Might Sabathia be a Giant?
Vallejo, Calif., native CC Sabathia's first choice is to go home to play for the Giants, one executive who knows him well told SI.com.
It doesn't hurt that the Giants play in the National League, which Sabathia, 28, has grown to love while authoring a perfect 8-0 start with a 1.60 ERA for the rising Brewers. Sabathia also loves to hit and is far from an automatic out; he's batting .226 with two homers, including his time with the Indians.
But despite Sabathia's expected interest in going home, that doesn't mean it's likely to happen. Many believe that money will eventually decide the Sabathia Sweepstakes, making the Yankees the favorites over the Dodgers and Giants.
The Giants have long shown a willingness to spend, but it remains questionable how anxious they'd be to enter into another megadeal for a starting pitcher considering that pitching is by far their greatest strength. It would also take quite a strong stomach for them to agree to another nine-figure contract following the high-profile $126-million deal for Barry Zito that has blown up.
One Giants person suggested he believes they'd be more inclined to go for a big hitter, which makes sense considering their already impressive stash of under-30 pitching talents, beginning with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez -- each of whom is 25 or younger -- but not nearly ending there (their best two prospects are also pitchers, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson). But of course, with hitters not exactly lining up to play at expansive AT&T Park, that could cause them to alter their game plan. And it's tougher than usual to predict the Giants' thinking since new managing general partner Bill Neukom will just be taking over for outgoing Peter Magowan this offseason.
Sabathia is building a home in Orange County, Calif., and while the neighboring Angels have been known to pull some free-agent surprises, they already possess the games' best starting rotation and will probably need to spend soon on an extension for their ace, John Lackey. Regardless, Sabathia, should have plenty of big-market choices, led by the Dodgers, who nearly made a deal for him in June, and the Yankees, who will have even deeper pockets than usual with $88 million coming off the books and untold millions coming on via their new Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees' ability to blow away the field makes them the pre-derby favorite. And as one baseball executive said regarding Sabathia, "It's going to be a big number.''
Yankees worrying about A-Rod
Yankees people believe their oddly mediocre offense is what's killing them, even moreso than the injuries to Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain, the disappointing seasons and subsequent injuries of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy and seeming lack of bullpen depth. Yankees higherups point to offensive underperformance from just about everyone, the notable exceptions all being outfielders: Xavier Nady, Johnny Damon and perhaps Bobby Abreu.
The Yankees are going to come up many, many runs short of the baseball-best 968 they posted in 2007, and it's not all due to the long absences of Jorge Posada and the just-returned Hideki Matsui. The individual disappointments from the perspective of club decision makers include Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano ("terrible on offense and defense'' this year, according to one AL executive), and doesn't nearly stop there. It even extends to Alex Rodriguez, whose numbers don't look all that disappointing. A-Rod actually possesses the AL's second best OPS at .992 (to Milton Bradley's 1.029) but has come up limp in the clutch.
He may be partially a victim of high standards, his otherworldy 2007 season and his second gargantuan contract, this one for $275 guaranteed plus $30 million in makeable incentives. But A-Rod is batting only .244 with runners in scoring position, so that stat line of .309, 28 homers and 78 RBIs isn't quite what it seems.
Club higherups are concerned enough about A-Rod that they are even wondering aloud whether his off-field distractions are affecting his play. But while he hasn't been his best, to be sure, this team has far bigger worries than A-Rod, like missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993.