In a few hours, weather-permitting, Sidney Ponson will make his glorious return to the Bronx. It is a day we not long-awaited since Ponson was DFA’d by the Yankees on August 23, 2006, a whopping 40 days after they first signed him.
In Yankee-land, the Ponson start is stirring up most consternation. How did the Yankees get there? Typical of that response is an e-mail I received this morning from Steve S., a long-time RAB reader:
someone needs to say something about Cashman and this Ponson decision. Yes the Yankees have been riddled by injuries but these are the kinds of things that happen. And I cant help but think that he should have had the foresight to get a guy like Colon. I didn’t care as much at the time because I had the belief that they would focus on using young arms, but now I have to see Ponson?
Now, before launching into this subject, I believe that Ponson will, unless he blows away the Yanks (and Mets) tonight, be around for just one start. The Yanks got screwed by the schedule and even more screwed by the rain last night and needed a starter.
That being said, is it fair to lay the blame — if that’s what you want to call it — for Ponson on Brian Cashman’s shoulders? Not really. It’s a low risk, high reward move, and if it doesn’t pan out, c’est la vie.
The Yankees are at this point right now because 3/5ths of their Opening Day starting rotation is on the DL. They’re at this point because, while they have some very promising and lively arms in their farm system, those arms aren’t quite yet ready. They’re at this point because they see Sidney Ponson as a more viable option for whatever reason than Jeff Karstens. They’re at this point basically due to dire circumstances, and it’s not the end of the world.
But what about Bartolo Colon? Should the Yanks have been higher on Colon than they were? Well, they saw the same audition the Red Sox and the other 28 teams that passed on Colon saw. They weren’t impressed with his velocity, and they didn’t see how a 35-year-old injury-plagued pitcher coming off of shoulder surgery fit in with the Yankees’ current approach toward constructing a baseball team. For a few starts, Colon made everyone look bad as he went 4-2 with a 4.09 ERA. But as is his wont, Colon went down with an injury, and Boston doesn’t really have a timetable for his return.
Now, would Colon have been a good pick-up in hindsight? Sure. But unlike the Red Sox and Curt Schilling, the Yanks weren’t facing any long-term injury prospects when Colon signed his deal. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.
Having Ponson start tonight’s game is hardly ideal, but considering the circumstances, it’s not really worth holding Brian Cashman’s feet to the fire for it. He took someone 4-1 with a 3.88 ERA and is basically asking him to give the Yanks five innings of decent baseball once.
We’d rather see a young kid get a shot, but none of the young kids are quite ready for this. If only this game had been set for three weeks later when Alan Horne was more in his grove, Ian Kennedy had a few rehab starts under his belt and Alfredo Aceves had a chance to shine at AAA. Alas.