Okay, Smart Guy: Where Will CC Sabathia Land?

Nino CollaSenior Writer INovember 3, 2008

As part my ongoing quest to completely make a fool of myself with predictions and thoughts, I think it would be fitting if I try and predict the most important hot-stove stories this offseason.

This is my first "Smart Guy" piece, something I wrote the day after the Brewers were eliminated from postseason play. I've made some adjustments to it after the recent news of a contract offer; however, it is still very relevant and still accurately conveys my thoughts.

I was ready to get over it and move on, I really was.

But for some reason, he just keeps coming back to me, and I can't let the idea go.

To suggest that CC Sabathia would consider the Cleveland Indians at this point would be equal to asking Manny Ramirez to consider the Boston Red Sox this winter.

Okay, maybe not equal to, but pretty darn close, especially since he already spent a cool $12,000 on his farewell advertisement.

I'm not here to suggest that; I've gotten over the fact that Sabathia is long-gone from my beloved Tribe.

I'm here merely to suggest my smart guy commentary on where I think Sabathia is destined to pitch.

I've read the comments, and I continue to analyze the path of Sabathia that he's destined to follow. After the Brewers were eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend, the focus immediately shifted to Sabathia's future.

The main question that most people were asking was, "How much money is this ace going to command?"

The main answer is simply this...Who cares? That isn't what CC is after; I've learned that in my experience on this topic.

There are three main factors that CC is going to base his decision off of. We will come to find out how much he values the dollar, but I'm full convinced that it matters none; he knows he's getting paid.

The last two factors are location and length of contract.

I've been on the side that location is the most important factor for CC Sabathia in making his choice. I can emphatically say that I was dead wrong.

CC is going to play for a contender, because a team that gets him is an instant contender, provided that they aren't the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Washington Nationals.

CC Sabathia won't be signing with the Washington Nationals; I'm sorry to any National fan out there reading this. A non-contender won't have the money to spend on CC, so it totally wipes out that entire issue of "playing for a contender."

What is Happiness? How do we define it? How do we know what it means to Sabathia himself?

Sabathia will be happy winning. He's a great guy who adapts to his surroundings well, as long as he has a good group of players around him. He has no trouble making friends, as he told reporters the other day.

"I've pretty much been to every city. I've got a lot of friends around the league. They're going to have to come to me."

I've seen how a team loves the big left-hander and how he loves the team. He will have no trouble fitting into any clubhouse, as long as they like to have fun playing the game. If there is an uptight or stiff clubhouse around the majors, I'm sure CC can find out and eliminate that team from his choices.

That brings me to what I believe will be the most important factor for Sabathia in his decision.

How long are you willing to invest in a 290-pound-plus starting pitcher that just threw 240-plus innings the past two years?

That is the true $100 million question that needs to be answered when it comes to CC Sabathia.

Sabathia turned down a very lucrative contract from the Cleveland Indians. It was rumored to be from $18 to $20 million a year. Here’s the catch: It was only four years in length, not going to cut it in today's day and age.

The team that gets CC Sabathia is the one that is going to give him a contract that takes him into his mid-30s rather than his early 30s.

If I was a team, I'd gladly shovel on $25 million for CC if it was for four years; Mark Shapiro took an excellent approach to signing Sabathia. Unfortunately, Sabathia's agents were much smarter than that.

When you have a starting pitcher in his prime, the name of the game isn't getting money per year. It's getting that long-term commitment, because at any time, that pitcher could blow it all out and be effectively done for the rest of their career.

That MLB contract is guaranteed, including the length of it. That is what Sabathia is truly after, and whoever gives it to him will be the ones to win the sweepstakes.

Okay, Smart Guy, so where will Sabathia end up pitching in 2009?

After reading Mark Attanasio's comments about keeping CC after the NLDS, I truly felt the Brewers were a contender. Now that they’ve offered him a contract, if the terms are right, I’d expect CC to consider it.

I believe Los Angeles will be basking in the glory of getting Manny Ramirez, and that they'll shell out the cash to experience "Mannywood" for at least four more years. That would take them out of the Sabathia sweepstakes.

Boston and New York will have no problem shelling out the cash, but does a place like New York really fit CC? Boston seems to eye offense more than they do a high-priced pitcher. Sabathia is New York’s primary target, but is New York Sabathia’s?

I don't know what he will pick and who will pursue him to great lengths. But I do know that if someone offers him seven years, over six, even if the money in the six-year deal is higher, that team offering seven will win.

You can take that one to the bank.