Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yanks Get Their Man C.C.- The People's Take

Typical of the way things work in the New York Baseball scene, less than 12 hours after the Mets sign the best Free Agent Closer available in K-Rod (around 3PM yesterday afternoon, The Mets and Francisco Rodriguez today agreed on a three-year, $37 million contract- which by the way is an amazing deal for the Amazin's, considering K-Rod entered the market, wanting 5 years and $75M), The Yankees signed the #1 Free Agent Pitcher on the market, agreeing to terms with C.C. Sabathia at around 2AM EST last night on a 7 year $160M deal, the richest deal for a pitcher in ML history. Despite various reports and rumors, Sabathia didn't wait for that West Coast offer that was supposedly coming (either from the Giants, Dodgers or Angels) and went to New York for the big bucks and the bigger responsibility.
The Yankees spend $25M more on Sabathia and kept prospects Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera (some even think Robinson Cano) rather than going for Johan Santana last season.
The big question is, did they make the right decision?
First and foremost, lets take money out of the equation. Yes. I know we are talking about a combined $285Millllllllllllion dollars here (read in Dr. Evil voice with pinky dangling from the corner of your mouth), but this is the Yankees and the Yankees have more money than pretty much everyone these days-including the Federal Government (and you can make a good case they spend theirs a lot wiser). When it comes to money, the Yankees $160M is a lot less to them than say $160M to any other major league franchise. They just have so much more of it with playing in the NY market, their own TV network, the new Stadium, etc.
The real question here is: Is C.C., Hughes, Kennedy and Melky worth more than Santana?
Statistically speaking, Santana has been the best pitcher in baseball the last 6 years, bar none. CC has been the best the last 2, winning the CY Young Award in the AL for 2007 and having one of the great runs in recent ML history last season when he was traded to the Brewers (11-2 1.65 ERA 7CG 3 SHO in 17 games started, including pitching his last 3 times on 3 days rest). Santana is a year younger than CC. Career wise, they are close in IP, however CC has averaged roughly 20 more IP a season the last 3 than Santana. They are both extremely durable. They both pitched incredibly down the stretch this season allowing for each of their respective teams to stay in the race to the last day. For their careers, C.C.'s best month has been September, closely followed by August, whereas Johan finishes similarly strong, just being a tad better in August than September. In other words, when the going gets tough down the stretch, these two legitimate aces can carry their teams on their backs- a must for a #1 starter.
Last season was a perfect example of this: Santana was 7-0 in 87 IP with 81 k's and an ERA of 1.87 from August 1 till seasons end last year (as I wrote here, he should have been the NL CY Young). Not to be outdone, Sabathia was 7-2 in 92 IP with a 1.55 ERA and 94 k's, which included pitching on 3 days rest his final 3 starts, which is unheard of these days, to get the Brewers in the playoffs.
One disconcerting issue with both (Sabathia more than Santana) is their failure to "keep it up" into the postseason. Both have losing records and both have been far from duplicating their regular seasons success in the postseason, with C.C. being far worse, getting shelled twice by Boston last year and once by the Phillies this season. You can't ignore this aspect, but you can also attribute the fact that they were both depended on possibly too much down the stretch (especially in C.C.'s case) that possibly we can attribute that to their (and especially Sabathia's) lack of postseason success.
Clearly we can see, in both cases, this is far from signing a severely declining Barry Zito, or a one year health wonder in Pavano. Both guys are at the top of the Pitching food chain for years, always healthy and in their respective primes. This more closely resembles the Braves signing of Maddux (just after winning his first CY Young) and the Yankees initial 7 year signing of Mike Mussina, both very successful signings.
The fact is, the Yankees spent an extra $25m for a pitcher very similar in stature and caliber to Santana, and I say that with the highest respect for both. They kept 3 prospects (leave Cano out of this for now) who have lost tremendous value over the last year. However, keep in mind, Hughes wont turn 23 until mid season. Kennedy will be only 24 in two weeks and Melky (also 24)- who has already proven himself both offensively (despite last years regression) and defensively (no one argues about Melky's defensive prowess)- to be at worst, a good #4 major league OF'er. You don't give up on guys who have had this much success while they are so young.
While Hughes' durability is a huge question that needs to be answered, he has shown ability-extreme ability- at the major league level, to hold out a lot of hope (including postseason success). He also pitched well in Winter Ball this season, to continue that hope.
Kennedy has shown much less at the major league level, however there is still hope here as well. He has also pitched well in winter ball and is working with his former coach on some mechanic changes that some scouts liken to Tom Glavine's early career troubles (not to compare for a second the two vastly different pitchers).
The People's take is the Yankees did the right thing. All they sacrificed was money and they have plenty of that to go around, especially with their recent expiring contracts (Pettite, Mussina, Abreu, Giambi, etc). They still have their youth movement. They have a core rotation of 3 studs 30 or under (C.C., Wang and Joba). They still need help both in pitching depth (reports have it, that the Yanks are close to signing Derrek Lowe for 4 years $68M and possibly even A.J. Burnett- it says here signing AJ will be a huge mistake). This signing goes a long way towards the Yankees regaining their supremacy in the A.L. East. Great move by Cashman and the Yanks.
Publish Post


Anonymous said...

The Whooa's

Spend money keep the prospects = Good

NY sports media and NY sports fans are idiotic. If I could only access a database of Mike Francessa I would love to cut & splice the contradictions.

When Eli first came he was a mistake then god then average then god.

The Jets were the best team, 2 weeks ago, in the AFC now suck.

No one has any forsight. Two years ago Hughes, Cano and Kennedy were GOLD. Now people want to throw away Cano.

Ducks said...

As usual, missing the point, TPC.
Imagine this scenario:

Ducks:I see your house is on the market and you're asking $750K, TPC.

TPC: Yep.

Ducks: Any offers so far?

TPC: Not really, I mean, one guy did offer $450K, not sure if he's serious, though.

Ducks: We'll give you $950K, TPC

TPC: Really?

Ducks: Ha. Nah. Make it $1.25 Mil

TPC: Deal, But if the house goes up in value over the next 3 years, I'd like to be able to opt-out.

Ducks: You got it.

Duck Views: Your "plenty of money to go around" theory seems eerily similar to the U.S. banking slogan over the past few years. Not so much any more, though, huh? It's nonsense, anyway, even the richest have budgets and money overspent in one place has a very real opportunity cost someplace else. The yanks acted recklessly, as they are wont to do. Which, incidentally, also makes them the best team to root for. Ownership is just as zelous, and just as stupid, as the fan base. Hey, it beats being a Mets exec. They save BIG time on K-rod and do they use the surplus to push the team over the top with another bat? Nope. they never do-- they dont care about titles, just about having JUST enough talent to put fannies in the seats.

Ducks said...

And, Viola! Courtesy of, mere hours ago:

"With $243.5 million committed to Sabathia and Burnett, however... the the Yanks might not stay in the game with Teixeira, who is expected to command at least eight years and $160 million."

Duck Views: There's always an opportunity cost, TPC. Always. And it says right here that Teixeira is a HUGE, HUGE opportunity cost. Had the yankees paid a SOMEWHAT reasonable premium for Sabathia, and not signed burnett, they could have had Teixeira. And what a dual signing that would be-- Sabathia and Texeira??? I'd take that over Sabathia/Burnett any day.

Opportunity cost.