Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hidden Mistakes

posted by: Mr. November

Carl Anthony Pavano will turn 31 on January 6th. He's a multi-millionaire who began playing Major League baseball when he was 22. Eight years later, he's worked his way up to an $8 million dollar annual salary, and that money is coming from arguably the most reknowned team in professional sports.

Problem is, Pavano hasn't actually pitched since June 27, 2005.

I work every day, sometimes even on the weekends. I've work two jobs and jobs which dictate that I sometimes bring work home. I've seen friends and family members work at jobs which sometimes take over their lives; often, they spend more time at work than they do at home. Through it all, none of them, myself included, has seen a payday anywhere near the $8 million Pavano is currently earning.

Now, I don't begrudge Carl for making his money. He signed his current deal with the Yankees after coming off a 2004 season in which he made 31 starts, pitched over 220 innings, and won 18 games. His ERA that year was a more-than-respectable 3.00 for a Marlins team that was one year removed from winning the World Series. The Yankees signed him to a $40 million contract in the hopes that those 18 wins would translate to even more while playing on the grandest stage in baseball. They didn't.

Pavano's 2005 season ended after 17 starts, 4 wins, and a 4.77 ERA. He surrended 17 homeruns in only 100 innings (this after giving up 16 in all of 2004). Was it the switch over to the American League? Probably. Was it the pressure of playing in New York? Could have been. Was it the lax attitude that often follows an athlete who has just signed a deal for more money than he has ever before seen in his life? Sounds reasonable.

For me, the bottom line is this: Pavano has not contributed and most likely will not contribute, at least not in the near future. Back problems, butt problems, arm problems, and car accident lies aside, he has not been the pitcher or the person the Yankees expected. And you know what: It doesn't matter.

What other team can say they made an $8 million mistake in 2006, yet still lead their division by almost 10 games? What other team can make up for such a lack of expected production with a sure-fire Hall of Famer, one of the most reliable and steady pitchers of the 1990's/2000's, and a young gun who, as of this writing, has 16 wins? What other team can score runs in bunches and not even necessarily need any output at all from a free agent pitching siging gone wrong? I only know of one team that can do all of that.

I liked the Pavano signing when it happened, contrary to other fans I knew at the time. But I also knew that, if for any reason it didn't work, it wouldn't hurt the team. The Yankees can hide mistakes like Pavano, thanks mostly in part to the green bills and blank checks protruding from George's pockets. They may have overpaid for Pavano (in hindsight, a dollar and a sandwich would have been overpaying), but it doesn't really matter. The Yankees have All-Stars at almost every position. Gambling $40 million on a one-time NL 18 game winner is a drop in the bucket for a team that, despite such mistakes, is poised to win the AL East for the 9th straight season.

Mistake? Nah...just a bump in the road that leads to winning, and winning, and winning...

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