by Phil Kehres*
Special to iVoryTowerz
So much for building from within. The Evil Empire that is the New York Yankees struck back today after a disappointing 2008 season by signing superstar free agent pitcher C.C. Sabathia. While not yet finalized, ESPN is reporting that the contract will be worth $160 million over seven years, by far the largest contract ever given to a pitcher.
The move reeks of desperation on the part of the Yankees, a team that had seemingly eschewed their typical modus operandi of signing aging stars for mega-dollar contracts. The Sabathia contract is different — C.C. is a 28-year-old stud lefthander in his prime, coming off the two best years of his career. But the signing nonetheless shows that the Yankees’ homegrown youth movement — led by budding stars like pitchers Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes and second baseman Robinson Cano — was little more than a clever ruse. The Yankees never had the intention of being anything less than the most extravagant spenders in baseball; they were simply biding their time, waiting for the right players to come along. Sabathia represents the best player to hit the open market in recent years. Regardless, this is a classic Yankees signing. Long contracts for pitchers are always risky. With Sabathia, the Yankees will pay top dollar for a ridiculous number of years to a 300+ pound pitcher (though to C.C.’s credit, he has been relatively injury free) plucked from a small-market team that couldn’t afford him (the Milwaukee Brewers). Risk is irrelevant when you can outspend all 29 other teams.
The Yankees are also said to be pursuing high-profile free agent pitchers Derek Lowe (last team: L.A. Dodgers), A.J. Burnett (Toronto Blue Jays) and Ben Sheets (also the Brewers) in addition to trying to bring back lefty pitcher Andy Pettitte. Any one (or two or three) of those guys should all but ensure the Yankees’ purchased and pre-packaged return to the postseason after missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 1993. It’s the sports equivalent of paying for a Senate seat.
*Phil Kehres is one of the authors of Excuse Me, Is That Your Blog?
New York Yankees
Major League Baseball
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by Phil Kehres*