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Were the Yanks Right to Write Off Wright?
Sunday, November 12, 2006
It’s still early on in the game of off-season musical chairs, but the Yankees have made it clear that they are focused on rejuvenating the lackluster pitching staff that let them down in the ALCS. They have already replaced Sheffield and his accompanying emotional baggage (which tends to manifest itself in angry outbursts – never attractive) with 3 young pitchers from Detroit - a 23-year-old potential star starter and 2 young relievers – and are expected to sign Moose to a new 2-year contract before long. Today the Yankees bid farewell to Jaret Wright, shipping him off to the Orioles in exchange for Chris Britton (right, looking eerily similar to Mr. Jaret Wright himself), a young (he’ll turn 24 in December) righty reliever who put up a 3.35 ERA in 52 games with Baltimore last year.

Jaret’s time with the Yankees wasn’t particularly prolific, and I’ll admit to having thrown things at the TV in disgust one or two (ahem) times during his starts over the course of the past 2 years, but I’m actually not convinced that he needed to be dealt. By the 2nd half of the 2006 season Wright had turned into a relatively dependable starter; he didn’t pitch complete games or intimidate batters with 100mph fastballs, but he could be counted on for 5 innings of 3-run baseball. What’s more, the Yankees paid the Orioles $4 million (the amount of Wright’s buy-out) to take Wright off their hands, but it would have cost them just $7 million to keep him on the team for the 2007 season.

My main reservation regarding this trade is that, for reasons I cannot even begin to comprehend, Cashman has made repeated statements indicating that he is counting Pavano (right, in a studio, the only place he has ever worn his Yankees uniform) as one of his 5 starters for the 2007 season. Now, I was the vice-president of the math club in high school (this is true…sadly), and based on the frequency of Pavano’s injuries divided by the total number of strikeouts he has accumulated since 2004, multiplied by the square root of the amount of injectable steroids he used in 2004, I can confirm with 99.98% accuracy that he will not be making more than 3 starts during the 2007 season. He clearly is not one to be counted on, so without Wright, the Yankees are left with just Wang, Mussina and the Unit in their starting rotation. Humberto Sanchez, the much-lauded prospect the Yanks acquired from the Tigers this week, has not played in the majors yet and may not be ready for the big time right away, and the other 3 pitchers the Yankees added this week (2 others from the Sheff deal and Britton today) are strictly relievers.

The good news is that Cashman seems to be weilding more control over the decision-making process as Big Stein gets older and weaker, and he has impressed me with his forsight in the past. Let's just cross our fingers and hope that he lands another starter (or 2!) in the next few months...

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Sunday, November 12, 2006  
  • At 11:48 PM, Anonymous Adam B. said…

    Don't forget that Karstens and Rasner are potential for the starting rotation. I like the trade because you can't keep getting only 5 innings and asking the bullpen for 4 every fifth day when Randy is unreliable. I like the path Cashman is taking the team down. Also, it's nice that the Yankees fans are understanding of this as Red Sox fans went ballistic when Theo tried to go younger.

  • At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You make a good point about Wright - he was consistent. However, 5 excrusicating innings that take nearly 90-100 pitches and two and a half hours will not be missed by the fans or the guys playing behind him in the field. Why not give a young arm a shot at last spot in the rotation. At least they have upside.

    BTW, Cashman has repeatly said during this offseason that he's NOT counting on Pavano and the Big Unit to be ready by Opening Day.

  • At 6:48 PM, Anonymous Twentyseven said…

    The options on Wright were:
    Buy him out - $4 million
    Keep him - $7 million

    What Cashman did was pay $4 million dollars (which we would have had to pay anyways) to get a young pitcher with large upside.
    Granted, some might think that Wright might improve. No, his numbers suggest that he will likely be much worse next season. A flyball pitcher like him usually has a large amount of homeruns given up, and this season he had very few. Thus, his trade value is highest and it is likely that he will go backwards from this point on. Especially given his age.

  • At 7:35 PM, Blogger Yankees Chick said…

    anon - this is one of the several things i've read about cashman's hopes for pavano:

    "We have a huge investment in Carl," Cashman said. "He's one of the five we're going to have to count on. When he's healthy, I have no doubt of what he's capable of doing. I know there are a lot of people out there who doubt that, but I do not."

  • At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    This was in the Bergen Record recently:

    "I'm not going to say I can count on him," Cashman said. "Maybe I've jinxed myself the last two years. I have no intention of selling him off short just because of the bad taste in our mouth over the first two years."

    Basically, Cashman is suggesting that he's not penciling Pavano in the Opening Day rotation. At the same time, he's saying Pavano still has value. He HAS TO say that, since he's trying to convince another team to take him off the Yanks' hands.

  • At 5:35 PM, Blogger Stan said…

    Wright is a strictly replacement level player. Look at it this way, the $4 million was a sunk cost. Any way we did it we would have to pay that. Now call Karstens or Rasner up from the minors and I'm sure they can do 5-innings of 3-run ball. What's the difference? We save $3 million - major league minimum AND we have a young righty reliever.

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