THE ABYSS GAZES BACK

FIFTY THOUSAND MOONS

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Did CC Sabathia last year pitch better while drinking?

Aside from Caitlyn Jenner and Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, nobody had a crazier 2015 than CC Sabathia. His year belongs in the Marvel universe. His numbers hardly tell the story.

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.

5 comments:

Der Kaiser said...

I never understood that third clause. Have the Yankees discovered a radical new medical technique, by which pitching in relief can repair injured shoulders?

Anonymous said...

If CC Sabathia has his health, is not drinking, all Yankee fans and actual human beings should be happy. I'm of the opinion that alcohol was of little value to CC's ability to pitch well down the stretch. The newly re-designed brace was a huge improvement for his knee, giving the support he needed, and allowed him to again push with much more power and fluidity onto his landing leg. Huge difference in his mechanics. Being able to trust that knee is terribly important. Hopefully, CC returns, is the #1 he once was, and has a couple of seasons left. Is it a stretch? Of course it is. Does it matter? Probably not, since the Yankee Brass seem less than intent on going out and bringing in a #1. Here's to CC!

Anonymous said...

I'M SORRY, BUT DAVID WELLS' ABANDONING AFTER THROWING A SCORELESS FIRST INNING IN THE 2003 WORLD SERIES TOOK THE CAKE FOR ME.....HE SAID IT WAS HIS BACK, BUT I THINK IT WAS THE MOTHER OF ALL HANGOVERS....HOW COULD HE PITCH A SCORELESS FIRST INNING IF HE FELT "CRIPPLED"?????.....I REALLY LIKE WELLS, BUT HE LET US DOWN BIG TIME THAT DAY...THAT INCIDENT MAY HAVE COST US THE 2003 WORLD SERIES. THAT WORLD SERIES WAS THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY....(NOT TO FORGET THE AARON BOONE STRIKEOUT IN EXTRA INNINGS WHEN ALL WE NEEDED WAS SOME CONTACT WITH 1 OUT).

Reverend JR Davis said...
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Reverend JR Davis said...

CC said in late October that he would schedule his binges around his starts, after workouts, and on road trips so it wouldn't impact his performance. He came off as genuine and I choose to believe him, but he certainly did abandon the team in the end. It is intriguing that he was pitching better than he had in three years as his alcoholism was spiraling out of control. I was also surprised that he received so little criticism - it didn't matter in the end, but had we advanced the rotation was beyond suspdct.