Thursday, December 18, 2008
Unfortunately at this point, there is no way for me to get a refund from the city, so I might as well take a look at what I've unwillingly helped to buy. The big free agent prize here for the Yankees is CC Sabathia, a man for whom that designation of large could mean several things. Sabathia has unquestionably been one of the five (possibly two) best pitchers in the majors over the last two years, but that is in no way a guarantee that he will continue to be so going forward, especially considering the high injury rates among major league pitchers. At the same time, he's one of the best pitchers to ever be available as a free agent, and is still relatively young. Going forward, he's a very safe bet to continue being an ace barring injury, and he has a clean history in that regard. However, he has been worked extremely hard these last two years (over 25 more innings than any other pitcher, and that's not even counting the postseason), and then there is the matter of his ever-ballooning weight. He was listed at 250 until recently, when that was updated to 290, and reportedly weighed in at 311 pounds during the physical required for his new blockbuster deal. Those two things add up to as many red flags as you'll ever see for a pitcher with a clean bill of health, although Sabathia (Apart from seeming to wear down at the end of 2007 and a (brief) poor start to 2008) has shown no ill effects. At the same time, although it is entirely possible that there is someone out there who is a physical marvel and can defy the laws of usage that govern everyone else's body, what the Yankees have just done is place a $161 million dollar bet on both that man existing and their knowing who he is. I may not know that much about gambling, but this seems like a poor bet to make. Every pitcher who has signed a seven-year deal in the history of baseball (Extremely small sample size here) has struggled with injuries throughout the deal except Barry Zito, who continually makes his employer wish he would get hurt. The best way this could work out for the Yankees is for Sabathia to exercise the opt-out he has after year three of the deal. This would mean both that he pitched well enough over the first three years that he believes a larger deal is possible on the market (Why this is good for the Yankees seems self-explanatory), as well as removing the riskiness of a mega-deal for an aging (At that point) pitcher from the payroll. Of course, Sabathia could blow out his shoulder in Start #1, never pitch again, and have an option to put the Yanks on the hook for 7 years of nothing. This is why player options are somewhere between suck and blow for teams. I intended to tackle both deals here, but this got too long. Burnett will be up next.