Jon Heyman weighs in on C.C. Sabathia, his early season struggles and his impending free agency. Heyman notes that Sabathia and his 13.50 ERA are "costing himself millions by the pitch", even going so far as to say that CC could stand for "Complete Choke."
Heyman lists four players that had huge walk-years (Adrian Beltre, Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, B.J. Ryan) and four players that struggled in their walk year (Andruw Jones, Jason Jennings, Jermaine Dye, Jeff Weaver). The problem with this list, is that there is not a single player similar to Sabathia. That is, there is not one left-handed ace in the bunch. As far as free agents go, there is nothing more valuable than a left-handed power pitcher in his prime.
The one player that Sabathia should be compared to is Barry Zito.
Zito had win totals of 14, 11, 14 and 16 and ERA+ of 134, 101, 113 and 116 in the four years prior to free agency and still managed to collect a 7-year, $126MM contract. On the other hand, Sabathia’s last three seasons included win totals of 15, 12 and 19 and ERA+ of 104, 140 and 143. In addition, Sabathia is a year younger in ’08 than Zito was the year prior to free agency.
Sabathia may indeed be costing himself a few million dollars, but in the end he is still a left-handed power pitcher in his prime and will almost certainly eclipse the $126MM contract signed by Zito.