What Went Wrong: Chien-Ming Wang

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Over the next week or so, we’ll again break down what went wrong and what went right for the Yankees. The series this year will be much more enjoyable than the last.

Chien-Ming Wang goes down for the count

The 2009 Yankees came into the season sporting one of the most exciting rotations in the big leagues, as imports CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett joined forces with the incumbent Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain. After missing the last five months of 2008 with a fluke foot injury, Wang was supposed to be the rock in the two spot between Sabathia and Burnett. It was a pivotal season in the sinkerballer’s career, but instead it turned into a nightmare.

In his first start of the season, the Orioles put ten runners on base and scored seven runs while forcing Wang to throw 73 pitches in just 3.2 IP. Five days later, the Rays hung eight runs on Wang in just one inning of work. Five days after that, the Indians smacked him around for eight runs in 1.1 IP, and before long Wang ended up on the disabled list with what was called “weakness in the hips.”

There were all sorts of red flags about Wang’s early season performance. His velocity was down, his stuff wasn’t crisp, and he was elevating way too many pitches. It was all a recipe for disaster, and frankly that’s what those three starts were.

After working with the organization’s pitching instructors down in Tampa, Wang made a pair of better than good rehab starts (13 IP, 6 H, 0 R) with Triple-A Scranton before being hastily activated. His return from the disabled list was a clear panic move made after Joba was feared injured when he took a liner to the leg and left a start early. Working initially in relief, Wang was uncomfortable and his results were a mixed bag – just two runs in eight innings, but a .300 AVG against. Soon enough, the Yankees inserted Wanger back into the rotation, a rather questionable move.

His first start back in the rotation was ugly (eight baserunners and five runs in 4.2 IP against Texas), but after that he was pretty serviceable for about a month. The high point of Wang’s season came on June 28th, when he finally picked up his first win of the season thanks to 5.1 IP of two run ball in CitiField. In his next start, Wang left the mound with the trainer after serving up a meatball to Adam Lind.

At first, the latest injury didn’t seem serious. Wang was pain-free just two weeks after leaving his start, but not long after that he went down again after feeling pain during a game of catch. Three opinions later, Wang’s season was over in late July when he had season ending surgery to repair a torn labrum.

It may, or may not have all started in the offseason, when the Yankees told Wang to take it easy on his injured foot. It was used as an excuse, but frankly we’ll never know. The bottom line is that for the third time in eight years, the righthander missed a significant portion of the season with a shoulder issue.

And now, just a little more than four months after he last appeared in a game, Wang’s future with the Yankees is in doubt. Just the other day we heard that Wang was heading to see Dr. Andrews for a checkup on his surgically repaired shoulder, and reports indicate that he’s doing “remarkably well.” Regardless, there’s still a chance the Yankees will non-tender him in December, but even if they don’t, there’s no way the team could rely on him for anything next season.

The Yankees managed to win 103 games and their 27th World Series without their number two starter, but that doesn’t mean Wang’s awful season can be brushed under the rug.

Photo Credit: Nick Laham, Getty Images

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Could the Yanks keep all three free agents?
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  • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

    Based on the picture atop the post, I think we can all say that the red Yankee hat is what went wrong with Chien-Ming Wang. Am I right or am I right?

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      +1

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      He’s not Red Chinese, he’s Taiwanese. I blame that hat as well.

    • jsbrendog
    • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

      I still don’t understand why everybody has to wear one color. The Reds, Cardinals, etc. Sure, wear the red hat. Other teams put on the blue one if it fits better. The red hat on the Yankees was entirely unnecessary.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        I was about to say that the Red Sox shouldn’t be forced to wear red hats either, since they’re really the Blue Sox, but they wear clown uniforms all the time anyway, so… whatevs.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      That’s the first thing I thought of.

      The red hats deserve their own “What went wrong” post.

      • JGS

        What went wrong: Bud Selig

    • http://www.twitter.com/matthewharris84 Matt :: Section 105

      Terrorist! Haha, that’s basically the reaction I get when I say the red hats look awful. “But it’s to honor America!”

