Yesterday, I posted some initial reaction to the Yankees trade for Javier Vazquez. At the time, I didn’t know who the prospect would be in the deal (Arodys Vizcaino), nor what the public reaction would be. Here are some more thoughts, after some time to think about it:
– When this trade first happened, pretty much every beat writer said it was a great deal for the Yankees. I couldn’t believe how good a deal it was. Really, Melky Cabrera and change got the Yankees Javier Vazquez? Yet, inevitably I started reading some various comment sections and watching reactions via Twitter and Facebook, and I was stunned how many Yankee fans were upset over this trade. Vazquez is one of the better starting pitchers in baseball and Melky is a borderline average outfielder with some potential.
Yet everyone only remembers that Vazquez was labeled a failure because of a bad couple of months and jettisoned out of town. The Yankees did not win the World Series with Vazquez; consequently, he’s a failure. It’s similar logic to those who used to say the Yankees could never win a World Series with Alex Rodriguez. Somehow the very being of who that player is trumps their actually ability. Vazquez was very good with New York before arm problems and a terrible case of pink-eye derailed his season. He’s been consistently good since then. If the Yankees acquired a starter whose baseball-reference page looked identical to Vazquez’s from 2005-2009, but had a different name, every Yankee fan would be hailing Cashman’s genius.
So saying something along the lines of “why would the Yankees get Vazquez and Nick Johnson back – we saw how that ended last time” is a pretty shortsighted outlook. After the 2001 World Series, should the Yankees have stopped using Mariano Rivera as their closer? What about Andy Pettitte, who got rocked in Game 6 that year? Or perhaps Mike Mussina, since while he performed well, he never actually won anything (not unlike Nick Johnson, who some are saying had a bad Yankee tenure – look at his BR page; that’s not true at all. Essentially Johnson’s only failing with NY was that they didn’t beat the Marlins.).
– Giving up Arodys Vizcaino hurts. But I have 2 thoughts on why it could make sense to trade him now: 1 – I follow the Yankees very closely and I didn’t even know who Vizcaino was a year ago. He’s made a huge climb in the rankings over the past year; could his value as a trade chip actually be peaking right now, before he starts facing the tougher competition of AA? 2 – The Yankees have a bunch of arms like Vizcaino. Don’t believe me? Look at this list:
Manny Banuelos, Andrew Brackman, Christian Garcia, Graham Stoneburner, DJ Mitchell, Jose Ramirez, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, Jairo Heredia, Wilkins De La Rosa, Adam Warren, Caleb Cotham, Brett Marshall, David Phelps, Hector Noesi, Manny Barreda, Kelvin Perez.
Those are all Yankee pitching prospects who are considered to have a great deal of upside and I’m sure I’m leaving some off the list. In the next year, all of them will move around in terms of value as prospects. Could Vizcaino be better than them all right now? Well, sure. But anytime you’re evaluating players that far away from the majors, predictions are difficult.
The Yankees have been loading up on big upside arms in recent years so they made this trade from an area of strength.
– Obviously, the Yankees could still use someone to play left field, but it shouldn’t be Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. I’ve heard rumors of Mark DeRosa, but unless he’s willing to sign very cheap, the Yankees are probably just as well off signing Johnny Damon. I’m still thinking the Yankees will sign a Eric Hinske or Reed Johnson type to fill out the roster. They can always find another outfielder midseason if necessary.