Just because I think the Yankees need Mark Teixeira more than they need CC Sabathia doesn’t mean I’m not thrilled that the Yankees have landed the big lefty. CC Sabathia is, in my opinion, the best pitcher in baseball. He’s 28 years old, left-handed, a work horse who can give you 240 innings a year, and he’s only gotten better throughout his career. I’m not concerned about his weight. I’m not concerned about his workloads. And I’m not concerned about the length of the seven-year, $161 million contract the Yankees just gave him. He’s an ace, a horse, and the thought of having him and Joba Chamberlain as a pair of opposite-armed aces atop the Yankee rotation well into the next decade give me goosebumps.
Here are a few things to like about Sabathia.
- Though he was just 17 when taken by the Indians with the 20th overall pick in the 1998 amateur draft and started 33 games in the major leagues as a 20-year-old rookie, the Indians were careful about his workloads through his age 25 season, extending him past 200 innings just once in his first six major league seasons and rarely allowing him to throw more than 120 pitches in a start (and never as many as 130).
- Though scouts have always griped about his weight, Sabathia’s only DL stay resulted from a groin strain early in the 2006 season. He missed a month, threw eight shutout innings in his second start after returning, and didn’t have any reoccurrences.
- Sabathia’s walk rate declined every year from 2004 to 2007. The only reason it didn’t go down again in 2008 was that he set an impossibly low standard in 2007 by walking a mere 1.38 men per nine innings.
- Sabathia’s strikeout rate increased every year from 2002 to 2006 and he set a new career high by striking out 8.93 men per nine innings in 2008.
- Something of a fly ball pitcher in his early twenties, Sabathia has a 1.41 GB/FB rate over the past four seasons.