Teach An Old Fish New Tricks: Carl Pavano vs. Brad Penny

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The plot of the 2009 offseason is starting to resolve. If it was a movie and you wanted to put a short summary in your local alt-weekly it would probably read like this:

"The Yankees make a bunch of huge signings, the rest ink sluggers to lower than expected deals and hope for the best from a series of reclamation projects. Elizabeth Banks stars, because she is in every single movie that comes out."

In the pitching market, two of the most intriguing fixer uppers are Carl Pavano and Brad Penny. The former Marlins teammates aren't exactly in the same boat. Brad Penny was a Cy Young candidate a couple seasons ago, while Carl Pavano's heyday feels longer ago than Carl Perkins'. But still neither guy was a real factor last season. So signing is better?

The Indians front office seems to have fully talked themselves into Pavano. The contract, as has been the case with most this winter is backloaded with incentives. Justifiably so, for a guy that pitched like 2/3 of an inning in 4 years with the Yankees. But Indians GM Mark Shapiro sounds like he thinks the past 4 seasons were a total fluke and there's no reason to think that Pavano won't be a solid starter. And so this becomes my favorite underrated subplot of the whole Indians offseason:

The acquisition of Pavano means the Indians have committed $73.6 million to 14 players. Jake Westbrook, not expected to pitch until after the All-Star break because of right elbow surgery, will earn $10 million of that.

Shapiro said that unless he's able to move payroll by trade or other means, he's probably done making meaningful additions. He also added reliever Joe Smith and infielder Luis Valbuena in one trade.

Jake Westbrook drives my LOLercoaster. He's part of the resason I'm no fan of Shapiro and I think it's fitting that now he is basically staking his job to Kerry Wood and Carl Pavano. Look at those two names again. Look back at every joke you posted on WoW 3 seasons ago*.

It's not even that the Pavano contract is a deal breaker for Shapiro, the money is fine, it's just the way he's talking about it. It's hard to call this a bad deal, but it's also hard to understand why he seems so stoked about it.

On the surface, the Brad Penny signing makes more sense just because of Penny's proximity to being good. But there was also a point in Carl Pavano's career where he was only coming off one injured season, and sore shoulders can be hard to shake. Penny's $5M base salary is higher than Pavano's but can at least be based off some sort of marginally quantifiable statistics. What numbers were there to base Pavano's salary number off of besides 9 starts? As with the Rays and the Yankees, the Red Sox rotation is loaded at the front and a $5M back of the rotation gamble is a pretty small one relative to payroll.

I guess what I'm saying here is that neither one of these contracts can be considered "better" at this point and won't be until we see which guy pitches better. So why did I write this column? Because it's January and yesterday's big news involved JC Romero and a GNC store. And to make fun of Jake Westbrook.

*pretend we were around 3 seasons ago


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15 Comments

Calr Pavano's heyday was longer ago than Carl Winslow's.

At least there can be a twinkle of optimism about these pitchers. I get to look forward to Jo-el Pinero every fifth day.

But seriously. Elizabeth Banks is in everything. I'm not complaining, she's good, but she's come a long way from WHAS.

Carl Sandburg expects Pavano's slider to come in the night on little cat's feet.

Eww, you have BBQ sauce all over your face. It's pretty foul.

Carl Pohlad remembers watching Pavano when he was foreclosing on houses during the depression.

Karl Malden and I agree that Carl Pavano spells his name the wrong way.

It's like going to a poor guys house and being polite about admiring his beer can collection.

Karl Marx believes all of these pitchers are Nouveau riche and not Bourgeoisie like they think they are

"But Indians GM Mark Shapiro sounds like he thinks the past 4 seasons were a total fluke"

In that he didn't die?

So why did I write this column?

The shuffleboard tournament ended?

Carl Reiner thinks that Pavano is ripe for his own spin-off show, or maybe for a starring role in the remake of Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid that he's got in development with Goldwyn.

I love Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

My wife loves me in plaid, actually.

Dead Man Don't Wear Plaid was great, and the Neil Young score was haunting.

"Do you have any tobacco?"

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