Defending Carl Pavano
I find myself in an odd situation in which I am trying to defend one of my favorite targets in Carl Pavano. The injuries in which he has extended his stay on the disabled list have been in most cases, questionable; and his body language and performance when he was supposedly healthy in the first half of 2005 was horrendous; but now the Yankees are finally showing anger at his lack of veracity over an auto accident two weeks ago in which he fractured two ribs and tried to pitch through the pain.
There is no question that Pavano has been lacking in fortitude since signing that big contract. And it is becoming increasingly obvious that he wishes he had signed somewhere other than a high-pressure, demanding organization and city than that of the Yankees and New York; but now that the whispers in the clubhouse are becoming out and out shouts and the front office and manager are openly questioning the desire of the pitcher, it may be time to take a step back and realize that he may be truly trying to return to silence those that are (with justification) making snide comments about Pavano and live up to the lofty expectations that come with being a big ticket free agent signee in New York. Pitching with an injury and in obvious pain is not the way to return from a long stretch of inactivity. Injuries in car accidents can take days and weeks to manifest themselves; they can shake up the entire body and one may not realize that something is wrong for weeks; and Pavano is seemingly trying very hard to get back.
The Yankees anger at Pavano for withholding the injury may be a step in the direction of fining him or even trying to get the contract voided. Teams were unable to void the contracts of accused and positively tested steroid users, so I wouldn’t expect that the Yankees are going to be able to weasel out from one cent that is owed to Carl Pavano.
The best case scenario for the Yankees would be for Pavano to return in September and pitch a few effective games and then in the off season send him to another team for an equally bad contract. It’s clear that Pavano doesn’t want to pitch in New York and New York has had their fill of Pavano. Maybe Billy Beane would like to roll the dice on Pavano rebounding and send the hideous contract to which he signed Esteban Loaiza to the Yankees. Maybe the Padres would like to shed Chan Ho Park’s contract (if he’s healthy) and would hope that a warmer climate and more laid back venue would be more agreeable to Pavano. Maybe the Phillies would be willing to swap Pat Burrell and his absurd paycheck to the Yankees in the hopes that a return to the National League would benefit Pavano. This marriage has not worked and now that Pavano is being called out publicly, there is no way it is going to end well. There are options for both sides and perhaps it’s time to start exploring them more seriously for the benefit of everyone involved.