Yankees and Red Sox fans frequently find themselves locked into some heavy baseball debates. Nathan and Elisabeth have taken their feuds to the email war room and will be hashing it out in a series entitled “Warning Track Chats.” It will be on ongoing dialogue between the two fans discussing the latest news and events surrounding these two storied franchises. Feel free to join in on the debate with your comments and make sure you vote on whose opinion you agree with at the end. Let the games begin!
It's definitely all treats for your boy, C.C. Sabathia, this Halloween season. Apparently the over-sized, self-proclaimed Cap 'n Crunch connoisseur will be staying in New York after all.
Without Googling it, do you even know what CC stands for? I'm sure you've heard plenty of great, creative interpretations. I'll share some of my favorites with you: Cheese Cake, Chocolate Chip, Crispy Creme, Cotton Candy, Cash Cow, etc. OK, OK... So maybe I just made all those up. While the list of nicknames is as equally hilarious as it is long, a newly inked deal has allowed for a brand new entry -- Crazy Contract.
I'm guessing you've heard the details of the deal by now, but just in case you haven't, I'll give you a quick synopsis to help let it all sink in. The ever-thrifty New York Yankees added $30 million dollars to his current contract over the next four years and piled on two additional years at $25M per. The second of those years, which is 2017 in case you lost track, is a club option and becomes guaranteed if CC, who will be 36 years old by then, manages to spend no more than 45 days on the DL due to an injury specific to the left shoulder.
In case you were worried, Sabathia still retains the rights to book the finest hotel suites on away trips -- on the Yankees' dime of course, he still keeps his no-trade clause and reserves the right to purchase as many tickets for family members as his overworking heart desires.
With all those provisions I would think the Yankees would have wanted to provide a little more security to protect their massive investment. If I were writing the checks for the Yankees, I think I might have a severely overweight clause added in there. How does this sound? We'll call it a "Bartolo Colon" clause. If Mr. Sabathia ever ends up on the heavier side of the 300 mark on the scale at any point-- contract voided! Or how about this scenario? If CC suffers a massive heart attack that was a result of at least two clogged arteries over the next 6 years -- The Yankees will agree to pay to put him up in the most luxurious room available, accommodating as many family members as possible to come and visit him in the hospital until discharge, then notify him that once he has receives his release from the hospital he is also released from the team.
But I digress... While it never gets old poking fun at Sabathia's weight as if he were a pin-striped Pillsbury dough boy, it really avoids the real question at hand -- Why??? Why do the Yankees keep doing this? Why do they insist on bidding against themselves with aging players on the decline? Didn't they learn their lesson from A-Rod? Although this contract isn't as comprehensively absurd as the A-Rod deal appears to be now, there are several warning signs indicating Sabathia could be heading toward a similar fate.
Look. I get it that they desperately needed him. Without him they were staring at a rotation featuring Ivan Nova, AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. But why do they feel so compelled to reward players who are past their prime with insane amounts of money when they will be at their least productive points in their career?
They certainly cannot be rewarding him for recent results. A 13-4 start to the year with a 2.74 ERA had Sabathia as one of the early favorites for the AL Cy Young heading into the All-Star break. After the break, the numbers are a little bit scary. He only managed a 6-4 record over the second half of the season and posted a much more pedestrian 3.44 ERA. You know who else had a 6-4 post All-Star break record this past year? John Lackey! His opponents’ batting average was also over 30 points higher during that stretch. Those definitely aren't bad stats but they're definitely not stats you would pay $25M a year for either.
AND, perhaps the single most damning piece of evidence against this crazy contract, during the most important part of the season and when they needed to rely on him most -- the playoffs, when pitchers of his "makeup" and "stature" are supposed to rise up and deliver their best performances; he simply couldn't get the job done. In 8.2 innings he didn't record a single decision, had an ERA of 6.23, gave up more than twice as many walks and hits than innings pitched and relinquished the winning hit to Austin Jackson in his one relief appearance in the decisive fifth game of the ALDS.
59 wins in the first three years with the Yankees is not a bad total. It looks pretty good on the surface. But since his first year in '09, his BAA, WHIP and hits allowed have all increased each and every season. A usually stanch performer during the regular season, his career postseason stats hardly resemble those of an elite, front-line starter. In 16 games pitched he has a 4.81 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP and in his six years of postseason experience there have been only two years that he has had an ERA less than 5.63 (2009 and 2001, which he only pitched a total of 6 innings each year).
