Of all the things the Yankees need in order to prevail in their win-or-go-home game against the Astros tonight – a strong start from Tanaka, or perhaps a miracle – the news that the Yankees’s former ace CC Sabathia is checking into an alcohol rehab center is certainly not one of them.
The news sparks a lot of questions – How long? Who knew? – many of which will need to be answered, if not to save people’s jobs than at least to put everyone’s mind at ease. Here are three questions that come to mind:
Is there any way to void Sabathia’s contract?
The likely answer is no, but the point here is that it seems that this should be the point at which the Yankees stop coddling CC Sabathia. He is one of the highest paid pitchers in history, and despite not performing anywhere near expectations for years now, the Yankees have stood by him at every juncture, oftentimes defying any discernible logic or strategy. While Sabathia’s decision to seek treatment is quite a brave and honorable one, it is going to be very difficult to sell to Yankees fans that Sabathia deserves a spot in the rotation following three dismal seasons.
No matter how much you are rooting for Sabathia, if you are now excited about him returning next year, taking the place in the rotation of one of the Yankees rising youngsters, and sucking up another $25 million in salary space, you simply do not have the Yankees’ best interests in mind. Indeed, this was true despite today’s news, even despite his recent string of strong starts, but the added hurdle of putting together a historic come-back in 2016 makes the future even bleaker for Sabathia and the Yankees.
How the heck did the Yankees not know?
What immediately comes to mind is the news back in August that Sabathia was involved in a confrontation outside a nightclub in Toronto. He was scratched from his next start, and we were told it had nothing to do with the incident. The whole thing was very hush-hush.
Add to that the bizarre news that Sabathia “freaked out” at Newark Airport last December, prompting police intervention, and his similarly odd outburst on the field in June, leading to his first ejection since 2006, and you have some rightfully raised eyebrows.
It all seems a bit fishy now, and so will any claim that the Yankees did not know anything about Sabathia’s problems with alcohol. It simply seems implausible. While we have no idea how long this problem has existed, we know there were at least a few instances where red flags were raised regarding Sabathia. If the public had their suspicions about Sabathia, surely too did the Yankees’ front office.
Furthermore, the decision to release the news today – a day before the Yankees play their first playoff game since 2012 – suggests Sabathia’s plans were urgent. It appears as though this has been festering for a while; otherwise, you have to believe there would have been a better plan to release this news.
If the Yankees knew anything, why was Sabathia allowed to pitch?
Not only have the Yankees consistently thrown Sabathia back onto the mound when better options existed, but also they have gone out of their way to support him at every turn. It is not as though the Yankees had to stand by Sabathia’s side in order to keep the fans happy – indeed, many people were calling for the Yankees to keep Sabathia away from the starting rotation. At the time, it just seemed like poor decision making, perhaps even managing to his huge contract. Now, it seems treasonous, and if there was at all any knowledge of Sabathia’s issues with alcohol, it’s going to be even more difficult to defend manager Joe Girardi’s decisions throughout this season.
This is not the taste anyone wants to have in their mouth going into tomorrow’s game. The Yankees, by putting up a facade that everything was okay, will now have to answer questions about the demise of a once Cy Young award winner at a time when any distraction can easily mean an end to the 2015 season.
There’s a lot we do not know, but one thing is for sure: This whole situation was handled very poorly, and it seems like the team paid, and may continue to pay, a very high price.
More from Yanks Go Yard
- Should Yankees toss short-term extension at Harrison Bader before 2023?
- Yankees chose worst possible player to ring in New Year on 2023 team calendar
- Yankees State of the Farm System Review: Josh Breaux
- Yankees make upside play, sign former Rangers top prospect outfielder
- MLB insider claims favorite emerging in Bryan Reynolds rumors (not Yankees)