Tag: CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia Injury: Updates on Yankees Star’s Recovery from Knee Surgery

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia is expected to recover in time for spring training after undergoing surgery on his right knee Tuesday.

Continue for updates.

Yankees Call Procedure ‘a Routine Cleanup’

Tuesday, Oct. 11

The Associated Press reported Yankees head team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad handled the surgery after Sabathia pitched the entire 2016 season with a knee brace on the bothersome joint.

Sabathia is no longer the ace he was during his prime seasons with the Cleveland Indians and early in his Yankees career. He can still serve as a valuable piece of the rotation, however, especially with New York being limited in terms of pitching depth. He finished this season with a 3.91 ERA in 30 starts.

He had previously established himself as one of baseball’s most reliable workhorses for more than a decade. Injuries have become an issue over the past couple of years, though. He missed most of the 2014 campaign because of knee problems, and a groin injury sent him to the disabled list earlier this season.

Since he should be back to full strength in time for spring training, the Yankees don’t necessarily have to focus on filling a void. But starting pitching is one area the team will probably try to address in the offseason after ranking 19th in starter ERA (4.44), per ESPN.com.

Sabathia should still have a place in the rotation after his solid bounce-back year. But the Yanks will probably take it easy on the 36-year-old lefty during camp to make sure there are no setbacks before the start of the new season.


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CC Sabathia’s Rebirth Is Most Pleasant Surprise for Yankees

What Alex Rodriguez was for the 2015 New York Yankees, CC Sabathia has been for the 2016 New York Yankees.

That is to say: seemingly against all odds, a hugely productive player. 

Because the 35-year-old left-hander entered the year fresh out of rehab and with three straight bad seasons and a balky right knee to overcome, there was really no telling what the Yankees were going to get out of him. But 10 starts in, there’s Sabathia with a 2.28 ERA.

He led the Yankees to their fifth straight win with his latest effort, firing seven shutout innings in a 4-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. To the highlights!

At the moment, Sabathia’s ERA ranks 10th best among major league starters who’ve logged at least 50 innings. According to Jeff Quagliata, the research manager for the YES Network, it’s also the best ERA he’s ever had through 10 starts.

Perhaps even more impressive is this:

Considering that we’re talking about a former Cy Young winner who was arguably the best left-hander in the sport for a while there, this is saying something.

You can be forgiven if your only reaction to Sabathia’s current dominance is utter shock, complete with a stupefied and/or dumbfounded look on your face. Although he was one of the best pitchers in baseball once, that was before he put up a 4.81 ERA between 2013 and 2015. In the meantime, his physical health and personal well-being fell apart along with his numbers.

But in 2016, Sabathia does indeed look like a new man. And a new pitcher, for that matter.

Sabathia’s decision to go into a rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse last October caught everyone off-guard. But by all accounts, it was both totally necessary and totally worth it.

Sabathia communicated openly to the New York Post’s George A. King III in spring training about how good he was feeling and expounded when he wrote in The Players’ Tribune: “[Now] that I’m on the other side of things, I feel at peace. I feel good about myself. I feel good about my body. And I’m really looking forward to coming into this season with a new frame of mind.”

Sabathia also came into the season with a new way to keep his right knee from being a pain in the, well, knee. He committed to wearing a knee brace, and is apparently benefiting from it.

“I think his knee has not been an issue because of the brace,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, “and I think it’s changed who he is.”

However, just because Sabathia is better off in mind and body doesn’t mean he’s the same pitcher he used to be. The power fastball he once had is still long gone. Going into Friday’s start, FanGraphs had his average fastball velocity at just 88.2 miles per hour, six miles per hour slower than his peak of 94.7. In a related story, his strikeout rate is still well below his peak levels at 7.5 per nine innings.

But who needs velocity when you have movement? As Brooks Baseball can show, Sabathia has scrapped his straight four-seam fastball in favor of more sinkers and a lot more cutters:

Adding a cutter to his repertoire is something Sabathia toyed with back in 2014, when he was trying to learn the pitch from Andy Pettitte. But this time, he turned to Mariano Rivera.

