Hank: ‘Prior? We don’t want no stinkin’ Prior.’

Curt Schilling and the American justice system
The need for a lefty reliever

Mark Prior is every baseball fan’s fantasy: A free agent pitcher with a career Major League K/9 IP of 10.37 and a career ERA of 3.51.

Of course, the flip side of that fantasy is Mark Prior’s current nightmare. Since carrying to the Cubs to within one bad play by their short stop of a World Series berth and throwing 235 innings in the process, Mark Prior has never been healthy. Since the end of 2005, he’s thrown just 43.2 innings of baseball, and after shoulder surgery last year, at the age of 27, Prior is trying to prove himself all over again.

For Yankee fans, Mark Prior would be everything Johan Santana, the other object of our dreams, is not. Prior is no sure thing. We don’t know how his arm will hold up or what sort of stuff he’ll have after an extensive rehab period. But he’s also carries a “low risk, very high reward” potential. So why not give him a contract offer and hope that, when he returns in May or June, he can throw four months of solid baseball?

Well, not so fast, says Hank Steinbrenner, the new Voice of the Yankees. In an article that says the Yankees have “an outside chance” at acquiring Johan Santana – is that even news anymore anyway? – Steinbrenner said the Yanks are going to pass on Prior. “We kind of looked into it, but at this point, no,” he said, sounding much like a 16-year-old girl.

I’m not sure why the Yanks are passing on Prior. Perhaps he’s indicated that he doesn’t want to come to New York or pitch in the American League. If that’s the case, I don’t blame him. New York isn’t exactly the city to come to if you carry around the potential of a Mark Prior but need some time to prove your health and ability.

But if the Yanks are passing on Mark Prior for reasons not related to his health, they’re probably making a little bit of a mistake. They’ve got nothing to lose from having Prior around and everything to gain.

Curt Schilling and the American justice system
The need for a lefty reliever
  • David

    I wish Hank would just shut the hell up and let Cashman run this team.

    • TurnTwo

      do we know Cashman isnt running this team?

      • Geno

        Hanky on whether it’s he or Cash calling the shots: “The decision is my decision,” Steinbrenner said. “It doesn’t matter one way or another what somebody . . . you have to take advice, but ultimately, the owner has to make a decision.”

        • TurnTwo

          and rightfully so; he does pay the bills… thats the arrangement with any team, not just with the Steinbrenners.

          • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

            then even have a GM? he could save $ and name himself GM if he’s so baseball savvy.

            • TurnTwo

              that is just a ridiculous statement.

              • Geno

                Anyone who lived through Yankee baseball in the 80s knows why this is so terrible. We won more games in that decade than any team in baseball, yet we never won a championship. We had big names but no identity, no chemistry. It started at the top – George made irrational statements to the press, and insisted he knew better than his baseball minds. Sound familiar?

                The clouds began to part when George was booted from baseball for paying a gambler to help him discredit Dave Winfield, one of my childhood idols. Our baseball people were allowed to do their jobs without George’s meddling. The result was the dynasty of the late 90s.

                So, please bear with us “old school” Yankee fans if we seem a little queasy these days with Hank. It’s just that we see history repeating, and it’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

    • kris

      I expected more fury from the Hankenstein lovers. Zack, you got to respond to this! Somebody just called Hank a little girl!

  • JRVJ

    I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Prior wanted to sign a one-year contract (to prove himself and go back to the FA market for 2009), and that he was to be available (at best) mid-season.

    Do the Yanks really need a Prior rental for the latter half of 2008?

    Phrased differently, assuming the Yanks keep the big 3, will Horne, et. al. not be available to pitch in the majors in the latter half of 2008?

    Frankly, I think Horne and others will be available (and acceptable) in the latter half of 2008 if the Yanks need him/them.

    From other things I’ve read, I get the impression there’s going to be a feeding frenzy for Prior (i.e., he’s not going to sign a $1-2 MM contract).

    So to summarize, I’m not all that convinced Prior is necessary, but yes, he’d be interesting if he wanted to sign a cheap contract. If not, not so much.

    P.S. Assuming the Yanks keep the big 3, the Yanks will probably have some spare arms in AAA (Igawa, Karstens) which won’t make the big league team.

