This doesn’t mean signing Sabathia was the wrong move. He was worth more than $20 million, per Fangraphs, in each of his first four seasons with the Yankees. Players like Sabathia are signed to provide surplus value during peak years, making up for overpaying on the decline side of contracts. But these long-term deals don’t work if the team signing them plans on getting peak-level value from players deep into their decline years. Sabathia is 33. Seeing him decline, or even get hurt, shouldn’t be particularly surprising, and has to be planned for. The Yankees didn’t.
Instead, to follow the Yankee model, Sabathia would be best served by moving further down in the rotation, and younger, in-prime stars brought in could assume the mantle of ace. The Yankees had a pair of models to turn to Monday night, in the Pirates-Rangers game.
In a 1-0 pitchers’ duel, the Pirates threw Gerrit Cole. The Yankees drafted Cole back in 2008 out of high school, but inexplicably delayed in approaching him, leading Cole to decide on college instead. Three years later, the Pirates drafted Cole. Monday night, Cole struck out nine in seven shutout innings, helping the Pirates post a winning record for the first time in 20 years.
His opposing number, Yu Darvish, came to the Rangers through the posting process from Japanese baseball. The Yankees failed to submit a competitive bid to earn the right to sign Darvish, who just turned 27, leads the American League in strikeouts, and whose presence alone probably would have the Yankees in the wild card lead.
Instead, the Yankees have done nothing to add the kind of pitcher they badly need with Sabathia fading. The franchise’s play here, which has been to just hope for a return to form, echoes what they’ve done with Derek Jeter at shortstop. It’s a strange strategy, and it is costing them in both cases.
Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:51 AM | 48 comment(s)
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