CC is ticket to Series

The Baltimore Sun

Connie Mack was supposed to have said that pitching is 90 percent of baseball. Although much has changed about the game since Mack managed wearing a starched collar and tie, that verity stands as immutable as one-two-three-strikes-yer-out.

If you have to count on either good pitching or good hitting, the smart money is on the arms, not the lumber.

The world champion Phillies might be remembered as a having a lineup full of boppers, but when they rushed through the playoffs with an 11-3 record, it was because the Phils' pitching sparkled in the postseason with a 3.08 ERA (2.86 in the World Series).

So when it comes to choosing between Angels first baseman (and Baltimore-area hero) Mark Teixeira and Brewers pitcher CC Sabathia as Most Valuable Free Agent, there's no question. Obviously, Teixeira would look great in any uniform (for years, Orioles fans have imagined him in black and orange). But if you can afford him, Sabathia is the choice.

For the Indians in 2007, Sabathia was the American League Cy Young Award winner. He played just half a season for Milwaukee in 2008, but was still a contender for the National League Cy Young.

But let's look at impact.

When Teixeira was traded to Atlanta in 2007, he had an exceptional half-season for the Braves, but it wasn't enough to put them into the playoffs. Although his second team in '08, the Angels, won the AL West, they were already in control of the division when he got there. And despite Tex's .467 playoff batting average, the Los Angeles lost its first playoff series.

Meanwhile, before Sabathia pitched his first game for Milwaukee in July 2008, the Brewers were nine games over .500 and scrambling in third place in the NL Central. In qualifying as a wild card, they finished 18 games over .500. Those extra nine wins? Sabathia went 11-2. The Brewers also got the bum's rush in the first playoff series, but without Sabathia they never would have even been there.

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