The last five years or so, New York has been graced with a handful of the most useless players imaginable. The teams that employed these ineffective, feckless athletes might as well have put a rock in their place, saved a boatload of money and been better off. The energy created by the anger shown by fans toward these guys could have fueled a rocket ship to the moon (and taken these deadbeats with it). Who are these players? None other than Carl Pavano, Eddy Curry, Kei Igawa, Oliver Perez and Wade Redden. Some had flashes of usefulness, while others were just plain worthless, but most of them find themselves in the news once again (except for Igawa, who has just disappeared from our collective consciousness).
Pavano, of course, has actually pitched two full seasons since leaving the Yankees (2009: 33 games, 14-12, 5.10 ERA; 2010: 32 games, 17-11, 3.75 ERA), and lost to them in game two of the division series last week. But he stands as the King of the Useless. He was given a four-year $39.95 million contract by the Bombers, and what did they get for their money? Nine measly wins and 26 games pitched. That comes to $1.54 million a game, and $4.39 million a win. Now that's a nice job if you can get it. He couldn't make up injuries fast enough to stay off the mound. I think he even pulled his ass muscle once. Every ailment that popped up sounded like a bad joke. In his four years in the Bronx (well, not really in the Bronx or anywhere close to Yankee Stadium), the only thing he accomplished was to become a punch line. To make matters worse, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire recently had this to say about him: "He's one of those warriors for us. Just went out there and doesn't like to miss a start. Doesn't like to be backed up. He is kind of like Jack Morris, I guess." Are we sure that's the same Carl Pavano? And not the hard-working insurance salesman also named Carl Pavano in Des Moines, Iowa?
His basketball counterpart is Curry, one of Isiah Thomas' brilliant ideas. He's already injured to start the year, which we think occurred as he was walking toward a basketball court for his first workout of the summer. In his first two seasons with the Knicks, Curry actually showed promise. In 2006-'07, he averaged 19.1 points per game and 7.1 rebounds, and the Knicks tried to talk him up as a worthy All-Star. They convinced no one, as he was left off the team. But at one point in our lifetime Curry was actually useful. But it didn't last long. He regressed the following season, and in the last two years, he's played a total of 10 games, scoring 31 points and hauling in (or is it accidentally having the ball fall into his hands?) 17 rebounds. Constantly out of shape, with knee troubles, he seemingly has no work ethic and is satisfied to collect a paycheck and watch the games on TV (or at least pretend to). Yes, he's had his share of tragedies in his life, but basketball-wise, he's been a disaster, and like Pavano, his name has become a punch line.
Kei Igawa is one of the reasons people hate the Yankees. It's not because he's a bad or unlikeable guy. Or because he hangs out with A-Rod. It's the fact that the Yanks can spend a combined $46,000,194 in posting fees and salary (the 194 symbolizes his strikeout total in his last season in Japan) on one player, and when he doesn't work out, they just ship him down to the minors, keep on doling out exorbitant checks to him and forget all about him, without it effecting their payroll in the least. The money they spent on Igawa alone is more than a number of teams' total payroll for a full season. In his major league debut, Igawa gave up seven earned runs. And that was the high point of his career. Over the length of his four-year contract, he appeared in 16 games for the Yankees, going 2-4, with a 6.66 ERA, 1.76 WHIP and .302 BAA. On the bright side, he's set the Scranton/Wilkes Barre franchise record for career wins. Wherever he goes next, his contract amount should end with the number two, symbolizing the amount of major league victories he accumulated in his time with the Bombers.
"Useless" and "Oliver Perez" go together like Abbott and Costello, or as Jack Donaghy once said, whiskey and hunting. Can we even imagine a world in which an Oliver Perez can be trusted to pitch game seven of the NLCS, as he did in 2006? And he threw a good game at that, going six innings, only allowing a run, with four Ks and two walks (he did hit a batter, though, of course). He followed up that performance with a 2007 season that saw him win 15 games, with a 3.56 ERA. But after a mediocre 2008, Omar Minaya inexplicably signed him to a $36 million contract, outbidding the closest competitor by . . . $36 million. After notching 10 wins in '08 to "earn" that gigantic contract, he's put up win totals of three and zero the last two seasons. It's not just anybody who can go 0-5, with a 6.80 ERA and 2.07 WHIP in a season. He refused a minor league assignment to work out his kinks (ok, completely learn how to pitch all over again), and the Mets refused to release him and eat the money. At first they put him on the DL with what the team was calling a "strained something or other," and then they just banished him to the bullpen. He was somehow allowed to pitch the last day of the season because the game was dragging on too long, and with everybody wanting to go home, they knew he was the most likely candidate to quickly give up runs. And hopefully that will be the last time he's ever seen in a Met uniform (unless he chooses to don one as his Halloween costume, masquerading as a major league pitcher, then it would be acceptable).
As for Wade Redden, he actually showed up for every game in his two-year stint with the Rangers. But that was the problem. If he was putting in a full effort on the ice, it was hard to tell. Really, really hard. He was supposed to be the offensive, puck-moving defenseman the Rangers had been lacking. But five goals and 40 points in two seasons wouldn't even be that good for a defensive defenseman. We'll give him a little credit, though, he didn't come down with one mysterious injury after another like Pavano and Curry, and he wasn't the delusional, mental case that Perez has been. But he's been useless in the going-through-the-motions kind of way. And after signing him to one of the worst contracts in the history of the world (and no, that's not an exaggeration), the Rangers finally sent him down to Hartford with four more years left on his contract.
Pavano, Igawa and Redden are all gone. And Perez and Curry shouldn't be around too much longer either (we hope). Let's just pray that there isn't a next generation that follows these guys to New York.
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