(Long Island, NY) When the New York Yankees signed free agent right handed starting pitchers Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright to long term contracts in the winter of 2004, the reviews were mixed. Critics moaned that Wright was not deserving, but one year into their deals, it looks as if Pavano has been the bigger disappointment.
Pavano had the bargaining chip of a productive walk year and a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins in 2003, coincidentally enough versus the Yankees. His first season in pinstripes was cut short with injuries following a mostly unimpressive summer. He has come back from his shoulder injury only to be returned to the shelf due a bad back and other physical problems this spring. Is this a string of bad luck for him or is he just not conditioned properly?
People should recall that Pavano did not exactly light it up earlier in his career. Once a very promising prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization, he was traded along with Tony Armas Jr. (who Boston obtained from the Yankees for an aging Mike Stanley in his second go-round in the Bronx) to the Montreal Expos in exchange for Pedro Martinez. That is even more one sided in favor of Boston when you remember that Montreal eventually traded away both young arms. Cliff Floyd was the return for Pavano, who was never consistent with the Expos.
He picked up his game a bit in Florida but did not become a winning pitcher until his tenure in Florida neared the end. All in all, he was looked at as a talent that took a while to be harnessed.
Wright exploded on the scene with the Cleveland Indians in 1997 and had a big playoff series when the Tribe knocked off the Yanks the season following their surprising championship. Perhaps George Steinbrenner never forgot that and wanted that pitcher, not the injury-riddled one he signed.
Wright’s career was derailed for a number of years following arm trouble. He too had a big walk year with the Atlanta Braves in 2003. Perhaps the Braves pitching coach at the time, Leo Mazzone, did sprinkle some of his magic on Wright. He had a terrible first season in New York and he has also missed time this spring due to ailments.
Yankee fans have been upset since their team let Jon Leiber leave and they signed Wright as his replacement after he failed his first physical. Then the team announced that he had a clean bill of health and inked him to a long term deal. Leiber had a good season with the Philadelphia Phillies last year while Wright’s headlines came from being hit in the noggin by come backers.
At least Yankee fans can take solace knowing that the only thing wasted on these two busts was The Boss’ green.