Don’t tell CC Sabathia the housing market is slumping. A few days after making his Yankee debut, Sabathia landed himself a $14.9 million home in Alpine, New Jersey. The mansion is a 12,000-square-foot, six-bedroom behemoth in a celebrity-filled neighborhood, and the Yankee ace paid for it in cash. I hope he’s planning on spending more than three years in it.
At the rate we’re going, Yankee fans and the hypersensitive media that covers them are going to start panicking before Spring Training ends. Today’s freakout du jour comes to courtesy of Anthony McCarron, The Daily News and CC Sabathia’s in-game heating pad.
McCarron notes that a few Yankee watchers are concerned about CC’s health. It’s odd, they say, for a pitcher with a history of abdominal strains to use a heating pad on Opening Day to stay loose. (Oh, wait.) Noted doctor and pitching expert John Flaherty had a few things to say about Sabathia’s outing. “When I’m watching him pitch and see the heat pad and then see him throwing 88-89, it’s almost like he’s protecting something and pitching at 70%,” the YES Network color man said.
It’s a good thing I’m sitting here in my mom’s basement in front of a computer with access to, you know, real numbers. While the notoriously unreliable YES gun may have said 88-89, the true numbers provided to us by MLB.com’s Pitch f/x system tell otherwise. Mike explored this in depth yesterday, but it’s a point worth repeating. Pitch f/x had CC’s average fastball velocity as 93 with a peak of 95. His change-up was at 85, and his breaking pitchers were around 80. But, hey, why verify facts? If John Flaherty said it, that must make it reality.
McCarron eventually makes some good points. Will Carroll pointed out that Sabathia’s release point was off, and Jim Kaat wondered why Sabathia threw six straight sliders to Luke Scott. But those points are buried under an avalanche of Yankee denials.
Sabathia’s location was off on Monday because his release point was off. He just had one of those day and couldn’t get the pitches over. He had no problems with velocity; he is showing no signs of injury; and the Yankees aren’t about to start taking early-season chances with their $23 million pitcher. If he’s hurt he won’t pitch, and right now he’s going to pitch. If he doesn’t show improvement over his next few starts, we’ll all start to worry, but one game does not a trend make.
During the letdown that was Opening Day, CC Sabathia labored through 96 pitches, throwing just 50 for strikes. Of those 96 pitches, 84 were either fastballs or sliders. This is nothing new for CC, who’s worked off these two pitches for the last seven years, mixing in the occasional changeup. Let’s take a look at how his two main pitchers were looking yesterday afternoon, via the magic of Pitch f/x. You can click on any graph in this post to open up a larger view.
First up, bird’s eye view, and what you’re seeing is the average flight path of his fastball and slider:
That is a very big picture of a very big man, and today, that image graced newsstands across the country. Sports Illustrated unveiled their 2009 baseball season preview this morning, and it’s very Yankee-centric except when it counts. More on that in a second.
The centerpiece of the issue is a lengthy article, not yet online, about CC Sabathia. In it, S.L. Price talks about how great a fit Sabathia will be for New York. While he may not have been ready for the big stage three years ago, according to Price, after a few years of elite pitching, Sabathia has come to embrace what he can do on the mound.
I had the opportunity to read through a PDF of the profile, and it’s very illuminating. I know I run the risk of sounding like a mouthpiece for SI, but check it out and see for yourself.
The SI issue also contains team profiles of each of the 30 clubs. Mostly, they read as fluff pieces focusing, as the Yanks’ one does, on team chemistry and Nick Swisher’s enthusiasm.
And of course, no SI preview would be complete without some season predictions divorced from reality. SI picks the Yanks, Twins and Angels as the division winners in the AL with the Red Sox as the Wild Card. The Yanks are picked to face — and lose to — the Angels in the ALCS, and the Mets are somehow picked to win the World Series. Yeah, right.
The Fine Print
This is your open thread. In a few days, we’ll be able to do Game Threads at 7 p.m. That will be glorious. Play nice.
Sometimes, you just get smacked around. That’s what happened to both CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander today. Verlander, upon whom Detroit is depending for a bounceback season, allowed four runs, two earned, in his two innings of work, walking four along the way. None of the hits were for extra bases, though — in fact, the Yankees didn’t have a single XBH the entire game. Girardi pulled Sabathia after 1.2 innings, in which he allowed five earned runs on six hits, a walk, and a Gary Sheffield home run. Worst of all, he didn’t strike out a single Tiger.
