Carl Pavano is starting for the Yankees on Saturday, and all I can say is, "Thank God."
Is he ideal? No. The potential was there, but outside of one year, he didn't really live up to it and injuries have completely shattered his career. But the potential remains there. He has ability; that can't be denied. Of course, the real question is: Has the ability been sapped because of his elbow injury? And even so, can he return to the form he had his final year in Florida, or will he continue to fall short?
Personally, I don't think he's ever going to pitch like that again. In fact, I doubted he'd ever regain that form from the moment the Yankees signed him. But I didn't expect the injuries to mount like they have. He was supposed to be a bust, but not to this extent.
But now he could be a savior. No, not as an ace, but as a fifth starter. Or, considering the state of the Yankees' rotation, more like the 6,789,455th starter. But the truth is, despite his risk, he's probably better than any of the other options.
Darrell Rasner has begun to remember that he's Darrell Rasner, Ian Kennedy is not major-league ready, Jarrod Washburn is too expensive (and now apparently off the table), Kei Igawa is a career quadruple-A pitcher, and Victor Zambrano...ugh.
Pavano has been at least fifth-starter worthy when he has been healthy, and he's really not expected to anything special. If he pitches semi-decently during his starts, it'll be a successful move, and that's really a very plausible scenario. He could be the missing starter the Yankees have been desperate for: the guy that they can just plug in there without simply expecting to lose.
There's always the chance that the injury has ruined his entire career and his capabilities are totally wiped out. But pitchers have returned from Tommy John surgery before, and they're not all terrible. Hoping he'll be good enough to just be a fifth starter is really not a stretch.
And of course, there's a distinct possibility he'll get injured again (will it be a pulled nose hair this time?), but in that case, the Yanks are no worse than where they started.
Pavano probably isn't going to blow anyone away, but considering that they've been pining for guys like Jarrod Washburn and Paul Byrd, the Yankees will happily insert him into that slot. Despite the risk, he's got to be at least as worthwhile as those guys, and he won't add any salary at this point.
And hey, maybe Pavano surprises us all by being straightened out, and makes the post-season roster. Of course, the Yanks actually have to make the playoffs first.
Basically, this move can't possibly hurt the team now, and I think Yankee fans can realistically hope that he stabilizes the back end of the rotation.