Got One

The Yankees signed CC Sabathia.

Look, I like the deal.  At this point, they had to do it.  I’m just not sure the Yankees have a coherent plan.  Is Sabathia better than Johan Santana?  Not nearly, in my opinion.  And I get the sense that the Yankees keep oscillating between sticking with young players and bringing in high-priced free agents.  Which is it?  If you’re going to go after the high priced guys, and your going to give Sabathia that kind of money and a spot in your rotation, why not get Santana instead?  All the Yankees kept saying last year was that it wasn’t worth the price in talent and money.  But clearly the money’s not a real issue, as they gave the not as good player even more money.  And with Santana taking a rotation spot for six years, you don’t need Hughes and Kennedy.  I think this signing is what makes the Santana non-trade a mistake.  Because Sabathia doesn’t cost “only money.”  He’s a Type A free agent, and that means that the Yankees have to give the Brewers a first round draft pick.  So they are giving up players also (or at least the potential for talent).

The other thing that bigs me is this reeks of desperation.  Another free agent who didn’t want to come play in NY, but got blown away in terms of money.  They said they were trying to get away from that style of management, but time and time again, the Yankees have thrown crazy money at a player that had shown that he wasn’t interested in playing in NY. Look, there are lots of players from small towns and rural areas that have thrived in NY, like Andy Pettitte.  I think the difference is in coming up as a young major leaguer.  Andy Pettitte “grew up” as a Yankee.  He learned playing in NY.  Sabathia hasn’t.  He comes into this situation with the largest contract ever given a pitcher.  If he isn’t accustomed to the pressure, it’s going to be huge.  I think there’s a difference with bringing someone up, and bringing someone in.  So I’m not sold on Sabathia being worth that money.  Especially in the AL.  (Not to mention the fact that he’s thrown like a bazillion pitches the last few years.)

That said, he’s an ace-type lefty, and those are rare.  And he’s clearly the best option available as a free agent.  I just don’t know why the Yankees felt they needed to desperately attack the free agent market?  I thought their whole plan was to build internally.  One bad season, and that’s all abandoned?  I don’t get it.

So, what’s next?  I really hope it’s not AJ Burnett (who is too injury prone to justify a long-term massive contract) or Derek Lowe (who’s like, 146 years old).  I’ve expressed my preference for Ben Sheets in the past, and hey, if the Yankees are dead-set on signing two pitchers, why not?  Just because they would have to give the Brewers tons of picks?  (Clearly, that doesn’t matter anymore.  And they should get some picks from Pettitte and Abreu, eventually, when they sign elsewhere.)  I just think the Yankees can get Sheets for similar money (and less length) than Burnett or Lowe, and he’s better.

And I think the Yankees have to turn their attention to Mark Teixiera, now.  Right now.  Switch-hitting, good defensive, high-OBP, power hitting first basemen are hard to find.  If you’re going to spend money, don’t cheap out on the one player that fits in your team and roster.

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6 responses to “Got One

  1. A number of points:

    1) The Sabathia signing makes sense because he’s a year younger than Santana and cost much less (a number 1 pick is worth much less than Hughes and Melky, certainly after last season).

    2) The Yankees will not get any picks because they didn’t offer arbitration to Abreu. And they’ll probably end up resigning Pettitte.

    3) Agree on Sheets. The rumor is 2 years 30 million. Sign him and Pettitte and the rotation is Sabathia, Wang, Sheets, Pettitte and Joba, with Hughes and Kennedy and others waiting in the wings. Why lay out ridiculous money for Burnett and Lowe? They’re Wright and Pavano all over again.

  2. “a number 1 pick is worth much less than Hughes and Melky, certainly after last season”

    I think you might be overvaluing Melky Cabrera there (as in, he’s valueless)….

    Johan Santana is a HOF-calibre pitcher. He’s also the best pitcher in baseball probably. And he has been for some time.

    CC Sabathia is a top pitcher. World of difference. It’s a no-brainer to give up a prospect for the best pitcher in the game. Your argument is akin to saying that you wouldn’t trade Steve Stamkos for Sidney Crosby.