    I would not be against showcasing those young guys in spring training and even the early part of the season, and trading them ASAP for some value.

    • Count Zero

      Good argument against — IMO anyway.

  • Nefarious Jackson


  • Kanst

    If I am Prior there is no way I go to the Yankees. They are in the AL, have a poor defense and no spot for him in the rotation. If I am Prior I am trying my hardest to end up in San Diego, great weather, great home pitchers park, chance to compete, weaker league.

  • TurnTwo

    Prior reportedly picked SD as his first choice, but they arent offering as much money as some other teams. I think i read that on mlbtraderumors the other day.

  • Barry

    All this Prior coveting is pretty silly I think. At this point, he’s not even worth Eric Duncan or Tyler Clippard. The chances of him ever pitching in the majors again is small, and ever pitching effectively is infinitesimal. His arm has already passed the point of no return. A couple of years ago, after several months of rehab, the hardest he could throw was low-80s velocity. He promptly injured him arm again afterward.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Not true. He tried to rehab without surgery and couldn’t come back. Then he had surgery. Considering the success rates of surgery these days, what’s making you say that he’s passed the point of no return? You’ve seen his MRI results?

  • Rob

    I love Hank (so long as he doesn’t trade Hughes)!

    The reason they shouldn’t be interested in Prior: He’s back on the market next year. Prior’s agent is telling teams they won’t do any two-year deals or even one year with an option. At best, the Yanks would get a few solid months. Then he’s back on the market again.

    Worse, they have six legit starting pitchers right now. And Horne will be ready when Prior would be. I say, let Prior prove himself on another team, then pay him if he does.

  • steve (different one)

    question: if you are Mark Prior and your mission for 2008 is to take a 1 year contract to restore your market value and cash in next offseason, why on earth would you sign with a team in the AL East?

    answer: you wouldn’t.

    you would go to an NL team with a big ballpark.

    the only way the yankees would have a shot to get Prior would be to make an offer that is foolish given his situation.

    it’s just not a good fit.

  • Bo

    Prior doesnt want a 2 yr deal. And why would the Yanks pay him for one yr and not reap the benefits in yr 2?

  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    I said this to Joe yesterday, but if i was Prior, I’d take a 1-yr deal with a team like the Padres, a team with a huge park, a good defense and in the weak NL. He could beef up his status, then go back into the FA market next year.

  • Kevin23

    The NL West isn’t exactly going to be a cakewalk this year, though. The D-Backs and Dodgers are bent on getting better offensively, the Rockies have that park and momentum, and, well, the Giants just suck. But if I’m Prior, I try to go to St. Louis. I think they expressed interest. And nothing says comeback to the media guys like beating your old team in a heated rivalry game.

    • steve

      i wouldn’t go that far. the dbacks as far as I remember didn’t upgrade offensively, they are a young team who all aged one year but they still were a terrible offensive team last year. If I remember correctly they gave up more runs than they scored.

      the dodgers just added jones which if he continues his slide, which I can see happening won’t make them too much better. It’s still a weak division as far as i’m concerned.

      I have to agree with the others, If I were him I would sign with his hometown padres.

      • Kevin23

        You’re right. I was thinking of the Haren trade, and that doesn’t do much for Arizona offensively. And practically speaking, the Dodgers can only upgrade so much despite all their talk. It’s always a slug fest over there…a bunch of 3-2 or 2-1 games. Could very well be perfect.

  • Big Stein

    And don’t forget that San Diego is Prior’s hometown, is managed by a former and excellent pitching coach, and has the great Greg Maddux as a resource for him.

  • Relaunch

    They should pass. Unless they can get a 2 years commitment, its not worth it (ie: Dotel)

  • steve (different one)

    exactly, if he won’t take more than a 1 year deal, it doesn’t make sense.

  • http://www.overheardinnewyork.com NC Saint

    This debate sent me running to the archives:


  • Eric

    If Prior doesnt want to sign here there is nothing we can do. He wants a chance to have 15 starts this yr and the Yanks cannot guarantee that

  • barry

    I would love to see Prior play in pinstripes but the 40 man is already a fuckfest.