CC speaks

With the Brewers out of the playoffs, the CC Sabathia sweepstakes will begin to heat up. Sabathia is, of course, under contract with the Brewers until after the World Series, and Milwaukee will get first crack at him. While other teams can’t say anything about CC quite yet, the big lefty is free to says as he pleases.

MLB Trade Rumors wraps up the CC Sabathia quotes from Sunday’s post-game interviews. “All those who say I only want to go back to California to play, that’s not true,” Sabathia said.

He also dropped this gem:

I want to get it done pretty quick. I try to be as less free as possible. All that is is stress, having it drag on through the winter. I can guarantee you I won’t be flying around going to different cities. I’ve pretty much been to every city. I’ve got a lot of friends around the league. They’re going to have to come to me.

That we must all take at face value. Sabathia sounds like a man who isn’t set on any one course. He liked pitching in the NL with the Brewers this year but isn’t married to the idea. Again, the Yanks will be willing to be the house on Carsten Charles. He doesn’t cost them anything other than dollars, and the team will have plenty of those for the foreseeable future.

If it comes down to money, I’d bet on Sabathia in the Bronx, and it’s starting to sound like it very well may come down to money.

CC in the postseason

Over his last four postseason appearances, CC Sabathia has not impressed. He’s 1-3 over that span, and in 19 innings, the lefty has surrendered 20 runs on 27 hits and 17 walks. Tonight, against the Phillies, CC had the velocity, but he had no command. Clearly, he seemed fatigued after throwing 500 pitches over two weeks and making three starts in a row on three days’ rest.

While the media will spin this as a story about CC’s inability to pitch in a big game, he’s thrown in three straight big games before today. Rather, if the Yanks are to pursue CC, they should pay careful attention to his regular season innings and realize that, if they want an effective postseason pitcher, they’ll have to manage his innings better than the Indians did last year and the Brewers did this year.

CC and the Pitch Counts of Doom

As CC Sabathia has nearly singlehandedly pitch the Brewers into the playoff picture, we’ve seen the big lefty rack up the pitch counts. 110, 124, 130, 117. The numbers are gaudy by today’s standards, and as we Yankee fans feel as though we’re entitled to Sabathia’s services next year, many have understandably expressed some concern about the pitch counts. But worry not, says The Hardball Times’ Josh Kalk who, after a rigorous study, determines that Sabathia is a-OK, high pitch counts or not.

Gammons: Manny not on the radar, but CC is

In a chat with Boston Globe readers, Peter Gammons offered up his take on the Yankees off-season plans. According to Gammons’ sources, “as long as Brian Cashman is the GM and Hank Steinbrenner is owner, Manny will not be going to the Yankees. Their plan is to take the money they have stashed away and go after CC Sabathia.”

This news is no surprise, but it does enable us to preview the Sabathia sweepstakes. Basically, this will all boil down to what CC wants to do. The Yanks are going to offer him, far and away, more money than any other team. If Sabathia wants to come to the Bronx and play for the Yankees, money will be no obstacle, and if Sabathia is at all hesitant, the Yanks’ offer will far outpace that of the Angels or any California-based team bound to be on Carsten Charles. How this all plays out will be entirely up to the big man himself, and it should make for an ever-entertaining November.

Indians turned down Yanks’ window request in Sabathia sweepstakes

As more information emerges concerning the Brewers’ acquisition of CC Sabathia and the Yanks’ seemingly failed effort to land him this weekend, we’ll be able to piece together something of a narrative concerning the deal. We at RAB will also put this story to rest soon, but some interesting pieces of information are trickling out right now.

Unlike the Santana deal, we have no idea what the Yankees were offering for Sabathia. While, as I noted before, the asking price started with Phil Hughes, we’ve yet to hear the rumors of who else would have gone to Cleveland. But we know why the Indians turned down the Yanks, and it seems to have less to do with prospects and more with the Yanks’ approach to the deal.

