'CY CY' SABATHIA PROVIDES DILEMMA TO TRIBE FRONT OFFICE
After C.C. Sabathia earned the first Cy Young Award for the Indians since Gaylord Perry in the 70s, it's time to get serious about talking about his "New Deal." I'm guessing FDR's actually will end up being less expensive.
It's possible that Mark Shapiro will be able to sign the left-handed ace. It's also possible that Britney Spears will become a good mother. But likely?
Therefore, I've developed a contingency plan.
We all know the Indians are interested in acquiring the Pirates' Jason Bay. The Tribe is probably going to see if C.C. will go for their first contract offer before seriously pursuing Bay, a left-fielder who would fill the Lofton void. (Give up, Lofton-lovers, Kenny's encore was a great one, but it will be short-lived.) So, Plan A for off-season moves is 1.) Get C.C. a new contract and 2.) Make a trade for Bay.
If neither of those things work, here's what I propose: trade C.C. to the L.A. Dodgers for a variety of possible players including Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Takashi Saito and prospects. Here's my logic:
1.) Though a lot of things could happen in 2008, I'm guessing C.C. Sabathia will have another good campaign. His 100 career wins and 3.83 ERA indicate nothing to the contrary. But 2007 was a career year, and even though C.C. is only 27, given the depth of pitching talent in the AL, it's not likely Sabathia is going to be winning many more Cy Youngs. In fact, it's likely he has peaked and will never be quite as dominant as he was in 2007.
2.) Sabathia will likely command a $150-200 million contract. That's his going rate now. Without paralyzing their payroll, the Indians cannot pay anyone that much. Remember what happened with Thome and Ramirez? Left at the altar. This would be Round III.
3.) It may not appear the Indians have a lot of off-season needs, but in reality, they do. They need to figure out whether Andy Marte or Casey Blake are the real solution at third or whether they're going to move Peralta there, move Cabrera to shortstop and play Barfield at second. Priority No. 1 is an outfield bat. A somewhat lower priority has been to ink a genuine leadoff hitter so that Grady Sizemore can move down to the No. 3 spot in the lineup, a good move after seeing Hafner's tough 2007 (Pierre batted .293 and stole 64 bases this year, by the way, and check out this cool MLB contract site to see the inherited financial burden). Even after signing Borowski, they could stand an upgrade at closer. Dealing Sabathia would give them that flexibility.
4.) The Indians could fill several vacancies and question marks by pulling a deal like this, and of course, you all are thinking, "Sure, but then we've got a big f***ing vacancy at our No. 1 starter slot." That answer is easier than you think. The Indians are loaded with young pitching talent. Carmona is ready to be the go-to guy. If he can learn to pitch in Boston, he'll be the best right-hander in the league without question. Westbrook and Byrd will stay solid, so the Indians have to hope that of Cliff Lee, Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey, at least one of them emerges. Personally, I think both Lee and Sowers will return to form. Remember, the Tribe still has Adam Miller, who is still on the mend from arm surgery. Both Jensen Lewis and Rafael Perez have starter arm strength and experience. Looking down the road and past 2008, the Indians will be fine in the starting pitching department. Plus, they could demand a top prospect in the trade.
...but why the Dodgers, you ask?
5.) C.C. is from California (albeit Northern) and tempting to West Coast teams.
6.) L.A. just hired Joe Torre and is pursuing A-Rod, but "overpay-Rod" has decided to stay with the Yankees at 10 years, $275 million. The Blue and White still want to make a big off-season splash after finishing third in the N.L. West last year.
7.) They have three good starters and two big question marks in their rotation. They would love to add a fourth, or part with a No. 3 to add a No. 1.
8.) As part of that "big splash" mentality, the Dodgers--like the Yankees, Cubs and other big-market juggernauts--are short-sided. The fact that they know C.C. is a free agent at the end of the year doesn't scare them. They would have the resources to re-sign him anyway.
9.) They're in the National League (even though Cleveland does play them in June).
Though Sabathia stepped up as a clubhouse leader and spokesperson this year, the Indians should only let them prevent a deal if Wedge and Shapiro think it would lead to an imminent collapse of the team in 2008. Honestly, if a deal is done correctly, it can make the Indians better for 2008 and definitely better for the future.
If I could have any of the proposed players I mentioned, I would send Sabathia and try to pick up Pierre and Saito. If they wouldn't throw in Saito, I would demand some AA pitching prospect(s). The Tribe could even throw in Borowski if the Dodgers wanted him as an insurance policy at closer. If they won't part with Pierre, then the Indians get Kemp or Ethier plus Saito and prospects, or there's no deal.
Honestly, baseball is economics. Terry Pluto's book Dealing showed us how the Indians have to be cutthroat and savvy in that business to have success. C.C.'s stock has never been higher, and you know what they say: "buy low, sell high."