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Yankee Panky: Battle of Wills – Q&A on CC

The Yankees announced that CC Sabathia came through his bullpen session OK and that he will in fact pitch Friday night, as scheduled, against the Mets at Citi Field. Is this a good thing? Putting your Fantasy Baseball emotions aside for a moment, are the Yankees sacrificing their long-term investment by pushing Sabathia to the mound in the short term?

These questions all fall into the recent debates of management (and yes, this includes Joe Girardi) and its handling of the high-priced stars. With that in mind, I went to the injury expert, Baseball Prospectus’s Will Carroll, to get the skinny on biceps strains and to pick his brain on how he would deal with the big lefty.

NOTE: This interview took place Wednesday morning, hours before the bullpen session.

Will Weiss: I’m seeing conflicting info between what Sabathia and (GM Brian) Cashman are telling the New York press corps (what else is new?). What do you see as the potential short- and long-term ramifications of this injury? … If you were on the Yankees’ training staff, what would you recommend? Me, I’m protecting the 8-year, $161 million investment and shutting him down until after the All-Star break.

Will Carroll: What’s Cashman saying? I’d shadow him and be ultra-cautious, but shutting him down for three starts? I’d have to know there’s some kind of serious injury before doing that in as tight a race as this is.

WW: Cashman’s not saying anything except, “Let’s see how he feels and evaluate him after his bullpen session.” He’s taking the cautious approach.

WC: Smart. I always feel good when I agree with Cash.

The thing about Sabathia is he’s very confident, but that can be shaken. When he injured his arm back in ‘04, he freaked. It was good for him, but took him a long time to get that swagger back. I think you have to listen to him.

WW: How does a biceps injury, even stiffness, affect his success, given he’s a big powerful guy who’s thrown a lot of pitches? His mechanics are good. What causes this type of strain?

WC: Could be any number of things. Could be a cramp, electrolyte imbalance, might have tightened up or not loosened up due to a million factors. The key is it wasn’t sore after his last start and from what I understand, he wasn’t complaining about it in pre-game, so it’s most likely the start of a strain or cramp.

WW: How cautious should you typically be in this situation?

WC: Reasonably, but again, you have to deal with him as a person. Do you trust he’s telling you how it feels truthfully? Is he consistent in strength tests? Is there inflammation?

Will’s questions, as well as any questions the rest of us have, will be answered soon enough.

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1 Rich   ~  Jun 26, 2009 12:34 pm

I would prefer that they try to limit CC to no more than 110 pitches per start so that he will have a better chance of being strong if the Yankees make the playoffs.

Will, If you have a chance at some point, would you ask Carroll what he thinks about the decline in Joba's FB velocity since he walked off the mound in Texas with a shoulder injury last season?

2 Will Weiss   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:20 pm

[1] Rich, I definitely can. I think, though, the question is more about the fluctuation in average speed of the FB this year. Remember, he was throwing at around 96-98 into the eighth inning of the victory in Cleveland three weeks ago.

3 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jun 26, 2009 1:23 pm

You know, I HAVE CC in fantasy ball, but I’d still have been inclined to do a back-dated DL, since we do have Hughes and Wang both around right now. That’s five starters and we can do that for 9 days, two starts. I say this in complete ignorance of the actual medical story and the report off the bullpen, but there’s so much at stake here.
I do have my usual morning-after note on the crazy long thread last night (Snagglepuss? Asleep at the Thread, er, Wheel?) I have a very slight sympathy for Girardi as to Andy. 8-1 leads really do rarely get blown, you hate to go to your pen that early in a highly probable win, and you also hate - as one of the unwritten rules - to cost a hard-working vet his win. BUT, in 90+ heat, with Andy dripping sweat and fading, and accumulating pitches, the odds of him getting through the next, fifth, inning were very, very slim. Once you lose the 5th, you are way better getting him earlier in the 4th. Only if he can go 5 can you think about letting him struggle through the 4th. That was my angle on it.
I do have a sense, some disagree, that stat-managing plays a role, and I was upset when Mo pitched the 9th last month after he did the 8th, and they got a 7 or 8 run lead in the top of the 9th. Even wondered a bit last night, actually but we’d used too many pitchers.
There are some ‘rules’ that can hurt a team. But as I said at the start: I do have some sense that Girardi felt a bit bound to see if Andy had a shot at 5 and the win.

4 PJ   ~  Jun 26, 2009 3:15 pm

[0] Hey Will!

How about "Gatorade Tiger Focus" for CC and anyone else who needs electrolyte replacement? It's got Theanine in it for enhanced focus when fluids get low, and it doesn't taste too awful, particularly the Red Drive, the Purple Quiet Storm, and the Green Cool Fusion.

I wouldn't put that G2 Blueberry stuff in my car! In fact what actually goes in my car tastes better!

heh heh

I also take additional potassium to avoid cramping in the 95 degree heat and high humidity when I'm out dripping wet. A couple of bananas a day wouldn't hurt as well.

And for God's sakes, be sure Cervelli catches him if he's his catcher of choice! Whatever makes the big guy happy, right?

: )

5 thelarmis   ~  Jun 26, 2009 3:30 pm

Will (Weiss, that is), is 2-for-2 since his return! : )

Go CC! Go YANKS!!!

6 PJ   ~  Jun 26, 2009 3:35 pm

[5] Yep yep, Thelarmis! And so are you from the games you went to! How about that?

Also, very well done with the kid and the ball, friend. You just can't beat Yankees fans like you in the class department!

: )

7 thelarmis   ~  Jun 26, 2009 3:39 pm

[6] aw, shucks. thanks, PJ!!! : )

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