Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hot Stove Stance: Sabathia & Stability In The Bronx

It is easy to say New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia stayed because he is now once again the highest paid lefty in baseball. It is understandable to show disdain concerning the amount of money the Yankees spend on their roster, which I agree boarders on insane. However, what is going unnoticed in the Bronx is a level of stability not seen in decades.

The Yankees are owned by the same family, but there is a new temperament. This is not to say that the Steinbrenner boys, Hank and Hal, don't get hot under the collar when things do not go well. They still strive for a championship year after year and provide general manager Brian Cashman with more than enough money to construct a championship roster. They contend that anything less is a failure. What they do differently than their father is channel their frustrations, or at least, let it fester and sometimes it actually subsides without incident. They seldom take team issues straight to the media. They will do so at times (Derek Jeter's extension last year for example), but not with the quickness and ferociousness of The Boss.

The metamorphosis began under George Steinbrenner while he was transitioning control of the team to his sons. They have for the most part allowed Cashman, who yesterday officially received a three year extension himself, to run the baseball operations department the way he sees fit. They are involved and sometimes override him (Rafael Soriano), but this arrangement works more like a normal business with constructive discussions between owners and management, than one run with the owner as dictator. There are no longer two factions trying to run the team.

It is true the Yankees were stuck in a corner with this extension because of the chance he would opt-out. I understand that. They would have been in some serious trouble in the rotation with only question marks following Sabathia's turn on the mound. He chose not to use opt-out clause, which would have netted him more money than he actually ended up with. Most likely the extra funds would have still come from the Yankees. But, the point is, he did not. Why? There is stability in the Bronx unseen in ages.

After the Yankees were ousted by the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series, the back pages of the NY Post or NY Daily News did not have an angry Steinbrenner quote warning everyone to watch their back because change was coming. No, instead the ownership issued a simple statement that they were disappointed and the season was a failure because their goal, as always, is to win a championship. They said nothing they didn't say in the beginning of the season. Further, the manager was not fired and the general manager received a contract extension.

The signing of CC Sabathia is another indication that the Yankees will try to keep pieces in town while they believe they will be effective members of the organization. Had Sabathia left, there would have been a massive void in the clubhouse (not another weight joke). He is not only their ace, but he provides calmness and positive energy the Yankees sorely needed when he arrived in 2009. Both theYankees and Sabathia knew this and they worked together to get the deal done without drama.

Sabathia's major concern, which prompted Cashman to provide the opt-out clause in the first place, was a reputation that the organization was stuck in a factional divide between the owner and the front office and the clubhouse was fractured. This is no longer the case and Sabathia showed us by staying. The Yankees hope the  recent stability in the ownership, the front office and the roster translates into a 28th World Championship in 2012.