Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stringbean Sabathia? Will somebody please send this man some cheeseburgers?

CC Sabathia's Baseball Reference page lists him as 6'7" tall and 290 pounds. He'll be 33 this season, and the Yankees have him signed through 2017 - that is, unless he wilts away into nothingness.

In the latest photo making the rounds, CC looks like Manute Bol after an enema. This is no 290-pounder. This is a Jenny Craig graduate who caught Dengue Fever. CC looks so svelte, so slim, that your first thought is that Lena Dunham's agent is working the Photoshop, or that he's trying out for Matthew McConaughey's role in a dinner theater version of Dallas Buyers Club. It's not just the cut of the tuxedo. If it were, that's the suit we all could use.

Yesterday, some trainer attempted to assure the Yankiverse that all is well, that CC is merely on a super-training regiment, that he's converted all that old baby fat into muscle, that he's becoming a rock-ribbed power blaster, that he's in the best shape of his life, that blah, blah, blah... go back to sleep and buy more tickets.

I dunno.

CC came to camp last year touting a slimmer than usual figure, due to a tricky knee. The expectation was that by reducing pressure on his legs, he could lengthen his career. Only problem: His fastballs turned into Happy Meals. He went 14-13 with an ERA just shy of 5.00 - worst of his career. Unless he retrieves his old speed, or becomes a junk-baller, we might not be worrying about him lengthening his career.

OK... let's give him benefit of the doubt. After a bad year, you gotta try something. And CC is a legitimate great Yankee. He's won the right to make his own training decisions. If he wants to join Weight-Watchers, so be it. But this is no 290-pounder. He looks closer to 220. And excuse me if I go binge on wings just to calm my nerves.  This looks like an entirely new pitcher coming to camp. And who knows if he'll be any good?

Once again, the Yankees are getting a glimpse of the downside of long-term contracts to 30somethings. No team, regardless of its money, can consistently contend without young players reinvigorating the roster. And if each year we squander our first-round draft pick in order to sign yet another oldster to a seven-year bomb - (hello, Jacoby!) - we are going to be watching photographs like this one - or the famous "Jeet and Eat" shot from last winter - and shaking our heads. If CC doesn't return to form, 2014 could be a meltdown year. Let's hope the Yankees leave themselves an escape hatch - with ample food supplies to last through next winter.


John M said...

CC was over the official limit at 290 for a number of years in a row, so his luxury tax kicked in and he had to cough up 70 pounds.

Now that he's 220, though, his tax assessment resets, and he can go up to 350 next year if he wants and owe only a couple of ounces.

Phil Niekro said...

We have been working on his knuckleball.