Friday, August 7, 2009

Taking a Risk on a Broken Player

Technically, when you pick someone up off waivers, you're not really being cutting edge and risky, unless one were to go out on the waiver wire right now and pick up Jose Canseco (which would be more insane than risky). I think it is interesting when a team takes a chance on a disgraced player who has been injured--will the desire to prove himself overcome any physical infirmities?

The Minnesota Twins picked up one Mr. Carl Pavano today:

The Twins agreed Friday to send the Cleveland Indiansa player to be identified later in exchange for Pavano, a one-time All-Star whose career derailed in New York during four injury-ruined seasons with the Yankees.

"He's certainly had a significant injury history over the last few years, but he has been healthy this year," Minnesota general manager Bill Smith said from Detroit, where the Twins were scheduled to play the first-place Tigers later Friday. "We've had good reports about him on and off the field, and we're hoping that he can provide some innings for us down the stretch."

Is this really the move that a contender would make? Stranger things have happened. The Twins actually made a move before the trade deadline, getting Orlando Cabrerafrom the Oakland A's. ESPN makes bank with these kinds of "redemption" stories, and the hamfisted critics make hay with players who have been ridiculed by the large market media goons.

Pavano, given Torii Hunter's old number 48, was expected to join the team in Detroit. With an off day on Monday, the rotation for next week was not yet set.

Whenever he pitches, the 33-year-old Pavano will take the mound still trying to erase the embarrassment of those four infamously bad years in New York.

After an All-Star, 18-win season for Florida in 2004, the right-hander signed a four-year contract worth almost $40 million with the Yankees.

He won nine games during the entire length of that deal, making only 26 starts. Ridiculed often in city tabloids and by the franchise's proud fans, Pavano drew the ire of Yankees teammates, too. They questioned his desire and work ethic during his time on the disabled list, and he even picked up the derogatory nickname "American Idle."

Ouch. That was certainly a smack-talking handle to give a man who pulled down that kind of money for sitting on the bench. My question is, how does anyone know whether or not a player actually has desire? Fans can tell when a player seems to be dragging ass and not trying--isn't that the number one sport for haters of Manny Ramirez to engage in? But how do you really know when an injured player is playing the disability benefits game? Is it in the way he hustles himself into a seat on the bench so he can sit, rapt at attention, for the duration of the entire game, furiously scribbling notes and squinting with one eye closed at the radar gun in the distance? Is it in the bitchy clubhouse gossip that leaks out to the New York Media? Is it in the way the player wears his uniform tight at the crotch to give him less wind resistance as he saunters into the clubhouse after the game? I'm sure someone has had this suggestion before, but not paying someone who is hurt probably wouldn't work.

The media in the Twin Cities is pretty bad, actually. Many of the sports writers who work there are insufferable clowns who have no chance of moving up to a larger market or the national scene. There really is no viable criticism of sports there, there's just Sid Hartman and his endless droning on what is, and what is not, good for management. Hartman, of course, lost money to Bernie Madoff, and, like any good media personality, refuses to say how much he lost.

Being big in the Twin Cities is like being the biggest thing in Buffalo, Mr. T.O. No one will stop and give you the key to the city and no one in the relevant part of the country even cares that they love you there.

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