“Just talked about how he throws it, seeing what I could pick up from him,” Sabathia said this spring, per Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. “His was the best one ever.”

Whatever Mo taught him, it’s working. Sabathia’s new cutter can be glimpsed at the 0:20 mark in the above highlight reel, which shows its late glove-side action. And entering Friday, it was holding right-handed batters to a .210 average. They’d also managed only four extra-base hits against it.

In general, hard-hit balls have been tough to come by against Sabathia. According to Baseball Savant, he entered Friday with an average exit velocity of just 85.7 miles per hour. He was also limiting hard contact with the best of ’em:

  1. Tanner Roark: 20.5 Hard%
  2. Scott Kazmir: 21.9 Hard%
  3. Jake Arrieta: 21.9 Hard%
  4. CC Sabathia: 23.0 Hard%

As such, going for a movement-first approach has allowed Sabathia to become the kind of pitcher he needed to become once his strikeout rate started going the way of his velocity. That was a wake-up call for him to learn how to pitch to contact, and he’s finally done it.

Of course, pitching to contact effectively also usually requires good luck. Sabathia’s .275 batting average on balls in play suggests he’s gotten more than his fair share of that. As noted by Corinne Landrey at FanGraphs, he’s also been a bit too good at keeping fly balls in the park. Once these two things regress, his ERA will take a hike.

Nonetheless, the 2.28 ERA Sabathia has now feels awfully reminiscent of the .842 OPS and 33 dingers the Yankees got out of A-Rod in 2015, following his year-long suspension in 2014. It’s production that can be nitpicked, but it’s also production that can’t be ignored and can certainly be enjoyed.

Sabathia is allowing the Yankees to say hello to an old friend they probably thought they’d never see again. They should be (and presumably are) savoring every second of it.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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CC Sabathia Injury: Updates on Yankees Star’s Groin and Return

The start of the New York Yankees‘ 2016 season has been a nightmare, and things got worse Friday when the team announced starting pitcher CC Sabathia was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a groin strain. It’s unclear when he’ll return to the field. 

Continue for updates. 

Sabathia Comments on Recovery Timeline

Saturday, May 7

Sabathia told reporters he should only need 15 days on the disabled list, adding he’s unsure whether a rehab start will be necessary.

Sabathia’s DL Stint Retroactive to May 5

Friday, May 6

The Star-Ledger‘s Ryan Hatch relayed the news. In a corresponding move, the Yankees reportedly called up relief pitcher Phil Coke, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Sabathia Crucial to Yankees’ Rotation 

Although the Yankees have sputtered to the tune of an American League East-worst record of 10-17 to start the season, Sabathia has been one of the team’s few bright spots. 

After spending time in an alcohol rehabilitation center during the offseason, per USA Today, following a lackluster 2015 campaign, Sabathia kicked off 2016 on the right foot with a win on his first start of the season, against the Detroit Tigers

While two losses and a no-decision followed that outing, Sabathia rebounded with a great game Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles. The 35-year-old struck out six batters and allowed just six hits over seven innings, as the Yankees shut out their divisional foe. The start seemed to provide the team with an emotional boost.

“It felt great, and it all starts with CC,” Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said after the team snapped its six-game losing streak, according to the New York Post‘s George A. King III. “After the game it felt like we clinched a playoff spot.”

But now Sabathia’s on the shelf, the Yankees will need to lean on Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi to shoulder the load. 

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CC Sabathia Comments on Health After Going to Rehab for Alcohol Issues

New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia had a tumultuous 2015, culminating with a stint in alcohol rehab starting in October, but he’s in good spirits just over a week before spring training begins.

Per George A. King III of the New York Post, Sabathia said he hasn’t been this healthy in a long time: “I feel the best I have in three years. I am excited to get to Tampa with a clear head and a healthy body.”

In addition to his problems off the field, he hasn’t been productive on it since 2012. The 35-year-old has a 4.81 ERA with 470 hits allowed, 360 strikeouts and 125 walks in 424.1 innings over the last three years.

The usually durable Sabathia hasn’t hit the 30-start, 200-inning barrier since 2013 and hasn’t had an ERA under 4.70 since 2012. He’s spent time on the disabled list each of the last two seasons and had arthroscopic knee surgery in July 2014.

Prior to the Yankees’ American League Wild Card Game against Houston on Oct. 6, Sabathia announced (per the New York Daily News) he was checking himself into an alcohol rehab center:

I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series. It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.

Four months later, he sounds like he’s in a much better place physically and mentally than he was the last time anyone saw him in a Yankees uniform. The former AL Cy Young Award winner did what he needed to do for himself and his family, first and foremost.

The Yankees hope Sabathia’s work to arrive in that place will help him recover some of the dominance he once had on the mound. They will need him if they hope to make another playoff push with a pitching staff that has a lot of question marks after Masahiro Tanaka at the top.

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CC Sabathia Discusses Life as an Alcoholic in New York Daily News Interview

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia admitted this week he’s known about his alcohol problem for about three years. Yet, it wasn’t until near the end of the regular season in Baltimore that he finally understood he needed help.  

The 35-year-old former ace discussed his addiction to alcohol in an interview with Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. He insisted the issues never carried into his starts, stating he was “functioning as an alcoholic,” but on the final day of the regular season, he decided it was time for change.

“I woke up on that Sunday and was like, ‘I can’t do this no more,'” Sabathia said. “I came in on Sunday and felt like I needed to get some help. I know it was bad timing, but I felt like if I didn’t tell somebody then, I would have been in real trouble.”

Sabathia decided to leave the Yankees as they were getting ready for the playoffs, and enter an alcohol rehabilitation center. His wife urged him to wait until the season played out, but the left-hander told her if he didn’t make the move at that time, he probably never would.

The choice came after years of trying to control the problem by himself by setting various boundaries concerning when and what he would drink. He ultimately determined trying to make those types of decisions highlighted the problem, according to Feinsand:

I would go around my starts. If I knew I had a weekend or three or four days, where I would have two days to get back to be ready to pitch, I would do that. The planning out of it, what made me realize I was an alcoholic, I’m planning out when I can drink. If you’ve got to do that, I feel like you’ve got a problem.

He first felt the urge to get help after an incident outside a Toronto nightclub in August. He ended up staying the course, however, stating, per Feinsand: “Really at that time is when I felt like I needed it, but it was right in the middle of the season.”

Now that he’s gone through rehab and is feeling better about himself, he’s hopeful about the future with a strong support system in place, including a sponsor. He said he knows the real test will come when it’s time for the extended grind of a baseball season, though.

“It’s going to be hard, but I have different things that I can do now,” Sabathia said. “Pick up a book, play some video games, go out with my teammates, do stuff that I like to do and get back to my old self. I think the biggest thing for me is not isolating myself and feeling like I need something to do.”

All told, Sabathia seeking professional help at a time when the Yankees were getting ready to start a potential playoff run proved he was serious about getting better. Based on his comments, everything is now moving in a positive direction.

Sabathia also spoke about trying to become an asset for the Yankees again after some lackluster seasons by his standards. That said, staying healthy must be the top priority.


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CC Sabathia Discusses Decision to Enter Rehab on ‘Good Morning America’

CC Sabathia knows he left the New York Yankees to enter rehab for alcoholism at the worst possible time; however, in his first interview since completing treatment, the former Cy Young Award winner said it’s what needed to be done.  

“Like I said, I know it was a bad time of the season, but I woke up on that Sunday morning in Baltimore and there was no other option for me but to get help,” Sabathia told Robin Roberts in a Good Morning America interview that will air in full Friday (h/t Katie Kindelan of GMA, via Yahoo).

Sabathia, 35, checked into rehab Oct. 5, a day before the Yankees played the Houston Astros in their American League Wild Card matchup. He would have been part of the team’s expected rotation for the ALDS had the Yankees won. Many fans were critical of the timing of Sabathia’s decision, which drew a mixed reaction from the lefty.

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CC Sabathia to Enter Alcohol Rehabilitation Center, Will Not Pitch in Playoffs

New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia won’t pitch during the 2015 MLB playoffs after deciding to enter treatment at an alcohol rehabilitation center.