Jack Curry clues us in:

In adding Sabathia, the Brewers beat out the Phillies, who were also willing to make the trade without requiring a window to negotiate a contract extension. The Yankees had discussions with the Indians, but were unwilling to make a deal unless they could sign Sabathia beyond 2008. The Yankees will probably be serious players in trying to sign him when he becomes a free agent after the season.

Sabathia could ask for an extension that is close to what the Mets gave Johan Santana (six years, $137.5 million), so the chances that he will remain with the Brewers are slim. Melvin was realistic about the future and said, “Most trades in July are going to be rentals.”

Sabathia rejected a four-year, $72 million proposal from Cleveland last spring.

Because Melvin knew Sabathia might be with Milwaukee only briefly, he wanted to trade for him as soon as possible. In making the deal Monday, Milwaukee can start Sabathia twice before the All-Star break. He was 5-3 with a 1.93 E.R.A. in his last 11 starts.

The Yankees were not about to sell off their top-rated prospects for just three months of CC Sabathia. According to Curry, when the Indians, who have long held this position, notified the Yanks that the team would not receive a 72-hour window to consummate a long-term deal, the Yankees seemingly backed out. I’m intrigued by this tidbit because, if true, it seems as though the Yanks were willing to part with some prospects if the parameters of the trade were similar to the Santana deal. While Brian Cashman told Tyler Kepner othwrise, the Yanks might have been willing to give up the youngsters for CC Sabathia and a long-term deal.

With this in mind, I believe these revelations strengthens my earlier proposition: If money is the only obstacle in signing Sabathia in the fall, the Yankees are the front runners. Of course, money isn’t the only obstacle; Sabathia has to want to come to New York. But we’ve already dissected that argument.

Meanwhile, one commenter earlier today suggested that the Brewers could sign Sabathia, but again, Curry’s article pretty much puts a nail firmly into that coffin. Doug Melvin, the Brewers’ GM, seems to recognize that Sabathia is a three-month rental and admits as much to Curry. If Milwaukee — a team that can’t really afford a five- or six-year, $100+ million contract — is attempting to pull the trigger on a deadline deal this early in July, the word “rental” seems more apt than anything else.

For now, the Sabathia Saga Part I has drawn to a close. The Brewers are primed to become serious contenders, and CC has a home away from the AL, away from the AL East, for the remainder of the 2008 season. Where he will in 2009 is anyone’s guess, but the team soon to inhabit a new stadium in the Bronx will be exerting a full-court press in their efforts to woo him this offseason. You — and CC — can take that one to the bank.

What the Sabathia trade means to the Yanks

In the blink of an eye last night, the Yankees became the clear-cut front runners for C.C. Sabathia.

This dance began over the weekend when few were paying attention. The Milwaukee Brewers, it seemed, had emerged as the clear-cut front runners in the C.C. Sabathia Sweepstakes, and last night, just minutes before the start of a thrilling Yankees-Red Sox game and three and a half weeks prior to the trading deadline, the Brewers and Indians consummated what will probably be this July’s biggest deal. The Brewers sent Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson and a PTBNL that will probably be Taylor Green, their MiLB 2007 player of the year, to the Indians for three months of C.C. Sabathia.

For the Brewers, the NL’s leading Wild Card team, this move cements their status as a legitimate playoff contender for practically the first time since they won the AL East in 1982. For the Indians, this move signals that the team is in sell mode, and while they may not have done this well this time, they pulled in a pretty decent haul in exchange for a pitcher sure to hit free agency in a few months.

The Yankees, however, are once again on the outside of a blockbuster trade involving a big-time pitcher. Unlike during the Santana sweepstakes, the Yankees weren’t blocked by the Twins’ desires to ship Santana out of the AL. Rather, they opted not to make a potential move. As Ken Rosenthal reported, “the Yankees also were ‘very heavily involved’ in the Sabathia discussions, one source said, but declined to commit the necessary prospects at a time when their 2008 chances are uncertain.”

As Yankee fans are very divided over the direction of the team, certain factions will have a field day with this tidbit. Once again, when faced with giving up some prospects for a quote-unquote proven ace at the time when the Yanks’ pitching is looking rather frail, Brian Cashman and the Yankee braintrust got gun-shy and stood pat. But of course it isn’t as simple as that.

