In college, at the end of certain nights of particular debauchery my friends and I would sometimes sit around and play a game of "what’s worse?", in which we’d think up – and then force each other to answer – appalling questions like, "Would you rather be forced to wear, for a week straight, a sweater made of X’s pubic hair (insert disgusting public figure for "X") or drink nothing but Y for a day (insert hideous concoction that would make Ozzy Osborne gag for "Y")?". It led to all kinds of deep thoughts, like whether ingesting something gross was worse than donning something slightly less gross. Why go into this other than to ruin any possible future career in politics for myself? Because I can’t help but think about the "what’s worse" game when I raise the following question for all YFs: "Would you rather have the Yankee rotation rounded out by Sidney Ponson or Carl Pavano?"
Barring injury (of course, in Pavano’s case that is like saying "barring gravity") or the claiming of a starter off waivers (unlikely) it seems likely that both Hughes and Pavano step into the Rasner-Ponson spots in the Yankee rotation by the start of September. Both have made two starts each for the Single-A Charleston River Dogs with the following small sample-size results:
- Hughes: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO, 0.00 ERA
- Pavano: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1.80 ERA
OK, Pavano hasn’t actually been all that impressive. He’s got an opponents BA of .300 over two games at what is the lowest level of professional baseball. But this guy was an all-star back in 2004 and notwithstanding the $40 million mistake he became for the Yankees, if he is back to starting pitching form in 2-3 weeks, I can’t see the Yankee brass allowing Sidney Ponson to stand in his way. Besides, he’s still pulling down that paycheck and it’s not as if they want to protect him for the future (on the contrary, there are probably more than a few in the organization who might wish the guy bodily harm at this point).
Re: Hughes, I have to imagine that the only question for the Yankees is what will be most helpful for his future. As long as he is not being pushed too quickly and his stuff is there, I’d have to think that throwing to major league hitters might be better for his development than another 3 weeks of minor league ball followed by shutting it down once again when the ML season ends. Besides, he’d be replacing Darrell Rasner, who has compiled a 7.51 ERA and averaged less than 5 IP/G in his last 9 starts. Could he be that much worse? (this is where one might point out that Hughes actually was worse in the 6 starts he made for the Yankees back in April – averaging less than 4 IP to the tune of a 9.00 ERA) But at some point the kid has to get back in the saddle, right? If they don’t feel like they are pushing him too hard physically, why not give him a shot to prove that April was a fluke rather than leaving him to continue simmering over it during the winter months?