Keeping expectations low for Yanks’ own Felix Unger

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In 1968, Neil Simon introduced the world to Felix Unger, a satirical portrayal of a hypochondriac. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the Yankees have their own hypochondriac earning nearly $10 million a season. That man is, of course, oft-injured pitcher Carl Pavano.

And wouldn’t you know it, the Rajah of Rehab is at it again. This time, he was the unfortunate recipient of a line drive off the bat of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during batting practice. While Brian Cashman says it’s just a bone bruise, LoHud’s Peter Abraham noted that bone bruises often take 18 months to heel (Just kidding).

Meanwhile, Pavano is indeed slated to pitch on Sunday against the Phillies during a Grapefruit League contest. Sadly, the game won’t be on TV, but many other games will be shown on the YES Network in the coming weeks. Glory days are here again.

But joking aside, the Yankees will be counting on Carl Pavano to pitch this year. I’m not sure we should really expect too much from him. Last week, Joseph took a look at Pavano’s numbers over his last few seasons on the mound. I want to look at what we should expect from him this year.

Let’s break it down by projection.

PECOTA 90 131.2 21 3.32
PECOTA 50 108 17 4.63
Marcel 70 NA 4.50
ZiPS 128 20 4.64
CHONE 2.1 90 NA 4.38

Boy, that 90-percentile PECOTA projection sure looks appealing, doesn’t it? Well, don’t get your hopes up. It’s hard to imagine Carl Pavano as an integral part of the Yankee rotation this summer. At best, Pavano may start around 20 games and throw 115-120 innings. That still leaves about 14 starts for the team’s 5th starter slot.

More discouraging – but not very surprising – is Pavano’s expected ERA. Pavano is set to deliver around 115 unspectacular innings of league-average ball. That 4.50 ERA is hardly comforting. Luckily, the Yankees are a team built to score runs. So Carl may actually win more than a handful of games. He most likely won’t be a dominate pitcher though.

Luckily for us though, the Yanks have ample back-up plans. They’ve got Darrell Rasner and Jeff Karstens. They’ve got Tyler Clippard and Humberto Sanchez. And they’ve always got Phil Hughes. These young guns all look a lot more appealing than one league-average Carl Pavano.

Image: Tony Randall, left, as Felix Unger. (Courtesy of Slate)

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  • Richard C

    Give the guy a break. He is a pitcher for the NY Yankees. That is MY team and Pavano will get my support until he is traded or retires. The guy had a difficult time for a couple of years. That period is over. Its a new season. How about alittle compassion, support and openness. I resent what you media people are doing with this. From what I read the guy worked really hard over the winter. He is going to have an awesome year, that is what I want to believe. When he does I will be back here to rub an email in your face.

  • Ben

    Richard, I’m not saying I’m going to boo Pavano or root against him. I’m just saying Yankee fans shouldn’t expect him to throw a lot of innings. He hasn’t pitched consistently since the beginning of 2005. So already we have no idea what his arm strength is like. And he hasn’t been able to avoid the DL since 2005 early. He is, as Cashman noted, a magnet for injuries.

    I would love to be able to tell you that Pavano is going to go 18-8 with a 4.10 ERA. That would be fantastic. But even if he stays healthy, he’ll hit a dead arm stretch after a while. It’s really hard to go from 4 minor league starts in one year to 30 big league starts coming off of elbow surgery the next year.

    I’ll cheer, but guardedly.

  • Jeteupthemiddle

    My own community projection ( for Pavano (which, yes, only had 15 people participate in) came away with him posting a 4.61 ERA in 144.1 IP over 24 games.

    Last season, the Yankees got 28 starts from Random Pitchers who posted ERAs well above any of the projections given for Carl Pavano (and this doesn’t even include Randy Johnson and his 5.00 ERA). A 4.50 ERA would be an improvement.

    If he is capable of starting 24 games, he would be valuable to the Yankees….of course, him making 24 starts, is an issue.

  • Richard C

    Sorry about the “rub it in your face” comment, but I really didn’t like the Felix Unger comparison. Alot of you guys have been taking cheap shots at him just for a laugh. Do you have the guts to stand on a mound and pitch BP to Alberto Gonzales?!?!
    Of course there are alot of questions about him. But like I say, its a new season. He is in shape, he is willing to play. All of us should give him the benefit of the doubt, it will benefit the whole team, and they need him. I believe our support is important to these players.