I used to despise Carl Pavano. Even though I would normally take great delight in the pitching-related mishaps of the Yankees (just thinking about Kei Igawa or Ian Kennedy still makes me chuckle) Pavano's case just seemed too extreme for me to make fun of somehow.
The stories of Pavano neglecting his team-mates, spending too much time living the New York high-life, and just generally proving an Eric Chavez-esqe financial albatross (admittedly on a team much more capable of shouldering that burden) around the Yankee's already pitching weak necks are well known. Also, while we're at it, it is pretty much Pavano's fault 'the Boss' had to spent $28,000,000 on bringing back Clemens.
However Pavano's performance this year has me rethinking my judgements of him.
While its certaintly not the case that Pav's 14-12 5.10 ERA stat line from 2009 is going to get him any Cy Young votes it should certainly be food for thought for the voters of the Comeback Award. Comeback is actually very apt, that's what Carl has done, he has returned to the level (and actually a higher level) that he previously played at.
Pavano's 2004 was an aborition - his 18-8 3.00 ERA record was the only time he'd been a winning pitcher (excluding an 8-4 record over just 97 innings in 2000). Pavano's 2004 was like Maris' 1961 - a freak occurance that will happen just the once and certainly no indication that the guy was on the fast-train to Cooperstown.
Signing Pavano to that enormous multi-year deal is the Yankee's own stupid fault. You simply do not overpay that much for someone who has only ever had one good season and not expect to get burnt. While Pavano's attitude and hustle may indeed be shaky he is certainly not solely to blame in that fiasco.
In 2009 Pavano has achieved his 3rd ever winning season, pitched nearly 200 innings and proved to everyone in baseball that he is a competant number 3 or 4 starter - which frankly was all he ever was to begin with.