Before the 2008 season when the Twins were dangling Johan Santana in front of the Yankees, Brian Cashman could have made the easy move and dealt a package of players for him as the Yankees badly needed an ace. Instead he resisted and decided to hold on to those players and targeted The Big Man, CC Sabathia, as a free agent.
The move paid off big time for the Yankees as all of the players the Twins were interested in ended up playing a part of the 2009 World Series and Sabathia put the team on his back en route to a playoff run where he went 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA in his first season in Pinstripes. Since then he has served as the unquestionable ace in the Bronx.
EXPECTATIONS: Coming into this season the expectations surrounding Sabathia were like his waist line, huge. In his first two seasons with the Bombers he lead the league in wins while averaging over 230 innings a year. Nothing short of that would be acceptable going forward.
HIS BEST YEAR YET: How did he live up to those expectations? With his best year in Pinstripes yet. This year he had his lowest ERA with the Yankees (3.00), his highest K/9 (8.7), his lowest BB/9 (2.3) and his lowest HR/9 (0.6). He was so good at one point this season that when he wrapped up the season with a 3.28 ERA over the final seven games a lot of fans considered him to be slumping, even though that is clearly far from the truth.
WORKHORSE: How incredibly durable has he been for the Yankees? Consider this, this year he was coming off of knee surgery and pitched for a third of the season in a 6-man rotation and still managed to log 237.1 innings. Fans may be worried that he is overweight, but nothing about his performance has indicated that there should be any concern.
POSTSEASON: This is where people tend to have problems with him as he has a 5.84 ERA over the last two postseasons. However, if context matters to you this shouldn’t be a big deal. Last season against the Rangers he was less than stellar, but shouldn’t have taken the mound at all as he had a torn meniscus in his knee that required surgery immediately after the playoffs ended (the same injury that essentially ruined Alex Rodriguez‘s season).
Then this time around he was pitching well against Detroit in game one until rain interrupted. That forced him to pitch on 2-day rest in back-to-back games rendering him ineffective. It’s very hard to blame him for either of those unfortunate circumstances.
OPT-OUT: CC now has a decision to make regarding his career and it looms very large. Without Sabathia in the rotation next year the Yankees would be looking at A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova fronting their rotation. I’m scared just typing that. The Yankees managed to be very good this season by piecing together a rotation, without Sabathia there is no chance they could do that again.
VERDICT: Can’t get too much better than the year CC put together. He is amazing on the mound and a positive influence off of it. When other team’s pitchers are drinking beer and eating fried chicken, Sabathia is the consummate professional. Nobody wants to see the Yankees handing out 7-year deals, but right now we are watching a Hall of Fame pitcher in the prime of his career. If you are not enjoying it, you should probably go watch another sport because baseball is not for you. The way the playoffs played out for him was unfortunate though, but that says more about the Yankees lack of depth in the rotation that forced him to go on 2-days rest, twice!
GOING FORWARD: We are waiting if fear of what he might do this offseason. Hopefully he stays put without burdening the Yankees with another mega deal. However, it could be 2008 all over again without him. Speaking of which, I wonder what Sidney Ponson is doing these days.