Monday, July 7

All-stars past and present

I just wanted to congratulate Cleveland Indians Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee for their election to the American League All-Star team. Taking into account both Cleveland's bottom-dwelling status in the standings, as well as fans' insatiable desire for electing red socks and yankees to the starting lineup, this is quite an achievement for Grady and Clifton. Go Tribe!

I'd also like to take a minute to appreciate the fine Cleveland career of CC Sabathia, who will be pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers for the remainder of 2008 and who-knows-where in 2009 and beyond. Sabathia was arguably the best Indians starting pitcher of my lifetime, giving the club a ton of high-quality innings during each of his eight seasons in a Tribe uniform. CC holds the team record for K/BB rate and has a career ERA+ of 115, including stellar back-to-back seasons of 140 and 143, the second of which netted him the 2007 AL Cy Young Award.

CC was also one of our guys, and even though production and value are the bottom line, you always tend to feel a little more strongly about players who were on your team for a long while. Along with a little-used bullpen extra man named Jake Westbrook, CC was the only Indian to appear on both the 2001 and 2007 playoff squads (Victor Martinez made his debut in 2002), posting an inflated 17-5 mark during his rookie season (with an ERA+ of just 102 - now that's run support!) and notching what would prove to be the Tribe's final postseason win until 2007 when...CC Sabathia earned another one against the NY Yankees.

It's true that Sabathia took longer than expected to fully develop into an ace - 2002 saw him post similar pitching numbers but the W-L naturally regressed to the mean as the Tribe embarked on a rebuilding campaign, while 2003 was a breakout season for C-Bath on a subpar club. The 2004-2005 seasons saw the big guy with the great stuff produce good-not-great numbers and a sometimes frustrating inability to string together consistent starts. He was very good, but Tribe fans knew he could be better.

And, in 2006 and 2007, he was indeed better, posting the aforementioned 140 and 143 ERA+ numbers and establishing himself as one of the AL's truly dominant pitchers. More than that, he produced an astounding number of puns and nicknames stemming from his generous build (The Hefty Lefty), punctuated first name (aCCe, CCy), and penchant for wearing his Chief Wahoo hat tilted to the side (the Crooked Cap).

So, FCF says goodbye to CC Sabathia and wishes him the best of luck in Milwaukee. The good news for Mr. Sabathia, in addition to gaining a real shot at this year's postseason: CC will now get to bat each time he takes the mound. Sabathia is well-known as a good-hitting pitcher and relishes his few opportunities in NL parks during Interleague each year; now he'll get to take his hacks every 5th day. Watch out, NL pitchers.

CC Sabathia career stats:
8 seasons
W-L 106-71
ERA+ 115
ERA 3.83
1.265 WHIP
19 complete games
7 shutouts
1527 2/3 innings
1265 strikeouts

(Batting stats, just for fun):
OPS+ 107
2 very long home runs

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