All possible options will be tried, as cash is never short in New York and especially when the team is in need. Nobody puts Baby in the corner; not the Phillies, not Lee and certainly not a lack of free agents.
So, when the news came that the Yankees signed pitcher Mark Prior to a one-year minor league contract, the possibility of what Prior was and could be started to cause butterflies in my stomach.
Back in 2002, when Prior debuted with the Chicago Cubs, the level of excitement could only be compared to that of Washington Nationals phenom Steven Strasburg.
Yes, Prior was that good. At just 22 years old, he was joining team ace Kerry Wood, and in 2003 they made a tandem of the best one-two punch in the majors.
That season Sports Illustrated dubbed them the “Chicago Heat” and it was well deserved. Combined, Wood and Prior posted 522 strikeouts, seven complete games and three shutouts over a total of 422 innings in 2003.
Prior finished with a 2.43 ERA, was named to the All-Star team, finished third in the NL CY Young voting and ninth in the NL MVP. Wood posted a 3.20 ERA, leading the Cubs to 88 wins and a division title.
Cubs manager Dusty Baker was frivolous with his two stars, as fans voiced concerns about the constant high pitch counts. Prior was averaging 113+ pitches during that 2003 regular season, and the number jumped to 126 in September through the postseason.
Baker’s irresponsibility clearly was at fault and he is the reason for all the anal pitch counts across baseball with young prospects. After that 2003 season, neither half of the “Chicago Heat” did anything except be on the DL and Chicago fans were devastated but blamed it on the curse of the Cubs franchise. Continue reading ‘MLB Hot Stove: Bringing On “New York Heat” as the Yankees Sign Mark Prior’ »