following years, and then who doesn’t think that if he played out his current contract CC won’t command 50/3 I mean look what Derek Lowe got. I don’t even care if we up the money a little in each year to make it the 161/7 he originally got. By the end of this deal 17 million for a veteran LH starter is probably going to be the market value.

    • Hardy

      A dollar today is more valuable than a dollar in 2017 because you have to pay interest to borrow the dollar.
      Backloading therefore always makes sense for the team.

      • toad

        True. But CC and his agent understand that just as well as you and I and the Yankees do, so it will figure into the negotiations. They are not just going to ignore it.

    • Slugger27

      you either dont understand economics or just didnt think your comment through before posting if you believe front loading makes more sense than backloading.

    • toad

      There is absolutely no reason to think that the money paid in any given year is for performance in that year. A multi-year contract is just that – multi-year. The player agrees to play for the team for some number of years and the team agrees to pay him some amount of money over that period.

      Worrying about “paying more when production is less” is useless. It’s the total package that matters.

  • http://none Favrest

    CC has no business opting out. Cashman had no business giving him the option to. These prima donnas have too much power. CC should hibernate. He was awful down the stretch.

  • mt

    This analysis needs to take into account the weight issue. I am sorry – I would not give a seven year contract to someone who could not even control his weight, while pitching and being active, during his big opt-out year. For some reason (probably his knee surgery and impending opt-out), CC felt the need to lose weight before this season. He did it and actually pitched very well. Then as he gained weight, he became less effective. Unfortunately six man rotation also happened at same time so who knows what is the reason (weight, six-man, Seattle “rain” game, none of above) but he looked far from an ace. With multi-bucks opt-out pending, you would think that is the optimal scenario to keep weight off. My concern now is after signing a seven year contract it may get even worse. (Would Seattle rain game still affect him in September and October, though?)

    Most troubling was that his command deteriorated during second half – lots of deep counts and walks.

    Given they are already in to him for 4 at $92 million and lack of options for 2012, I would pay him two million more per year and do guaranteed 5 years for 125 (would beat Cliff Lee actual) and then vesting for sixth year based on innings and Cy Young.

    And I am a firm believer that one cannot look at this in isolation. Rodriguez contract (with his body breaking down) and Tex departure from elite first baseman status, especially from left side, much earlier than one would have thought gives me concern about these long-term contracts. Yes, ARod and Tex may recover but you have to hand over a 7 year deal to CC before we get a sense of whether that will occur. If we didn’t have Arod contract, I might be more amenable to overpaying CC.

    One thing that I would not do is have Yanks 7 year “offer” to Cliff Lee (that was rejected by Lee) used against them – are Yanks going to admit that they liked Cliff Lee’s body type and projected command at 38 better and that they really wanted Lee last year as a hedge against CC leaving this year? The only comparable Yanks need to match or have used against them in negotiation is the Philly/Cliff Lee actual deal. That is what actually happened. Yanks also have right to change their thinking since Cliff Lee offer was made – i.e., they may have more confidence in younger pitchers like Nova. If CC wants us to match our “last” offer to Cliff Lee, I would wave goodbye to CC.

  • Billion$Bullpen

    I would like CC walk before giving any more years or any more money. No more contracts for anybody over 4 or 5 years. Use the money saved to beef up the international signings and farm. Go get Wilson and the ace of the White Sox staff whichever is cheaper. I am ok with not winning it all next year if it means no more dumb ass long term contracts. Alex, Tex, and AJ are already deals I did not like from the start and despise now, do not want another.

    The flip side is that any team that can just dump the kinda of cheese we did on a 7th inning reliever, maybe the cash is close to infinite and we are just going to grab who we want, money is no object. I do not buy that though, every dollar the Yanks spend is that plus the crazy luxury tax amount.

  • Eduardo (My Left Nunez)

    You hit upon a bigger point here that is being totally ignored: Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Even if (and likely) the Yankees sign CC to a new contract, they also need to replace Garcia and Colon in the rotation.

    It’s easy to ignore these guys since many figured they overperformed, and therefore it’s okay to let them leave, yet that’s entirely wrong. The Yankees need to replace their production, so even if they outdid what was expected, they still did it, and the Yankees need to replace what they did!

    I don’t like using ERA+ because of its limitations, but in this case it’s quite helpful. Garcia had an ERA+ of 122 and Colon 113. FIP is great for projecting forward (so and so pitcher was more lucky, etc, so he can’t be counted on to do that again in 2012.), but in this case ERA+ is helpful as a quick snapshot of what the Yankees are losing. 122 and 113 ERA+ pitchers. So while Noesi might outpitch Colon in 2012, that’s really not important. The Yankees need to find pitchers who can replace those 122 and 113 seasons.

    Not easy.