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Here’s your open thread. Feel free to talk about the above chart, the NHL All-Star Game, whatever you like. Just be nice.
Last night, CC Sabathia walked home with the Warren Spahn Award for the second straight year. The prize is given out by the Oklahoma Sports Museum to the best lefty pitcher in the game, and it’s no stretch to award it to Sabathia.
By itself, the award is hardly newsworthy but how the AP covered the presentation and Sabathia’s acceptance is. The AP sent Jeff Latzke of their Oklahoma City bureau to the event, and here is how he covered it. On the surface, that seems fine and dandy, but take a look at these seemingly innocuous two paragraphs:
Before Saturday night’s ceremony, he said he’s looking forward to having Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera there to close out games for him, and he’s already talked to Chamberlain about it.
“To have that bullpen and have just the support of that team, that team is unbelievable,” Sabathia said. “To add me and A.J and put Tex in that lineup, I think it’s going to be an unbelievable team. Hopefully we have a special year.”
That’s right; Jeff Latzke just put Joba Chamberlain back in the bullpen. At no point did Sabathia actually say that he’s looking forward to Mo and Joba closing out games. He simply said that he’s looking forward to the support of the Yanks’ bullpen.
Meanwhile, if we compare Latzke’s reporting to that of Yankees.com beat writer Bryan Hoch, a different tale emerges. Writes Hoch:
Before Saturday night’s ceremony, Sabathia said in a press session that he is looking forward to having Mariano Rivera close out games for him.
“To have that bullpen and have just the support of that team, that team is unbelievable,” Sabathia said. “To add me and A.J. and put Tex in that lineup, I think it’s going to be an unbelievable team. Hopefully we have a special year.”
Now, I wasn’t at the press session, but do I trust the guy who covers the Yanks all season or some AP writer based out of Oklahoma City? The choice is clear to me.
This isn’t, of course, a new rant. We’ve had problems with the AP’s creating news where there isn’t any before. We’ve seen them misquote Yankee officials and, as they do here, put words into the mouths of players. It doesn’t help their credibility, however, to talk about Joba’s role in the bullpen because, simply put, he doesn’t have one. AP or not, Joba is starting this year. He may reach an innings cap, but baring a disaster, he will spend the season in the rotation. The Yankees are better off for it.
Here’s a fun little story that trickled into my Inbox via Google News last night: T-shirt sales for CC Sabathia are far exceeding the usual demand for player t-shirts. According to Crain’s New York, local stores including Modell’s and the Yankee Clubhouse stores have sold out Sabathia shirts three times over. I don’t have a CC shirt yet. I think I’m going to wait for the Teixeira 25 ones to hit.
The AP, via ESPN, has some details about the new contracts signed by CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. Let’s do this bullet point style:
So Sabathia will have already been paid $9,499,998 before he throws a pitch in the 2009 season. Livin’ the dream baby, livin’ the dream.
During the Winter Meetings, as it became clear that the Yankees would indeed land CC Sabathia, Joe wrote a piece about the importance of patience. He talked about the Sabathia signing through the lens of the Johan Santana shenanigans that went on during the winter of 2007.
On Thursday, as the Yankees introduced CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to New York, one team official expounded on this idea. Long after the press conference was over, Brian Cashman sat down with one of the YES Network reporters and talked about the courting of Sabathia. It obviously wasn’t just some spurt-of-the-moment idea that formed since the 2008 season ended.
It had, in fact, been a goal of the Yankee front office since last season and Sabathia’s impending free agency was one of the primary reasons why the Yankees never completed the Santana trade. As Cashman said, the Sabathia signing was the “completion of the concept.” Cashman noted that the Yanks had CC on the radar since being bounced by Cleveland in 2007. Sabathia was, after all, a “premiere player available for just a draft choice.”
It’s interesting to hear Cashman use these words so unequivocally. The Yankees understand — better, at times, than many of their fans do — that it pays to wait one season to land that top tier pitcher through free agency. There is no need to overpay in prospects, players and money for a pitcher when you can land one nearly as good six or eight months later for just money and a draft pick.
Of course, at the same time, Cashman realized that this wasn’t an easy wait. “We took a lot of hits going through that process,” he said. The Yanks GM also was well aware that there was “no guarantee” that Sabathia woud sign with the Yanks.
In the end, though, these words were telling. Behind Cashman’s rational lies the reason for the Yanks’ huge offer for Sabathia. They wanted to ensure that no one would outbid them a season after intentionally losing out on Santana. Who knows how the move will pan out? Nothing suggests Sabathia won’t excel in New York. But as Brian Cashman knows, a lot depends on CC. Right now, passing on Santana to wait for Sabathia was the right move. Now we just have to wait for the games to start to make sure it remains the right move ten months from now.
So today’s the day: the Yanks will be introducing their two new prize pitchers at a 1pm press conference at the Old Yankee Stadium. Supposedly you can watch it on YES, but their TV schedule doesn’t agree. You will, however, be able to follow along on MLB.TV or ESPN/ESPNEWS. If you can’t get near a TV (stupid work), then follow along here, I’ll be liveblogging the whole schabang.
Now that the signings are official, I’ve updated the 2009 Draft Order Tracker. The Yanks surrender their first rounder to the Brewers and their second rounder to the Jays. Remember, they can’t lose the comp picks for Gerrit Cole and Scott Bittle, so their top pick is #29 overall, followed by #76 overall. There’s no possibility of that changing; that’s when they’ll pick come June no matter who else they sign. As it stands right now, the Brewers have three of the top 36 picks with the potential to add two more if Ben Sheets signs elsewhere.
So stick around for the next … I dunno, half-hour to an hour and follow along as CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett are thrown to the media wolves welcomed to New York.