What's wrong with C.C. Sabathia?
The way things are going for Indians left hander C.C. Sabathia, the C.C. is going to stand for Cheaper Cost.
Not cheap cost, mind you. But cheaper, anyway.
Some players react well to their walk year, some do not. So far Sabathia, a free-agent-to-be who turned down about $70 million over four years from Cleveland this past winter, is bombing in his walk year like few have before.
Despite his atrocious beginning, he'll almost surely beat that payday as a free agent this winter. But still, he's costing himself millions by the pitch.
So far Sabathia, the 2007 American League Cy Young winner, is easily the worst starting pitcher in baseball. Out of the 103 starting pitchers who qualify, his 13.50 ERA ranks him exactly No. 103. Sabathia's stats are remarkable for their horror. In 18 innings he has allowed 32 hits, 27 runs (all earned) and walked 14. Not surprisingly, he's 0-3.
C.C. could stand for Complete Choke.
There are all sorts of theories going around as to why Sabathia has been so awful. Most of them involve messed-up mechanics and an utter lack of command.
After Detroit trashed Sabathia 13-2 Wednesday, Tigers star Magglio Ordonez insisted Sabathia's fastball was the same as always -- and he's hitting 94 on the gun, about the same as early last year, before he really got going and started hitting 97. Ordonez said that the problem was all in Sabathia's control, which was off.
There's probably a lot of validity to those claims, which were advanced Thursday by scouts who had seen Sabathia's latest debacle, in which he allowed nine runs and became the first Indians pitcher in at least 52 years to allow nine runs in back-to-back games. Yet another theory has Sabathia lacking confidence in his slider, which he all but abandoned vs. the Tigers.
Sabathia, the scouts said, threw an unusual number of changeups. He also threw a lot of fastballs right over the heart of the plate.
C.C. could stand for Crazy Control.
Indians people were said to have spent a lot of time Thursday reviewing tapes of better times, which were not all that long ago. Sabathia was practically unhittable last September (4-0, 2.37 ERA) before finding himself in an October slump that saw him allow 27 hits, 18 walks and 17 earned runs in 21 1/3 postseason innings.
At the time, some folks thought he might have been tired after pitching 241 innings in the regular season. Nobody expected his struggles to carry over into this season.
"I'm confident he's going to figure it out, be a lot better and lead our staff,'' Indians general manager Mark Shapiro told writers on Thursday.
The C.C. (which actually is for Carsten Charles) used to also stand for Cool Confidence. Perhaps it will again. The Indians just hope it happens before it's too late.
Recent Walk-Year Performances
1. Adrian Beltre, 2004: 48 HRs, 121 RBIs, .334 BA
1. Andruw Jones, 2007: 26 HRs, 94 RBIs, .222 BA