Carl Pavano Gets the Last Laugh - NBC New York

Carl Pavano Gets the Last Laugh

Freddy Garcia isn't up to the task



    Inspiring Stories of Hope
    The Return of Pavano didn't go quite as the Yankees would have liked.

    The mere mention of Carl Pavano's name makes many Yankee fans spitting mad.

    His four years with the team featured just 26 starts thanks to a variety of injuries and he became one of the poster boys for what could be termed the decline phase of the George Steinbrenner era as the Yankees simply signed whatever free agents were on the market instead of actually judging them based on talent.

    Pavano's last year in New York was 2008 and it's not entirely coincidental that it was the last time the Yankees missed the playoffs. 

    The Yankees only saw Pavano once since his departure, back in 2009 when he pitched for the Indians, before he took the mound in the Bronx on Monday night. He was greeted with the same boos he heard when he played in these parts and the first inning seemed like it would be a fun night for the home team.

    Derek Jeter homered, Curtis Granderson homered and the Yankees tacked on one more run to grab a 3-2 lead that seemed like the first big step toward a moment when fans got to serenade him from the mound with hoots and catcalls many years in the making. It wasn't meant to be. 

    Pavano shut down the Yankees over the next six innings, allowing just three balls out of the infield and making his ugly start a thing of distant memory in the process. Freddy Garcia, meanwhile, was doing his best to make sure Phil Hughes doesn't run away with the honor of being the guy forced out of the rotation when Andy Pettitte is ready to return.

    Unsteady Freddy didn't repeat his five wild pitch monstrosity from his start in Baltimore, but he wasn't much better as he started and ended poorly. There were the two runs in the first inning -- which scored with two outs in the inning -- to dig an early hole and then Garcia ended the night by allowing four hits to the final eight batters he faced to give the Twins a 5-3 lead that they turned into a 7-3 loss.

    The race to the bottom between Garcia and Hughes might wind up claiming both jobs if Michael Pineda can return, but choosing which one to bounce right now is not an easy task. There's been very little to recommend either man for a job right down to the fact that Garcia has very little upside and Hughes has made a career out of failing to hold onto rotation spots handed to him on a silver platter.

    Hughes' habit of failing upward probably gives him an edge on Garcia, although he's got plenty of time to grab the crown outright if he so chooses. This, my friends, is why you don't fret about having too many starting pitchers at the start of the season.

    It's also why Pavano got so much money from the Yankees back in 2005 and why his performance in pinstripes did nothing to get in the way of continuing his career long enough to dish out some long-simmering revenge.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.