Sunday, March 27, 2005

March 27th, 1967

Jamie Navarro Born

Jamie Navarro was a pitcher for the Brewers, Cubs, White Sox, and Indians over a twelve year career. It is his tenure with the White Sox, 1997-99 that is most remarkable. On the back of two good years across town with the Cubs, plus the memory of a sometimes effective tenure with the Brewers, the Sox signed Navarro to a four year, twenty million dollar contract. Before we get into Navarro's performance, it is worth pointing out that the contract was a huge sum. In the contract's first year the highest paid American League pitcher was Roger Clemens, making $8.4 million, as he was in 1998 when his salary increased to $8.55 million. In 1999 the highest paid AL hurler was Boston's Pedro Martinez, making $11 million. Navarro was being paid then, on average, just under five and a half million less than the league's highest paid pitcher during the first three years of the contract.

Given Navarro's status among the wealthier moundsmen, it would be expected for him to perform for the White Sox, maybe even lead the league in a few categories. Navarro did accomplish this, but probably not the categories the Sox had in mind. His first year Navarro went 9-14 with a 5.79 ERA, twenty-four percent worse than league average. He was fourth in the league losses, and first in hits, wild pitches and runs allowed. In 1998 he fell even farther, going 8-16 with a 6.36 ERA, twenty-eight percent worse than league average. His sixteen losses were most in the league and for good measure he led the league in wild pitches again and finished second in runs allowed. In 1999 Navarro had a "rebound" season going 8-13 with a 6.09 ERA, just twenty-two percent worse than league average, a personal best for Navarro in his pale hose tenure.

After the 1999 season, having pitched Navarro in one hundred two games over the three years and watched him produce a cumulative 25-43 record (an average of 8-14) and 6.08 ERA in more than five hundred innings, the White Sox finally decided to make Navarro someone else's problem and traded him to the Brewers for a pair of players. Hard as it is to believe, Navarro was actually worse for the Brewers who released him in late April. Navarro was then picked up by
Cleveland but equally bad and finished the year with a 10.53 ERA, and never pitched in the majors again despite a handful of comeback attempts.

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