Ivan Nova’s Wang Underappreciation Complex

When Alex Rodriguez comes back, if the Yankees send Ivan Nova back to the minors in lieu of releasing Jorge Posada or to give themselves a couple of weeks to soften the blow of dumping Posada, it’s asinine. Pull the Band-Aid off.

Regarding Nova, I wouldn’t go as far as saying such inanities as “Nova’s the number 2 starter”; with the current configuration, I’d trust Bartolo Colon in a game 2 playoff start before a rookie, but Nova’s been above-and-beyond what could reasonably have been expected and is the unlucky one in that he still has minor league options remaining; if you examine his performance, he’s one the last starters that should be removed from the rotation, options or no options.

Much like Chien-Ming Wang, I wonder if there are ancillary factors in the lack of belief in Nova; that they’re not buying his success as a more than function of pitching for a very good team. In fairness to this concept, his production is around league average across the board.

But it’s not as simple as throwing his glove out there while wearing pinstripes and accumulating wins. If it was, there wouldn’t have been the disastrous tenures of Carl Pavano and Javier Vazquez, among others.

When Nova first got to the big leagues last season, he was a stopgap more than a prospect. In his first big league start, he showed that he wasn’t going to be intimidated by anything when he threw a pitch near the head of Blue Jays’ slugger Jose Bautista and stood his ground as Bautista barked at him.

Right there it should’ve been known that he was something different.

Wang wasn’t much of a prospect either. The Yankees treated him as if he was the type of pitcher they could find somewhere. They never went into any meaningful negotiations for a free agency/arbitration precluding contract extension despite his success; he was never truly appreciated for what he was.

Could it have been pure cold-blooded analytics? Concerns about his shoulder and mechanics? Or was it that he wasn’t a “chosen one” in whom they had deep investment—both financially and perceptively—that they wanted to succeed more than the others?

A higher draft pick and vaunted prospect or an expensive free agent simply looks better when he does well as opposed to someone allowed to be selected in the Rule 5 draft (Nova was taken by the Padres in 2008 and returned) or is always on the big league/Triple-A bubble out of convenience.

Wang’s fall doesn’t justify that treatment because his initial injury woes began with his ankle and morphed into the torn shoulder capsule from which he’s still trying to recover.

There are times to look at aspects other than numbers, scouting expectations and “should/shouldn’t bes” and accept what’s there; what’s happening before the eyes.

Nova should stay in the big leagues and in the Yankees rotation because he’s earned it. Everything else is secondary.

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