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April 23, 2005

Sunk Costs, Part Deux
by SG

Among the many moves that a lot of Yankee fans were not particularly enamored of was the Yankees' signing of Jaret Wright off of a career year with Atlanta. There was certainly good reason for concern.


1997 21 CLE AL 8 3 16 16 0 0 0 0 90.3 81 45 44 9 35 63 5 1 388 4.38 4.71 107
1998 22 CLE AL 12 10 32 32 1 1 0 0 192.7 207 109 101 22 87 140 11 6 855 4.72 4.80 102
1999 23 CLE AL 8 10 26 26 0 0 0 0 133.7 144 99 90 18 77 91 7 4 609 6.06 5.02 83
2000 24 CLE AL 3 4 9 9 1 1 0 0 51.7 44 27 27 6 28 36 1 2 217 4.70 5.02 107
2001 25 CLE AL 2 2 7 7 0 0 0 0 29.0 36 23 21 2 22 18 0 1 140 6.52 4.53 69
2002 26 CLE AL 2 3 8 6 0 0 1 0 18.3 40 34 32 3 19 12 2 1 116 15.71 4.51 29
2003 27 TOT NL 2 5 50 0 0 0 17 2 56.3 76 46 46 9 31 50 3 12 269 7.35 3.98 54
2004 28 ATL NL 15 8 32 32 0 0 0 0 186.3 168 79 68 11 70 159 3 3 781 3.28 4.31 131

One of these things is not like the others.

The Yankees and their scouts felt strongly enough about Wright to sign him for 3 years and $21 million. The highest offer out of Atlanta was $4 million over 2 years. Rather than considering that the team he just pitched for didn't feel strongly enough about Wright repeating his performance to go higher than $2 million a year for two years, the Yankees had Wright take a physical, WHICH HE FAILED.

Rather than realize that maybe this could be a problem, they gave him another physical and this time he passed. They did "protect" themselves with an out clause, which can be triggered in year 3 of the contract if Wright spends a combined 75 days on the DL in years 1 and 2. They would still have to buy out year 3 at a cost of $4 million, so they would save $3 million out of the deal.

Here was Brian Cashman's take on the signing:

"I think when we approach our winter every year, the only sensible thing is to attack the areas of weakness," Cashman said. "Our biggest concern was our rotation, and the belief here is that we're going into the spring with a much stronger rotation than we ended with last season.

"We got younger at the same time, and that's always good," added the GM. "We're excited about the potential of the staff, but now we have to play it out."

Despite posting a 2-1 record, Wright had pitched very poorly going into today's game. He followed this up with his worst game of the year so far, giving up six runs in the first two innings before finally leaving the game in the sixth with what is being described as 'shoulder pain.' He will be re-evaluated tomorrow. I did not really care for the fans that cheered Wright's injury though, I thought that was pretty classless. Yeah, he's not pitching well, but he's trying. If you're going to be annoyed at anyone, be annoyed at the guys who brought him here. There's not anyone of us that wouldn't have taken the Yankees' offer if we were Wright.

Wright was signed in lieu of Jon Lieber, Matt Clement, Odalis Perez, Orlando Hernandez, and Eric Milton amongst others, at around the same dollar value or less.
With Clement and Perez, there were questions about their personalities, with Lieber and Hernandez there were age issues, and with Milton they felt he was asking for more than he was worth(at least they got this one right). I think it's safe to say that any one of them at this point in time would have been a far better signing, even Milton as scary as that is.

Regardless, what's done is done. At this point, I'd guess that Wright will go on the DL and they will call up Tiger Wang. The best thing for this organization would be for Wang to pitch well enough to be considered for a rotation spot if Brown/Wright can't pitch this season, or as the fifth starter when Brown's contract is finally up at the end of the season. The Yankees are notoriously impatient with young starters (see Halsey, Brad or Lilly, Ted) so Wang will have to do a creditable job from the start. With a very poor free agent crop of pitchers coming up, the Yankees have to stop doing what they've been doing, which is overpaying for mediocrity. It is far better to sign one Carlos Beltran for $14 million than to sign a Jaret Wright for $7 million, a Tony Womack for $2 million, a Tino Martinez for $2 million, and Ruben Sierra, John Flahery, and Rey Sanchez for $1 million each. The sooner they learn that, the better.

Another loss today dropped the Yankees to 7-11. If they manage to win tomorrow, they will have the same record as last year, so it is still not time to panic. However, it's so painfully obvious that this past offseason was not a good one, and it is becoming more apparent.

Tony Womack .233/.292/.283
Tino Martinez .200/.310/.360
Jaret Wright 2-2, 9.15 ERA
Randy Johnson 1-1, 5.13 ERA
Felix Rodriguez 4.70 ERA

Other names of note:
Jon Lieber 4-0, 2.73 ERA
Matt Clement 2-0, 2.13 ERA
Orlando Hernandez 2-1, 2.50 ERA
Odalis Perez 3-0, 2.04 ERA
Jose Contreras 0-0, 3.63 ERA

Update: Supposedly, the Yankees are going to call up Colter Bean to take Wright's spot. I guess this is because they won't need a fifth starter until next Saturday. It's not like Torre will use Bean unless there's a blowout though.