Tale of Two Pitchers: Sidney Ponson vs. Shawn Chacon

KP WeeSenior Writer IJune 28, 2008

It's amazing how some athletes keep getting chances, and how some probably will never again.

You can go back in history and look at Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, or the late Steve Howe. (Oddly enough, all of them also got second or third chances from the New York Yankees.)

Earlier this week, two pitchers were in the spotlight, both who reportedly have attitude problems, and both who have struggled at some point in the recent past.

These pitchers, of course, are Sidney Ponson and Shawn Chacon.

Ponson has a job (with the Yankees, of course), and Chacon, according to some, may never get another shot in the majors.

Why? Yes, I am aware Ponson helped the Yankees gain a doubleheader split by pitching shutout ball—getting out of two bases-loaded jams early on—in his six innings on Friday night.

But why does Ponson have a job? 

His track record has been brutal: ever since he flopped when the Giants acquired him down the stretch for their 2003 postseason run (he was lit up in the NLDS by the Marlins), Ponson has been awful.

Ponson's ERA in the four seasons since the 2003 failure has never gone lower than 5.30, and in fact, he'd already pitched for the Yankees with poor results: a 10.47 ERA in three starts and two relief appearances in 2006.

This season, it appeared that Ponson had turned things around in Texas. But even with a 4-1 record and 3.88 ERA in nine starts for the pitching-starved Rangers, Ponson was released because of his off-field antics.

According to the New York Daily News, Ponson wanted to beat up Rangers manager Ron Washington, among other things.

But, Ponson was good enough to be picked up by the Yankees.

Meanwhile, as I'd written before, Chacon has had a strange career. Now, it was reported that he physically attacked his GM in Houston, and is no longer an Astro.

People point to both Chacon's numbers and attitude as reasons he'd never get another big-league job.

But back in 2005, the Yankees (again) had picked up Chacon, despite his weak numbers. Thought to be a dumb move by many, the trade actually worked out for the Yankees.

Amazingly, Chacon went 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA in pinstripes, teaming up with another surprise on the staff, Aaron Small (10-0, 3.20), to give New York two of the best arms down the stretch.

Chacon also pitched well in the postseason (unlike Ponson) in 2005—in a big-pressured game with the Yankees a loss away from elimination. In fact, Chacon pitched much better than teammate Randy Johnson, who got lit up at Yankee Stadium a few nights earlier and left to a chorus of boos.

Regardless, this season, Chacon has gone 2-3 with an ERA of 5.04, but those numbers are misleading.

Chacon pitched three-hit ball on June 13 against the Yankees, allowing just one run and pitched into the seventh. But the Astros lost 2-1.

Chacon's problems on the field were lack of support from his Astros mates, as in his first eight starts he had a 3.53 ERA but was 0-0. In six of those outings, his performances were classified as "quality starts" (6+IP, 3 R or fewer).

Yes, Chacon had struggled of late, but again, he'd pitched well this season, much like Ponson.

And even Derek Jeter, captain of the Yankees, supposedly vouches for Chacon and his character.

But will all the things going for Chacon actually land him another gig?

We'll have to see. For now, Sidney Ponson has a job with the Yanks, and Chacon is on the outside looking in.