"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: Carl Pavano

Temper Temper

Oh yeah? Well, at least your wife didn’t hijack the TV to watch Dancing with the Stars leaving you to follow this horseshit of a ball game–Curtis Granderson’s fine running catch and a couple of first inning pops (Jeter, Grandy) notwithstanding–on your phone and your laptop.

Lots of muttering and then flat-out cursing as that meathead, Captain Horseshit himself, Carl Pavano had his way with the Yanks and the Twins cruised to a  7-3 win. Yanks had a 3-2 lead after the first and then, well, I don’t want to talk about it, okay? Is it too early to be irked by a crappy game? Apparently not. I sulked like a brat. The wife stopped just short of telling me to put a muzzle on it.

Ah, whadda ya gunna do? They’ll get ‘em tomorrow night.

[Image by Ron English; Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images]

Tonka Tough

Dig what I came across in Midtown yesterday…

Although this is a 2009 vintage I officially nominate this vehicle as the 2011 Bronx Banter Scoretruck. Can I get a witness?

Fresh direct from the Lo Hud Yankees oven comes news that Rafael Soriano is sorry that he split without talking to reporters last night.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

1. Gardner LF
2. Granderson CF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. Rodriguez DH
5. Cano 2B
6. Swisher RF
7. Chavez 3B
8. Nunez SS
9. Molina C
Garcia P

Forget the chumps–or that Chump, in particular–here comes Fab Five Freddy and

Let’s go Yan-Kees!

Who's the Boss?

It was surprising when the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano… mostly because Brian Cashman had been saying, pretty clearly, that he did not intend to. He explained that he didn’t want to give up a first-round draft pick for anybody besides Cliff Lee (and especially not a pick that would then go to the Rays), and that made good sense, especially since decent relievers can generally be uncovered from within the organization. Today, at the press conference officially announcing Soriano’s signing, Cashman admitted – or perhaps “confirmed” is the better word - that as many suspected (and several, including Buster Olney, previously reported) it was not ultimately his call. Per Joe LeMaire, on Twitter:

Yankees GM Brian Cashman acknowledges he did not recommend signing of Soriano. Says final call was Hal Steinbrenner’s.

Cashman: “I just didn’t think it was an efficient way to allocate our remaining resources.”

Huh.

That’s not surprising, as the Soriano contract is very much not Cashman’s style – not, as he says, an efficient allocation of resources. But I was under the impression that Cashman had successfully wrested control of the Yankees’ baseball decision, except perhaps in the case of a blockbuster like Alex Rodriguez’s most recent signing. And while of course Hal Steinbrenner owns the team and has a right to have input on how his money is spent, I find it puzzling that he would choose to interfere here, in the case of a middle reliever. Signing Soriano is not likely to have a huge impact on the team either way – they’re overpaying for him, but not by a crippling amount, and it’s unlikely to prevent the Yankees from making whatever other moves they feel they need to. Still, it seems like a weird thing for Hal to overrule his GM on. It’s a George kind of move.

Meanwhile, in further disturbing news: we also learned that Cashman not only considered Carl Pavano as a plug for the Yanks’ starting pitcher gap, but (per LoHud) had several discussions with The American Idle’s agent. Yipes! I choose to see this as just a sad, transparent attempt to make Andy Pettitte come rushing back into the Yankees’ arms…

UPDATE: Oh gosh – per WFAN (via Hardball Talk) the Yanks actually made an offer! One year, $10 million, supposedly.  “Carl, how would you like to hear 50,000 people screaming contemptuous insults at you every fifth day…”

Submit Your Nominations For Our Next Dead Horse

First off all, something interesting: last night many people (including me) were eager to jump on the Cliff-Lee-took-less-money story, embracing the idea that here was the rare athlete motivated by something different, and therefore in some way admirable. Well, beware of easy storylines. It now seems that Lee may not have taken much less money at all. Our old friend William argues, at his blog and The Yankee U, that when you include the Phillies’ vesting option for a sixth year, the difference is negligible; he gets into the details of things like tax rates and interest rates which I am wary of diving into myself, but it does at least seem clear that while Lee may have taken less money, it was not near the $50 million less that was being thrown around last night. (Of course, I would love to get paid in a year what Cliff Lee will make in an inning, so it’s pretty much all magic-fun-numbers anyway at this level).

None of this really changes my reaction, which could be summed up as “probably for the best down the road, and if you need me in 2011, I’ll be on the floor, curled into the fetus position around a bottle of Laphroaig.”

With the drama of days and days of fevered speculation behind us, what’s next? The Yankees are already beginning to move on, making the non-inspiring but likely harmless move of signing Russell Martin to a one-year deal. To me, this doesn’t say they’re necessarily planning to trade one of their catching prospects (though of course that’s a possibility), but rather that they really, really do not think Jorge Posada can catch much anymore. Will the catching situation be the new dead horse upon which we release our impatience and frustration?

