Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yankees Appear to Have a Deal with Sabathia

In what appears to be the first piece of Brian Cashman's quest to rebuild the Yankees, it is being reported that the Yankees have a deal for C. C. Sabathia, the former Indians and Brewers start pitcher. The deal will vault the Yankees back into relevance, at least in the preseason polls. The long term prognosis for this deal will have to play out before any judgements can be made.

All indications are that Sabathia is a stand up guy that teammates really like and admire. He wants to use much of his new riches for underprivileged children and--according to reports--really wants to play in New York now.


Sabathia is one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. Besides being stingy with walks, Sabathia has an excellent strikeout to walk ratio as well as strikeout to nine inning ratio. Here's how he fares historically with some of the Yankees main rivals (thanks to

(Player, AB, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, BB, SO, BA, OBP, SLG, OPS)
Carlos Pena: 21 4 1 0 2 2 3 8 .190 .292 .524 .816
David Ortiz: 18 5 1 0 1 3 1 3 .278 .316 .500 .816
Brian Roberts: 16 1 0 0 0 1 3 4 .063 .211 .063 .274
Jason Giambi: 11 2 0 0 0 4 3 1 .182 .333 .182 .515 (assuming he signs with the Rays)
Raul Ibanez: 36 10 1 1 2 8 2 10 .278 .333 .528 .861 (assuming he stays in Toronto)
Carl Crawford: 25 6 2 0 0 1 0 5 .240 .240 .320 .560
Mark Texiera: 21 6 1 0 0 3 3 7 .286 .375 .333 .708 (assuming he signs with Red Sox)

Many of the current Red Sox do not have enough at bats against him to be meaningful (Pedroia is 0 for 3 for example). But none of those numbers above look particularly threatening. Other than improving the Yankees as a team, Derek Jeter must be bittersweet. Here are Jeter's stats against Sabathia: 26 13 3 0 0 2 2 3 .500 .536 .615 1.151. Ichiro also wears Sabathia out.

Sabathia's splits are remarkably consistent. His home and away win/loss, ERA and OPS stats are within a few hundreds of percentage points between them. His OPS against right handed batters is .695 versus .661 against left handed batters.


For the short term (two years at least), the Yankees have obtained a very consistent, at times dominant left handed starter, who, to this point in his career, has been resiliant, durable and a great team player. Long term concerns have to be his weight and large bone structure which are not built to translate to a long career.

The Yankees got who they wanted. To solidify their chances to unseat the Red Sox and the Rays (not to mention Toronto), the Yankees will need one more wheel in their rotation and Texiera would be outstanding for them.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Fan Hates Being Wrong

Which is pretty stupid when being wrong happens so often.

For years, Greg Maddux was hated. Hated with an almost ungodly passion. But first, Maddux was a Cub and he was a good Cub. Being a good Cub on bad Cub teams was an admirable thing. But then he became a Brave and that was the start of the negative passion.

His first sin in becoming a player with the Braves was having all those awe-inspiring years and being compared--often favorably--with Roger Clemens in the nod for best pitcher in the Major Leagues. Compound that fact with the knowledge that he first turned the Yankees down to go to the Braves was the beginning of the Fan's little passion play.

And then it was the Braves as a whole and the whole guilt by association thing. Let's face it, the Braves were an arrogant bunch in their early years of their incredible streak of success. The Fan falsely lumped Maddux in with the real arrogant SOBs like Chipper Jones. Can you even say, "Chipper" in an adult-like manner? It's like the Fan's aversion to buying cars by Mitsubishi. Any car or player that sounds like baby talk is to be avoided.

But you could see it in Chipper's demeanor. He thought he was the Hersey Syrup on the ice cream. He, and his pretty wife, Karin, who by association was also stuck up since she refused to spell her name traditionally, seemed to be above it all. Well, Karin later divorced him and got half his millions, so there was some justice in it all.

Anyway, Maddux was lumped into that whole angst thing about the Braves and the Fan really believes that the Braves arrogance led to their downfall in their series with the Yankees. Stories circulated later where the Yankee players were motivated by the Braves' belief they couldn't lose.

It did help some that the Yankees didn't treat Maddux with respect during that series and he got beat. But in the Fan's mind, Maddux was the same as Jones and Smoltz, an arrogant jerk.

The Fan realizes that some arrogance is needed, call it confidence if you will, to play successfully in the Major Leagues. I would not exactly call Clemens and Pedro cream puffs in that category. But darn, how did Maddux always get the favorable call on those questionable corners along with Glavine?

But slowly, as the years went by, the ice started melting in the ego-shrouded, Fan mania. First, there was the "Chicks dig the long ball" commercials. Those were fun and showed Maddux to be a regular guy. The Fan was watching the commercials with a jaundiced eye, waiting for the arrogance to show itself, but the commercials were just fun and Maddux seemed like a cool and decent guy. Crap!

Then stories started appearing on his legendary pranks in the clubhouse and his golf addiction and how he wouldn't retire because he just likes to play and fifteen years after the antipathy began, Maddux was embraced for what he truly was: One of the two best pitchers of the present era.

Consider a five year stretch from 1994 through 1998 where Maddux pitched 1140 innings, gave up only 990 hits, walked only 29 people a year (A YEAR!) and won 87 of his 119 decisions. Consider 1995 when he made 25 starts and only gave up 35 earned runs. The numbers are staggering. For a guy that was supposedly not a strikeout pitcher, he struck out the same number of batters that got hits off of him.

29 Walks a year! That's as many as Perez of the Mets throws in four starts. The real measure of the success of Greg Maddux is his consistency for all those years without trips to the training room or the DL. He won eight games his first two years and eight his last year, but in between, here are his yearly win totals: 18, 19, 15, 15, 20, 20, 16, 19, 15, 19, 18, 19, 19, 17, 16, 16, 13, 15 and 14. Remarkable.

You won the Fan over Mr. Maddux. Big deal, right? You will be remembered and you will be honored in those memories.