So yes, this guy is a good pitcher. I get that. I just don't think he's the best pitcher. Therefore, why do the Yankees pay him like he is? I mean when you have to say for comparison sake that Roy Halladay makes "only" $20 million a year, there's something seriously wrong with that salary scale. Hopefully you can help explain the Yankees' logic behind this decision and help me make better sense of this ridiculousness, because the numbers just don't add up for me. Thanks.
You forgot Creamed Corn.
So Carsten Charles (didn't have to Google it!) stands to make a lot of money from the New York Yankees. As a fan and whatever the opposite of shrewd is, businesswoman I have fully accepted that this is the best thing the Yankee brass have done so far this offseason. Why? Because who else on their staff are they going to throw zillions of dollars at?
If you look at the Bronx Bombers 2011 rotation, you won't find anyone more deserving of a huge chunk of dough than CC. Phil Hughes had dead arm. Dead arm?!? Is that when you can't throw in the 90s anymore? If so, then I too have dead arm. There was Freddy Garcia who was interesting but not deserving of a salary bump or to even remain in New York next season. Unless it's with the Mets, than by all means, enjoy yourself in Queens, Freddy. We can't forget Bartolo Colon who rubbed stem cells on his arm to allow him to win 8 games and lose 10. There's Ivan Nova, actually I have no beef with him and hope he returns in 2012 in top form. And AJ. Oh AJ, the biggest rash on the Yankees private parts. The kind that needs extra-strength ointment and oral antibiotics to get rid of. At least, they're not offering to extend his contract. After an entire season of mishaps on the mound, the Yankees managed a 97-65 record. Could they have done that without Creamed Corn's 19 wins? No sir, they could not.
Sure, there are things within this deal that irk me. Does he really need to use the Yankees dime to book hotel rooms? No. You make more money than all the people who write for Upperdeckreport.com will collectively make in a lifetime. Use your own damn funds to book suites for your cousins. If you're going to milk anything out of Brian Cashman and Co. it should be a PERSONAL TRAINER! Working out with Bartolo Colon while you throw Cap'n Crunch into each other's mouths does not make for good cardiovascular health.
You want to get into the A-rod deal, eh? (Showing my Canadianness here.) Okay let's get into it. It was a mistake and most Yankee fans would agree. The older he gets, the older his hips get. He pumped out good post-season numbers in '09 but let's chalk that up to…his blonde du jour at the time -- Kate Hudson? Who knows why he was able to pull it together then? The point is: Sabathia is more valuable to the Yankees than Alex Rodriguez is, but the brass didn't give him as Wale says "A-rod monayyyye" because they learned from that debacle.
And speaking of debacles, remember the whole Cliff Lee fiasco? The Yankees know now that they're not the juggernaut they once were and that not everyone and their mom's is itching to suit up in pinstripes. This is why it's better that they throw those dolla dolla's at CC instead of getting stuck waiting for someone else to come along and not sign with them. The gap that was left by Lee not signing with NY was clearly visible last season when their starting rotation consisted of riff raff like dead arm guy, stem cell guy and AJ Burnett. Until Derek Jeter coaxes his old pal Andy Pettitte out of retirement the Yankees did the right thing in locking up their best arm while he's still hot (or somewhat hot).
So "Chubby Charlie" it is.
Look. I understand the Yankees NEEDED him. They needed him in the worst kind of way. They need him like JD Drew needs another cortisone shot. I am not disputing that. The point I'm trying to stress is why did they think they needed to spend all that money to do it. Do you honestly think that any other team was going to put up $50 Million for him when he is 36 and 37 years old? Again, I refer to the A-Rod contract. No one else would've have come close to the absurd 10 years/$275M they gave him. They unnecessarily bid against themselves and end up grossly over-spending.
What would be wrong with going to CC and saying we really want you back, we need you; but we respect your right to want to opt out. Go test the free agent market and bring us any offer and we'll match it and possibly even throw in a little more for staying with us. Because one thing that was apparent after the extension was announced is that CC wanted to stay in New York all along. Now he's not going to come out and say that during the negotiations, but it's just hard to imagine any other team anteing up that type of dough for him, especially on the back end so late in his career.
