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Down The Line

September 27, 2009|Bill Shaikin

CC you in October

It's no contest which player will be under the most scrutiny this October. The New York Yankees have $161 million riding on CC Sabathia to lead them back to glory, but Sabathia's postseason past is not pretty.

Sabathia started three playoff games in 2007, one last year. He has averaged less than five innings in those starts, with 17 walks in 19 innings.

He carried the Milwaukee Brewers into the playoffs last year, making his final three starts on three days' rest. In the playoffs -- also on short rest -- he did not survive the fourth inning.

"I don't think I was tired at all," Sabathia said. "I felt fresh. Everything just caught up to me, just the mental part of it."

Sabathia pitched 241 innings in the 2007 season, 253 last season. He's at 227 now, with one start left.

Then come the playoffs, a shot at redemption for him and his new team.

"That's why I came here," he said, "to try to win a championship."

The Yankees have not won a postseason series since 2004. Among the 14 clubs that have: the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays.

New year, old story

Milton Bradley defined respect as a multiyear contract. The Chicago Cubs gave him his first such contract last winter, for three years, after Bradley led the American League in OPS last year.

Now the Cubs have kicked him off the team for bad behavior, and he must once again worry about where he might be next year, most likely with his seventh team in eight years.

The Cubs gambled on Bradley because they coveted a powerful left-handed hitter to balance their lineup, and they didn't believe Jim Edmonds could hold up.

Bradley's slugging percentage had fallen in the second half last season, from .610 to .476. Edmonds' percentage had risen, from .424 to .586.

But enough about last year. Bradley hit .234 as a left-handed hitter this season, with a .385 slugging percentage.

That's not to say that Edmonds would have been the best answer, at 39, but a one-year investment in a platoon player might have been more prudent than a $30-million investment in Bradley.

Edmonds did not find a job this season, but he would be interested in one next season.

"In the right situation, he's definitely looking at it," agent Paul Cohen said. "He looks as good as I've ever seen him."

Defending champs on Lidge ledge

Until this year, David Aardsma was better known as the first name in the Baseball Encyclopedia. After working in middle relief for four teams, he emerged this year as the closer for the Seattle Mariners. He has 36 saves in 40 tries, with a 2.00 ERA.

His experience would seem to support sabermetric wisdom that many good relievers can handle the ninth inning, that spending big bucks on a veteran closer can waste millions of dollars, but he demurred.

"Try to find a good team that doesn't have a closer that's done it successfully for a while," he said.

The Philadelphia Phillies are paying $11.5 million to Brad Lidge, who did not blow a save last year but leads the majors with 11 blown saves this year. The playoffs start next week, and the Phillies say they have no idea who their closer will be.

-- Bill Shaikin

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