Will the Yankees regret letting Wang go?

Roughly two months ago, the Yankees came to the conclusion that starter Chien-Ming Wang wasn’t worth the roster space anymore, even though they controlled his rights for the next two seasons. That’s why they non-tendered him on December 12 and made him a free agent this offseason.

It’s hard to blame the Bombers to coming to the decision not to tender Wang after he battled through ineffectiveness and injury in 2009. He was a disaster last season, finishing with a 1-6 record and a 9.64 ERA.

But in wake of the Nationals signing the right-hander to a contract on Tuesday, I wonder whether or not the Yankees will regret the decision to let Wang go after the ’09 season. After all, he’s only 29 and just a few years removed from posting back-to-back 19-win seasons.

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Wang rejects minor-league deal

Photo from fOTOGLIF

After the Yankees opted not to enter arbitration with Chien-Ming Wang, the team offered the 29-year-old a contract to pitch in the minors. The skimpy deal included a promise to recall Wang to the majors once his shoulder had fully healed. Of course, Wang wouldn’t have have any of that. He says he’ll be ready by May 1.

The pitcher’s agent, Alan Nero, told the organization that they wanted guaranteed money. The Yankees will be title defenders in 2010 and are reportedly interested in Roy Halladay. They can’t take their chances on a pitcher coming off reconstructive surgery. Thus, both parties decided to move on.

They’re also showing confidence in Chad Gaudin, the young pitcher they acquired from the Padres last season. He’ll receive a decent contract soon enough and might even start in 2010 if the team can’t acquire a pitcher like Halladay.

Chien-Ming Wang non-tendered by Yankees

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Once upon time, Chien-Ming Wang pitched consecutive 19-win seasons for the Bronx Bombers. He got off to another terrific start in 2008, but a foot injury kept him out of the rest of the season. Still, the Yankees were not going to give up on their former ace, deciding to avoid arbitration and simply sign him to a one-year, $5 million contract. Unfortunately, Wang had a horrendous season in 2009. Like Fausto Carmona, his fall from grace was shocking considering his past dominance. Anyone remember the game where the Indians beat the Yankees 22-4? Yeah, Wang was the Yankees’ starter that day. Wang finished his April with an 0-3 record and a 34.50 ERA. That obviously wasn’t going to cut it. On July 30, Wang had season ending shoulder surgery.

Now it’s being reported that the Yankees won’t tender Wang a contract. The Yankees are in the hunt for a more reliable (and expensive) starter like Roy Halladay, so this move isn’t surprising. Wang’s agent claims his client will be ready to return by May 1, only a month into the season. The Dodgers, Marlins, and Rockies are all possibilities.

The Dodgers seem like a good fit for two reasons. 1) Wang pitched for Joe Torre on the Yankees from 2005-2007 and 2) The Dodgers are running low on starters. After letting Randy Wolf go, the Dodgers are looking to solidify their rotation this offseason. If they can’t afford John Lackey, a guy like Wang wouldn’t be a bad get.

Top 5 MLB surprises and Top 5 busts in 2009 so far

We’re approaching Memorial Day and are already about a quarter of the way through the baseball regular season. Some players historically take a while to get going, and some start off blazing hot and then cool off. Here we take a look at five pleasant surprises, and five busts through the first 40 or so games of the 2009 season.

Top 5 Suprises

1. Zack Greinke, SP, Kansas City Royals—One of the reasons the Royals are off to a great start is that Greinke has found his rhythm, to the tune of 7-1 with a 0.82 ERA, as well as 73 strikeouts and 12 walks in just 66 innings. Greinke has given up a microscopic six earned runs so far. Six! It’s not like the kid wasn’t talented, but his career record before 2009 was 34-45 and his ERA 3.96.

2. Jason Bartlett, SS, Tampa Bay Rays—Before this season, Bartlett was a career .285 hitter with 16 career home runs. So far this season, he’s off to a wicked start–.376 batting average, 6 homers, 23 RBI, 9 doubles, 12 stolen bases and an OPS of 1.004.

3. Raul Ibanez, OF, Philadelphia Phillies—This is looking like the free agent signing of the off-season. Or maybe coming over to the world champs from soggy Seattle was a good move. Ibanez was a respectable .288 hitter and was averaging 22 homers and 95 RBI, but so far in 2009 he’s hit 15 home runs and driven in 40 runs, while hitting .349 with 10 doubles, 4 stolen bases and a .724 slugging percentage. You think the Mets should have made a run at the guy instead of wasting all that money on P Ollie Perez?

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Girardi’s job is safe for now

According to a report by the New York Post, it appears that Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi’s job is safe for now.

At 13-14 after last night’s 4-3 loss to the Rays, voices in and out of baseball are wondering if Girardi, who is in the second season of a three-year contract, is safe.

According to several organizational sources Girardi’s job security isn’t an issue. Too many injuries too early in the season and slow starts by CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. And he hasn’t had cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez play a game, lost Chien-Ming Wang early and Jorge Posada recently.

Though Girardi said he understands the attention that comes with managing the Yankees, he said he isn’t fixated on those who blame him for the pedestrian start and being dominated by the Red Sox.

“That’s not something I really focus on. I focus on the task at hand. Every day we do the best we can to prepare our club and every move we make is to win the game and that’s what I focus on,” said Girardi, who has been hamstrung by an awful bullpen.

As the article notes, Girardi can’t do anything about veterans like Sabathia and Teixeira getting off to slow starts, A-Fraud not being in the lineup and Wang forgetting that he’s not pitching in a home run derby contest every fifth day. Girardi will continue to catch heat because he replaced a manager in Joe Torre who should have never been fired in the first place, and the pressure to succeed will always be bestowed on Yankee managers because of how much the club spends to win. It just comes with the territory.

The manager is always on the front lines when a team is losing, but at some point the players are going to have to just step up and freaking produce. Girardi can’t manage situations that are unmanageable (i.e. the pitching staff turning the new Yankee Stadium into Coors Field).

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