History Repeating

The confluence of another bad CC Sabathia start on Saturday with David Cone doing the postgame from the studio reminded me that we are seeing a familiar script unfold. It was fifteen years ago that Yankees’ fans saw Cone simply lose his effectiveness and their manager dig in his heels and insist on pitching him over and over again. Does that sound familiar?

In fairness, 2000 may have been worse than now. Cone was worse in 2000 than Sabathia has been in 2015, and his contract was up at the end of the season. (Not that contract status is a reason for loyalty, but Torre knew he wasn’t going to have Cone on the team in 2001. Girardi doesn’t have that luxury.) Cone put up a 6.91 ERA, yet made 29 starts! The Yankees signed Dwight Gooden in the middle of the season and traded for Danny Neagle, yet Cone kept pitching!  (Ah to have had a blog in 2000)

It wasn’t until the playoffs that Joe Torre finally saw the light. Cone worked exclusively out of the bullpen, and really worked is the wrong word. He didn’t appear in the Division Series and his sole appearance in the ALCS was one inning of mop-up duty. He got one batter in the World Series, but that was memorable. With the Yankees leading the series 2-1 and the game 3-2, Cone came in for the final out of the fifth and retired Mike Piazza. It was a deft bit of management by Torre, trusting a guy who had done so much for him in the past in a big spot.

In the next few days we will know how well this parallel between Cone and Sabathia will hold up. If the Yankees acquire a starter, who goes to the bullpen? We know what the answer should be, but with history and loyalty against us, we might be in for a nasty surprise.