Cash (Money) Man Bags The Elephant And The Dominoes Will Start To Fall
- The Yankees are said to be on the verge of singing not only C.C. Sabathia, but also Derek Lowe and either A.J. Burnett or Ben Sheets:
Say this about Brian Cashman, for a guy who seems like a nebbish with no personality whatsoever, he hustles people as well as George Steinbrenner ever could. With all the talk (specifically on this blog) about how C.C. Sabathia would clearly prefer to go to the West Coast and wanted nothing to do with the Yankees other than the money they could offer, it turned out that raising the offer to an outrageous $160 million over seven years got the job done. Only the Red Sox could have competed with that deal monetarily and they really didn’t need Sabathia and couldn’t lavish that kind of contract on him if they want to keep Josh Beckett past next season.
The problem Sabathia had in this market was that the Yankees were willing to put out all the stops including doling out that contract and there was no alternative to even make it feasible to turn down. As much as Sabathia kicked at the doors of all the teams on the West Coast to make him an offer of some kind to be able to turn down the Yankees, no such offer was forthcoming, and running the risk of continuing to put the Yankees on hold to the point where even they—-in their desperate state and holding what amounted to a blank check—-said enough’s enough and pulled the offer could’ve cost him $60-70 million. The Sabathia camp could have held the Yankees off for another week or so, but the speed with which all of the other options appeared to be dwindling left Sabathia with the choice of agreeing or being at the mercy of the market and winding up with a fraction of the money that was finally accepted.
The Giants were sniffing around, but their financial flexibility is limited with the Barry Zito-albatross of a contract hanging around their necks; plus they have enough starting pitching to win as they are and need a star bat more than they need Sabathia. The Dodgers acted like they were interested, but seem more intent on keeping Manny Ramirez (as much of a mistake as I think that is); the Athletics weren’t going to get involved; the Angels are focused on Mark Teixeira and always have a backup plan in mind and strike like lightning; had Sabathia continued to hold off the Yankees, they Angels might have jumped in on Sabathia, but it wouldn’t have been for $160 million. That left the small possibility that the Red Sox might decide to go after Sabathia instead of Teixeira; or he could take the Brewers offer that was in the $100 million range with some room to go a bit higher, but nowhere near the stratosphere of the Yankees financial might. In the end, Sabathia was left with little choice. Now, what happens as he joins the Yankees?
Until he gets his Yankees-career started, there will be inevitable questions as to whether his reticence indicates that he hasn’t the stomach for New York. It’s obvious that Sabathia would have preferred to go to the West Coast, but that wasn’t due to any fear of playing in New York, but what he perceived would’ve been better for himself and his family. Sabathia can handle New York and the pressure therein and will pitch as well, if not better than he has in the past two years. There have been many quiet and/or family-oriented players who one would think wouldn’t have been able to deal with New York, but became All Stars and more. Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Andy Pettitte and Don Mattingly come to mind for the Yankees. There shouldn’t be any question about the courage and pressure-handling abilities of C.C. Sabathia.
The interesting thing about all of this isn’t just that the Yankees have lavished this deal on Sabathia, but they’re also said to be on the verge of signing Derek Lowe to a 4-year, $66 million contract. Lowe will also be able to handle New York and won’t be bothered by the heckling he’ll receive pitching against the Red Sox in Boston; in fact, it’ll probably jazz him up all the more. Lowe’s a money pitcher who gobbles innings and has a history of staying healthy. After the $40 million that was thrown into the trash for Carl Pavano, Lowe, even at age 35, is a worthwhile investment.
Even with that, the Yankees are said to be unfinished with refurbishing their starting rotation. They’ve supposedly topped the Braves offer to A.J. Burnett and have prepared a lucrative, short-term offer for Ben Sheets with the hope of landing one of the two. This is an unprecedented amount of money for one team to spend on one area of need and is a complete 180 from what the Yankees and Cashman were preaching just one short year ago as they shunned trading for Johan Santana because of the cost in prospects and dollars. After the first dark post-season in the Bronx since 1993 and the disastrous and injury-filled seasons of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain, the one thing that can’t be said about the Yankees front office is that they’re willing to make the same decisions again and expect a different result.
It does diminish their credibility to make such a drastic flip after insisting that the days of importing other teams free agents were over unless it made sense and augmented what they were going to build on their own; but no one’s going to care if the hypocrisy that is sometimes required to build a winning organization results in the first Yankee championship since 2000; and with a rotation of Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, Lowe, Burnett/Sheets, Pettitte or Joba Chamberlain, they’re going to be heavy favorites to do just that.
It looks like the Cardinals don’t want to push their luck with a player who has both the injury history and the mental instability as Ankiel does. Someone will give up some value for him, but if the Mariners take the proffered trade of J.J. Putz for Ankiel and a prospect, they’re out of their minds. First, unless it’s Chris Perez, the Cardinals don’t have many prospects to make this worth the Mariners while; second, they could get a far more productive and consistent talent than Ankiel for Putz.
- Indians are about to sign Kerry Wood to be their closer:
Wood’s a big injury risk who’d probably implode in a big save situation, but the Indians came within one game of the World Series with Joe Borowski as their closer, so I’m not about to question the baseball sense of my doppelganger, Mark Shapiro.