I guess that is the Yankees M.O. though. Take a look at their 2012 roster. Here's a list of their top 6 highest paid players along with their ages and years remaining on their current contracts:
Alex Rodriguez: 36 years old with 6 years/$143M remaining and a possible additional $30M in marketing bonus for historical HR incentives. Will be 42 years old at the conclusion of the deal.
CC Sabathia: 31 years old with 5 years guaranteed (6 with a $25M option)/$142M total. Will be 37 years old at the conclusion of the deal.
Derek Jeter: 37 years old with 3 years (includes a $8M player option)/$41M. Will be 40 years old at the conclusion of the deal.
AJ Burnett: (your favorite): 34 years old with 2 years/$33M. Will be 37 years old (January birthday) at the conclusion of the deal.
Mariano Rivera: Turns 42 years old in 4 weeks with 1 year/$15M remaining with some weird deferred payment program the Yankees will start paying him beginning in 2013.
Look at that list of vigorous, young pups! So in 2012 the Yankees will have a total of $122M committed to that list of players who will have an average age of 36 years old next season.
Just missing this list is 28 year old Robinson Cano. He will make $14M next season and $15M in 2013 yet the Yankees have refused to offer him any type of contract extension. If I'm Cano, I'm looking at the Yankees throwing all these ridiculous amounts of money at all these geezers and I'm wondering why I'm being left out when I'm maybe one of two players on the Yankees offense who is actually in their prime. And that thought along with the perception of disrespect might be enough to persuade him to go elsewhere when his time does come to really cash in.
Again, I get the Yankees needed him. But the money they're putting up appears to be superfluous. And it's not like it's my money, so in the end it doesn't affect me. But it just makes me question the business sense of the organization. I think we could agree that signing CC isn't going to be enough to fix the Yankees and especially that pitching staff. I think this was evidenced in their first-round exit in the playoffs against the Detroit Tigers. Yes, they won 97 games last year, but that was more a product of an unbelievable offensive year and the odds of them producing at that level with everyone being one year older are not that great.
Therefore, they'll probably need to sign another high-priced free agent, i.e. CJ Wilson (By the way, what's with the Yankees and their affinity toward pitchers with two initials for their first name? CC, AJ, CJ...). He's the big name pitcher on the market and the Yankees just can't help themselves and the infatuation they have with bringing in the big names will be difficult to resist once again. Unless they want to roll the dice again with Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon to round out their rotation, odds are they're going overpay some other starting pitcher out there to come under-perform in the Bronx. I know it's a huge organization with a monster payroll, but it's certainly not an unlimited bankroll. So wouldn't it benefit them to at least make an attempt to be a little more fiscally responsible given their recent splurges on borderline serviceable, aging superstars? Just a thought.
What it comes down to is this: old habits die hard. The Yankee brass are so used to overpaying that they can't stop doing it. It's like having that fourth cup of coffee. You know you shouldn't but you do it every day until you're running around wired, talking a mile a minute. At least they learned from the A-rod mistake and didn't give Chocolate Cake as much as they gave Rodriguez. The problem is, if they keep winning, they'll keep paying. They just signed Cashman to an extension so expect another three years of grumpy old men making more money in a day than it cost me to buy my 2008 Hyundai Accent. If anything, Yankee owners and management should attend classes to teach them how not to make it rain or at least do the opposite of what happens in every Lil Wayne video.
As for CJ Wilson, well, that would be bad move bears. They already have a problem with their starters' postseason performances (except, ironically, AJ Burnett's in the ALDS…awkward). Why sign a soon to be 31 year old who has won exactly 1 postseason game? If you're going to do something that ridiculous you might as well get Carl Pavano back so he and his mustache can call in sick and never pitch to their potential. (Yes, he did it in Minnesota but he didn't do it in the Bronx or even try.)
2012 is going to be a very interesting year for the Yanks, very interesting indeed. If Cap'n Crunch Sabathia pulls himself out of whatever funk he fell into at the end of the 2011 season, pinstripe fans can rest easy. If we see the CC of late and his pitching woes continue I will personally write a letter to Yankee brass and demand that they change their ways. Or I won't and we'll just call it a day.