Wednesday, December 10, 2008


SHOULD YANKEES FANS be elated, relieved or concerned now that it appears CC Sabathia will be wearing pinstripes next year?

Elated because above anything else, the Yanks need an ace pitcher who can compete with the Josh Becketts of this world.

Relieved because for the last three weeks it seemed that Sabathia didn’t want to come to New York for all the tea in China.

Concerned because giving any pitcher a seven-year deal is a major risk, let alone one of CC’s build and age (28).

His ability is not in doubt; he has a career ERA of 3.66. But he’s already pitched 1,659 innings so has plenty of miles on the clock.

After their gamble backfired on giving youth a chance rather than pursuing Johan Santana last winter, the Yanks were not going to make the same mistake twice.

That’s why general manager Brian Cashman has used every trick in the book to persuade CC that New York City can be his kind of town.

Opt-out clause seals deal with Yanks

Mind you, reports suggest that the $161 million, seven-year deal includes an opt-out clause after three years, just in case life in the Big Apple doesn’t suit the father-of-two from California.

Sabathia had a close relationship with the fans in Cleveland, so much so that he took out a full-page ad in the local newspaper thanking them for their support after leaving for Milwaukee.

He will soon discover that there are no in-betweens with the fans in New York. They idolize you when you’re playing well, but turn on you pretty quickly when you’re out of form. A-Rod can tell CC all about that.

There have been some concerns expressed about Sabathia’s weight, but he has been a willing workhorse throughout his career and was able to pitch successfully on short rest for the Brewers at the end of last season.

Another worry is his record in the postseason – one win against three losses in five games. He went 0-2 with a 10.45 ERA against the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 American League Championship Series.

But after being eliminated from the postseason for the first time since 1993 this year, the Yanks priority is actually getting there next year. Playing in the same division as the Red Sox and emerging Tampa Bay Rays, that’s going to be no easy task.

It’s also why Cashman and the Yanks will continue to pursue the other free agent pitchers, notably AJ Burnett and Derek Lowe.

Add one of those two to Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and probably Andy Pettitte and you should have a pretty decent starting rotation, especially with Phil Hughes waiting in the wings. 

Being greedy, I would like to have seen the Yanks leading the race to sign Mark Teixeira as they need a first baseman who can hit and he’s a perfect fit.

As well as their well-chronicled pitching problems last season, we shouldn’t forget that the Yanks fell well short of their projected runs total too.

Teixeira would go a long way to solving that problem but, sadly, that’s one deal that doesn’t look like happening.

Baseball’s hot stove is sizzling now and with the Mets capture of K-Rod (Francisco Rodriguez), New York fans are going to be treated to seeing two of the best three closers currently playing the game.

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