Upon his arrival in Taiwan, Chien-Ming Wang demonstrated exercises for reporters. (Via the AP)
In my mind, Chien-Ming Wang is the late ’00s version of the lost Yankee. Through his first 97 starts in the Big Leagues, he had won 54 of them and had sported an ERA of 3.79. He didn’t strike too many guys out, but he went deep into games and used a devastating sinker to keep opponents from elevating the ball.
And then disaster struck in Houston on June 15, 2008. Wang, already showing signs of inconsistency in 2008, injured his foot in a freak baserunning accident, and has never been the same pitcher. He was flat-out awful in 2009 and eventually underwent another shoulder surgery. Now, the Yanks might simply say good bye to the right-hander by non-tendering him. Wang will be 30 come Opening Day and hasn’t been regularly since 2007. The organization wasn’t fooled by his 54 wins and 3.79 ERAs, and with replacements on hand in the Bronx, the Wang era may be over.
Yesterday, Joe explored how Chien-Ming Wang would be open to the idea of pitching for the Dodgers. Wang, after all, knows Joe Torre quite well from their years together in the Bronx, and the National League makes every good pitcher better. But I thought the story odd. Even though Wang hasn’t yet re-upped for 2010 with the Yanks, he’s still under team control (at least for the next few weeks), and other teams can’t talk to him.
So what did Wang actually say? Well, the remarks were given at a press conference upon his arrival back in Taiwan. Wang is a national celebrity in his home country, and the press hinge on his every word. Although the rumors focused on the Dodgers, Wang’s focus is on the Yanks. “I will try my best to secure a return to Major League Baseball, and my first choice would be the Yankees though it would be okay for me to pitch for any other MLB team,” he said. Once another reporter asked about the Dodgers due to the Joe Torre connection, Wang said he would be open to the idea.
The right-hander will begin throwing on December 1, and the Yankees will be able to judge his process before making a decision on his contract status. Joe wrote here yesterday about an arbitration offer, but I dissent. I think $6 million is too great a commitment to a pitcher who is coming off his second shoulder injury and hasn’t thrown more than 95 innings since 2007. I would welcome Wang back to the Bronx, but if he signs elsewhere, I would be okay with it too. For sinkerballers who lose that touch, the end is rather unpleasant to watch.