      Yes, yes, I know, but it looks brutal. The navy blue caps with the American flag in it looked sweet.

      Or, here’s an idea, each team keeps the color cap they’d normally wear, but just use the American flag inside the team’s logo.

      Also, side note: Last year, and this year the Yanks are playing the Blue Jays on the 4th of July…anyone else find that odd?

      I remember a few years back they played the sox, and I thought that was kinda cool.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Also, side note: Last year, and this year the Yanks are playing the Blue Jays on the 4th of July…anyone else find that odd?

        Nah. Canada’s like the 51st state anyway. No big whoop.

        • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

          Canada’s like the 51st state anyway.

          Ehh I don’t know about that. Around when the war started in 2002-2004 (Those years were a blur and are all the same to me lol) I went to a Montreal Canadians game up there and it was right at the time where they came out and said they were against what we were doing, etc. They booed our National Anthem louder than they ever have before…my friend and I were extremely uncomfortable but we stood up high and mighty anyway. It was actually on CNN that night it was so bad.

          If they’re the 51st state…then Cuba is the 52nd lol

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            TAKE OFF, EH!

            YA HOSER!

          • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

            Don’t the people in Montreal hate everybody?

            • Andy in Sunny Daytona

              People in France make fun of Montrealites(?). The say they sound like country bumpkins.

            • JMK aka The Overshare

              I’m guessing you’re referring to Quebec as a whole. Montreal is a funny bag. When the Quebecois visit America, they are intolerable. They demand things of you, are rude, snotty, cheap, pretend they don’t speak English, and all look the same (short, jagged 80s hair and plastic-framed black glasses).

              And yet, of the times I’ve been to Montreal (visited at least 50 times and lived there for a few months), the people are actually quite friendly and engaged. Many of the people are interested in separation from Canada and most are francophiles. Yet, French people hate them because the Quebecois dialect is a bastardization of French, the Americans because of their smug sense of superiority, and the Canadians because of their “culture” and the notion that they are separate and superior to the rest of Canada.

              Vermont has a separatist movement, too. My thesis advisor in school is one of the leading proponents. Everybody’s a radical…

      • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

        Who cares, as long as those two guys dressed as umpires are behind home plate again. They’re terrific. :P

  • theyankeewarrior

    Right, right right.

    This section should be called “WHAT WENT WANG”

  • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

    I’m hearing more and more on ESPN and other talk radio shows on how the Yankees are probably going to re-negotiate a contract with Wang for next year (even though he probably won’t be available until AT LEAST next July). Any merit to any of this? Or do you feel he’ll just be ignored and we’ll be looking elsewhere (MLB Traderumors has us going after Lackey – God I hope not)

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Minor League deal or a very low base salary with incentives. There’s no such thing as too much pitching depth.

      • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

        Agreed. He’s still more likely than Brandon Webb?

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          Webb’s option was picked up.

      • Ed

        Either of those options would require non-tendering him and making him a free agent first though, right?

        I’d imagine those options would be more appealing coming after a World Series win than they would have been after a season like last year.

      • CountryClub

        Couldnt they give him a similar deal to what they gave Dotel and Lieber? Maybe he doesnt provide much help next year (or maybe he does in the 2nd half of the season), but they could have a steal on their hands if they sign him for 2011 now at like 4 or 5 mil.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matthewharris84 Matt :: Section 105

    Anything the Yanks get from Wang in 2010 would be a bonus for me. The Yanks have to move forward and basically make moves with the idea that he won’t pitch in ’10.

    This way, if for some reason he is able to comeback, it’s icing on the cake.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      +1

      It’s too bad his ’09 was a flameout because he would’ve been a very interesting trade piece.

      • Ed

        A year ago, I figured the odds were good that he’d be traded this winter. Would’ve been great to use him to land a new left fielder. Oh well.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          Yeah, too bad. i do wonder what regular Wang could’ve gone for.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            i do wonder what regular Wang could’ve gone for.

            … nah, too easy.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      Well, well done.

    • 5th Starter

      Cornbread. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!

    • Mike Pop

      Cornbread! Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Who do you think throws better, Chris Rock or Johnny Damon?

  • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

    What’s with the Asian’s and them getting one injury and then all of the sudden becoming a glass man.

    Matsui was an iron man for quite some time…then he broke his wrist on a fluke play and the domino effect occurred…now his knees are gone and he can’t play the field.

    Wang was fine but hurts his foot on a strange fluke incident…and now his shoulder and everything else is busted up.

    “Man who catch fly with chopstick, accomplish anything” – Mr. Miyagi

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
    • JMK aka The Overshare

      I bet that sort of humor is well-appreciated in Fort Lee.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dougchu Doug

      YEAH SERIOUSLY WHAT’S WITH THOSE ASIANS AMIRITE. They all look the same, it’s really cool and funny to make a Mr. Miyagi joke about a Taiwanese guy.

      God, that is some Jeff Dunham levels of low right there.

      Keep fucking that chicken.

    • Ed

      You’re forgetting that this is Wang’s second shoulder surgery. He also had a shoulder injury a few years ago that cost him a few months but didn’t require surgery.

      He’s always had a questionable shoulder. That’s why the Yankees never signed him long term.

      • Chien

        There was a surgery. Before the surgery, Wang was actually a curve ball pitcher. He was signed by Yankee because of his ability to pitch wide angle of curve ball. Not sinker. After the surgery, the coach down in Tampa felt that he could try sinker to relief some presure on his shoulder. That’s how he got his trademark heavy sinker ball.

        As news said, he will start light pitching activity as of December 1 and should be available by spring training.

        Giving him a minor league contract is simply stupid. After non-tender and making him a free agent, any team could sign him a major league contract with $400,000 salary and loaded incentive. This will be the risk Yankee needs to take. What a scene to see Yankees hitting his sinker into double play!

  • Mike Pop

    Obviously, we all had much higher expectations for Wang this year. But, I still think you have to try and bring him back. Non tender him and then try to get him back on a cheaper deal, preferably minor league deal. Who knows if he’d be down for that though.

    I just think the upside of Wang back is worth the risk of bringing him back. One more year to see what he can do, and then go from there.

    • Jersey

      Definitely agreed. He could end up being the best “deadline pickup” they make in 2010.

  • pete

    my prediction: the yankees offer him a minor league deal soon. wang either accepts and everything is golden, or he declines and looks elsewhere, only to come back to us in january when nobody has offered him anything better. We, being the merciful overlords that we are, welcome him back with open (minor league) arms. He starts the season in July in Scranton, and replaces hughes in the rotation in mid-august, dominates all the way down the stretch run and through the postseason. every problem ever, solved.

    • chien

      Well, your prediction is simply not working. Angels, Mariners, Dodgers, and many others could simply throw in $400,000 petty cash and give him a major league contract. If there is a major league contract available, who is going to take a pitty minor league contract from Yankees?

      My prediction will be that Yankee either offers him a minimum of $1 million plus contract with incentive, or he will be gone.

      • Ken in Taipei

        A rumor appeared here in Taipei today that Joe Torre has been in touch with Wanger. The rumor appeared the same day that Kuo Hong-chih arrived back here for a holiday.

        However, Wanger has said several times that he wants to stay in New York. Plus, as we all know, and he knows very clearly, the guy can’t bat! National League is not the place for him.

  • 5th Starter

    Starters:

    CC
    AJ
    Andy
    Joba
    Hughes

    In AAA getting ready for the call up:

    Kennedy
    Wanger

    • JMK aka The Overshare

      And Z-Mac and Nova in AAA.

      • 5th Starter

        Right on.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      So, which one of those five would you say would be the “fifth starter”, in your expert opinion?

      • 5th Starter

        Thank you for acknowledging my expertise in the subject.;)

        Technically I think it would be Hughes, mostly because of his “inexperience.” -Meaning that he will be on a innings limit.

        • Chien

          Well, your “expertise” lacks reality, though. Dodgers has expressed its interest in Wang already. Simply put, Wanger will not be in minor league waiting for call-up, not in 2010. With $1 million, you will see him in other uniform.

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