Sunday, July 10, 2011

Carsten Charles Sabathia is a Beast

UPDATE: With injuries in mind, Ron Washington DID call up CC to the AL All-Star Team. CC's still going to the Bahamas with his family, and good for him, and good for them.

Blog post for July 10, 1961: Today, the Yankees played a game that lasted 2 hours and 11 minutes, and their starting pitcher threw 113 pitches, allowing 4 hits and 1 walk in a shutout.

Actually, no. On that date, 50 years ago today, the Yankees did not play, and neither did anybody else, as baseball was in the All-Star Break. Roger Maris had 34 home runs. Mickey Mantle had 29 of them.

No, the events described in the first paragraph happened today. Not in the 1940s, which would have made me (or someone who was around then) say, "Swell!" Not in the 1950s, which would have made me say, "Wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!" Not in the 1960s, which would have made me say, "Groovy!" And not in the 1970s, which would have made me say, "Right on!"

Today. Two thousand eleven. Or "Twenty eleven," if you prefer. Actually, I do prefer to say it that way.

Carsten Charles Sabathia. CC. This man is a beast. A big fat fabulously-pitching Pinstriped (George Carlin word)ing beast!

And did I mention he did what he did today in some nasty heat? It must've been 85 degrees at game time.

Speaking of nasty heat, his last pitch, his 113th pitch, was a 98-mile-an-hour fastball on the outside corner for a strikeout. 98? On Pitch 113? Say it with me, Stuart Scott of ESPN: "That's not just filthy, that's nasty!"

Ah, but as Herman Edwards taught us (Yes, I'm using the line again, because it's true), "You play to win the game!" Did the Yankees win the game?

Not so much as the Tampa Bay Rays lost it. A bad throw by center fielder B.J. Upton and a bad pickoff throw by pitcher James Shields allowed Robinson Cano to score, making CC the winner (13-4) and Shields the loser (8-7) in a game that ended Yankees 1, Rays 0.

A very different game from the one played yesterday, with all the drama and all the Jeter. Derek got career hit Number 3,004 today, but it didn't matter.

What did matter is that Alex Rodriguez is going to have surgery on his knee, and he'll be out for at least a month.

That's not as bad as it sounds, as Eduardo Nunez, who's been hitting well lately, can play 3rd base until A-Rod gets back.

Back to CC. He's 13-4. His ERA -- in the American League, mind you -- is 2.72. His WHIP is 1.16. In his last 6 starts, he's 6-0 and has allowed just 7 walks. Seven walks -- You know what Javier Vazquez calls that? "The usual."

Let's compare CC with the pitchers who are sometimes called "the best pitcher in baseball." All stats are current as of this afternoon's games, July 10, 2011:

CC Sabathia 13-4 .765 2.72 141 1.16
Cliff Lee 9-6 .600 2.28 114 1.24
Roy Halladay 11-3 .786 2.45 137 1.18
Josh Beckett 8-3 .727 2.27 179 0.95
Justin Verlander 11-4 .733 3 2.26 167 0.88
Tim Lincecum 7-7 .500 3.06 120 1.20
Zack Greinke 7-3 .700 5.45 73 1.25
Felix Hernandez 8-7 .533 3.22 116 1.15
Johan Santana 0-0 N/A N/A N/A N/A

Okay, the last one is just me, as they would say in English soccer, taking the piss. You'd have to be a really delusional Met fan (I know, I know, is there any other kind? Yeah, that's me taking the piss again) to think that Santana is the best pitcher in baseball.

So let's take Santana out. That leaves 8 pitchers.

Wins: 1. Sabathia, 2. Halladay, Tie. Verlander, 4. Lee, 5. Beckett, Tie. Hernandez, 7. Greinke, Tie. Lincecum.

Winning Percentage: 1. Halladay, 2. Sabathia, 3. Verlander, 4. Beckett, 5. Greinke, 6. Lee, 7. Hernandez, 8. Lincecum. Or, proportionally, with 100 being the score of the man in first place: 1. Halladay 100, 2. Sabathia 97, 3. Verlander 93, 4. Beckett 93, 5. Greinke 89, 6. Lee 76, 7. Hernandez 68, 8. Lincecum 64.

