After the Cliff Lee-Roy Halladay megadeal and Boston’s signings of Jon Lackey and Mike Cameron, the New York Yankees were relegated to the back-page of baseball’s offseason news. Well, that was short-lived. In a move made to bolster a rotation that dropped off significantly after C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettite last year, the Yankees sent outfielder Melky Cabrera and two pitching prospects to the Atlanta Braves for Javier Vazquez and lefty reliever Boone Logan.
Vazquez, who pitched for New York in 2004, is coming off the best season of his career after finishing 4th in the National League Cy Young Award voting. Vazquez is eligible for free agency after the season, and the Braves had a surplus of starting pitching that made him expendable, especially considering the $11.5 million he was due to make in 2010. Arguably the most underrated pitched in the N.L. last year, Vazquez compiled a 15-10 record to go along with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts. While it’s unrealistic to expect him to pitch that well next season, Vazquez is still going to be the best fourth starter in any rotation in baseball, and will allow the Yankees to shift either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen. New York proved last season that it’s possible to win a World Series with a three-man rotation, but the addition of Vazquez is worth at least a few wins in the regular season and that’s something that can’t be overlooked with the Red Sox continuing to wheel and deal in free agency.
The Yankees are hoping that Javier Vasquez enjoys more success than in his first tour of duty with the team in 2004, a season in which he struggled with injuries (14-10, 4.91 ERA) and ultimately ended with him allowing two home runs to Johnny Damon in the 7th game of the ALCS, giving Boston all the momentum they would need to complete their epic comeback from a 3-0 series deficit. Vazquez has been less than stellar in his limited postseason appearances (1-1, 10.34 ERA in four games) and his manager with the White Sox, Ozzie Guillen, famously stated that Vazquez wasn’t a big game pitcher. Obviously the Yankees are familiar with Vazquez’s track record but this move was made for the 162-game regular season, not the playoffs, as the team will likely lean heavily on their big three (Sabathia, Burnett, Pettite) in October once again.
The Braves acquired a talented switch-hitting outfielder in Melky Cabrera with this deal, and also shed nearly $9 million from their payroll, money which can be used to go after a corner infielder (hello Troy Glaus). The 25-year-old Cabrera performed well last season for the Yankees (.274-13 HR’s-68 RBI’s-10 SB’s) but never quite lived up to his potential and didn’t seem to be a part of the team’s long-term plans. Still, he’s a cheap and solid option for Atlanta’s outfield, and there is some optimism that he can continue to improve. The Braves also received two young pitchers from New York, lefty Mike Dunn and hard throwing right-hander Arodys Vizcaino. Dunn is a solid reliever who could fill the role of the departed Boone Logan, and Vizcaino showed promise as a 19-year-old last season, registering a 2.13 ERA and striking out 52 in 42 1/3 innings. With a rotation that includes Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami, Atlanta could afford to part with Vazquez and the team got a good haul in return.
Another day and another domino falls in what has become one of the most exciting offseasons in recent memory. If the Red Sox felt content after signing Lackey and Cameron last week, they don’t anymore, as New York filled out their rotation with a quality arm and continue to look like the team to beat in 2010. Atlanta adds a solid bat to their outfield and free up cash to pursue another player as they try to build a team capable of challenging the Phillies for NL East supremacy. With plenty of quality free agents still available (Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Johnny Damon) the hot stove will continue to sizzle and make these cold winter months a little more bearable.
Baseball: the gift that keeps on giving.
Filed under: AL West, Baseball, Free Agency/Trades, NL East | Tagged: a.j. burnett, AL East, andy pettite, Arodys Vizcaino, atlanta braves, boone logan, Boston Red Sox, C.C. Sabathia, Derek Lowe, jair jurrjens, Jason Bay, javier vasquez, javier vazquez, joba chamberlain, johnny damon, kenshin kawakami, Matt Holliday, melky cabrera, Mike Dunn, New York Yankees, NL East, phil hughes, tim hudson, tommy hanson, troy glaus |