Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Nice Change of Pace

Hey Twins fans, remember when the Twins used to pick up those "crafty veterans" like Livan Hernandez, Ramon Ortiz, and Sidney Ponson, only to watch them lose us a few games early on before they were, inevitably, cut? Isn't it nice not to have one of those guys on the team the last two seasons? When the Twins traded for him last season and brought him back this year, I thought he was going to be another one of those guys. I've been pleasantly surprised so far.

Carl Pavano was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 14th round of the 1994 amateur draft. He was traded to the Expos with whom he made his major league debut in 1998 and then traded in 2002 to the Florida Marlins. A little known fact about Pavano is that he gave up Mark McGwire's 70th HR in 1998.

After a successful World Series run and win with the Marlins in 2003, he had the best year of his career in 2004, compiling a 18-8 record to go along with a 3.00ERA/1.17WHIP in 222+ innings. The following season he signed a 4-year deal with the New York Yankees worth about $40M. That was the beginning of his decline. In the summer of 2005, he injured his right shoulder, he had another freak injury in spring training before the 2006 season (bruised buttocks) which put him on the DL and then in August of '06 he was involved in an car accident and broke 2 ribs. He ended up not making a single major league start in 2006. In 2007, Pavano had Tommy John surgery and missed almost the entire 2007 season. By the time he made it back in the 2008 season, his 4-year contract was nearly up with the Yankees and Pavano had done nothing to endear himself to either the team or the fans and the Yankees simply let him walk. In January 2009, Pavano signed a 1-year deal with the Cleveland Indians and was traded to the Twins in August of last year.

Pavano has pitched 200 innings in a season three times in his career, in 2003, 2004, and 2009. His career 4.44ERA and 5.9 K/BB is nothing spectacular, but he has seemed to resemble more of his old self since coming to the Twins late last season. In 97 IP with the Twins, Pavano has a 8-5 record and a 4.55ERA, 1.31WHIP, and 76:17 K/BB ratio (!). Again, nothing spectacular, but in a rotation that features a resurgent Francisco Liriano, and youngsters Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn, Pavano provides a nice veteran presence while keeping the Twins in the games he starts. He's currently signed to a one-year deal after accepting arbitration with the Twins this past off-season. Obviously the key for Pavano is to stay healthy, but if he can continue to exhibit the control he has shown so far with the Twins, he could once again pitch 200 innings and be a very valuable part of this year's team.

Aaron Gleeman wrote a great piece the other day looking back on what the Twins could have done this past off-season with a guy like Rich Harden out there. I have to agree with his conclusion, I've very glad the Twins opted to re-sign Pavano. So far, so good.

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