Yankees Perspectives: Sunday, December 17
I have a host of perspectives on all things Yankees that have been occurring. Let’s jump right in.
– I am very happy that C.C. Sabathia is coming back to the Yankees. Sabathia is a leader. It seems that the players love him. Veterans like Sabathia bring perspective and value beyond their statistics. I had a feeling the Yankees were not going to bring him back. I am pleasantly surprised that I was wrong. This is another good sign for 2018.
– I am also in favor of the “Andy Pettitte Approach” where a long-time veteran is offered contracts on a year-to-year basis. I would not have given Sabathia more than one year. I’m glad the Yankees didn’t as well. I am also thrilled that C.C. agreed to the deal. I was hearing reports that $10 million dollars a year was lower than what might have been expected. It seems like Sabathia truly wants to be back and also that he wants to be a leader on this young team. All of this is great.
– I love that C.C. Sabathia said that he was “unfinished business” meaning that he wants to help lead the Yankees to another championship. I love that approach. C.C. is adding to his “Yankee legacy” with this spirit and commitment. Sabathia is a leader and this young team will need his leadership as many players will face the high expectations of winning for the first time.
– All that being said, I can’t help but think that 2017 was C.C. Sabathia’s last great year. Every fighter thinks he has one great fight left in him. 2017 just might have been Sabathia’s last great fight. Sabathia’s 14 wins were the most he had since 2013. His .737 winning percentage (due to his 14-5 record) was his best mark since he went 21-7 (.750) in 2010. (In fact, that was C.C.’s third best winning percentage of his career.) Sabathia’s WHIP of 1.271 last year was his best mark since 2012. His ERA (3.69) was his best since 2012. All of this is to say that while I expect C.C. Sabathia to pitch well, his 2017 season was a bit of an outlier. The type of numbers he put up last year cannot be expected again.
– It is also important to keep in mind that C.C. Sabathia averaged less than 6 innings per start in 2017. That is one trend we should expect to continue. Each of his starts will require multiple relievers. The days of Sabathia taking the ball and pitching deep into games is long gone. He has pitched one complete game over the last four seasons and he hasn’t averaged more than six innings a start since 2013.
– In other Yankees news, I still believe that the Yankees will add one more starting pitcher, but I think the signing of Sabathia makes this less urgent and gives the Yankees some more negotiating power in trade talks. I love the Hot Stove rumors and discussions. All the speculation is fun.
– People state that the Yankees need starting pitching, but I am comfortable with a rotation of Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery, and C.C. Sabathia. That looks pretty good. Adding one more young pitcher would make the rotation extremely impressive. And remember, the bullpen is other-worldly. If Dellin Betances reverts to his old form, my goodness, maybe no pitcher will have to pitch six innings.
– I don’t think this is a problem, but the Yankees traditional model for success has always been left-handed pitching and left-handed hitting. The top three pitchers in the rotation are all right-handed. The top hitters in the line-up (Stanton, Judge, and Sanchez) are also right-handed. These are all exceptional talents or players with huge upsides so it won’t be an issue, but it is interesting. If the Yankees acquire a starting pitcher or an infielder, I do expect the person to throw or bat left-handed. (Though I suspect Todd Frazier might be back. Might he be willing to follow Sabathia’s lead and sign for one year? Most media accounts say no, but stranger things have happened.)
– I most certainly believe that the Yankees will sign or trade for an infielder to give them some depth and insurance at second and third base. Again the speculations and rumors are fun. If Manny Machado is a possibility, all bets are off and the sky is the limit for the 2018 Yankees.
– Aaron Boone must wake up each day and say, “How lucky am I?”