Sam Borden just sent this to me. Lots of good info:
Brian Cashman gets (and deserves) a lot of credit for bringing CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to the Yankees, but Johnny Damon may have been the Yankees’ biggest recruiter this winter. Amber Sabathia said that Johnny’s wife, Michelle, played a big part in convincing her it was possible to enjoy raising a family in the New York area.
The Damons spent their first two years with the Yanks living in Manhattan, but then moved to the New Jersey suburbs, and Michelle sold Amber on the suburban life.
“She said you’re going to love it,” Amber said. “The schools are good, the pediatricians are good, the supermarkets are good – it’s like a nice little place to live.”
The Sabathias have three kids – CC Jr., age 5; Jaden, age 3; and Cyia, 2-months – but Amber and CC plan to spend some time in Manhattan, too. Amber said their favorite restaurant is Tao – an Asian spot which serves some of the greatest sushi and fragrant duck in the city – and that she is “a Saks’ girl.”
Johnny D was also one of two Yankees to call Burnett (A-Rod was the other) during the offseason, and he gave Burnett the hard sell about coming to the Bronx. Cashman said that Damon – along with Derek Jeter and others – also bent his ear during the season about getting Burnett since he always gave the Yankees such a hard time whenever he pitched against them.
The first serious conversation about the Yankees getting CC Sabathia didn’t happen this winter. It happened last offseason, when the Yanks were considering whether to trade for and then give an extension to Johan Santana. Knowing that Sabathia was going to be available, the Yanks decided not to give up prospects and money for Santana, and instead “take a gamble,” in Cashman’s words, on getting Sabathia for only money in free agency.
As it turned out, that long-term plan played a big part in Sabathia ultimately accepting the Yankees’ offer. At the final meeting Cashman and Sabathia had at Sabathia’s California home, Cashman laid out exactly how long Sabathia had been on the Yankees’ radar. He told Sabathia and his agents how the Yankees had been targeting him for over a year and explained the entire process behind their decision, in hopes it would show how committed the Yankees were to Sabathia.
“Ten minutes after he left, I called him to tell him I’m in,” Sabathia said. “That really meant a lot to me.”
Here’s the info on two things about Carsten Charles Sabthia that seem to get an excessive amount of attention: His weight and his initials.
First, Sabathia doesn’t seem bothered or embarrassed about being a big dude. When a reporter asked if anyone had ever tried to get him to lose weight on a previous team or if he felt he would want to do that, he smiled and said, “I work hard every day. I work out every day. In December and January, I do two-a-days.” Then he paused and said, “I look like this. I don’t think my physique is going to change.”
Joe Girardi vouched for Sabathia’s work ethic, saying he recalled a game earlier this year when the Yankees beat Sabathia, 1-0, in Cleveland on a Friday night. “I got the weight room Saturday morning at 9 a.m.,” Girardi said, “and he was already there.”
As for Sabathia’s initials, there was much debate over whether it should be “CC” or “C.C.” When he was asked about it yesterday, Sabathia spread his arms out wide and said, “Y’all do it however you want,” before laughing over what an issue it had become. “I don’t really care at all,” he said. And what does he write when he signs his name? “Carsten, if I have to write it,” he said. So there you go.
Don’t look for either CC Sabathia or A.J. Burnett to participate in the World Baseball Classic this spring. Sabathia said he’s been approached and, while he hasn’t made an official decision, it seemed like he’s leaning towards sitting it out. “I want to get acclimated and be around my new teammates,” he said. Burnett said, “I have not been contacted but I’d say ‘no.’ … It’s a cool idea but it’s not for me.”
Both pitchers have some previous relationships with other Yankees. Burnett heard from A-Rod and Johnny Damon this winter and knows a number of other Yanks from playing against them with the Blue Jays, while Sabathia became friendly with Jorge Posada when both were on an offseason cruise run by Nike. Sabathia is also tight with Joba Chamberlain, who he says he saw out running in Cleveland during a series there, “and we stopped and talked for like 30 minutes.” The two exchanged numbers and have been close ever since. They even went out to eat together last week.
Burnett was also close with former Yankee (and forever American Idle) Carl Pavano. Burnett said he talked to Pavano before the last series the Blue Jays played at Yankee Stadium while the Idle was long-tossing along the third-base line. So did Pavano offer any worldly advice about how to be a true Yankee?
“I only listen to SOME things Carl says,” Burnett said as the room erupted with laughter. “Only some things.”
The Yankees announced two big signings yesterday but there continues to be a lot of buzz about two other potential deals: One for Andy Pettitte and one for Manny Ramirez.
There wasn’t a whole lot of news on either of those fronts yesterday, with Brian Cashman saying, “Andy is a free agent. I know he’d like to be here and I know we’d like for him to be here.” Cashman did say that his visit to Houston wasn’t a “take-it-or-leave-it” trip to see Pettitte, but it seems clear the Yankees are prepared to move on from this situation either way. If Pettitte wants to stay, he’ll take the $10 million the Yanks are offering. If he doesn’t like that, the Yankees will go elsewhere and be just fine doing so.
As for Manny Being Manny, no one at the Stadium was taking the bait yesterday. Hal Steinbrenner was asked how realistic it was that Manny might end up in the Bronx, and he said, “As realistic as all of the other free agents because we’re looking at all of them.”
Steinbrenner and Cashman did both say that the Yankees don’t have an unlimited payroll, so that’s another factor to consider when dreaming about Manny (or Mark Teixeira). There also wasn’t much discussion about the Mike Cameron-for-Melky deal, which seems to be dead (though Sabathia did put in a plug for Cameron, who was his buddy in Milwaukee).
Great stuff by Sam and thanks to him.
I’ve told Sam what I’m telling you now: He has an open invite to post here about the Yankees any time he wants. As a former beat writer, Sam has great insight into the team and his input is welcome. In addition to what he brings to the table journalistically, he is a good friend and we’ve collaborated on some projects. So look for more from Sam here in the future.