Here’s a general formula: If you’re considered a talented pitcher–regarded highly by scouts, executives, prospect experts, those in the know–and then you put on a Yanks uniform, you suddenly lose your talent. On the other hand–and this formula doesn’t work as well as the first one–if you are not regarded highly by the baseball experts, and you put on pinstripes, you suddenly become a very effective and wily pitcher.
Formula 1 examples:
- Javier Vazquez: He comes to the Bronx during his peak age seasons. He experiences his worst year in baseball as a Bomber. It takes him a couple of years to rid himself of the Bronx stink and now he’s the ace of the ChiSox.
- Jeff Weaver: He starts out his career as a top prospect in Detroit, where he pitches well until he comes to the Bronx. His career has not been the same since Bomber fans (tried to) cheer for him.
- Jose Contreras: There was no denying his talent and yet he has only shown this talent in a White Sox uniform. Awful with the Yanks. Good, awful, good again with the White Sox.
- Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy: Yes, it is still very early to put these two in this group, but their extremely poor showings are getting me to wondering. You take all those pre-season projections and did any of them predict these crappy performances? Yes, we knew they might struggle, but this? I fear they have too much talent and that doesn’t mix well with these uniforms.
- Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson’s declines coincide with their time in New York. Coincidence or something else?
- Carl Pavano is mediocre when he pitchers and is injured all the other times.
The second formula yields pitchers such as Aaron Small, Darrell Rasner and Shawn Chacon. And while Chien-Ming Wang was considered a decent prospect at the time of his call-up, no one thought him a front-line starter. It seems the lower the expectations, the better the results.
Why is this happening? Is it the pressure of New York? Is it a failure of coaching? Is it the defense? And a larger question: Are the Yanks behind most teams when it comes to getting the most out of their pitching talent?
This is what I think about when I’m in a bad mood.