Forget the ESPN experts. Forget Baseball Prospectus. LeBron James, the NBA’s most famous Yankee fan, thinks that the Yanks are going to end up with CC Sabathia. I’m sold. Do we really need a better source?
Joe Torre hosted his annual Safe at Home Foundation dinner last night. While the news out of the annual gathering of Yankee luminaries included much of what we already know, Joe Girardi dropped something of a Mike Mussina bombshell.
As far as the Yankee skipper knows, Mussina will be calling it quits some time soon. While this is information Moose passed onto Girardi at the end of the season, Joe had no reason to expect Moose to change his mind.
For the Yankees, this decision has immediate impact. Moose threw 200.1 innings last year to the tune of a 3.37 ERA. He won 20 games for the first time in his career and was 12th in the AL in VORP for pitchers, trailing James Shields by just a few tenths of a point. In other words, he was the Yankee ace, and while he probably wasn’t going to duplicate these numbers next year, his potential departure leaves a gaping hole in the front end of the Yankee rotation, Andy Pettitte or no Andy Pettitte.
Enter Derek Jeter. It seems that Mr. Jeter is fulfilling his role as captain. As NJ.com’s Ed Price reported a few hours ago, Derek and CC Sabathia had a chat about New York. Derek didn’t go into detail, but it sounds like the two players had a nice talk about coming to New York. Clearly, the recruiting effort is on.
If the Yanks land Sabathia — and that’s a big “if” right now with so many other teams involved — the deal will be fraught with risks. The Yankees will be committing a lot of money and a lot of years to a pitcher who has racked up 1659.1 innings and is just a few months past his 28th birthday. In fact, only 45 other players in the history of the game have thrown more innings by that age. As with any long-term deal, it’s a risk.
I believe that it’s a risk the Yankees have to take. Sabathia would immediately stabilize the Yankee rotation and give them a front-end trio with the potential to be as good as any other team in baseball. How many times would you imagine the Yanks losing three games in a row with Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain throwing in back-to-back-to-back games?
Of course, the Yankees have a lot of competition for Sabathia. He likes the NL; he’s very good at pitching in the NL and seems to enjoy hitting too. He could end up back near his home in Southern California as well. But the Yankees are interested, and they’re going to put the full-court press on. With Mussina out of the pitcher, Sabathia is the ace the Yanks need. Here’s to hoping they can land him.
The New York writers have kept themselves busy over this past week, running the floor to bring us rumor after rumor from the GM meetings. While we know that the bulk of these rumors mean little or nothing, we still like to toss them around and drop our two cents. Today, we get some peeps about the Yankees pitching targets, namely Jake Peavy and CC Sabathia.
We’ll start with Peavy. Mark Feinsand has a tidbit on the Padres righty:
The Yankees could put together a package built around Phil Hughes and Austin Jackson, according to a source, although they would likely have to include two or three more players, one of which could be Ian Kennedy. The Padres, according to the source, have no interest in Robinson Cano.
As always, beware the anonymous source. Yes, the Yankees could do that, but there’s only a small chance they will. It would mean talks have been exhausted with all NL teams, and even then the Yankees would likely have to add dollars and/or years to Peavy’s contract. He’s not going to waive his no trade clause for nothing, as he’s made clear through his agent Barry Axelrod.
The tireless Ken Davidoff says this won’t happen. Then again, he also said that the chances of Moose coming back is one percent, so we should get a chance soon to gauge his predictive accuracy. He also puts the kibosh on the Matsui to Seattle rumor, which sounded pretty frivolous from the outset. Now, if he could only kill those Lowe rumors.
Not everything is sunshiny for the Yanks, though. Davidoff brings up a scenario under which the Angels could snatch up CC Sabathia, even if the Yankees are the high bidders. It would start with the Angels letting Mark Teixeira walk. While that’s not a highly likely scenario, word is from Terry Reagins’s lips that the team won’t wait around forever awaiting his decision.
So how could the Angels then get CC without being the high bidder? If they top the $137.5 million, six-year contract signed by Johan Santana last winter, Sabathia could be content. We’ve talked about the pressure from the union to take top dollar, but the pressure might not be as intense if CC raises the bar for pitcher salaries. The union might raise a stink if CC wants to take a six year, $120 million offer from the Angels when a six year, $140 million deal is on the table from the Yankees. But if the Yankees are offering $150 million and the Angels are offering $140, he might take the slightly lower, yet still record-breaking, salary to play on the West Coast.
All of this is to say that we have no freaking clue how this off-season is going to pan out. Plenty of people say they are “convinced” CC will be a Yank. Others (::cough:: Mike Pop) think Burnett in pinstripes is inevitable. However, there is no sure thing during the Hot Stove.
Just a couple of notes to take you into the Election Night proceedings:
- The Yankees have declined the $13 million option for Carl Pavano and the $22 million option for Jason Giambi, according to Mark Feinsand. There’s a chance, albeit slim, that the Yankees could look to retain one or both, but on more team-friendly terms. They’ll pay Pavano $1.95 million to buy him out, Giambi $5 million.
- The team did not, however, announce anything regarding Damaso Marte’s $6 million option for 2009. While it has been speculated that they will decline it, indications are that the team is looking to sign him to a different deal, one that likely spans multiple years. Worst case, they offer him arbitration and net a couple of draft picks.
- According to Ken Davidoff, the Yankees have had “very preliminary” discussions with the agents for CC Sabathia. This is no big deal of course, certainly no bigger than A.J. Burnett opting out of his contract. The Yanks are expected to make an offer exceeding the contract of Johan Santana (six years, $137.5 million with a $25 million club option for 2014).
SG at the Replacement Level Yankee Weblog took at a look at pitchers with inning loads similar to that of CC Sabathia and found that perhaps we shouldn’t be so keen to embrace Sabathia. While he has yet to run the numbers specifically on Sabathia, history does not favor pitchers who have thrown as many inning as he has by age 28.
There’s really not much new in this Jon Heyman column. Will Sabathia go for home or money? Yeah, no one has a clue. He does talk to a friend of Sabathia, though. Plenty of reporters have seemingly done that this year, asking random Sabathia friend after random Sabathia friend about the pitcher’s intentions. Most of them, it seems, feel he’ll go home. The friend Heyman tracked down: Jimmy Rollins. His take: “New York, American League. They’ve got enough money, and they need him.”
Of course, this is just as meaningless as the opinions of Sabathia’s nameless friends. That’s the point, though.
The MLBPA is the most powerful union in sports. For the most part, they get what they want. Could that influence play a part in CC Sabathia donning pinstripes this winter? Ken Davidoff ponders the question, and reflects back to the 2002-2003 off-season. Jim Thome, a newly-minted free agent, got a huge offer from the Phillies, and a decent one from the Indians, with whom he had played since being drafted in 1989. Davidoff’s source said Thome was considering the Tribe’s offer because he loved playing in the Midwest. However, the players’ union leaned on him, and he ended up taking the big bucks with Philly.
If we’re to believe the current crop of rumors, the Yankees seem poised to be the high bidder in the CC Sweepstakes. While CC might not necessarily value the dollar over all else, how will the union feel about that? What if the best offer out there is five years and $100 million, and the Yanks are going six and $125? Clearly, it’s tough to speculate on a situation like this, seeing as none of us (as far as I know) works for the union. It’s just something else to think about as we near the beginning of free agency.