Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Prior-ness

Yesterday, I suggested that the Yanks take a flier on Mark Prior, signing him to a Lieber-like deal. The Yanks drafted Prior way back when but never signed him. He re-entered the draft, was taken by the Cubs, rocked the league in 2003 and then turned into an injury-riddled version of Carl Pavano.

Last year, he signed for $1m, under-market value, to play in his hometown of San Diego. He did not pitch an inning for his hometown nine. Rather, he underwent season-ending surgery in June.

Prior had surgery in June performed by team doctors Heinz Hoenecke and Jan Fronek to fix a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder.

It was during surgery when Hoenecke and Fronek discovered that the capsule in Prior's right shoulder had torn away from the humerus bone -- an injury neither Hoenecke nor Fronek had heard of another baseball player having before.

There's no timetable for him to pitch in games yet; they think he can start pitching to hitters in the Spring. Prior now says he wants to return to the Padres. Can't say I blame him. He effectively stole that $1m last year and if you have to rehab anywhere, doing it in SD ain't too bad.

Except I think that the Yanks should come in and offer a multi-year deal, low on guarantees but high on incentives. Offer him a million or two guaranteed for 2009 and double that for 2010. Provide incentives for the # of games started. Maybe he'd be another Pavano, maybe he'd be Lieber, who came back to be effective. Not great but effective. When you have a 28 year old who once had proven great "stuff", isn't that worth a risk? Could it work out any worse than the Ponson experiment? With a limited downside, I think a guy like Prior is worth the risk.

If he can't handle the workload of a starter, perhaps he can develop into a nice middle reliever. Hell, didn't the perennially-injured Kerry Wood develop into an ace closer?

Stranger things have happened.

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