"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


Chien-Ming Wang’s season is finished. He is set to have shoulder surgery this morning. Tyler Kepner reports in the New York Times:

“Missing a year, going through the stuff he was going through when he was here; it just stinks he’s not going to be here,” [CC] Sabathia said. “We really need him. He’s a great pitcher.”

At least, Wang used to be a great pitcher, when he was the No. 1 starter on the playoff teams of 2006 and 2007. Now Wang’s future is unknown, and he may have thrown his last pitch for the Yankees.

Man, what a bad break for Wang, and also the Yankees.

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1 OldYanksFan   ~  Jul 29, 2009 9:29 am

Is Wang the first to have this kind of surgery?
If not, there musr be some history of others who have had it and if/how they came back from it.

Yes? No?

2 unmoderated   ~  Jul 29, 2009 10:33 am

love the wanger. good luck to him, hopefully he can come back 100%

3 Paul   ~  Jul 29, 2009 10:38 am

Where's Abraham's post saying how smart the Yankees were to not give him a long-term contract as when they extended Cano? The guy writes a book on Wang and takes it personally when they were smarter than him.

Pitchers with previous shoulder injuries do not tend to age well. Elbows can be repaired. Shoulders, not so much.

4 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 29, 2009 11:15 am

Very sad, particularly because this whole chain of events could have been avoided if the Yankee staff had enough foresight to instruct Wang not run all out on the bases and Meacham not to wave in your ace pitcher with a 4-run lead.

5 NYYfan22   ~  Jul 29, 2009 11:16 am

Pete Abe drew a possible link from this shoulder injury to Wang's busted foot back in Houston last June. How that could have had him change his delivery and possibly opening the door for the shoulder injury. He writes, "Did the foot injury change cause a subtle change in Wang’s mechanics that led to the shoulder injury? We’ll never know for sure, but that seems like a logical place to start."

I dunno, I think reading into it like this is pointless. He's injured. Does it matter whether he developed this injury after the foot or for 10 years? I don't think so. And either way, he'll have to relearn basic mechanics yet again.

It's like when I wonder if I'd still have gray hairs if we never had kids. Doesn't matter - I have kiddos and I have gray hairs!

6 monkeypants   ~  Jul 29, 2009 11:34 am

[4] I thought that your argument was off base (no pun intended) then, and I continue to think so. The more serious criticism (in my opinion)--and more proximate--is why the Yankees seemingly rushed him back not once but twice, and threw eight "real" games to give him essentially extended spring training--games in which the team when 1-7.

7 ms october   ~  Jul 29, 2009 11:40 am

i feel bad for wang. he is somebody i especially root for.
hopefully he can recover, but this is a lot for him to recover from.

i'm not sure if the foot injury led to this - probably can't ever really know - does seem like it was part of it.
it is pretty clear that he wasn't ready to pitch at the beginning of the year and then was rushed back again from the dl and probably again from the pen to the rotation.

i'm not totally sure he was in the longterm plans anyway, but assuming cc, aj, joba, and phil are the starters next year they are a starter short.

8 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 29, 2009 11:44 am

[6] I feel as strongly about it now as I did then. The Yankees were negligent in how they handled Wang in that game...and were negligent in how they handled him this season. When it comes time to talk contract, I really hope the Yankees remember the role they played in his injury.

9 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 29, 2009 11:47 am

Looks like Lee to the Phillies btw...I hope that doesn't mean JP gets desperate and caves into Boston.

10 monkeypants   ~  Jul 29, 2009 11:50 am

[7] What's interesting to me is that he was very effective out of the pen...albeit in super-duper-small-sample-sized bites: 8.0 INN, 2.25 ERA, 3.50 K/BB, 7.9 K/9INN. I wonder if the better plan would have been to work him out of the pen and move someone else to the rotation. And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

11 monkeypants   ~  Jul 29, 2009 11:52 am

[8] Unfortunately, when it comes contract time, I'm not sure the Yankees can or should think with their hearts. In a just world he would perhaps get a massive severance pay, but I'm not sure that Wang will warrant a roster spot come 2011. If he does, great!

