This was a story over the weekend, but I wanted to touch on it briefly before it got completely washed away under the tidal wave of A-Rod coverage and early ST reports on other players. CC Sabathia drew some attention when he showed up at camp heavier than he was the last few springs. Some estimates had him at 305, and while it wasn't nearly as blatant as the negative spin that everybody puts on their A-Rod tweets, I got the feeling that some people were trying to paint that as a negative and a reason for added concern with CC. Here's the thing. His weight doesn't matter anymore. It doesn't matter if he's 305, 295, 275, or any other 5. At this point, the difference in pounds isn't going to make a difference as far as his knee health is concerned. The damage is already done there, and if it does turn out that his knee is going to be problematic again then you can bet it's going to be problematic no matter what he weighs. No amount of weight gain or loss now can undo the 15 years of repeated stress and strain he's put on that knee with every pitch he's thrown. It was made pretty clear when he had surgery last year that his degenerative knee condition had the potential to be a career-ender. That's a reality that everyone has to remember and accept.
And not for nothing, but if CC coming into camp heavier this year means he spent less time running and working out on that bad knee over the offseason, good. I don't want him overworking it on activities that aren't him pitching in games or scheduled throwing sessions anyway. If there's only so many bullets left in that gun, might as well save them for when they really matter. As long as he's been throwing and his arm and knee feel good at the start of camp, that's all that matters.
Well that and these numbers: 23.0%, 4.8%, 48.3%, 3.11, .350, 23.3%. Those are CC's K rate, BB rate, GB rate, xFIP, BABIP, and HR rate values from his injury-shortened 2014 season. Those first 4 numbers are all better than his career averages and close to career bests. The last 2 were far worse than his career averages. That all adds up to suggest that CC's poor results in his 8 starts were actually more attributable to bad small sample size luck than a diminishing skill set or stuff.
CC can still get swings and misses, he can still get groundballs, and he still commands his pitches very well in general. Where he struggled last year was with his fastball command inside the strike zone, and in that 46-inning sample of inconsistent fastball command it seemed like every bad mistake got hit out of the park. Over a longer period of time, that trend would have come back down and averaged out eventually and his ERA and FIP numbers wouldn't have looked so ugly. CC was better at commanding his heater when he was heavier, so maybe this extra weight will help bring some of that back to his game this season. It certainly can't hurt to try, right?
The bottom line is that a player has to feel comfortable with his own body and nobody knows CC's body better than CC himself. If he thought it was best for him to put some pounds back on and come into camp heavier, I'm not going to argue with that. I'm more hopeful that he can regain some of his old form than I am worried about his knee crapping out again. If more weight helps that first cause, then bring the man some Captain Crunch.