I’m taking suggestions, but I would like to preemptively oppose further debate on the Joba-as-starter idea. Yes, it makes sense to me too… but apparently it doesn’t to the Yankees, and there’s no meat left on that bone. He remains, for now, the World’s Most Famous Mediocre Middle Reliever.

Also, anybody who so much as whispers a word rhyming with “Pavano” gets slapped with a fish, Python-style.

55 days ’til spring training…

Game 2: Idle Threat?

Alyssa Milano might be the only other entity that regrets a four-year relationship with Carl Pavano more than the Yankees. Granted, the beloved Middle School crush of my age group wasn’t with the man George King of the Post dubbed the “American Idle” as long as the Yankees, but neither relationship was successful for the parties on Pavano’s arm. For Yankee haters, the thought of Pavano dominating the Yankees after he stole $39.99 million from the team from 2005-2008, spreading 26 starts, pitching 145 2/3 innings and amassing a 9-8 record and more ridiculous excuses for landing on the DL, is sublime. For the rest of us, well, the nausea hasn’t subsided.

Somewhere down South, a grinning Pat Jordan is polishing off a gun for Alex.

The Yankees’ saving grace, as it has been in seemingly every Game 2 of every playoff series in which he’s appeared as a Yankee since 2003, is Andy Pettitte. Pettitte won Game 2 of every series in ’03. He won the clinching game in every series of last year’s World Series run. He represents the championships, reliability, leadership, and stability in the rotation.

But he also represents the age of this Yankee team. At 38, Pettitte has not shown the ageless superhuman qualities of his bullpen colleague Mariano Rivera. Thursday night will mark only Pettitte’s fourth start since coming off the disabled list. Pettitte admitted his success in Baltimore in his return was based on adrenaline. His next two starts — both against Boston — didn’t feature the command he displayed in that first outing. Will the adrenaline of the postseason, the knowledge of what it takes to win in these circumstances, especially now that he’s been bolstered to a 1-0 lead, be enough to get by?

With all due respect to Banter colleague Hank Waddles, Pavano’s presence on the mound for the Twins has nothing to do with audacity. In fact, there’s precedent for the possibility of him dominating the Yankees Thursday night. Pavano allowed four runs and held the Yankees to a .224 BAA in his two starts against them during the ’09 regular season. In four career postseason appearances (three against the Yankees), Pavano has an 8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a 0.95 WHIP, and has allowed just 22 hits in 26 1/3 IP. Pavano started Game 4 of the ’03 World Series — the infamous “Jeff Weaver Game” — and held the Yankees to one run in eight innings of the pivotal contest. Last year, Pavano and Pettitte engaged in a great duel last year in Game 3 of the ALDS; what proved to be the final game ever played at the Metrodome. Pavano made two bad pitches in his seven innings of work. They resulted in solo home runs by Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada in the seventh inning. Pettitte, meanwhile, also pitched into the seventh, holding the Twins to just three hits in 6 1/3 innings, and he struck out seven. Pavano was a hard-luck loser. A step up from the first-class loser he was as a Yankee.

Spin forward to Thursday’s Game 2, given the current state of affairs with the two starting pitchers, the edge goes to Minnesota (Pavano’s 4.85 ERA since August 1 notwithstanding). Groin injuries can get reaggravated very easily. If there’s a Burnett or Meat Tray sighting within the first four innings, you can almost guarantee a loss for the Yankees.

A quality start from Pettitte will go a long way toward answering not only the questions posed above, but the broader questions regarding the viability of the Yankees’ playoff rotation behind CC Sabathia. I have to see it to believe it, though.

Prediction: Twins 5, Yankees 2

Welcome to My Nightmare


Pat Jordan loves to trash the Yankees because he knows I’m so easy to wind up. He could not care less about the fortunes of any team in any sport other than his beloved Miami Hurricanes (and since I could not care less about college football, giving it back to him is less than fun). So we talk about the Yankees and he gets his digs in.

Last night he goes, “Hey Al, what are you going to do when Carl Pavano goes 2-0 in the playoffs against you guys? Hey, didn’t Pavano once pitch for the Yankees?”

Roars with laughter. “What? He win like three games in five years? Hey, Al isn’t he going for his 17th win tonight?” More laughter.

I tell him that Pavano winning two games agains the Yankees in the playoffs is my worst nightmare. Not even losing to the Twins–how can you be hard-on against the Twins?–just Pavano, who bilked the Yankees out of $40 million and is now pitching well while sporting the worst mustache of the decade.

“Tell you what, Al,” Pat said. “I’ll clean and polish my Glock 9mm and load the clip with hollow point bullets so you can come down here put it in your mouth and pull the fuggin trigger after Pavano beats the Yankees.”

