Ken Davidoff hit the nail on the head yesterday when he called Carl Pavano a symbol of the Yanks’ recent failures. In discussing the way the Yankees felt about Pavano, the $40 million man who made 26 starts over four years, and the approach to team-building during the latter part of the Torre Era, Davidoff called out the Yanks.
“The truth lies,” he writes, “not in choosing sides among friends-turned-enemies Cashman and Torre but in understanding what Pavano and his $39.95-million heist represented: a haphazard period during Cashman’s reign in which personnel decisions were driven by haste, emotions and a lack of appreciation for old-school background checks and new-wave statistical analysis.”
Davidoff notes how the Yanks of 2004 are a seemingly far cry from the Yanks of both the mid-1990s and this season. “If the Yankees had conducted better research on Pavano, perhaps they would’ve learned of a) his surliness; b) his stupidity; c) his bouts with apathy; and, most important, d) how the batting average on balls in play (BABiP) from his standout 2004 season – matched against his line-drive percentage that year – indicated that his numbers were boosted by luck,” he notes.
Baseball, it seems, is not without its dark sense of humor. In three hours, the Twins will put their season into the hands of one Carl Pavano and the Yanks will look to move on to the ALCS for the first time since signing Pavano. During the media gaggle yesterday, the Yankees danced around the topic of Pavano.
“He worked extremely hard and he tried the best he could,” Brian Cashman said. “Unfortunately too many times I’d get that phone call that we had a problem and it was one that needed to be surgically fixed, or required a lot of time to allow the healing process to take place.”
Current and former Yankees — Mike Mussina, in particular — were not afraid to criticize Carl, but this week, the attacks have been muted. The team knows not to get too far ahead of themselves, but how can they not think of sore buttocks, car crashes, broken ribs and arm surgery as they face off against a player who somehow made 33 starts this year and won 14 games, five more than during his entire Bronx tenure?
Maybe Carl can provide the Twins with a reprieve for a day, but the Yankees will be itching to put Pavano behind them today. No matter the outcome, it will be fitting to see him take the hill later today against the Yanks in a potential clinching game. Expected to lead them to this point, he did simply by not being here any longer.