After the game, PeteAbe and the beat crew spoke to CC, who said he’s fine. Of course he’s going to say that. What do you expect immediately after the game? “My shoulder was barking the entire time.” Even if it was, CC certainly wouldn’t mention anything right after the game. He’d get it checked out before anyone said anything to the press. Not that I think there’s a problem. Just saying that if there were, the press wouldn’t have found out so soon without CC showing some obvious signals on the mound.
Pete Caldera notes that two of the singles off Sabathia were bloops, a good sign for sure. Also, it appears his slider/cutter wasn’t working. As we learned earlier this month, it takes him a while to find the groove on his cutter. It’s good that he was out there working on it, results be damned. We’ll see how his handle of the pitch progresses in his next start.
Following Sabathia, Aceves allowed two runs in 3.1 innings of work, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out one. The killer were his two home runs, both to Gerald Laird. You can bet Aceves will remember that if the two face off during the season. Brian Bruney pitched a perfect sixth, striking out two. Veras followed with an identical frame, and Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless, one-hit ninth. The zero walks from the last three guys is encouraging, though that can probably be attributed to Detroit’s scrubs filling the lineup. They’re not going to walk their way onto the roster.
As mentioned previously, the Yanks scored four runs on zero extra base hits, and didn’t manage any runs off the Tigers bullpen. Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira each collected a pair of singles and a walk, Posada walked twice, Cody Ransom picked up another base hit (.346 BA so far this spring), and Kevin Cash knocked an RBI single. Nick Swisher left six men on base, about which he quipped:
“Give me some of those burritos. I need to feed that village of people I left on base.”
Not an inspiring day at the plate by any means, but the Yanks still mustered four runs in two innings off Verlander with singles and walks. The only stories of the day, really, were CC’s poor performance and Melky going hitless yet again (though he did walk once). Everything’s turning up Gardner these days.
Update: I’ve just been informed that Team Netherlands is playing on ESPN2 right now, so feel free to use this as a game thread for that. The regularly-scheduled open thread will hit at it’s normal 7 p.m. slot tonight.
NoMaas has a clip of CC Sabathia from last night’s game, showing the big guy striking out a helpless Ryan Raburn to start the game. I haven’t figured out a way to direct link to their post or the video (lame), so make sure you head on over and check it out before it gets buried on the main page. They’ve also got a clip of David Robertson getting a little towel work in. Check it out.
In their first night game of the exhibition season, the Yanks sent their shiny new $161M toy to the mound to get their first real look at him in action. CC Sabathia was CC Sabathia last night, albeit for only two innings instead of his usual eight or nine. Sabathia allowed two hits – one a bloop double that Shelley Duncan probably should have caught, the other a single through the hole – but surrendered an unearned run thanks to yet another Angel Berroa misplay. He struck out two and induced five groundballs, throwing 20 of his 26 pitches for strikes. It basically went as well as anyone could have hoped for, and he’ll look to improve upon tonight’s effort when he faces these same Tigers next Wednesday.
Al Aceves pitched very well in relief of CC, giving up just one hit and one walk in 2.2 innings of work, a considerable improvement over his last outing. Steven Jackson gave up a pair of runs in an inning-plus of work, while Jose Veras, Anthony Claggett and David Robertson combined to strike out six in three shut out innings to end the game. Aceves and Jackson each hit ex-Yank Gary Sheffield with a pitch. I’m sure Sheff was livid.
The offensive load was pretty well spread out, with six different players contributing an RBI in the 7-3 win. Handsome Cody Ransom doubled, as did Johnny Damon and a trio of backstops – Jorge Posada, Jose Molina and Jesus Montero. Austin Jackson chipped in a garbage time single while Nick Swisher drew yet another walk (that’s five walks in six preseason games for Swish). Ramiro Pena, manning short while Jeter’s away at the WBC, went two for two and swiped a bag, perhaps making a case for a bench spot now that A-Rod might be out for a while.
The Bombers have a quick turn around with the Atlanta Braves coming in to Steinbrenner Field for a matinee this afternoon. Chien-Ming Wang will be making his second start of the spring, and the game will be shown live on YES. See you at the game thread later.