CC Is OK, But Yankees Should Have Grabbed Santana

CC Sabathia is a big man. He makes Johan Santana look like a mini-CC.

Earlier this year, the Yankees passed on a chance to get Santana, who wound up being traded to the Mets for Carlos Gomez and three other players on February 1.

Fast forward to December, where the Yankees, now desperate for starting pitching, have laid out big bucks to land Carsten Charles (CC) Sabathia, shown below, the big fish in this year’s free agent pitching pond.

The move definitely improves the Yankees, but they could have used an ace pitcher this season. An ace like Santana, who  went on to finish 16-7 last year for the Mets with a major league-leading 2.53 ERA.

Take those numbers to the Bronx and the Yankees would have made the playoffs — instead of subjecting their fans to a rotation that included Darrell Rasner, Sidney Ponson, the Zero Twins (Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy)  and a third-place finish in the AL East.

Dare to Compare
The Yankees signed Sabathia to a seven-year, $161-million deal;  the Mets gave Santana $137.5 million for six seasons. So in effect, Santana makes $22.9 million per year and CC $23 million.

Both are left-handers and power pitchers, although Sabathia probably outweighs Santana by at least 100 pounds. CC is 28, Johan 29.

With me so far. Aside from the fact that Santana and Sabathia won’t be trading suits anytime soon, they’re very similar pitchers.

Now let’s look at their records.

Santana, left, joined the Minnesota Twins in 2000, and became a Met in 2008. He has a 109-51 record, a 3.11 lifetime ERA, and averages just over a strikeout per inning pitched. His best year was 2004, when he finished 20-6 and won the American League Cy Young Award. He also won the Cy Young in 2006.

Sabathia made his debut with the Cleveland Indians in 2001, and pitched for them until this past July, when he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. His career record is 117-73 with a 3.66 ERA and a slightly lower strikeouts per inning ratio than Santana. He won the American League Cy Young in 2007 with a 19-7 record.

Both pitchers eat up innings. Sabbathia has pitched 747 innings over the last three seasons and Santana has had five straight years of 200 plus innings.

Finally, neither pitcher had done particularly well in the post-season. Santana is 1-4 with a 3.97 ERA in five series, while Sabathia is 1-3 in four series with a 7.92 ERA, including a loss to the Phillies in the NLDS in October.

All things considered, the Yankees would have been better of making the deal for Santana a year ago.

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