It went largely unnoticed, but the Indians signed P Carl Pavano to a one-year, $1.5 million contract in January. He is a pitcher obviously known for signing a four-year, $40 million contract with the New York Yankees and being injured throughout most of it. To make matters worse, Joe Torre gives him a good ripping in his new book, in which he criticizes Pavano’s dedication and ability to play through injuries.
It doesn’t sound like much of a signing for the Tribe, but this is a legitimate reason to be excited, with an understandable level of caution, of course. The Cleveland organization is known for rehabbing pitchers and turning them into solid starters once again (see Kevin Millwood as one example), so Pavano seems like the perfect fit for the Indians. But the third spot in the rotation? I suppose it only seems natural it would be given to him, because there is not a great deal of experience behind Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona. Jake Westbrook is not expected to be with the team until at least mid-season.
The pressure of the third spot in the Indians’ rotation is not nearly as daunting as what comes with even putting on a Yankees uniform, but there will be certain expectations for Pavano. Granted, he only pitched in 34 1/3 innings last season, but he’ll have to improve on that 5.77 ERA. Luckily for him, the Indians are usually a patient bunch, willing to let players work out their kinks for as long as it does not become a major hindrance to the team. The Indians are poised to make a run at the AL Central, but Pavano will be one of the many questions that will need to develop into contributions if the team wants to sniff the playoffs for the first time since the debacle that was 2007.