From the day New York Yankees’ pitcher CC Sabathia signed his $200-million contract in 2009, he has always had a guaranteed spot in the starting rotation. Due to his inconsistency, however, that spot could be in jeopardy.
By Christian Kouroupakis
Those days of popping a 95 mph fastball into the catcher glove is unfortunately long gone for Sabathia.
Considering that, the fact that New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi told ESPN’s Andrew Marchand that, no matter what, the best pitchers will be in the 2016 starting rotation, should frighten CC a bit.
“We are going to take what we think are the five best, bottom line,” Girardi told Merchand. “”If you don’t make the rotation, you are probably in the bullpen.”
Girardi is saying the right things, as any manager would take Ivan Nova over Sabathia if his pitching appears superior, but regardless of this spring’s performances, we all know who will be the Yankees’ fifth starter.
Sabathia has the better resume, a better 2015, and zero bullpen experience. The Yankees don’t win the 2009 World Series without the big lefty, he had a promising 2.17 ERA in September of last season with that new knee brace, and has 2,988 regular-season innings on his arm, none as a reliever.
Nova on the other hand is not going down without a fight. He’s entering the final year of his contract and is showing his coaches that he’s more than capable of managing the final rotation spot. After going 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA in 2015, he’s trying to bump CC over to the pen for the first time in his career.
Although it’s in everyone’s best interest to help the team win their 28th World Series title, there’s no way the Yankees are going to send someone they are paying $25 million to the bullpen. Let’s be honest here, that’s not money you hand to a middle reliever or a left hand specialist.
If the “competition” is at a standstill and Girardi has to make a decision, it’ll come down to the money. If nothing else, the money will decipher which man will start the year in the rotation. The money owed to CC is guaranteed money and I bet you the organization is going to salvage what’s left on the deal.
Nova’s recent performances here in spring training makes it seem as if he has chance to oust CC from the rotation, but it won’t. Besides, Spring Training doesn’t mean much to the Yankees.
You take a look back at the history of this organization, and I can assure you there has never been a major decision made based on how one performs in Tampa. Of course, bench spots, backup roles, or the final roster spot would be battles out between rookies, but not a starting rotation spot.
Spring Training a very tough time to make decisions like this. Many players, especially veterans, use the month of March to get back into the swing of things and get their timing down. This is their first live action since the previous season concluded, and they’re going to base a yearlong decision off of one month of warmups? No.
The Yankees will continue to hope that Nova’s arm recovers well from Tommy John Surgery, but the confidence in Sabathia’s new knee brace, the money, and resume will prove to be enough this spring.
In the past, the New York Yankees always deemed Sabathia would stay in the rotation, even when he had the worst year of his career last season. That was evident when they moved Adam Warren from the rotation back to the bullpen in the prime of Sabathia’s struggles.
What makes you think that will change this upcoming campaign? News flash: it won’t.