You say wins and winning percentage are not good measures of a pitcher? You're an idiot. You say they're not the best measures of a pitcher? Now you've got a point. So let's move on:

Earned Run Average: 1. Verlander, 2. Beckett, 3. Lee (all within .02 of each other), 4. Halladay, 5. Sabathia, 6. Lincecum, 7. Hernandez, 8. Greinke (who, by this measure, is having a horrible year, despite having a strong winning percentage and a good WHIP).

ERA+ (measured against the League, and keeping in mind the AL has the DH while the NL doesn't): 1. Beckett, 2. Verlander, 3 Sabathia, 4. Halladay, 5. Lincecum, 6. Lee, 7. Greinke. Or, proportionally, with 100 being the score of the man in first place: 1. Beckett 100, 2. Verlander 93, 3. Sabathia 79, 4. Halladay 77, 5. Lincecum 67, 6. Hernandez, 7. Lee 64, 7. Greinke 41.

WHIP (Walks + Hits, divided by Innings Pitched): 1. Verlander, 2. Beckett, 3. Hernandez, 4. Sabathia, 4. Halladay, 5. Lincecum, 6. Lee, 7. Greinke. Or, proportionally, with 100 being the score of the man in first place: 1. Verlander 100, 2. Beckett 108, 3. Hernandez 131, 4. Sabathia 132, 5. Halladay 134, 6. Lincecum 136, 7. Lee 141, 8. Greinke 142.

Total these rankings up: 1. Verlander 1.75, 2. Beckett 2.25, 3. Sabathia 3.5, Tie. Halladay 3.5, 5. Lee 5.75, Tie. Hernandez 5.75, 7. Lincecum 6.25, 8. Greinke 7.25.

The only ones who rank ahead of CC are Verlander and Beckett. Verlander is a good pitcher having a great year. Beckett has proven to be great in odd-numbered years (as this one is), not so much in even-numbered years. CC is great in years starting with a 2.

The others? While Cliff Lee is, well, what he's always been: A pitcher who's had 2 sensational years but is otherwise a little bit better than average, nothing more. His teammate Halladay is a great pitcher, no doubt about it, but if his Phillies teammate Lee ever wants to get into the Hall of Fame without paying, he'll have to do it as Halladay's guest. (Or Jimmy Rollins', or Ryan Howard's, or Chase Utley's.)

Greinke is a pretty good pitcher having a weird year, but he's got the Brewers in first place in their division, so his poor ERA isn't that bad, and his WHIP, while bad for an ace, isn't all that bad for most pitchers. Similarly, Lincecum is a really good pitcher having some hard luck, but he's helped the defending World Champions back to first place at the All-Star Break.

Hernandez? "King Felix"? He's as much of a king as "King James," a.k.a. LeBron. With the exception being that Felix has never quit on his teammates; then again, his team has never gotten close to the postseason (the closest being 6 games out of both the AL West and the Wild Card in 2007). You're not a king until you're a champion.

So, based on what you've seen, who should be the American League's starter in the All-Star Game on Tuesday? It should be Verlander -- but he's hurt, and Ron Washington, manager of the AL team since he's the manager of the defending AL Champion Texas Rangers, is starting Jered Weaver of the Angels. Not a bad choice, although I wouldn't say he's the best pitcher in the AL, or even in the AL West. (At least he's the best pitcher in his family -- if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know what I think of his brother Jeff.) Beckett, while someone I loathe (if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I call him Super Punk, with plenty of reason), would also be a good choice.

But if I had to pick one pitcher, from all of baseball in this season, to start a game on which my life depended, I'd take CC Sabathia.

Ron Washington didn't even pick CC for the AL All-Star Team. At all.

He did, however, pick David Robertson, to sub for Mariano Rivera, who, along with Derek Jeter and the injured Alex Rodriguez, is skipping the event.

CC says he's going to spend the All-Star Break with his wife and 4 kids in the Bahamas.

I don't blame him. If you had the money, the time, and the lack of a fear of flying (or the desire to take a cruise), where would you rather spend 3 days: The Bahamas, or Arizona? Keep in mind, it's July. And it's Arizona. Granted, Chase Field (formerly known as Bank One Ballpark) has a retractable roof, so the temperature inside won't be higher than CC's WHIP (116), but if you're going, you've still got to get into the ballpark! And in and out of your hotel! And Phoenix does NOT have a subway, either!

