CC Sabathia has agreed to sign with the Yankees for seven years, $160 million. He’s the best pitcher on the free-agent market, a bona fide number one ace of the sort the Yankees haven’t had since Roger Clemens was still on top his game.
Sabathia doesn’t guarantee that 27th championship the Yankees have been chasing since 2000. As good as he’s been during the regular season, he’s been pitching’s answer to Alex Rodriguez in the postseason. Last year, he led the Brewers into the playoffs, then helped lead them out, giving up five runs in 3.2 innings in a loss to the Phillies. In four lifetime postseason series, he’s 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA, and he’s pretty much admitted it’s because he tries too hard.
Sabathia’s also as big as a house, a guy next to whom David Wells would look anorexic. It hasn’t been a problem yet, but he’s going to have to get his weight under control.
But those are problems the Yankees are willing to face. The weight they can try to control, and in order to worry about his postseason pitching, they have to get there. And he’s the guy who can do that.
Also, the Yankees aren’t putting all their eggs in Sabathia’s basket. The team has also reeled in Toronto’s A.J. Burnett.
Sabathia, the 2007 AL Cy Young winner and the hero of the Brewers’ 2008 run to the playoffs, had spent the last several weeks talking about how much he wanted to play on the West Coast, where he grew up and where he is building a home. But, the Post reported, after Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman flew to San Francisco Tuesday to lay his cards — and Steinbrenner cash — on the table, Sabathia realized that home is where the paycheck is. He’ll make at $160 million for six years and maybe more. It’s the biggest contract ever for a pitcher.
Patience may be a virtue, but not in the Bronx. The Yankees tried it last year, putting their hopes in the hands of three young pitchers who, the team thought, could give them the backbone of a great rotation for years to come. But Philip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain got hurt and Ian Kennedy got bombed and the Yankees finished third in the AL East, their run of 13 straight playoff appearances at an end.
The fifth slot in the rotation would still be open. There have been some talks with free-agent and local hero Andy Pettitte, but his career has been in sharp decline and the Yankees are still talking as if Chamberlain can be their fifth starter.
Chamberlain is the kid who came up two years ago late in the season and pitched lights-out as a late-inning reliever and bridge to Mariano Rivera. Last year, they started him in the bullpen, where he was again terrific, but then moved him into the starting rotation. Chamberlain was just starting to settle into the new role when his arm went on him. The Yankees have said he’ll start next year, but that they’ll restrict his innings.
They’d be better off bringing Pettitte back as the fifth starter or hoping that Hughes can come back from his injury and show the great stuff he had two years ago when he was a mid-season call-up.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
But whatever they do with Chamberlain, now that Sabathia’s on board, the Yankees finally are on their way to a top-flight rotation. They’ve had eight years to re-learn that pitching wins championships. It’s about time they acted on that knowledge.
HBT: Carlos Ruiz was lifted from Sunday afternoon’s game against the Reds after straining his right hamstring while running the bases in the bottom of the second inning.
No selling CC on N.Y.
Dec. 10: Derek Jeter says he spoke to CC Sabathia, but that he didn't really need to sell the West Coast native on moving to New York.
Weighing in on CC Sabathia
Dec. 11: MLB managers and Scott Boras share their thoughts about CC Sabathia's pitching talent and what his signing means for the Yankees.
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