There really isn’t a lot of alternatives for the Bombers, not with Chien-Ming Wang sentenced to a soft cast for six weeks and then facing two or three weeks more to get back in shape to pitch. And that’s the optimistic line on the foot injury he suffered Sunday while engaging in the unfamiliar activity of running the bases against the Houston Astros.
The whiners on the team immediately blamed interleague play for the injury. American League pitchers aren’t used to running the bases, said fellow pitcher Mike Mussina. No wonder the poor fellow got hurt. You’d think maybe teams would practice that stuff when they know their pitchers are going to have to hit. But the Yankees don’t, and now their down an ace.
The Yankees didn’t have enough pitching to make it to the playoffs for the 14th straight season before Wang got hurt. General manager Brian Cashman was already looking longingly at last year’s Cy Young Award winner, Sabathia, as the person most likely to be on the trading block. He’s in his walk year, and the Indians, who entered the season with high hopes, are muddling along four games under .500 and not showing many signs of righting their ship.
It’s probably early for Cleveland to pack it in. There are just more than six weeks remaining until the July 31 trade deadline, and the Indians are in fourth place, 7 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Dysfunctional Central.
But Cleveland isn’t known for its deep pockets, and Sabathia is likely to cost a bundle to keep. On the other hand, if the team feels it has a shot, it can keep him, let him go as a free agent, and content itself with the compensatory draft picks it will get for losing a premier player.
Bedard, who was a stud in Baltimore but is less so in Seattle, where good ballplayers go to finish last. The Mariners own the worst record in the majors. They’re not going anywhere, and if they can dump salary and pick up prospects, you have to figure they’d be pretty happy.
After Sabathia and Bedard, the quality of pitching likely to be available before the deadline starts to thin. Paul Byrd, another Cleveland pitcher, might be available, but he’s hardly what anyone would call overpowering. When he’s on, he can be maddeningly effective. But when he’s not, it’s batting practice.
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