Peña up; former Yanks on the move

Update 4:02 p.m.: The Yankees have made a roster move this afternoon. Ramiro Peña has been recalled from AAA Scranton, and Anthony Claggett has been sent back down. Peña will back up both the infield and outfield while Claggett has been nothing short of terrible for the Yanks this season. When Chad Gaudin gets here, either David Robertson or Mark Melancon will hop on the Scranton Shuttle. I think Melancon stays. We’ll know soon.

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As we await the start of what could be another epic Yankees/Red Sox contest this evening and as I readjust to East Coast time after a grueling day of travel, let’s talk about a few former Yankees who have seen their uniforms change stripes today.

As John Smoltz showed his age last night, Jason Giambi has been doing so all summer for the A’s. The seven-year Yankee vet who returned to the Bay Area this past winter was unconditionally released by Billy Beane today. Giambi is hitting .193/.332/.364. While the .139 IsoD is impressive, his batting average and slugging are both fourth-worst in the Majors, and the A’s have opted to give their younger first basemen extended looks.

I wonder if Giambi will land anywhere at this point. For what it’s worth, the fourth-place Blue Jays aren’t interested. It’s tough to call Giambi an impact bat, and he’s on the DL right now with a strained quad. If he’s finished, he sure went out with a wimper.

Another Yankee to symbolize the excesses and failures of the recent past found himself traded today. The Indians have dealt Carl Pavano to the Twins. This move came after the Twins put a waiver claim on Carl. For what it’s worth, the Twins are 4.5 games out of the AL Central but 9.5 games behind in the Wild Card race.

This move could be a risky one for the Twins simply because of Carl Pavano’s endurance. Right now, Carl Pavano has thrown 125.2 innings this year. He threw a combined 145.2 innings over four seasons for the Yanks. Despite his age and experience, he is definitely in the injury red zone right now. The Twins will rely on Pavano for depth, but that, as Yankee fans know, is a dicey proposition. The 5.37 ERA and 1.37 WHIP are hardly appealing.

Finally, Tom Verducci really likes the Yankees right now and doesn’t think things are looking up in Beantown. A Bronx win tonight would certainly cement that feeling.

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Catching up with the exes: Tomko, Pavano, Small

To while away the afternoon now that the Yanks and Orioles have wrapped up their series, let’s check in on some ex-Yankees in the news these days. We start with the disgruntleds:

Brett Tomko
To make room for Sergio Mitre yesterday, the Yankees designated Brett Tomko for assignment. They have ten days to trade him or they can release him or ship him down to the minors. Tomko is not a happy camper about his tenure on the Yankees. “I don’t think I got a fair shot,” he said to reporters as he packed up his locker. “I pitched great in spring training and didn’t make the team. I pitched great in the minors, got called up and didn’t get much of a chance. I understand other guys are pitching great. But it could have been different. I can’t see the point in coming back.”

This is a clear example of the Yankees’ expectations not lining up with Tomko’s. At 36, Brett Tomko is a journeyman with a career ERA+ of 92. He isn’t the future of anything, and he’s not getting better. During his time on the Yanks, he allowed runs in seven of his 15 appearances and just wasn’t a trustworthy or impressive reliever.

“It’s hard when you throw once every 10 days. Your stuff can’t be the same,” he added later. “I never felt like I got a chance to show them anything. I wasn’t pitching much. As much as I want to be here and be with a winning team, I want to pitch. It would be great if they traded me in the next 10 days to help me out. But if not, I’m sure something will come up. Plenty of teams need pitching.”

Tomko won’t accept a Minor League assignment once the ten days are up, and the Yanks probably won’t find a team that needs a mediocre, ineffective and touchy pitcher. So much for him.

Carl Pavano
Try as we might, we just can’t ignore Carl Pavano. Today’s Pavano story though is something of an oddity. In what can only be described as an attempt by a reporter to create the news, Ken Rosenthal asked a Yankee official if the team would be interested in reacquiring Carl Pavano from the Indians.

The reply? A resounding no. “We’ve seen that movie,” Rosenthal’s source said. “Our players would go crazy if we did that.”

Pavano, for what it’s worth, isn’t having a terrible season. He’s 8-7 with a 5.13 ERA, but he’s managed to make 18 starts — one more than his single-season high with the Yanks. He also hasn’t been walking many batters. Yet, the Yankees hate him. The players hate him. The Front Office hates him. The fans hate him. He won’t — and shouldn’t — be back.

Aaron Small
Aaron Small was an odd addition to the Old Timer’s Day roster this year. While he went 10-0 for the Yanks in 2005, he was out of baseball a few months later after going 0-3 with an 8.46 ERA in 2006. Now, we learn that Small made his way to Yankee Stadium just six weeks after a bad bout of encephalitis. Small was in a medically-induced coma for eight days as doctors combated the virus that led to a life-threatening swelling of the former pitcher’s brain.

Small recovered from this ordeal and is slowly rebuilding his strength. This scary story makes his appearance at the stadium this past weekend all the more meaningful.

The Yanks’ $40-million mistakes

Last night in Scranton, Kei Igawa took the hill for the AAA Yankees. In typical Kei Igawa fashion, he threw 5.1 innings and gave up 7 hits and 5 earned runs. He allowed a home run — his ninth long ball of the season and managed just a 4/6 ground ball to fly ball ratio.

