Archive for January 26th, 2007

Pavano to pitch

The saga of Carl Pavano continues. After sitting out for a season and a half, Pavano has been cleared to throw and will have a bullpen session today. To which Yankee fans respond: “Who is Carl Pavano? Is that some guy we picked up from the Italian league?”

Following the 2004 season, in which the Yankees succumbed in grandiose fashion to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, Big Stein decided that drastic measures were in order. Pavano, coming off a career year with the Florida Marlins, was Target No. 1. And what Big Stein wants, Big Stein gets. Despite offers — some reportedly more lucrative — Pavano signed with the Yankees for four years, $39.95 million. Yes, not only did Stein want Pavano, but he wanted him for less than $40 million.

Also that winter, the Yankees made a fruitless run at former farmhand Eric Milton, who mercifully signed with the Reds. The Yankees didn’t get much better, though, as they ended up going with Jaret Wright for three years, $21 million. Then, in January, after a month or more of speculation, Randy Johnson landed in New York. Wallet: opened. Rotation: old and/or creaky.

No one delivered on the hype. Johnson pitched poorly and fabricated a different excuse after each ineffective start. Wright predictably went down with a shoulder injury in April. And Pavano, after pitching like a bum for the season’s first three months, missed the remainder of the season with “shoulder tendonitis,” though no one had ever seen someone miss so much time with an injury that merely requires rest to heal.

The next spring, Pavano went to camp as a rehab project. That was quickly abandoned, though. Mighty Pavano had injured his…buttocks. He kind of fell down fielding a ground ball, and yeah, was shut down because of his big, fat ass. Things became complicated when Pavano had also reported back problems, which were to surely sideline the hurler until May.

May, 2006. X-rays reveal bone chips in Pavano’s elbow. Could they have been the cause of his woes all along? After all, bone chips can go undetected for some time. They could have forced him to alter his motion in 2005, resulting in a unique case of tendonitis. That altered motion could have also affected his back in Spring Training.

Bone chips removed, Pavano began a minor-league rehab assignment in August. Just a week or so away from re-joining the Major League team, though, Pavano revealed that he had been in an accident (which, the media made sure to note a thousand times, was in his Porche). His bruised ribs, despite much sucess in his rehab assignment, were too much to pitch though. Pavano was shut down and told to go to his room.

Reportedly, he’s been rehabbing in Arizona in order to hit Spring Training in playing condition. Brian Cashman says that Pavano will go like everyone else, not as a rehab case.

I’ve got 50 bucks that Pavano’s knee goes before Opening Day.

NOTE: It’s been well documented that I hate most baseball writers. Their opinions are rarely justified, and their writing style is usually hackish and amateurish. Here, George King commits a different offense: misstatement of fact. From King’s article:

Pavano takes the hill today for the first time since suffering a broken rib in an auto accident last August.

George, the entire media hoopla was because Pavano DID pitch after suffering a broken rib. He neglected to tell the team about the accident until after he had thrown a few minor league assignments.

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Glory! Glory, Halleluja!

The Red Sox and Scott Boras/J.D. Drew dragged this on for seven weeks. I’ll do you the courtesy of taking less than seven seconds.

They’ve finally agreed.

There’s some sort of out clause, though not specified of yet. Still five years; still $70 million.

Okay. So maybe I took 15 seconds.

Weaver to the Mariners?

If this is true, I think we can officially commit Bill Bavasi. His prior pitching acquisitions this off-season, Horacio Ramirez and Miguel Batista, at least had a semblance of a theme: goundball pitchers to a solid infield defense. Batista had a groundball to flyball ratio of 1.88 last year, Ramirez 1.97. With King Felix inducing the groundball at a 2.33 ratio (which could pick up this year, given his 3.31 mark from 2005), the Mariners looked to have a plan in place.

Weaver, though, doesn’t fit that mold at all. In fact, I can’t figure out how this could have fit into any sort of logic. Weaver got trounced in the AL West last year. He doesn’t induce the groundball at an above average rate. His last two samplings in the AL were atrocious (5.99 in 2003 for the Yankees, 6.29 in his stint with Anaheim last season). His strikeout and walk rates were actually worse after signing with St. Louis, though the results were a tad better (5.18 ERA).

The worst part, though, is that the Mariners were/are likely going to get similar production out of Jake Woods. He may never be greater than a No. 4/No. 5 starter, but he’s a whole shitload cheaper than Jeff Weaver, thereby carrying considerably less risk.

All of this goes back to one prevailing idea: Bavasi hasn’t a clue. He has no clear vision on how to build a team, and until he’s gone, I can’t see the Mariners finishing higher than third in the AL West.


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