July 21 – Happy Birthday CC Sabathia

Based on his and the team’s performance after his first three and a half seasons in pinstripes, the free agent signing of CC Sabathia is turning out to be one of the best decisions a Yankee front office ever made. Carsten Charles has done just about everything the Yankees hoped he would do when they agreed to pay him just over $160 million to pitch eight seasons for New York. During the first year of that contract in 2009, he led the AL in wins with 19 and pitched 230 innings during the regular season. He was a major reason why the Yankees got into that year’s World Series when he won his only start against Minnesota and both his starts against the Angels in the ’09 League playoffs. And even though he lost his only decision in the Phillies’ Series, he did keep the Yankees in Game 4, a game they eventually won.

In 2010, he repeated as the AL victories leader with 21 wins and he threw 237 innings. He should have won the AL Cy Young Award for his performance but for some reason, lost it to Felix Hernandez. He did not pitch super well in the 2010 postseason but he did win both of his decisions.

In 2011, Sabathia finished the regular season with a 19-8 record and an even 3.00 ERA. He was the glue that held New York’s patch worked starting rotation together. He was practically un-hittable during much of the second half of the season but was ineffective during his one appearance against the Tigers in the 2011 postseason. I sort of blame that bad final start on Joe Girardi and his Yankee pitching brain trust. When New York had opened up a big lead in the AL East late in the 2011 regular season, Girardi decided he was going to give his top starters a few days off. I’ve always felt that CC needed to pitch a lot to be effective. He depends so much on rhythm and when Girardi stopped starting him every fifth day, I was worried he’d lose the marvelous rhythm he had been in. To make matters even worse, when the rains came in the second inning of Game 1, in the ALDS between New York and Detroit, CC did not return to the mound after the long delay that day. When he came back to pitch in Game 3, he was simply not sharp.

The fact that CC had that opt-out clause in his contract after the 2011 season made me very nervous. After the way the Yankee front office had been taken to the cleaners by A-Rod over his opt-out years earlier and then botched up Derek Jeter’s contract negotiations in 2010, I was unsure if CC was going to still be in pinstripes when the 2012 season opened. Fortunately, he’s still a Yankee, though it did cost 50 million more Yankee bucks to be able to say that. As I update this post, the big guy is currently 10-3 and just returned from a stay on the DL to throw seven scoreless innings against the Blue Jays.

The Yankees signed CC Sabathia hoping this big left-hander would give them a chance to win every time he took the mound and so far, that is exactly what he has done in a Yankee uniform. What I really love about this guy is the way he steps up when the Yankees have been playing poorly for a stretch and really need a win. He turns 32-years-old today.

CC Shares his Yankee birthday with this one time Yankee first baseman and this one time reliever.

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2009 28 NYY AL 19 8 .704 3.37 34 34 0 2 1 0 230.0 197 96 86 18 67 197 1.148
2010 29 NYY AL 21 7 .750 3.18 34 34 0 2 0 0 237.2 209 92 84 20 74 197 1.191
2011 30 NYY AL 19 8 .704 3.00 33 33 0 3 1 0 237.1 230 87 79 17 61 230 1.226
2012 31 NYY AL 15 6 .714 3.38 28 28 0 2 0 0 200.0 184 89 75 22 44 197 1.140
2013 32 NYY AL 9 8 .529 4.07 20 20 0 2 0 0 137.0 139 70 62 21 30 117 1.234
13 Yrs 200 110 .645 3.53 403 403 0 37 12 0 2701.1 2500 1165 1060 248 799 2331 1.221
CLE (8 yrs) 106 71 .599 3.83 237 237 0 19 7 0 1528.2 1435 700 650 144 498 1265 1.265
NYY (5 yrs) 83 37 .692 3.33 149 149 0 11 2 0 1042.0 959 434 386 98 276 938 1.185
MIL (1 yr) 11 2 .846 1.65 17 17 0 7 3 0 130.2 106 31 24 6 25 128 1.003
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/20/2013.

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