CC Sabathia shouldn’t be priority for Mets

I keep hearing reports that the Mets are quite interested in CC Sabathia, and I don’t understand why. Long-term big contracts for pitchers are always a risk. Look at the Mets’ recent history with Pedro Martinez and Billy Wagner. Both moves looked good at the time,and for eight years worth of contracts, the Mets ended up with only about four years of production.

Johan Santana was a lot younger, the best pitcher in baseball, and a move the Mets absolutely had to make. Well worth the gamble of the long megacontract for a pitcher. If the Mets didn’t have Santana, Sabathia would probably be worth the risk as well, just as he makes a lot of sense for the Yankees.

But putting that much money into the rotation without first dealing with the number one issue – the bullpen – makes no sense. Sabathia was renowned for pitching complete games on three days rest as he led the Brewers to the playoffs. Santana won a brilliant complete game on three days rest on the final Saturday. But it’s one thing for Milwaukee to burn out its ace, knowing he is mostly likely leaving. If the Mets ended up with Sabathia, but did not dramatically upgrade the bullpen, they would end up with two high-priced starters who would feel obligated to finish every game they started because of a fear of what the bullpen would do. And those long-term pitching contracts would get that much riskier.

If the Mets are nervous about giving Francisco Rodriguez $75 million because of a risk of injury, why should giving Sabathia as much as twice that much be any more reassuring?

As for K-Rod, maybe his price will come down as more closers become available and teams such as the Angels say they will not pursue him. And since the Mets need both a closer and setup man, a case could be made for bringing in multiple pitchers instead of spending everything on K-Rod.

But getting, say, Brian Fuentes or Kerry Wood for four years, $48M, makes a lot less sense than giving K-Rod a bigger deal. K-Rod has been a proven closer for years and helped his team win a World Series in 2002. Wood has been a closer for one year and his name is synonymous with injury risk. Fuentes lost his job in 2007 to Manny Corpas, then won it back last year after he did well as a setup man. Not that you’d want to pay that much for a setup man, but the Mets need at least one backup to next year’s closer who could step in if necessary. The Mets didn’t have that last year, while teams like the Rays and Dodgers did.

So pass on K-Rod if you must, but make sure that at least two good arms are coming in – and some of last year’s culprits are going out.


Lisa, congratulations on the Yankees acquiring the player with the lowest batting average in the majors last year for players with enough at-bats to be eligible for the batting title (or, in this case, the lack-of-hitting title). And what better name for such a player than Swisher?
Nick Swisher is also known for his facial hair. Why do the Yankees keep acquiring players known for personality traits that they will have to squelch as soon as they come to the Bronx? At midseason next year, do you really think Swisher will be hitting .300 and remarking how that unruly facial hair is what was holding him back?

Imagine if Manny Ramirez comes to the Yankees, adopts the required clean-cut look, and falls into a slump. How long before we hear: “Joe Torre let me wear my hair any way I wanted, and I hit .396.”

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