Right now, the Yankees are in the unenviable position of not knowing what’s going on with their team. They’ve dealt with numerous injuries — 60 percent of their starting rotation, most of their starting lineup — and they’re on the cusp of contention, too far out of first place and just close enough to the Wild Card leader to be in it. They don’t know if they should buy or sell; they don’t know what they really need. Some people think they need a bat and can fill in the pitching from the organization; others thing their offense is fine, and they could use a pitcher.

But for the Yankees, they weren’t in a position to make this move yet, and they didn’t have to. They have Ian Kennedy and Dan McCutchen making their respective ways through the organization. They have Phil Hughes and — dare I say? — Carl Pavano rehabbing. By opting not to acquire Sabathia — and we really don’t know how close or far they were in doing so (and it would have cost at least Hughes and more) — they positioned themselves as the leaders in the eventual C.C. Sabathia sweepstakes bound to occupy the back pages after the Fall Classic ends.

I can unequivocally say that Sabathia will not re-sign with the Brewers before testing the free agency waters. Had he wanted to sign without hitting the market, he would have stayed with Cleveland, a town and an organization he has known and loved for over a decade. Now, he will be a free agent, and if the Yankees want him and he wants the Yankees, it will get done. They have millions of dollars coming off the books and millions more coming their way from a new stadium. And the best part of all is that they won’t have to pay twice for the big lefty.

Dissecting the TBS announcers

As part of a multi-billion-dollar deal to broadcast baseball, TBS gets the non-exclusive rights to Sunday baseball games. This weekend, while I watched the Sabathia-Wang pitcher’s duel on the YES Network, fans around the country could tune in on TBS.

While watching the game, Maury Brown, the man behind the Biz of Baseball site, transcribed some of the more interesting tidbits from the broadcast. The first topic I found interesting focused around CC Sabathia:

CC Sabathia on his impending free agency: “This is home, I mean I’ve been here since I was 17 years old, eleven years now. This is the only place I know and I feel comfortable here, coming in from the parking attendants to the General Manager I feel comfortable, so that’s been the biggest difference.”

Martinez on the CC Sabathia’s needs versus those of the MLB Players Association: “He is very genuine and sincere about his desire to stay here (in Cleveland). Get the deal done and don’t let the outside influences cloud your judgment. The Players Association want him to set the standard for free agent contracts in this off-season and at his age, 27, he’ll turn 28 in July, he is the premiere free agent pitcher on the market. (Johan) Santana’s contract of 137 million with the Mets, they want him to out do that contract, and I don’t know if that is going to make him happy.

While Buck Martinez and Chip Caray were discussing this, so were the Yanks’ announcers. It seems that Kevin Millwood, unhappy in Texas despite the big bucks, called his former teammate and warned him to pitch where he is happy even if that means giving up a few dollars. For the Yankees, this could be a sign that they shouldn’t be counting on overwhelming Sabathia with dollars. Perhaps Sabathia will elect to remain with Cleveland for fewer dollars if the team makes a ballpark offer.

On the other hand, it seems that Sabathia knows he could have a four-year, $80-million extension from the Indians and has elected to pitch out the season anyway. If he continues to throw like he has in his last two outings, he’ll easily clear that $80 million and stands to land a deal in between those signed by the Giants’ reliever Barry Zito and the Mets’ starter Johan Santana.

The other topic was, of course, Joba Chamberlain. Take it away, Buck Martinez:

“I know there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Joba Chamberlain about whether he should start or be used as an eighth inning set-up guy and as a former manager this is where he was meant to be in my mind…I believe he can turn into Mariano Rivera in a couple of years when Rivera steps aside.”

In less than a couple of years, he could be an ace starter giving the Yankees way more than one inning every two or three games. With Rivera under contract for three more years after this one, why waste Chamberlain in the eighth inning for years on end? But then again, we’re just beating a dead horse with this one.