12 ms october   ~  Jul 29, 2009 11:56 am

[9] hopefully he is taking his 7/28 deadline seriously

[11] already a lot of chatter that he is going to be non-tendered

13 Paul   ~  Jul 29, 2009 12:04 pm

I can blame the Yankees for rushing Wang back - twice. I can't blame a now fired 3rd base coach for his injury.

The only thing being forgotten is he had already hurt his shoulder once. It may have just been a matter of time before he did again. And that's why they come out looking very smart for having not extended him.

14 monkeypants   ~  Jul 29, 2009 12:11 pm

[13] Cliff posted on this a while back, and maybe even re-posted an article. The Yankees have always seemed cautious with Wang, who was a bit slow through the minors (but got a late start), has had some injury history (you mentioned his shoulder), and whose peripherals (low K rate especially) do not portend long term success.

15 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 29, 2009 12:19 pm

[11] I think they can and should...I'll be ashamed if they don't.

16 monkeypants   ~  Jul 29, 2009 12:23 pm

[15] I don't want to see the roster compromised as part of some public penance.

17 williamnyy23   ~  Jul 29, 2009 1:00 pm

[16] The roster would be compromised because he'd be on the 60-day DL. It's only a matter of money and the Yankees have more than enough of that.

18 monkeypants   ~  Jul 29, 2009 1:32 pm

[17] Right, but sooner or later they have to decide to keep him or cut him loose. Like I said at [11], if it's a matter of giving him a wad of cash out of charity or honor or whatever, I have no problem. But beyond that, if he doesn't warrant a spot on the roster, he should not get a contract.

Moreover, if they cut him loose unceremoniously I would not be "ashamed", as apparently would you. This is largely because:

1. I am not convinced that his shoulder injury and foot injury are directly related
2. Even if they are, I do not hold the Yankees accountable for the freak foot injury--unlike you I do not see that injury as reasonably avoided and certainly not foreseeable. Thus I am not aggrieved by it as are you.
3. There is no direct evidence that him being rushed back to the league contributed in any way to his shoulder injury (in my mind, the only thing worth complaining about is that Wang was clearly not ready to return from a performance standpoint, and it cost the team several games). Thus, I am not as aggrieved as are you about his handling this year.
4. Professional baseball players, even those making the minimum, are handsomely rewarded, in my estimation, so I again do not feel particularly aggrieved at the Yankees being "cheap" with Wang.
5. The way MLB is set up, it is in the interests of the organization to exploit the players as much as possible in their early years, just as it is in the interests of the players to extort as much as possible from the teams, especially when they have more leverage later on.

Overall, Wang is the unlucky victim of several unfortunate circumstances. Some of these may--or may not--be directly the Yankees' "fault", but I don't feel that this meets any burden of proof. I am not convinced that the Yankees owe Wang anything in particularly, or that he has been wronged in some obvious manner (let alone in a criminal or even liable manner).

If the Yankees wish to extend charity to the Wang, who seems like a nice guy and straight shooter, I would applaud them. But it really shouldn't go beyond that.

On the other hand, if they think that Wang can recover and return to form, then by all means take the necessary steps to facilitate the process.

19 a.O   ~  Jul 29, 2009 1:47 pm

I'm with the pants, at #18. And, I'd add, it's pretty ridiculous to hold the Yankees responsible for a guy who rips his foot apart running. That's sorta part of baseball, even for a pitcher, you know? What if he was covering first? Or fielding a bunt? Or backing up the plate?

But my conclusion is a little different: Wang is done in pinstripes.

All that aside, I feel bad for the Wanger and hope he makes a speedy recovery and finds his bowling ball again.

20 Rich   ~  Jul 29, 2009 2:10 pm

Wang had a shoulder injury in 2005 as well. Who knows what the etiology of the current condition is?

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