FIFTY THOUSAND MOONS
Sunday, January 3, 2016
Posted by el duque at 7:40 AM
At age 35, CC went 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA - (which was, gulp, his BEST ERA in the last three years.) Blouagh. (That's me throwing up.) He wasn't just awful, he was embarrassing. Late in the summer, he starred in a Toronto YouTube street brawl, staggering like Betty White after drinking two Bill Cosby cocktails. He looked blotto. It was horrible. ISIS could use it in a recruitment video. Moreover, it turned out to be an omen. On our Wild Card eve, CC stumbled off to rehab, abandoning his teammates. (Sorry, there's no other way to put it.) In all my years of stupid fandom, no Yankee ever pulled up so lame - (it was even worse than David Wells in the 2003 World Series against the Marlins) - as Sabathia, whom the Yankees portrayed as a clubhouse leader. The guy must have been power-drinking for a month...
Which raises a very weird mystery.
That last month - the booze haze - resulted in C.C.'s best pitching in the last three years. I'm not hallucinating this. In September, Sabathia went 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA. As his world was crashing, he was once again the Yankee ace. (In August, he went 3.80; these were the only two months his ERA was below 5.00.) By all indications, as crazy as it seems, CC Sabathia threw better while on the sauce.
At this point, let's step back and not be assholes. More than anything, we want CC to get clean, to save his family and to live a happy life. Nobody should drink himself to death in order to pitch well, and that may be what CC was doing. He's always seemed a fundamentally good person, and I don't think that's YES propaganda. (Though YES is the Fox News of the Yankees.) But clearly, CC has been at wit's end. Over the last four years, we've seen him announce that a) he was losing weight to save his career - (it didn't work), and b) that he was regaining weight to save his career - (it didn't work.) Now, he's c) announcing that he's off the booze to save his career. Will it work? Who knows? But it's not vodka working against him. He'll turn 36 on July 21.
Contractually, the Yankees are on the hook with Sabathia for two more seasons - $25 million per year - unless he hurts his left shoulder. Next winter, they can buy him out for a measly $5 million if:
1. He ends 2016 on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury.
2. He misses more than 45 days in 2016 due to a left shoulder injury.
3. He cannot do more than six relief pitching appearances in 2016 due to a left shoulder injury.
Yeah, No. 3 makes no sense, but that's what it says in Baseball Reference. Everything swirls around Sabathia's pitching shoulder. His knee has been the issue, but if the Yankees want to buy him out - as they surely will - he's apparently got to sign off on having a left shoulder injury.
If they can't buy him out, they'll owe him $25 million for 2017. No way will he be worth it. So of all the people on the roster - all the prospects who give us cause for hope - there is no greater enigma than CC Sabathia. Last year was crazy. It might be nothing compared to 2016.