Oh yeah, about those pitchers...

* CC Sabathia has pitched 3 different teams into the postseason, and was the ace of the 2009 World Champions.

* Josh Beckett has pitched 2 different teams, the 2003 Marlins and the 2007 Red Sox, to World Championships -- although both are steroid-tainted. (As far as I know, Beckett himself is innocent of this charge, but he has guilty teammates in both Miami and Boston.)

* Tim Lincecum is the ace of the defending World Champions.

* Justin Verlander helped pitch his team to a Pennant, although they lost the World Series.

* Roy Halladay has only been to the postseason once, without winning a Pennant, but last year he joined Don Larsen as the only men who have ever pitched no-hitters in postseason play -- and, like Larsen, his no-hitter was a perfect game.

* Cliff Lee has pitched in the last 2 World Series, but both times for the losing team. That the 2009 Phillies lost was not his fault at all, as the only games they won were his starts; that the 2010 Rangers lost was very much his fault, as the Giants smacked him. And while he was on the 2007 Indians team (with CC) that beat the Yankees in the ALDS and came within 1 win of a Pennant, he had a bad year, and was not even trusted to pitch in the postseason.

* Zack Greinke has never pitched in the postseason, although he has a very good shot at it this season.

* Felix Hernandez, as stated above, has needed TV to even see the postseason.

* And Johan Santana has appeared in 4 postseasons, albeit none in the last 4 completed seasons, and that string is all but certain to stretch to 5 this season.

Who's your man? This season, mine is CC Sabathia.

A beast. A Yankee beast.


So, at the official close to the first half of the 2011 Major League Baseball season...

Jeter hits 3004 DONE
Rivera saves 581 20
A-Rod homers 626 137
A-Rod hits 2762 238
Magic Number 73

That number is to eliminate the Red Sox, a.k.a. The Scum -- remember, the Yanks and Red Sox are tied in the loss column, and a total of Yankee wins and Sox losses adding up to 73 will give the Yanks the AL East title, while the Sox need a total of their wins and Yankee losses adding up to 74, a higher total; 67 to eliminate Rays, 60 for Jays, 57 for the tumbling-fast O's)


Days until the Red Bulls play again: 2, this Tuesday night, home to the Chicago Fire, in the Quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, America's version of England's FA Cup. They looked awful in losing to DC United last night, but still, thanks to their 4-0 thrashing of United in Washington earlier in the season, clinched the Atlantic Cup, the trophy for winning the season series against their "derby" rivals.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 26, on Friday, August 5, at Fenway Park. Under 4 weeks.

Days until Arsenal play again in a competitive match: 34, on Saturday, August 13, against Newcastle United at St. James Park. Just over a month.

Days until the Red Bulls play another "derby": 41, on Saturday, August 20, at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Just 6 weeks. And they next play their CLOSEST rivals, the Philadelphia Union, in their regular season finale, on Thursday night, October 20, at Red Bull Arena.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 53, on Thursday, September 1, home to North Carolina Central. Under 8 weeks.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 61, on Friday night, September 9, at Monroe. Under 9 weeks.

Days until the next North London Derby: 83, on Saturday, October 1, at White Hart Lane. Just 12 weeks.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 90, on Saturday, October 8, at 7:00 PM, in their season opener, at home, against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Prudential Center. Just 3 months. The first game against the New York Islanders is a day-after-Thanksgiving matinee, Friday, November 25, at the Nassau Coliseum. The first game against The Scum isn't until Tuesday night, December 20, at the Prudential.

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 125. A little over 4 months.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 137.

Days until the last Nets game in New Jersey: 287 (estimated, as the coming NBA season's schedule will be released in mid-August, and the lockout throws the entire schedule into question. At any rate, if the season starts and ends on time, it'll end on the 3rd Sunday in April, which in 2012 is the 22nd). Unless new owner Mikhail Prokhorov decides he'll stay in the Prudential Center, the great new arena he's already got.

Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 383 (July 27).

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 730 (estimated -- adjusted for his current injury).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 861 (estimated).

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 938 (tentatively scheduled for February 2, 2014, although it could end up being moved back a week or 2).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,472 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,586 (estimated).

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