Do Yankee Fans Deserve Javier Vazquez?

Fair warning: this post is a rant about Javier Vazquez.

Here’s what I don’t get about the Javier Vazquez trade: how is it not a bigger deal?  Let’s look at what Brian Cashman did.

He turned a young outfielder, who for his career has been a league average player at best and was due over $3 million in arbitration, along with a promising but very far away pitching prospect, into a frontline starter.

Yet there exist people who don’t think this was a good deal for the Yankees?  Yes, I know Vazquez had a down year when he pitched in NY in 2004.  But let’s not get carried away.  Let me present you this quote:

“Is Javier Vazquez really that much of an upgrade over Sergio Mitre?”

That quote comes courtesy The Sports Guy’s latest ESPN podcast, spoken by Yankee fan Jack-O.  I was listening on my way to work this morning and I almost swerved off the road.

The answer to Jack-O’s question, is, of course, YES!  A thousand times yes.  Vazquez was quite possibly the 2nd best starter in the NL last season.  Mitre has never in his career pitched a season in which he was even league average.  And to be honest, I really like Mitre.  I think he was a great low cost investment, as he has the potential to improve and gives the Yankees some depth as a 6th or 7th starter or a longman in the pen.

But better than Javier Vazquez?

Vazquez’s worst year was obviously 2004 (though that is skewed by his terrible 2nd half when he posted on ERA of almost 7 and battled a tired shoulder and pink eye).  Even in that terrible season, he had a WHIP of 1.288.  Mitre has never posted a WHIP below 1.4 (and the season he did that, it was only in 60 innings).

Since 2000, Vazquez has never thrown less than 198 innings in a season.  Mitre has never thrown more than 149, and the season he did that he got hurt after.

I won’t go on, because any intelligent person should already derive that this is not even a comparison worth making.

Now, was Vazquez a disappointment in 2004?  Of course he was.  Yankee fans hoped he’d be the ace of the team for foreseeable future and that never panned out.  And I don’t expect that Vazquez will have the same sort of success in the AL East this year as he had in Atlanta last year.  But reacquiring Vazquez was a great deal for the Yankees.  The Yankees aren’t acquiring their future ace; they’re acquiring a 200 inning workhorse who tallies up a lot of strikeouts to be their 4th starter.

Part of the solution to my problem is to just stop listening to these podcasts.  It’s not just Jack-O though; his basic arguments are all over WFAN and other NY media outlets (Vazquez is “unclutch,” “can’t play in NY,” etc.).  I know that I’m likely simply preaching to the choir in addressing this to the Yankee blogging community, but sometimes it feels good to rant.

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6 Responses to Do Yankee Fans Deserve Javier Vazquez?

  1. Note to Brian: I posted this comment over at Bleacher Report where I saw this article first, but thought it bore repeating here.

    I've made the same observation you do in numerous recent articles, comments and posts in online forums and elsewhere in the lamestream media. On espn.com today they had their Boston and NY writers debating who improved the most during the off-season, the Red Sox or Yankees. The discussion, however, wound up focusing largely on their two pitching staffs and I was blown away by both writers' near dismissive feelings about the Vazquez deal, almost as much as I was disgusted by the NY writer's belief the Lackey deal is somehow a game changer for the Sox and that if the two staffs were somehow combined only two NY pitchers might be good enough to start for Boston! Needless to say, I left an extended rant not unlike your own there. The link to the espn.com article is below. Give 'em hell!
    http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/mlb/columns/stor

    • smurfy says:

      yeah, Matthews presented a generally weak prognosis: forgot all about Vasquez, doubts about the old guys, no new chances that Gardner, Granderson would provide a spark, AJ dismissed like a dirty snowflake.

  2. Mike S. says:

    I've written about this a few times. To me, it symbolizes the mindset of how things have changed over the last fifty years.

    In 1960, Ralph Terry gave up the HR to Mazeroski that cost the Yanks the 1960 World Series. He rebounded to go 16-3 in 1961 and to win 23 games in 1962. He then won two games in the 1962 WS, including game seven 1-0 (with a little luck that McCovey's smash went straight to Richardson). He was the 1962 WS MVP. He even won 17 in 1963.

    Today? They run you out of town, just like Phillies fans did to Mitch Williams after he gave up Joe Carter's HR in the 1993 WS. There are Yankees fans who still won't forgive Javy for giving up the Damon grand slam in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.

    Not to forgive him, but in Boston, it was Grady Little who took the fall after Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Good for Tim Wakefield that Grady was the fall guy (and good for him Boston rebounded to win it all in 2004).

    Unfortunately, forgiveness and second chances seem to have disappeared over the last fifty years or so, and that is unfortunate. Give the guy a chance.

    We are so quick to find fall guys today and to castigate them rather than give them a second chance. Even Alex—who finally got his redemption in last year's postseason.

    • smurfy says:

      I was a more neutral observer in '04, and Javy got unremitting pressure to be everything, when he was just a very good pitcher come to town when there were no others. Not a high point in Yankee fandom.

  3. One of our facebook readers said point blank that he'd rather have Melky. I just don't understand the thinking behind that. Besides the fact that Gardner is at least as good as Melky, why would you want a league average outfielder over a strong starting pitcher?

  4. awayish says:

    Jack-O has a tendency to make silly yet expected comments, and shows disdain for stat analysis. I'm beginning to think that it's an act that he puts on to appeal to or make fun of the average overreacting and over-expecting yankees fan. However, the sheer ridiculousness of this particular comment made me instantly alt f4 on him