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CC: Closer to an MVP than a Cy Young?

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The CC Sabathia for NL Cy Young Award talk is starting to pick up some steam. Actually, "picking up steam" is the wrong phrase, but everyone seems to be asking me these days if he has a shot at winning the award.

If anything, I think he has a better shot at an MVP Award than he does a Cy Young. Personally, I don't think he has a shot at either, but if I had to make a case for Sabathia to win one of them, it would be MVP.

However, if voters couldn't find a way to get Pedro Martinez an MVP Award in 1999, I find it hard to believe they would vote for someone who was only in the league for a little more than half a season.

Sabathia has been incredible since being acquired from Cleveland back in early July, going 8-0 with a 1.60 earned run average, while finishing five of his nine starts for the Brewers. He is probably going to get seven or eight more starts so he should probably end the year with at least 14 NL wins.

Of course, Rick Sutcliffe won the NL Cy Young Award in 1984 for the Chicago Cubs after getting dealt by the Indians, thanks to a 16-1 mark in 20 starts.

Keep in mind, though, that Sutcliffe did not have the kind of competition for the award that Sabathia has in Brandon Webb, who is probably going to win 20 games this season and could get more than 24 victories - something that hasn't happened in the Senior Circuit since Steve Carlton won 27 in 1972.

Unlike the Cy Young, though, for which Webb is the odds-on favorite, the NL MVP race is still wide open. If Milwaukee makes the playoffs, you can easily make a case for giving the big lefty the award. I wouldn't, but someone could definitely make the case.

At the All-Star break I would have given it to Philadelphia's Chase Utley, but he would need a miracle at this point to resuscitate his chances.

The Chicago Cubs have been the best team in the NL this season, but they don't really have a viable contender. I guess you can make an argument for St. Louis' Albert Pujols or David Wright of the New York Mets, but to paraphrase Michael Corleone, the real NL MVP has yet to reveal himself.

Crazy prediction here: Ryan Howard belts close to 20 home runs in September and leads the Phillies to an NL East title and wins his second MVP Award.

Sabathia, on the other hand, will have to settle for a deal topping $100 million this offseason. Not a bad consolation prize.

THE NEW YORK YANKEES: 1996-2008

As Colonel Troutman told John Rambo in First Blood: "It's over Johnny. It's over!"

What am I referring to, you ask? Well I am speaking about the New York Yankees' 2008 season and their string of 13 straight playoff appearances. Despite what Joe Girardi or Derek Jeter may have you believe, I have chosen to follow the lead set forth by the team's owner, Hank Steinbrenner, who has declared them dead and is already looking towards next season.

Can you imagine George Steinbrenner coming out and saying something like that?

The old Boss would have quoted General Patton, putting out one of his inspiring missives about how the Yankees will survive because they are champions or make some played-out statement like "tough times don't last, but tough people do".

But to give up with more than a month-and-a-half to play? Ladies and gentleman, this is a new era in Yankee baseball.

You can make all the jokes you want about Darrell Rasner, Sidney Ponson and Dan Giese starting games for a team with a $200+-million payroll, but it is not those guys that have been the downfall of this Yankees team. They are going to miss the playoffs because that "star"-studded lineup has managed two runs or less 40 times this season.

It's basically the same lineup from a year ago that led the league with 968 runs, but as anyone who watches the team knows, this is not the same team. Alex Rodriguez has again put up big numbers, but unlike last year, much of his damage has come in garbage time.

Teams get old, and this team seems to have aged 10 years overnight. Enjoy Jorge Posada's contract the next three years.

By the way, what has happened to Robinson Cano? He got off to a slow start last year but rebounded to hit .343 in the second half and the Yanks rewarded him with a long-term deal this offseason. He again got off to a slow start this season, but has really never recovered, save from a hot streak here and there. Not to mention that his overall game has just seemed to regress.

The knock on him has always been that he was a bit lazy. Larry Bowa, though, seemed to keep his head on straight while he was there. Without Bowa, you see what those people were talking about.

I know there is still a lot of time to play, but as I write this, the Yanks are six games back of the Boston Red Sox in the loss column for the wild card. Forget the division, the Tampa Bay Rays are so far ahead of them there, Girardi needs a pair of binoculars to find them.

Crazier things have happened, but I have seen nothing from this team that lets me think they have the kind of run that it's going to take to keep that postseason streak going.

WAIVER TRADE RULES

A number of people have asked me over the past couple of weeks how waiver trades are made, like the Greg Maddux to the Los Angeles Dodgers deal just the other day. I am going to do my best to explain it, so bear with me.

Any player can be put on waivers by his team, and the player does not need to be informed. Teams can place up to seven names per day on the wire, but no player is able to be placed on waivers more than twice in a season.

Other teams then have the chance to make a claim on the player during a 48- hour window. If the player is claimed, the team that placed him on waivers has the option of pulling him back (revocable waivers). The team that pulls him back, though, can't trade him for 30 days. However, if his team decides not to pull him back (irrevocable waivers), they have a few options.

For one, his team can work out a trade with the team that claimed him. Any player involved in the trade who is on a 40-man roster must go through waivers first.

Secondly, his team can just dump him and his salary on the team that claimed him, getting no player in return. If more than one team places a claim on a player, the winning claim is awarded based on worst record of the league the claiming team is in.

And finally, if no one claims him, his team is free to trade him to any team. According to reports several players are already in this category. Gary Sheffield, Eric Gagne, Melvin Mora, Aubrey Huff and Mark Kotsay, among others, have all apparently cleared waivers and can be dealt to anyone.

Got all that?

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Michael Rushton at mrushton@sportsnetwork.com.