More roaring.

[Photo Credit: Nam Y. Huh/AP]

Yankee Panky: The Tao of Pooh-vano

There was so much hype about Carl Pavano facing the Yankees. The tabloids ate it up, and Suzyn Waldman, as far back as the Texas series, said, “If there’s any justice, C.C. Sabathia will pitch against Carl Pavano in Cleveland.”

Sabathia and Pavano both pitched, but not against each other. Sabathia faced his No. 2 two years ago, Fausto Carmona, on Saturday, while Pavano squared off against Phil Hughes, which may have been a more intriguing matchup considering Pavano’s history with the Yankees and his five victories in May, and Hughes’ stellar outing in Texas and continued effort to stay in the rotation.

As I was listening to the game on the radio (another Sunday spent driving), I got to thinking about the myriad options the local editors and writers had for the game. Would Pavano be the lead? Would I make Phil Hughes’ mediocre start coupled by Chien-Ming Wang’s three scoreless innings of relief the lead, playing up the intrigue of Wang’s possible return to the rotation? Poor umpiring was a theme of the day. Where would that fit in? Are all these topics combined into one or do you do take one story as your base and go with the others as supplemental pieces?

I probably would have made Pavano the focus of the game story and made Hughes/Wang a featured supplement, tying in the early note that Andy Pettitte expects to be ready to start on Wednesday. How would you have presented Sunday’s game? Thinking of the broadest audience possible, how would you have set up your Yankees section as an editor? How would you have attacked the game if you were on-site? It’s two different thought processes. I’m curious to get your thoughts.

An examination of the eight local papers covering the Yankees revealed the following:

NY TIMES: Jack Curry had Pavano leading but alluded to the Hughes/Wang situation, melding everything into a tidy recap with analysis and historical context. Typical goods from Mr. Curry.

NEWSDAY: Three individual stories from Erik Boland, who’s now off the Jets beat and has replaced Kat O’Brien: Hughes/Wang leading, a Pavano piece tied with notes, and a short piece on Gardner’s failure to steal.

NY POST: As of this writing, only George King’s recap had been posted. Interesting to see that he focused on the bullpen, specifically Coke and David Robertson. (Had I been reporting, that would have been the angle I took with the game recap.)

NY DAILY NEWS: Mark Feinsand tied everything together, but it looked and read strangely like an AP wire story.

JOURNAL NEWS: No full game recap posted, but Pete Abe gives more in about 200 words on a blog than most other scribes do in 800.

STAR LEDGER: Marc Carig copied off Erik Boland’s paper in that he had individual stories on Gardner and Wang/Hughes, But he had a couple of other tidbits: 1) His recap was short and had additional bulletpointed notes. I thought this was an interesting format. It reminded me of an anchor calling highlights and then reading key notes off the scoreboard graphic. 2) He had a full feature on Phil Coke and his blaming the umpire’s call on the 3-2 pitch to Trevor Crowe. Check out the last paragraph. Looks like he copied off Pete Abe’s paper, too.

BERGEN RECORD: Only one story on the game from Pete Caldera, but boy does he know how to write a lead paragraph.

HARTFORD COURANT: Associated Press recap. Not much to say except this paper is an example of what’s happening in the industry. Dom Amore’s words are missed.

And this just in … on the “Inside Pitch” segment of the midnight ET edition of Baseball Tonight, Karl Ravech and Peter Gammons said the Yankees were the best team in baseball. This revelation comes hours after the ESPN ticker read “Pavano dominates Yankees” in the first half of its description of the game. I’m not sure what to make of this. I know Ravech, my fellow Ithaca College alum, is as good as it gets, but when Gammons agrees, I get concerned.

I’d say the best team is the team with the best record, and the team that’s playing most consistently on a daily basis. That team is being managed by Joe Torre.

A.J. Stands for Awful Judgment

There are so many things to dislike about A.J. Burnett and his new Yankee contract that I don’t know where to start. I suppose I’ll start with in the cheapest, easiest place, with a comparison of Burnett and Carl Pavano at the moments at which they signed their big Yankee contracts:

A.J. Burnett Carl Pavano
Age 32 29
ML Seasons 10 7
Seasons w/ 30 GS 2 2
Seasons w/ 200 IP 3 2
IP last 3 yrs 524 2/3 559 1/3
Contract Term 5 yrs 4 yrs
Age at end of contract 36 32
Average annual salary $16.5M $9.9875M

There’s no question that A.J. Burnett has better stuff that Carl Pavano. There’s also no question that Carl Pavano’s contract was a smarter, better investment at the time it was signed than Burnett’s is today. None. Pavano arrived in New York off not one, but two consecutive 200-inning seasons (Burnett managed just 165 2/3 innings in 2007), was three years younger, signed for one year less (making him a whopping four years younger in the final year of his deal), and the average annual salary of Pavano’s deal was 40 percent lower than that of Burnett’s.