Sabathia released an official statement Monday to explain his decision, courtesy of the Yankees’ official website:

Today I am checking myself into an alcohol rehabilitation center to receive the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease.

I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series. It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.

I want to thank the New York Yankees organization for their encouragement and understanding. Their support gives me great strength and has allowed me to move forward with this decision with a clear mind.

As difficult as this decision is to share publicly, I don’t want to run and hide. But for now please respect my family’s need for privacy as we work through this challenge together.

Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.

I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness.

After the announcement, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman spoke about Sabathia, saying: “It wasn’t a phone call I was expecting,” but added the team will “do everything in our power” to support the pitcher, via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

“CC has demonstrated a great deal of courage…Time and place have no bearing,” Cashman said, per Feinsand. “There’s something here that needs to be taken care of.”

Sabathia has struggled to find his form over the past three seasons and is coming off of a 2015 campaign in which he posted a 6-10 record with a 4.73 ERA. Those numbers suggest he’s a shell of the southpaw stud who won 59 games in his first three seasons with the Bronx Bombers.

A nagging knee injury also limited Sabathia to eight starts in 2014 and landed him on the disabled list late this year.

NBC Sports’ Drew Silva highlighted how Sabathia still managed to close out 2015 strong despite the personal issues he’s now made public knowledge:

The former Cy Young Award winner and six-time All-Star has a World Series title to his name as well, so Sabathia has accomplished about all he could have hoped to in a stellar career. At age 35, it appears he is keen on returning to the mound in 2016, though he may be hard-pressed to rediscover the form that made him one of baseball’s best pitchers in his prime.

Above all else, the concern is for Sabathia’s well-being. If he can take care of himself away from the field, there’s at least a chance his transcendent talent will allow him to stage a successful comeback once he’s fully recovered.

As for the Yankees’ immediate outlook, they’ll start Masahiro Tanaka in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game against the Houston Astros, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. It’s a win-or-go-home scenario, but home-field advantage should help New York as it goes up against Astros ace Dallas Keuchel.

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CC Sabathia’s Recent Return to Form Could Pay Off Big for Yankees Come October

How huge (pun sort of intended) would some vintage CC Sabathia be for the New York Yankees down the stretch?

Yes, the hulking left-hander sports a less-than-stellar 4.80 ERA. And yes, he’s an injury-plagued 35-year-old with a creaky right knee.

After two straight solid starts by the six-time All-Star and 2007 American League Cy Young-winner, though, the Yankees can be forgiven for dreaming big.

On Sunday against the New York Mets, in the rubber match of a Subway Series ripe with playoff implications, Sabathia tossed six innings of five-hit, one-run ball with seven strikeouts.

He also picked up his first win since July 8 as New York rolled 11-2, which nudged the Yankees to within 2.5 games of the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East.

New York and Toronto will clash beginning Monday in a monumental three-game set north of the border. Sabathia won’t pitch in any of those contests, but with the way he’s been going, the Yanks probably wish he could.

Sabathia’s mini-resurgence also includes a game Sept. 14 that saw him put up zeroes for 6.2 frames against the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out six and throwing a season-high 111 pitches.

“I thought his sinker was tremendous tonight,” skipper Joe Girardi told reporters after that appearance. “It just had a lot of movement on it. I thought he used his breaking ball extremely well…he came up big for us and gave us a ton of distance.”

Sabathia returned from the disabled list Sept. 9 and began wearing a knee brace that the New York Post‘s Fred Kerber said the southpaw “once viewed as acceptable as eating poached sand.”

“It feels good,” Sabathia said after his first go-round with the brace, per Kerber. “In the middle of the first inning, once I got over that mental hurdle it held up great and my knee felt fine, so I’m excited about it.”

New York should be equally excited, particularly considering the state of its rotation.

Ace Masahiro Tanaka will miss at least one start, against Toronto, with a hamstring strain, per ESPN’s Wallace Matthews. And hard-throwing right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is out for the remainder of the regular season, and quite possibly beyond, with elbow inflammation.

The rest of the bunch—Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova and rookie Luis Severino—are an uneasy mix of inconsistent and untested.

