Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Sabathia, Less Warren Is Result Of Conventional Wisdom, Not Common Sense

By Barry Millman

Dashing the faint hopes of many including me, Adam Warren has been demoted  from the Yankees rotation to the bullpen instead of C.C. Sabathia as many expected, including me; and many interesting reasons for the decision have been bandied about by team officials and quasi-official writers.

Chief among them: Warren's innings were getting too high as a starter and they need to be limited; he's the only experienced long reliever available, Sabathia doesn't have the experience or mindset for such a role; and -- the one most widely cited by team officials and the writers closest to it  -- he's C.C. Sabathia and you simply don't dare broach the subject with him because, well, he's a Yankee icon.

All perfectly reasonable responses straight out of the conventional wisdom handbook's reasonable responses chapter.

The problem with conventional wisdom though, as Bill James has said, is it's full of beans. Everyone from Milan to Minsk knows the 53 million unofficial reasons why Warren got demoted and Sabathia didn't. 

But putting those aside for the moment, let's look at the official ones.

Adam's innings are getting too high? Compared  to last year they will be, but then so will C.C.'s. Both are a couple of years removed from the last time they threw a full season as starters.

The difference is Adam is still three years on the right side of 30 and hasn't been injured or burning his arm out for the last three years, while CC is four years on the wrong side with more miles on his arm than anyone his age ever compiled; coming off surgery, and now well into his third consecutive season of suckage -- strongly suggesting he has already hit his permanent innings limit, courtesy of Father Time.

Perhaps another page in the conventional wisdom handbook suggests it's CC who should be limiting the innings on his old soupbone and not the young, strong, well-preserved Adam.

As for  C.C.'s lack of experience in the role of long reliever, the role of a long man is to come into games on short notice after the starter has imploded in an early inning and stop the bleeding, right? 

One could easily argue CC's been rehearsing for  that role almost every game this year walking out to the mound for the second and third innings of his own games. Think I'm just being a wiseass? Check his box scores. He's probably more experienced than Warren in that role. 

And  if this so-called "mindset"of being able to deal with sudden crisis and stress on short notice and preparation that conventional wisdom says is required of a reliever is so obviously beyond C.C's grasp or comprehension at this point in his career -- and at this point the word career must be used euphemistically -- then it only underscores the cruel and unusual punishment awaiting him (and the fan base) as he is left to deal with his degrading faculties and skillset in the rotation, helpless to adjust to or deal with the consequences.

There will be consequences for Adam from this decision as well, and of course none of them good, regardless how the conventional wisdom adherents (since they all seem to attend and subscribe to the same conventions, I'll just call them conventioneers for short) spin it, because yanking a successful starting pitcher from the rotation to make him do something else -- something he'd rather not do and hasn't prepared himself to do -- has seldom been a recipe for good things. (Joba Rules anyone?) 

Which brings us to the "Sabathia as icon" justification, which I admit is my favorite. I hadn't enjoyed a good laugh over a truly absurd like that since the "ARod is washed up" mythology spun by conventioneer sportswriters and team officials. Did I miss a Yankees presser announcing C.C.'s promotion to Core Four status? Was he named the Captain's successor by Hal Steinbrenner?  Did Brian Cashman leak plans to retire his number and install him in Monument Park after he's gone?

No, I didn't think so, and you can bet your Bernie Williams bobblehead none of the above will ever happen. Sabathia won one Cy Young with another team and parlayed that into the most lucrative contract for a pitcher in baseball history at the time, and in return he gave the Yankees four good years. But since then he's given them three consecutive clunkers, and with two more years left on his deal, the idea that it's impolite to even ask him to consider working on his American League-leading meatball catering service somewhere other than the rotation is almost as amusing as it is insulting to every player and fan who buys into the fiction the best players play. 

Not having attended any of the conventions or gotten drunk with any of the conventioneers myself, I'll end this with a three quick unconventional observations of my own.

First, removing Adam from the rotation makes it worse; leaving CC in it makes it much worse; and now that it's only a five-man rotation, CC will get to pitch even more often -- an outcome only conventioneers can seem to rationalize with straight faces.

Second, putting Adam in the pen as a long reliever won't save him any innings since everyone in the rotation seems to need long relief more often than not -- unless they stop using him as a long reliever, in which case they just killed off a promising starting pitcher's budding career as well as the badly needed long reliever they needed in one fell swoop.  

(In case you you missed them, you can click on the hyperlinks in this post's first paragraph to read my posts that forecasted and further explain this peculiar act of Yankee vandalism I've named Jobacide.)

And my third and final unconventional observation: If C.C. was paying the Yankees $53 million instead of the other way around, there would be more logic to keeping him in the rotation than the conventioneers' twisted idea that it's possible to make so much money that you can't lose your job AND should still be treated 
with all the deference of a Derek Jeter without a fraction of the resume. In what universe do these people live anyway? 

If it's Yankee Universe, then it looks like C.C. may have tapped a whole new fan base, and the Yankees may have found their next Face Of The Franchise.


Yep, that should sell a lot of T-shirts -- especially at the next convention.

You can email Barry Millman at nyyankeefanforever@ymail.com and follow him on Twitter @nyyankeefanfore.