The Yankees buy Sabathia – and a 2009 playoff spot

December 10, 2008 at 10:35 am | Posted in Baseball | 12 Comments

It’s official.  The best pitcher in baseball, C.C. Sabathia, is signing with the New York Yankees.  He’s getting the largest deal ever for a pitcher – 7 years and $160 million.  The Yankees are probably the only team that is willing to spend that much for a pitcher.

If you’re a fan of a team that does not play in the A.L. East, you may not have much of a reaction besides astonishment at the price tag.  But as a Rays fan, the news is certainly discouraging.  Oh well, at least I got to see the Rays make the playoffs and World Series one time.  With Sabathia, and other likely upgrades, it’s tough not to see the Yankees making the playoffs in 2009.  I’m left to hope that the almost 500 innings that Sabathia pitched the last two years will catch up to him, and maybe he’ll develop an arm injury.  No, I don’t like rooting for players to get injured, especially guys that I enjoy watching, like Sabathia.  But I’d rather see him get hurt, or at least pitch poorly, than see him do for the Yankees what he did for the Brewers in 2008 and the Indians in 2007.

The worst part of this is that now the idiot Red Sox are going to think that they need to acquire a mega-star in order to match the Sabathia signing.  And we’ll be spending the rest of the offseason watching the two richest teams in MLB trying to outdo each other by loading their rosters with All Stars.  Fans of the Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles can only sit back and feel discouraged about having to play these teams 38 times a year.

Maybe David Price will become just as good as C.C. Sabathia.  Maybe the Rays will be able to strike gold with a castoff that nobody else wants, like they did with Carlos Pena in 2007, and to some extent, Eric Hinske in 2008.  But the deck is stacked against them since the Yankees and Red Sox have an inherent right to hoard the best players in MLB.

Oh, and the disparity is only going to get worse with the increased revenue that the Yankees will get from their new stadium, and the fact that they’ll be able to get away with contributing less in revenue sharing because of the stadium construction costs.

Update:  The Yankees have no shame.  Check this out:

“In the Yankees’ application, the team is asking for another $259 million in tax-exempt bonds and $111 million in taxable bonds, on top of $940 million in tax-exempt bonds and $25 million in taxable bonds already granted for its $1.3 billion stadium.”

That’s from this ESPN article.  Thanks to Sports Locker for pointing this out!



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  1. I think this move by the Yanks fills the Mussina retirement hole, but doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot. Moose did pitch 200 innings and win 20 games for them, so CC does have decent shoes to fill there.

    I hate seeing the Yanks buy players too, but I don’t think this guarantees a playoff spot. I think your Rays are still way ahead of them. The Yanks have a lot of holes to fill: 1B, another SP, CF,…

    Thanks for the shout out.

  2. No guarantees, Dave! The Yankees have found that out over the last few years. The Rays and others (Phillies, ’06 Cardinals, ’07 Rockies, ’03 Marlins, ’02 Angels) have shown it takes a TEAM to win a Series.

  3. Just realized I had the Rockies winning the series in ’07. But you know what I mean. They got there and they “weren’t supposed to”

  4. Night Owl, I think you missed the point. The Yankees were in the playoffs every year from 1995 through 2007. The Red Sox were in the playoffs almost every year. The point is that it’s an extreme long shot (like the Rays in ’08 ) for any other A.L. East team to make the playoffs. The teams in other divisions, and especially in the National League, don’t have to deal with this. Before 2008, the last A.L. East team besides the Yankees and Red Sox to make the playoffs was the Orioles in 1996.

  5. Ah, OK. Well, I still say there’s more room for hope. More difficult, yes. Impossible or improbable? No.

  6. I have no problem with Boston not making it and the Yanks and Rays taking both the East and the Wildcard. Maybe if we work together we can oust “the nation.” Then we can duke it out in the ALCS! A FIGHT TO THE DEATH! *cue Spock vs Kirk music*

  7. You have to be kidding me. The Yankees have sewn NOTHING up. Big deal! They have proven that by not winning since 2000 that they are NOT guaranteed ANYTHING. THe Rays are BETTER. Period. Who’s going to play first for the Yankees? Right Field? Catcher???? Who, aside from Rivera, is coming in the middle innings??? The RAYS ARE BETTER, DAVE!! No stress bro. No worries.

  8. So the Yankees went from a graceful Mike Mussina to Fat Toad #2? Good job….

  9. I am not sure CC is the best pitcher in baseball. Johan Santana might have something to say about that – turns out his monster contract didn’t guarantee the Mets a playoff spot.

  10. Jawdy – the Yankees made the playoffs every year between 2000 – 2007. From the perspective of a fan of a team that finished below them each of those years, the Yankees have won A LOT since 2000. Also, a big part of my point is that the Yankees are likely not done with their signings. They’ll be adding some other big-time players in the very near future. And so will Boston.

    Deal – C.C. > Johan. He won the A.L. Cy Young in 2007 and should have won the N.L. Cy Young in 2008. No one’s been better the last two years.

  11. Couple of things.
    1) Red Sox don’t have the second highest payroll in baseball – the Mets do. I believe the Sox are 4th. Just being pedantic.
    2) The Yankees sucked in the 80s and early 90s. Back then the Blue Jays were good and the Orioles weren’t bad either. It’s not like they’ve been dominating the market throughout the franchises’ existence.
    3) There is a reason the yankees have so much money to throw around. Simple economics. They put people in the seats, specifically the boxes, which is huge revenue, as well as radio/television. Watch a broadcasted Yankee game on YES sometime over a FSN broadcast of the Brewers. You’ll see a difference in quality.
    4) I’m a small market team fan too, and I understand it gets frustrating, but don’t be “that guy” that says your team doesn’t have a chance because the best players are taken up by these teams. It belittles your teams players. Sure the Yanks took CC away from my Brewers, but we still have Fielder and Braun, two of the all stars of baseball, not part of the Yankees, and I’m proud that they are on my team.
    5) The Yankees give out 122 million in revenue sharing. The money they gave to the Royals the owner immediately pocketed. I don’t know what to tell you – the Yankees are willing to invest in the team while some other owners are in it for the income. It’s just the way it is.
    6) CC doesn’t equal championship. In 200(1)? when they signed Carl Pavano that didn’t get them their championship. He sat on his ass. Santana didn’t get the Mets a championship. The Rockies didn’t get theirs with their signing. There’s a reason that they play out the games instead of just saying “well on paper this team should win”.
    7) Remember it’s just a game

  12. Steve – back when I wrote this, I was assuming two things: that the Yankees weren’t done spending, and that the Red Sox would be matching their spending. I was right about the Yankees – see the Burnett and Teixeira signings. But I was wrong about the Red Sox, who have done very little to improve their team (unless they get really lucky with the health of the guys that they’ve signed). Also, the Rays have improved their team, most notably with the signing of Pat Burrell. The way I see it now is that it’ll be the Yankees and Rays in the playoffs with Boston sitting out.

    I’m not going to debate all of your points, but I don’t think it’s entirely fair to say that some owners “pocket” their revenue sharing money. A lot of teams that are in a building mode are smarter to invest that money in their farm system (signing draft picks, Latin American players, building “academies” in other countries) than to sign veteran major league players. So they are spending the money to improve their teams long-term; we just don’t see the results at the major league level yet.

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