That leaves a void at the top of the Yankees’ starting corps. The depth of their rotation will only matter if they get past the Wild Card Game, either by winning it or catching the Blue Jays. But assuming New York advances to the division series, it’ll need another starter or two to seize the moment.

Sabathia certainly has experience. He’s pitched in the postseason in six separate seasons, with the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers and four times with the Yankees, including a title run in 2009 when he won American League Championship Series MVP honors.

His recent track record, however, is less than sterling. He pitched just 46 innings in 2014 while posting a career-worst 5.28 ERA, and he surrendered a major league-leading 112 earned runs  in 2013.

Entering 2015, it was worth wondering if Sabathia could ever regain his old form. In August, when Sabathia landed on the disabled list with knee inflammation, Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media questioned whether he’d ever pitch again.

Now, after avoiding surgery and making a couple of encouraging trips to the hill, he’s teasing the old CC. The good CC. The clock hasn’t turned back yet, but the gears are churning.

Assuming the Yankees end up in the one-game, do-or-die wild-card showdown, they’d surely throw out Tanaka if he’s healthy. But if the Yankees win that game—had the season ended Sunday, their opponent would have been the Houston Astroswould Sabathia be the man to start Game 1 of the division series?

It would have been an improbable notion a few weeks ago—laughable, even. Now, it’s entirely plausible. 

At the very least, expect Sabathia to burn what’s left in the tank the rest of the way. “I’m not going to back off or anything,” he said during his stint on the DL back in late August, per George A. King III of the New York Post. “It’s not that time for that.”

It is, on the other hand, time for a playoff run in the Bronx. And, perhaps, for CC Sabathia to come up hugejust like he did during New York’s sprint to a Commissioner’s Trophy a half-dozen years ago.


All statistics current as of Sept. 20 and courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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CC Sabathia Injury: Updates on Yankees Pitcher’s Knee and Return

New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia was placed on the disabled list after he left in the third inning of an Aug. 23 game against the Cleveland Indians because of a knee injury that will threaten his status for the remainder of the team’s campaign. 

Continue for updates.

Sabathia May Not Return in 2015 After Knee Injury

Monday, Aug. 24

“Is it possible he won’t pitch the rest of the year?” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. “It’s possible.”

However, Sabathia will be seeking a second opinion on his knee tomorrow in New York City, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. 

Sabathia, 35, left the game with right knee pain after giving up two runs in 2.2 innings, per Yankees PR (h/t YES Network), who added the pitcher would get an MRI to evaluate the severity of the ailment. Rookie reliever Nick Rumbelow, who before Aug. 23 had not given up a run in his last seven appearances, came in for relief.

In his seventh season as a Yankee, Sabathia has been nowhere near his former All-Star self. The high-paid lefty has a 5.27 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and a 4-9 record. Those struggles have made Sabathia the object of derision among fans, perhaps culminating last week when he got into a shouting match with hecklers in Toronto.

“It was a bad decision on my part,” Sabathia said, per Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com. “I probably should’ve kept quiet and got in a cab. I’m just glad I ended up getting in the cab before everything went down. I didn’t know that big fight happened afterward. It was just a bad decision on my part.”

Given his performance level, the Yankees aren’t likely to miss Sabathia much if he is out for an extended period. Only a week remains before September call-ups, which will give New York plenty of options to fill his spot in the rotation.

Still, it’s another dispiriting blow in a season full of them for the former Yankees ace.


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What Was the Last MLB "Superteam" to Actually Earn the Hype?

NEW YORK — The best team ever didn’t win.

No, that’s not right. By definition, the best team ever is one that won.

However, the “BEST TEAM EVER!” didn’t.

It was the 2011 Boston Red Sox, and we know it now as the team that collapsed in a mess of beer and fried chicken. But the day before Opening Day, we knew it as the team the Boston Herald called the “BEST TEAM EVER!”

“I thought we were good,” Terry Francona said Thursday. “And we were good, until the middle of September. We were on pace to win 100 games.”

They didn’t win, and it cost Francona his job as manager (and allowed him to move on to Cleveland, where he still looks much happier than he did in Boston). They didn’t win, because in baseball, the team we’re all sure is going to win often doesn’t.

Ask the Washington Nationals.

