Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bye, Bye Chien-Ming Wang

As expected, the Yankees decided not to tender a contract to pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, unwilling to pay him the minimum $4 million he would be due coming off another injury-shortened season. It's a disheartening fall from grace for a pitcher who was the team's number #1 starter for two years.

Wang won 19 games during the regular season twice and was the runner-up to Johan Santana in the American League Cy Young race in 2006. But he struggled in the postseason, particularly in the 2007 division series against Cleveland, giving up 12 runs and losing two of the three games that forced the Yanks' early exit.

Wang was never the same after injuring his foot running the bases in a 2008 interleague series against the Astros in Houston (that's why baseball needs the DH in the NL parks during interleague play). After trying to come back from that, he suffered other injuries and eventually needed shoulder surgery.

The Yanks offered Wang a minor-league contract that would become a major-league deal when he proved he could pitch. But again with the Yanks, there seems to be too many bad feelings lingering from previous contract negotiations, as Wang was reportedly still unhappy with the team after losing his salary dispute in arbitration.

I agree with the Yankees decision on Wang from a baseball perspective as they don't know if he will ever return to being the solid pitcher he was before the foot injury. But I hope they have learned their lesson about pinching pennies on the backs of their players. It caused bad feelings with Andy Pettitte, one of the nicest guys in baseball. And it seems like it cost them even a chance to get Wang to agree to an incentive-laden contract that would have kept him in pinstripes.

A real shame for both Wang and the Yankees.

Thanks to Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the photo.

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