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The Off-Season:  Caveat Emptor- Part Eight

The Off-Season: Caveat Emptor- Part Eight

By Tim Kabel

March 5, 2022

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So far, I have written seven articles in this series that I am calling Caveat Emptor, which is about free agent signings the Yankees made that for one reason or another, went awry. In some cases, it was due to injury. In others it was simply a bad fit. Some of the signings are hard to second guess, even many years later. Others are not. The point is that whenever a team signs a free agent, there is an uncertainty to the deal. Nothing is guaranteed. Some signings seemingly have a better chance for success than others. The Don Gullett signing, as well as that of Steve Kemp made sense. Unfortunately, injuries. derailed the careers of both players. Most of the signings looked good for at least a little while. They could be summed up by the phrase, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

When the first European settlers arrived in Australia, they explored the vast wilderness and began hunting. Thomas Austin was one of those explorers in the mid-1800s. He became bored with the local Australian animals and wrote to his brother to send 24 rabbits on the next shipment of supplies. It seemed like a good idea at the time. As soon as the rabbits arrived, Austin let them loose. Unfortunately, since Austin and his fellow settlers had killed so much of the local wildlife, there were no predators for the rabbits. Consequently, they bred like, well, rabbits. Seven years after the arrival of the rabbits, Austin had killed 14,000 of them on his property alone. By 1940, there were 800 million rabbits in Australia, all descended from those original 24. The horde of rabbits caused the three native Australian parrot species and 23 of the 26 native tree species to become extinct.

In the 1900s, the Eurasian or Russian wild boar was introduced into parts of the United States for the purpose of sport hunting. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Today, feral swine, which are a combination of escaped domestic pigs, Eurasian wild boars, and hybrids of the two, number over 6 million. It is a major problem, as feral hogs cause an estimated 1.5 billion dollars in damage each year.

Every fall, thousands of young people set off to college. In many cases, they simply stack and load belongings onto the back of a truck, believing that everything will stay in place. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Every fall, the highways are littered with cushions, boxes, recliners, and sofas that have somehow flown off the trucks while they were in transit.

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Carl Pavano was a member of the 2003 World Champion Florida Marlins baseball team. In 2004, also pitching for the Marlins, he was in All-Star. In the 2003 World Series, he started Game Four against the New York Yankees. He held the Yankees to one run over 8 innings in a game the Marlins would win 4-3 in extra innings. In 2004, he had a record of 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA. He became a free agent after the season ended and signed a 4-year 39.95-million-dollar contract with the New York Yankees. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Pavano began the 2005 season with quality starts in seven of his first ten appearances, compiling a 4 -2 record with a 3.69 ERA. However, in June of that season, he injured his right shoulder and went on the disabled list. For the season, he made 17 starts and finished with a 4-6 record and a 4.77 ERA The Yankees expected him to be healthy for the 2006 season but, Pavano began the season on the disabled list after bruising his buttocks in a spring training game. Apparently, the injury to his buttocks was more severe than the one Forrest Gump suffered, as Pavano did not pitch in the Major Leagues at all in 2006, appearing only in minor league rehab starts. On August 15th, 2006, Pavano broke two ribs in an automobile accident after he hit another vehicle with his Porsche in West Palm Beach, Florida. He did not tell the Yankees about the incident until August 28th, the day they informed him that they planned for him to come off the disabled list to pitch that week.

In Spring Training in 2007, Yankees’ pitcher Mike Mussina said that Pavano needed to prove he wanted to pitch for the team. Mussina said he did not believe he was the only Yankee who felt that way. “It didn’t look good from a player’s and a teammate’s standpoint. Was everything just coincidence? Over and over again? I don’t know.” Manager Joe Torre said the amount of work Pavano would need to do to repair his clubhouse image was “sizable.” After Chien-Ming Wang injured his hamstring, Pavano was named the Opening Day starter against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Yankee Stadium. He pitched 4.1 innings and gave up four earned runs. On April 15th, 2007, Pavana was placed on the 15-day DL with what was described as an elbow strain. On May 23rd, 2007, it was reported that Pavano would opt for Tommy John surgery on his elbow.

In December 2007, the Yankee organization asked Pavano to accept a minor league contract to clear space on their 40-man roster. He considered the request but declined.. Pavano had not endeared himself to his Yankee teammates, and he stated that he would not visit the team when they played in Tampa Bay while he was rehabilitating. He returned to pitch for the Yankees at the end of the 2008 season, making his first start on August 23rd. During a game he started on September 14th, He allowed three earned runs and five hits before he left the mound in the sixth inning due to a left hip injury. He was showered with boos from the sellout crowd.

Call Pavano’s Yankees career ended after the 2008 season. During his four years in New York, He pitched a combined 26 Major League games. In 2004 with the Marlins, he pitched 31 games. Pavano certainly earned the nickname he was given by the New York media, “American Idle.” His career record with the Yankees was 9- 8 with a 5.00 earn run average. Essentially, he earned more than four million dollars per win while he was a Yankee.

Pavano was not liked by his teammates and earned a reputation as a malingerer and a shirker. He was certainly not the pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting. He pitched effectively in the 2003 World Series and had a career year in 2004. There was not a great deal of criticism at the time of the signing. But he certainly fits the category of Caveat Emptor, because the signing turned out to be a disaster.

However, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

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PREVIOUS ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES:

CAVEAT EMPTOR- PART ONE (STEVE KEMP)

CAVEAT EMPTOR- PART TWO (DAVE COLLINS)

CAVEAT EMPTOR- PART THREE (MEL HALL)

CAVEAT EMPTOR- PART FOUR (DON GULLETT)

CAVEAT EMPTOR – PART FIVE (ED WHITSON)

CAVEAT EMPTOR – PART SIX (PASCUAL PEREZ)

CAVEAT EMPTOR – PART SEVEN (KEI IGAWA)

#CarlPavano

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