    If I were running the Yankees, I would rather pay Santana less and give up Hughes than keep Hughes and have Sabathia at a higher price.

    Finally, it’s not apparent to me that the Yankees will go after Texeira at $20 million per year for many years. What do you think the lineup will look like if they do? How do you fit Posada, Tex, Damon, Matsui, Swisher, Cabrera and Nady (let alone Gardner and other prospects) in the C-1B-DH-OF-OF-OF spots?

  3. Steve Stamkos for Sidney Crosby and a late first round draft pick. My bad.

  4. What? No… that’s not right. Stamkos for Crosby. I need to go to sleep.

  5. Sorry should have said “before last season.” While Melky is essentially worthless now (although apparently not completely worthless as he’s about to net the Yanks Mike Cameron), after 2006 Melky was coming off a season where he had the 5th best zone rating among CF in the AL and was a decent hitter. Melky just finished a season with a 7.4 WARP3 and was only 22. While he wasn’t a blue chip prospect, he was certainly not worthless. And Hughes, Homer Bailey, and Joba were universally regarded as the top 3 prospects in baseball, so these weren’t just any prospects.

    Now, of course I would have traded these players for Johan Santana circa 2005. But the 29 year old Santana was nearing the age when pitchers begin to decline. So to make your analogy better would you trade Stamkos(?) for Jagr, who is a hall of fame player? I doubt it.

    Sabathia is a year younger than Santana was last year. Let’s assume both will begin their decline at the age of 32. Is Santana for 3 years worth more than Sabathia for 4? If yes, is the difference between the two greater than difference between a post-2007 Melky and Hughes vs. a first round pick? I highly doubt it.

    And don’t forget the financial aspect as well. If the Yankees picked up Santana last season, they would have had a much larger payroll. With 80 million coming off the books this season, swallowing Sabathia’s deal is easier.

    So this deal makes more sense than trading for Santana last year.

  6. Melky Cabrera for Mike Cameron is a salary dump not a trade. World of difference. I think Yankee fans were deluding themselves even last year as to what Melky’s value was. Young, five-tool, all-stars are relatively replaceable; light hitting defensive outfielders arent even that – they’re bench players on most teams that don’t have the luxury to waste an offensive spot in their lineup.

    Santana has been incredible the last three seasons so I guess I’m not sure what you are talking about. I guess we’ll have to disagree on this one, though. I’d be more worried about Sabathia’s slow starts and girth than Santana’s age. And this is a meaningless statement since I have nothing to back it up but I would guess that most GMs would rather have Santana than Sabathia.

    Actually, stop for a second. Why is age important at this point for Santana? An argument can be made that he’s been better than Sabathia the last three years. His ERA+ average has been higher than that of Sabathia’s over the same time period. Santana has had a lower WHIP, a lower league adjusted ERA, and higher K/9 ratio. Sabathia has gone slightly deeper into games, which is probably a function of his more control (better K/BB ratio and fewer HR/9).

    Another argument can be made that he’s not going to have the sort of decline that you speak of at 32. Besides, the contract that Sabathia has basically forces the Yankees to renegotiate in a few years, when he’s beginning his decline. And the best result of a renegotiation for someone who you think is gonna be amazing for the next three or four seasons is an extension of a contract deeper out into your assumed declination period.

    You speak of Santana as if he’s in his late 30’s (Jagr), not late 20’s. So if you want to say that Lincecum = Sidney Crosby (and I don’t buy it bc Lincecum hasn’t had the same sort of success as Crosby), then say that Santana = Iginla or Thornton. But, in my opinion, Santana is more dominant in his sport than those guys (which was the genesis of the comparison). But we’re already taking a comparison WAY too far.

    I also have no idea what you wrote in your last point. What’s the difference (for the Yankees of all teams)? $80 mln is coming off the books in both situations, just in the Santana situation the team has already committed to lowering salary by $23 mln of those $80 mln. And that’s only if one were to accept your assumption that the Yankees view it that way (i.e. that they wouldn’t give Santana $23 mln and then still spend the $80 mln).

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