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News of the Day – 12/11/08

What’s the over/under on the number of words dedicated to Sabathia today?  Anyway, here’s the news:

  • Buster Olney of ESPN examines the concerns for C.C. Sabathia as he approaches this new challenge:

Sabathia will get the largest contract ever for a pitcher, Joel Sherman reports, and he is embracing the pressure of going into New York as a savior. That challenge eventually destroyed Chuck Knoblauch and confounded Roger Clemens for most of two seasons. It’s a challenge that still seems to gnaw at Alex Rodriguez.

… Sabathia’s personal puzzle will be to find a way to block out the external pressure and not allow it to compound the internal pressure that he already places on himself, and that pressure is as large as he is. He has been at his worst in the past when he has pushed himself too much — examples include after Bartolo Colon left the Indians and Sabathia wanted to become the ace, and perhaps at the outset of the 2008 season, as he began his free-agent year. The worst thing Sabathia can do is to try harder. But he will be remarkably accountable, owning up to his mistakes quickly and adjusting, and I’d bet that he’ll figure out the emotional puzzle and pitch effectively for the Yankees.

  • BP.com’s Jay Jaffe has a thorough (and somewhat sobering) analysis of the Sabathia signing, which ends with this:

The Sabathia signing won’t put the Yankees over the top by itself, particularly given that it now makes Boston the favorite to sign Teixeira to upgrade a more potent offense than the Yanks can muster and that the young and already stocked Rays have frontline starter David Price and even more top prospects still on the way. Sabathia can’t be expected to match the dominance he showed in his Milwaukee stint because the American League, and the AL East in particular—statistically the toughest five-team division of the Wild Card Era—is a more difficult place to pitch; at the very least one can expect his strikeout rate to drop, since he’ll face designated hitters instead of pitchers. His Cleveland numbers are a better guide to his future performance than his Milwaukee ones.

In all, the move makes a splash in New York by putting most of the Yankees’ eggs into one very big basket and by compensating for the type of deal Cashman apparently wishes he’d done last winter. While it may pay off in the short term, it may prevent them from addressing other big needs, and could very well net them bigger headaches down the road.

  • Also at BP.com, Joe Sheehan voices a similar concern on the signing and how it impacts the structure of the team:

Despite the perception around the Yankees that pitching was a problem last year, this contract gilds a reasonably attractive lily, making the rotation strong and decreasing the pressure on the bullpen due to Sabathia’s tendency to work deep into games. On the other hand, signing Sabathia puts $23 million a year in a place other than the offense, which was the team’s real problem in ’08 and projects to be something less than dominant in 2009. The Yankees needed a big bat more than they needed a big arm, and while the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive for a team with the Yankees’ money, if signing Sabathia makes it even slightly less likely that the Yankees sign Mark Teixeria, it was probably the wrong move for them.

  • No Tex for you!: Newsday’s Ken Davidoff reports that the signing of Sabathia, when combined with the likely signing of one more top FA pitcher, most likely takes the Yanks out of the running for Mark Teixeira.
  • MLB.com reports on the new perspective of the Red Sox – Yankees rivalry given the Sabathia signing.  They also have an article on the influence a Jeter phone call may have had on Sabathia’s information-gathering.
  • Tyler Kepner of the Times recaps the pursuit and capture of Sabathia.  I myself took note of two things … the “overhead/to the side of the mound” shot of Sabathia finishing off a pitch (that’s a LOT of pitcher there) … and Kepner listing C.C. at 311 pounds.
  • The Times’ Harvey Araton comments on the fuel that drives the Yankees this off-season, and the risks involved in relying on that fuel.
  • Jack Curry relates the stories of C.C.’s work ethic, determination and upbringing.
  • YESNetwork’s Joe Auriemma goes over the risks and rewards of the Sabathia signing.
  • Burnett gains?: ESPN.com reports that the Yanks have made a late offer of a guaranteed five-year contract to A.J. Burnett, with money approaching Carlos Zambrano’s $91.5 million deal.
  • Two Lowe for Zero?: Yahoo!Sports reports that Derek Lowe has received firm offers from both the Yankees and Phillies, and the BoSox and Mets are still in the mix.  Rumors place the offers in the four-year, $65 million range.
  • Melky deal Brewing?: The Star-Ledger’s Dan Graziano reports that the Yanks and Brewers are getting closer on a Cabrera plus pitching prospect for Cameron deal.  The Daily News has the deal as Cabrera for Cameron straight up.
  • Gimme (tax) shelter: The Times‘ Richard Sandomir has an excellent article describing the tax breaks the Yanks are getting in building their new stadium, and how that stadium is helping them in terms of lessening their revenue-sharing commitment:

Major League Baseball gives teams a tax shelter that justifies going into debt to build a stadium. Stadium costs, like bond payments and maintenance, can be deducted from the team’s net local revenue that are used to calculate revenue-sharing.

By slashing the revenues that are taxed at a 31 percent rate, the Yankees will be able to shelter a chunk of the money that would have been shared. They paid about $100 million into baseball’s revenue-sharing pool in 2007, but could have received a multimillion-dollar credit if they had had their deductions for the new stadium.

The new stadium will probably generate so much new revenue that it will compel the Yankees to again pay at least $100 million in revenue sharing. But the deduction will still allow the team to shield enough revenue to help pay off the construction bonds.

  • Major congrats to BP.com’s Will Carroll and Christina Kahrl, who along with ESPN’s Rob Neyer and Keith Law, finally got their BBWAA credentials.  Christina writes about the news over at BP.com:

This is obviously a great day for Baseball Prospectus as an organization, and a reason for personal reflection and excitement alike. This development provides us with a major obligation to not simply enjoy the benefits of our inclusion, not simply to reflect that Baseball Prospectus was and is worthy of inclusion, but that its ongoing coverage of the game will become that much better. From its inception, Baseball Prospectus has aspired to and achieved the highest levels of quality and coverage, but the task at hand is to take it up yet another notch in our desire to deliver information, insight, and analysis as nobody else can

  • Ex-Yankee punching bag Kyle Farnsworth signs with the Royals … a match made in …. somewhere (as per ESPN).
  • Happy 54th birthday to Bob Sykes.  Sykes never appeared in a game for the Yanks after they traded an OF prospect named Willie McGee to get him.  (Oops!)
  • On this date in 1951, Joe DiMaggio officially retires, after compiling 361 home runs and an average of .325 in 13 seasons.
  • On this date in 1959, the Bombers trade Hank Bauer, Marv Throneberry, Don Larsen and Norm Siebern to the Kansas City A’s for outfielder Roger Maris and two other players.
  • On this date in 1975, the Yankees acquire pitchers Dock Ellis and Ken Brett, and second baseman Willie Randolph from the Pirates for hurler Doc Medich. In a separate deal with the Angels, the club trades Bobby Bonds for outfielder Mickey Rivers and pitcher Ed Figueroa.
  • On this date in 2000, Alex Rodriguez signs the richest contract in sports history, a ten-year deal with the Rangers worth $252 million. The quarter billion dollars doubles the previous high of $126 million paid by the NBA’s Timberwolves to Kevin Garnett in a six-year agreement signed in October, 1997.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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