As the New York Yankees head into a key weekend series with the Boston Red Sox, they sit with a little bit of breathing room atop the AL East for the first time all season. They have a three game lead over the Baltimore Orioles, three and a half games on the Toronto Blue Jays, four and a half games on the Tampa Bay Rays, and five and a half games on the Boston Red Sox. Considering the top four teams were separated by one game a week ago, the Yankees feel fortunate that the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rays have lost a collective nine games in a row.
While a minor cushion feels great for a day or two, that’s all it is really. The Yankees are heading to the All-Star break with more questions than a first place team should have. Question one is what to do with former ace turned liability CC Sabathia. The big man won in his last outing, giving up 2 runs in 5.1 innings of work. He barely qualified by innings pitched for the win, making the bullpen pitch 3.2 innings for him, but a win is a win.
Sabathia has been under the radar of seemingly everyone other than Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman this season. He is being destroyed both on the pitching mound and in the media. Yanks Go Yard is no exception, as I voiced my displeasure with him here a couple weeks ago.
The trade deadline is approaching and the Yankees front office has no idea what to expect out of Sabathia. I wish I could whisper in their ear to expect absolutely nothing, but I do not have that kind of pull. His last start brought his ERA down from 5.59 to 5.47 – watch out Zack Greinke.
Pitchers like Johnny Cueto, Dan Haren, and Jeff Samardzija are all set to be free agents next year and could easily be traded by the July 31st trade deadline. Every single pitcher just mentioned would make the Yankees better, but how much youth is Cashman willing to give up in order to rent a pitcher for three months?
Sabathia has seemingly admitted that he is not a dominant pitcher anymore. He was quoted as saying, “with the young horses here, let the old man get a couple of days off.” Does that sound like a guy you want to be paying $23 million a year for? Sabathia has essentially thrown in his competitive towel and is coasting. He may be trying his hardest and he may be competing as much as he can, but even he knows his mindset isn’t event close to what it was just a couple years ago.
In three weeks we will see if Cashman pulls the trigger on any pending free agent pitchers. If he does and the team loses a key prospect in the deal, you can turn right at Sabathia and blame him for losing youth. He wouldn’t even deny it if you did.