Yankees holding tight, counting on Sabathia

BY Bob Klapisch • July 24, 2009

It took Brian Cashman days — not weeks — to realize the
Yankees would never be players in the Roy Halladay courtship, not
after the effort it took to acquire a second-tier talent like Eric Hinske.

"That was a small deal, and it turned into a big deal," is
what the general manager said, explaining how Halladay became a pipe
dream. Cashman isn't alone in his weariness: the trade market is more
delicately wired than ever. Everyone's afraid to move bodies, exchange
money, blow out a budget in an environment where there are no second
chances.




In the end, the Yankees backed away from Halladay for two reasons:
They weren't eager to add payroll, and, perhaps more importantly,
they're comfortable with CC Sabathia as their ace.

The big lefthander has so far delivered on the preseason hype: he's
larger than life, if not slightly larger than his uniform. Sabathia
has won three of his last four starts, and leads the Yankees with 10
victories.

He wasn't at his best in defeating the A's Thursday night, allowing
three runs and nine hits over seven innings. But he kept the Yankees' winning
streak alive at seven games, good enough for the Bombers to maintain a 2.5-
game lead over the Red Sox.

Cashman says, "I like where we are, obviously" although it goes
without saying the Bombers' residence in first place carries an
asterisk. They're 0-8 against the Sox this season and will need to
beat them sooner or later, if only for their psychological well-being.

Make no mistake, the Yankees having been living with Boston's
dominance since they were swept at Fenway in June. Cashman insists,
"the Red Sox are not in our heads" but how could they not be? The chance
for redemption is almost here, as Boston comes to the Stadium in two
weeks for a crucial four-game series.

That's where Sabathia comes in: the Yankees need him not just to
merely pitch well, but to deliver an emphatic message. They need
someone to match up with and beat Josh Beckett, and every other
American League ace.

That person is not A.J. Burnett — who has killer stuff, but is
notoriously inconsistent.



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