Oh, and here’s another little nugget, the two pitchers’ career K/BB rates entering their Yankee contracts:

Pavano: 2.28
Burnett: 2.25

One could argue that the comparison between these two pitchers isn’t entirely fair. Pavano’s performance (or lack thereof) during the length of his contract was an extreme case that is extremely unlikely to be repeated, even by a pitcher with Burnett’s sketchy history. At the same time, the Pavano contract was widely panned upon it’s signing, long before anyone knew just how badly things would go, and I think it’s clear that this Burnett contract is an even worse move. It may not be entirely fair, but it is extremely informative, if for no other reason than it’s illustration of the fact that Brian Cashman, a general manager I have long defended in this space, did not learn from one of the biggest mistakes of his career.

Yankee Panky: CC, LeBron, and a Hot Stove that’s pre-heated

Separating truth from rumor during the baseball season is difficult enough, but during the hot stove season, it’s easy to get burned if you don’t view everything you read with a skeptical eye. We know the deal: the rumor-mongering is intended to sell papers, conjure arguments on talk radio, and stir conversation and commentary on blogs like this to keep baseball relevant in a town where both NFL teams are in first place and the Knicks look like an actual professional basketball team for the first time in six years.

Speaking of rumors, we knew the Yankees, with their financial clout and now $32 million to work with (I like Cliff Corcoran’s conservative accounting), would be big players in this winter’s free agent market. The past 30 hours or so have seen one constant in the CC Sabathia Sweepstakes: the Yankees are the highest — and only — bidder to date.

Not long after our Diane Firstman gave the skinny on the landscape’s analysis of the record offer made to the 6-foot-7, 290-pound southpaw, which included a quote from a Yankees official who welcomed the Mets’ inclusion in the mix, Newsday’s David Lennon reported that the Mets put the XX on CC. Joel Sherman wasn’t as definitive in this blog post, but he did not discount the Mets as a player, if for no other reason than to jack up the price for the Yankees.

What no one needs to see as it relates to CC Sabathia are stories like this. LeBron James is a Yankee fan. He’s friends with Sabathia, who until mid-summer spent his entire career in Cleveland. But do we, and should we, care what James has to say on this issue? In James’ defense, I believe this is more of an indictment of the Cleveland reporter who felt compelled to ask the question more than it is on James, who could face a similar free-agent dilemma next summer. James could opt out of the remaining two years of his contract in July and go to the highest bidder, which according to the aforementioned report, is expected to be either the Knicks or the New Jersey Nets. But if you’re the Cleveland scribe, why create a mess now? Haven’t those fans suffered for long enough? As a former reporter, I’m embarrassed. Maybe I’d have used that question as an icebreaker for an off-the-record situation, but that’s it. No way do you go to press with that.

(more…)

Through The Looking Glass

Untitled Joe Girardi got some heat for taking Carl Pavano out of his last start after just 72 pitches despite the fact that Pavano had allowed just one run on three hits through six innings. I had no problem with it. The Yankees had a slim one-run lead, the one run Pavano gave up came in the sixth, he’d only struck out one batter, and the Blue Jays had been hitting the ball hard but right at the Yankee fielders all night. The Yankees won the game 2-1, but that didn’t seem to take much heat off the Yankee manager.

Pavano was actually better in his first start, when he struck out five and got nine ground balls (as opposed to the three he got against the Jays). In his two starts, Pavano has walked just two and allowed no home runs. It’s tempting to argue that letting Pavano audition for a contract for 2009 is against the Yankees’ best interests right now, but he’s actually been the Yankees second-best starter the last two times through the rotation.

Pavano takes a clean 2-0 record and a fine 3.27 ERA into tonight’s game against the Rays. He’ll be opposed by Edwin Jackson, who is one of the unsung heroes of the first-place Rays. A failed Dodger prospect acquired for relievers Danys Baez and Lance Carter prior to the 2006 season, Jackson entered this season with a 5.64 career ERA and a 5.02 career BB/9. This season, he’s boasting a 3.81 ERA and an improved 3.98 BB/9. Over his last seven starts, he’s 6-1 with a 2.59 ERA; over his last 12 starts, he’s 7-2 with a 3.07 ERA. In four starts against the Yankees this year, he has a 2.59 ERA, a 3.33 BB/9, and has allowed just one home run (to Hideki Matsui), though the Rays are just 2-2 in those games. One of those loses was by a score of 2-1 in a game started by Jackson and Sidney Ponson. Tonight’s game could prove to be a similarly unlikely pitchers duel.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver