Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Weighing in on C.C. - Let the Fat Jokes Begin!

So you may have heard C.C. “The Franchise Left Tackle” Sabathia has neither denied nor confirmed anything about his option to cancel his contract after this season, but "hinted" that opting out is on the table. This opt out clause will be talked about all damn season, especially as it nears the end. Assuming he’s healthy all year, that is at least 34 starts we get to hear SOMETHING about it from someone in the booth, the papers, the websites, etc. This article right here will be your reference for every time someone talks about it so you can simply turn the page, channel, or ear to something more interesting. I will even tell you what he will most likely do if he is at all human with a functioning brain.

The Facts:

Carston Charles is reportedly coming into this season at the range of 270-280lbs. This is about 30 pounds LEANER than last season. He will be 31 years old this summer, not a young age for any pitcher not named Nolan Ryan (doesn’t it seem like Nolan can still pitch for Texas?). Statistically speaking, an average pitcher is reaching or already at his prime now or in the next 2 years (yes, I am aware C.C. may have eaten the average pitcher for a pregame snack a year ago, but it’s all we have to go on here. There are not many 300+ pound pitchers with success in history). His prolonged out of shape body may have deducted from his ability to pitch into his late 30’s. We simply won’t know until the time comes, but the risk is higher than someone of a more normal, less rotund, shape I’m sure.

The Yankees have no rotation to speak of without him. Sabathia is THE ace. There is no argument about that. The Yankees are dying for stability in their rotation so they don’t waste one of the best offenses money can buy for the next few seasons. Come next year, I am seeing another free agent pitching class similar to this one, minus Cliff Lee. So, pretty awful. Sabathia walking away would leave Phil Hughes or AJ Burnett to anchor a rotation. I don't see that being an ideal option.

Remember A-Rod? A-Rod opted out of his monster deal when he was eligible, for ALL of these reasons. Remember how stupid Hank Steinbrenner looked? “If he opts out we won’t negotiate with him.” Then when I showed up on the depth chart to play third base and hit in the 4 hole, they panicked and threw themselves at his mercy. 30HR and 125RBI last year isn’t bad, I don’t care who says he is declining. But he is assured to be grossly overpaid into the old times in his career. He pulled this very move to perfection, despite having an agent to announce the opt out during the World Series. Real class.

The Defense:

If you disagree with these three facts, your argument is one of two things. C.C. is currently making about $23 million a season (average value, not sure of how it is structured exactly). The Yankees attempted to court Cliff Lee for about $23.3 million a season. How much can Sabathia really stand to make if he opts out just to re-sign? The other one is - where is the honor in opting out, especially when you and your family are seemingly happy in New York? Is he really as greedy as A-Rod? He can’t be, can he? He’s a big cuddly bear isn’t he? He is loved by teammates, fans, and the media. No way he'd risk his rep, right?

Prediction (assuming a healthy/productive season):

Okay, when you weigh the facts together (no fat guy pun. ok, a little fat guy pun), and then see the reasons against, you need to know that it makes 100% sense for him to opt out and try and resign a contract, even if he wants to stay put in NY. For one, he gets a new 6-7 years to play with. This puts him at 37-38 when it will expire rather than 35. Statistically, it is much smarter to negotiate for those years while you're young in your prime at 31, not when the contract is up and you can't lock up long term deals anymore at 35. Bodies fall apart. MPH come off the fastball. Sliders flatten out. Fatigue of the arm sets in. Obesity is still a disease. All of these say the longer he pitches, the better chance he catches the injury/age bug.

Secondly, he will have the market and the Yankees by the balls. He can demand the Yankees give him what they offered Lee, if not more, to continue to anchor the rotation. Either that, or risk losing him to someone who can/will. The Yanks already proved they’re soft and don’t care about this move when they dealt with A-Rod. Why would C.C. be the final straw when their pitching is thinner than their lineup was at the time of A-Rod’s thing? Here’s an idea – don’t put options in their contracts if you don’t want them to use them! (I know A-Rod’s option wasn’t the NYY doing at first, but CC was).

Is there evidence that C.C. knows all of this and is gearing up for the same thing? Glad you asked. He seems to be in the best shape he’s been in at camp as a Yankee. The man likes to eat. To (not making this up) stop eating Captain Crunch (C.C…. hmmm interesting)and get in better shape, you have two motives: either trying to prolong your career (which is also true in this case I’m sure, he loves to pitch), and/or to stay healthy and have a good season to sign a new contract. Players don’t have career years in the last year of their contract on a regular basis by a complete accident. C.C. just seems to be gearing up for his best season as a Yankee yet. Let’s embrace that instead of look any more at next season already.

I implore everyone – fans, journalists, and the wretched commentators alike – to just stay out of it because baseball has been for awhile, a business first. C.C. will ride out the year and not talk about it much at all until the season is over I’m sure. He has class. I really hope the man feels like he owes the team and especially the fans something and has a moral obligation to complete his service. However, morals and big business usually go together like peas and dog shit. I mean if he has career ending type 2 diabetic complications where his left arm has to be amputated, or relapses on the captain and gets too large to fit in hotel rooms on the road, the Yankees would just as soon kick him to the curb, paying him as little as possible to do so. It is hard to fault him if he does opt out, but people will because we sure as hell need him here and it will feel like he is turning his backs on the people that ultimately pay his salary. His fans.

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