Writing about CC Sabathia is pretty easy. He’s a good guy and all of those around him seem to go out of their way to say nice things about him. When I was writing about Sabathia yesterday, I decided to look back at the Baseball America archives. I remembered him being a big pitching prospect, but he broke into the big leagues right as I was finishing college. I didn’t follow the minor leagues as closely back then, and I wanted to make sure he was as significant a prospect as I remembered.
“He’s intelligent and coachable, a ferocious competitor, and at 6-foot-7 and upward of 260 pounds he can be an intimidating presence on the mound,” Baseball America wrote leading into the 2001 season. “He’s strong with durable mechanics. That he’s a lefthander and only 20 is icing on the cake. He has a chance to be a dominant No. 1 starter at the big league level… Sabathia has no glaring flaws.”
So, yes, Sabathia was one of those premier young pitching prospects at the beginning of the decade. He came up when the Indians rotation was still led by Bartolo Colon, but by his third year in the big leagues, Sabathia was Cleveland’s Opening Day starter. Through the next five years, he got better and better. He grew into the kind of pitcher Baseball America predicted way back when.
In that role of Yankees ace — a role that, as you might guess, comes with considerable pressure — Sabathia seems at ease. It was Kerry Wood — himself once a massive prospect and ace starting pitcher — who explained it best.
“This is what I was born to do,” Wood said. “This is where I was supposed to be. The whole nine yards. You’re at the top of the rotation, you feel like it’s your team, your town, your deal.”
Tonight, the Yankees are Sabathia’s team. Derek Jeter will be there, and Alex Rodriguez will be hitting cleanup, and Mariano Rivera will be waiting in the bullpen, but tonight this is Sabathia’s team.
“I think a lot of people know me where I’m just kind of laid back,” Sabathia said. “I’m the same. I try to treat it no different than any other day I come to the field. You know, nothing special. Be ready to go at 6:30 when Dave (Eiland) comes to get me.”
Associated Press photo