For Igawa, it was yet another in a line of mediocre-to-terrible AAA starts. On the season, the Kei Man is 2-0 but with a 6.75 ERA. In 21.1 innings, he has allowed 23 hits but has walked four while striking out 11. His 0.60 GB/FB ratio is destined to keep him at AAA for at least this year and next.

It’s clear today that Kei Igawa is one of the worst free agent signings of the last five years. He is no longer on the Yanks’ 40-man roster and is probably 9th or 10th on the team’s starting pitching depth charts. Last year, he threw just 4 innings in the bigs, and I expect that to be 4 more than he pitches this year for the Yanks.

So the Yankees, in Igawa, have a mistake. They paid $26 million to the Hanshin Tigers for what has amounted to a pitching lemon, and Igawa, earning $4 million a year, is probably the highest paid AAA pitcher in the history of the game. He is, by the way, under contract through the 2011 season.

Meanwhile, later tonight, another Yankee mistake is going to take the mound, albeit far, far away from the Bronx. In Detroit, the 0-3 Carl Pavano is going to take his 9.50 ERA to the hill as the Indians face off against the Tigers. We all know Pavano’s story. He had a career year in Florida right before free agency and landed with the Yankees after a four-team bidding war. He then went 9-8 in 26 starts spread out over four seasons and walked away with a 5.00 ERA, $39.95 million and a less-than-flattering nickname of “American Idle.”

The Indians gave Carl Pavano $1.5 million to pitch for them this year in the hopes that he could rediscover his groove. Outside of one start against the Yankees, ironically enough, Pavano hasn’t done much of anything, and he’s probably nearing the point of pitching for a job.

So as the rain begins to pick up in New York City, I am left not counting down the hours until a Yankeeography-filled rain delay, but rather I am left wondering which of these two pitchers was the worse move. It’s probably safe to say that signing one of them ranks among Brian Cashman‘s worse decisions as GM, but does one take the cake?

Which Yankee pitcher represents a bigger waste of money?
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Anticipating a homecoming of sorts

Later this afternoon, the Yankees and their fans will welcome back a former member of the Yankee Brotherhood. This player, a Yankee for four years, had many memorable moments on the team. First, there was the time he hurt his buttocks; then, he crashed his car and never told the team; then, he somehow wrangled an Opening Day start out of the team only to go down with a season-ending arm injury two starts later.

That’s right; Carl Pavano is making his return to Yankee Stadium. It is a glorious day in Yankeeland and just what the team and its fans need after yesterday’s 22-4 loss.

Anyway, as the Bronx gears up to welcome Carl Pavano back to the stadium as only the Bronx can, Pavano’s former squeeze Alyssa Milano had some choice words for the Indians’ right-hander. Millano, a noted baseball fan, was at CitiField on Saturday for the Mets’ victory over the Brewers and chatted with Brendan Prunty of The Star-Ledger.

But later on she was asked about a former flame (or it is flame-thrower?), Cleveland Indians pitcher Carl Pavano. The two dated briefly around 2004, and when told that he was going to be pitching Saturday afternoon against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, she said: “That’s not going to be pretty.”

While she spoke highly of Pavano’s work ethic and dedication to baseball, she did make some rather candid statements about the former Yankees pitcher.

“He’s got a lot of talent,” Milano said. “But I think it’s become a head game for him. If I were him, I would’ve stayed out of the American League.”

So there you have it. Even Alyssa Milano thinks that Carl Pavano is a headcase who shouldn’t be pitching in the AL. Hopefully, as she said, this won’t be pretty.

The wonderful world of Carl Pavano

One of the more obvious aspects of Joe Torre’s book is the former Yankee manager’s dislike of Carl Pavano. At least that’s the one remaining thing upon which Torre and all the people he reportedly skewers in the book can agree. Pavano, on the other hand, isn’t too happy about it.

Writing on the ESPN Radio 1050 AM blog, Andrew Marchand notes a statement by Pavano concerning the book:

“I am extremely disappointed that someone I had a lot of respect for would make these type of comments in his upcoming book,” said Pavano, in a statement released to 1050 ESPN New York through his agent, Tom O’Connell. “I wish nothing but the best for Joe Torre and my former Yankee teammates, but with that said it does explain why I haven’t received any Christmas cards from Joe the last few years.”

Now, I can understand why plenty of Yankees past and present — such as David Wells who called Torre a punk — may take exception with the excommunicated St. Joe’s words. But Pavano shouldn’t look his gift horse in the mouth. The Yanks paid him $40 million to be a fraud. He should take his money and stay out of this, no matter how right he may be in calling out Torre.

Carl heads to Cleveland

The Cleveland Indians landed themselves a lemon today as they are the lucky winners of the Carl Pavano Sweepstakes. Mark Shapiro has signed the oft-injured 32-year-old to a one-year, $1.5-million deal with incentives. Pavano will be warmly remembered in New York for his grit and determination as he totaled his Porsche while on rehab made 26 starts over four years, earning per Yankee start the same $1.5 million he will make over the course of the entire 2009 season.

On another Pavano note, a few weeks ago, Ken Davidoff noted that it took the Yanks “10 minutes to realize what a fraud [Pavano] was” when he joined the team in 2005. That tidbit piqued my curiosity in December, and I hope one day we’ll get the full story on Carl Pavano. He certainly took the Yanks for a $40-million ride over the last four seasons.