Bryce Harper got all the attention on the first day of spring training this year by asking, “Where’s my ring?” But the truth is most of us saw the Nationals as a superteam with an unbelievable rotation back then. Now we see them as a group that has been anything but super for four-and-a-half months and spent a day under .500 just this week.

Or ask the Detroit Tigers.

When they added David Price to a rotation that already included Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander last July, we couldn’t stop talking about how a team with three Cy Young winners was going to be unstoppable in October. Then they got to the playoffs and didn’t win a single game.

What is it about baseball? How do these superteams always end up proving themselves so un-super?

One thing is it’s not easy to win a World Series, even if you put together an incredible team.

“It’s really not,” CC Sabathia agreed.

And his superteam won.

They were the 2009 New York Yankees, and the year before, they had closed the old Yankee Stadium by missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Determined not to let that happen again in the first year in the new park, they spent $161 million on Sabathia, $180 million on Mark Teixeira and $82.5 million on A.J. Burnett.

They were the kings of the winter…and then they were the kings of the summer and fall, too.

“That team was really close for a team considered a superteam,” Sabathia said. “I don’t know if that was all according to plan, but sometimes you just get lucky. [General manager Brian Cashman] did a good job of [finding] pretty good guys, along with good talent.”

Sabathia has been on other talented teams in his 15-year career, and he has played with a lot of other groups of pretty good guys. That 2009 group is the only one that won a World Series, though.

Sometimes, you’ve got to get lucky.

We never like to say that, because we always want to think that the best team wins. We always want to think that if a superteam doesn’t win, it’s because of some fault it had or because it wasn’t so super in the first place.

Year after year, we’re asking the questions, because year after year, a superteam falls short of super.

Take the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies won the 2008 World Series and made it back to the World Series with the team that lost to Sabathia’s Yankees in 2009. A year later, they won a free-agent battle with the Yankees over Cliff Lee, adding him to a rotation that already included Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. Then they traded for Roy Oswalt to give them four aces.

How do you lose with four aces? The Phillies did.

They won 102 games in the regular season, but Halladay lost 1-0 to Chris Carpenter in Game 5 of the Division Series, and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to win the World Series. The Phillies thought they were pretty super in 2010, too, but they lost that year’s National League Championship Series to the San Francisco Giants, who won the World Series.

The Giants won the World Series that year, and won it again in 2012 and in 2014. They didn’t make the list of superteams, because they’ve never been a team we’ve thought of as super in April or July.

They’re a team we only think of as super in October, and when you think about it, that’s a lot more important.

The 2012 Los Angeles Angels never got there.

The Angels went to the playoffs six times in eight years from 2002-2009, but when they missed in back-to-back seasons, owner Arte Moreno went to the free-agent market for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. The Angels also added Mike Trout, who was the Rookie of the Year and almost the Most Valuable Player. They traded for Zack Greinke at midseason.

They didn’t even make the playoffs, winning 89 games and finishing third in the American League West. They got off to a bad start, in part because they had a terrible bullpen, and even after they added Ernesto Frieri in a midseason trade, they watched Frieri turn back-to-back brilliant Greinke starts into losses in September.

At least they were in a pennant race. The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays never even got that far.

The Blue Jays, determined to end a postseason drought that had extended since 1993, made two huge trades in the winter. They got Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson from the Miami Marlins, and they got Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets.

On Opening Day in Toronto, the excitement was back. It didn’t last. The super Blue Jays never spent a day in first place. They finished 14 games under .500 at 74-88.

“In baseball, you can set up your roster in April, but if you have pitchers go down, it’s tough,” said Francona, whose 2015 Indians were never considered super and have had a disappointing season. “You’ve not only got to be good, but you’ve got to be situated to deal with things.”

The 2011 Red Sox were good, but they certainly couldn’t deal with everything that came their way. They did have pitching injuries to go along with the beer and fried chicken, and by the end of September the Boston Herald was saluting them with a very different cover, caught here on Twitter:

Not every best team ever goes down so spectacularly, but recent history has shown us that not many of them win, either.

Sabathia is right. Even when you’re super, it’s not easy to win it all.

It’s really not.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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