$600,000 separates Chien-Ming Wang's asking price and the Yankee offer. $600,000, or to put it in perspective, 5.45% of what the Yanks are paying Carl Pavano this season. Wang asked for $4.6M, the Yanks offered $4.0M. So close, but yet so far.
Brian Cashman said today that the Yanks and Wang will probably go to an arbitration hearing
because they cannot bridge the gap. If it seems ludicrous that the Yanks can't work this out, that's because it is. This can't possibly be about the money, $600,000 is such a small sum in the grand scheme of things. So if it isn't about the money, then what's going on?
One school of thought seems to be that the Yanks are peeved about Wang's horrible performance in games 1 and 4 of the ALDS last season. I know plenty of fans were more than a little disappointed in our ace's poor showing. Many fans took it as a sign that Wang isn't truly an ace. Maybe the Yanks share that notion.
If you look at the roster, the minor-league system and player ceilings, where does Wang fit in? In a perfect world, he'd be the Yanks number three or four starter two or three years down the road, with Hughes and Joba firmly entrenched in the top two slots and Wang left to duke it out with Kennedy for the 3/4 slots. If this is the reasoning behind the standoff, it still doesn't make any sense at all. Fine, the Yanks want to wait and see with Wang. He's under Yankee control through 2011, by that time he might not warrant big money. In fact, by that time he very well may have been surpassed and the Yankee rotation may be CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy and Andrew Brackman or Jeff Marquez. The point is, a lot can happen in the next three seasons. But that's not what we're talking about here. The issue isn't whether or not to sign Wang to an extension, the issue is whether or not to go through what might become a messy arbitration hearing over $600,000.
This situation is about this year, and keeping Wang happy. He's probably not getting an extension, so you've already got that disappointment to deal with. The least you can do is bend and avoid arbitration. There's no need to add insult to injury, especially when you look at exactly how important Wang is to this team in 2008. The Yanks are going to have to fashion at the very least 400 innings out of Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, if Mike Mussina is ineffective they're going to need more out of them. If Wang or Pettitte goes down with an injury for an extended period of time, we're either going to see the Big Three stretched beyond their innings limits or the likes of Kei Igawa and Sean Henn getting spot starts. We all know how that would end.
The Yanks are depending on Wang to give them 200+ innings and stabilize the front of the rotation, he's very important to the short-term goals of this team. They need him. If you're of the "what have you done for me lately," school of thought, all you need to do is look at what Wang did last year. He took the ball every fifth day for a couple of months with a painful finger injury, and he gutted his way through games without his best stuff. He deserves a little respect, and honestly, $600,000 amounts to just that. A little respect.
The Yanks need to come to their senses here. There's nothing to be gained from this hard-line approach, and plenty to lose.