Ever since Javier Vazquez made a name for himself in 2004, after giving up a grand slam to Johnny Damon in the American League Championship series, Yankee fans have dreaded the sight of the right-hander on the mound.
When the Yankees traded for Vazquez in the 2009 offseason, mixed feelings were going around. He was coming off an incredible, Cy-Young worthy season, during which he recorded a 2.87 ERA for the Braves, but Yankee fans still had a hollow spot in their hearts for Vazquez.
To everyone’s dismay––and to some, their surprise––Vazquez revived, and sealed those horrible feelings in the 2010 season. Finishing with a 5.32 ERA in 26 starts, Vazquez hurt the Yankees more than he helped.
For a trade that seems horrible for the Yankees at initial glance, you would think that Yankee fans––of all people––would be up-in-arms over the Yankees decision to bring Vazquez back to New York.
However, while Yankee fans may be very loquacious, they are equally intelligent.
When measuring the success of the trade, clearly you need to measure both sides: the players the team received, and the players the team lost.
On the Yankees side, they gave away Melky Cabrera, a very popular switch-hitting young outfielder who played the first five seasons of his career as a Yankee, and Arodys Vizcaino, a 19-year old prospect who pitched to a 2.13 ERA with the Staten Island Yankees, and who was ranked as the 69th best prospect in 2010 by Baseball America.
Cabrera, now 25, had a sub-par year for the Braves, ultimately ending in his release. Had he stayed with the Yankees, he would have served as a fourth, or maybe even fifth, outfielder. In other words, he would have made minimal difference.
Vizcaino, on the other hand, presents an interesting situation. Very successful, young stars, are always a point of interest. But in baseball, even a number one rank usually has little predictive value, let alone a 69th ranking. (Not to mention he was put on the disabled list in July with a torn elbow ligament, which is usually horrible news for a young pitcher.)
On the Braves side, they sent over Vazquez, along with Boone Logan, a 25-year old left handed relief pitcher.
Vazquez, as was mentioned earlier, did little help to the Yankees. He had one good run in June and July (when he pitched to an ERA just above three) but was otherwise atrocious.
However, if Vazquez were not there, we have little idea what the Yankees’ rotation would look like. Given what we saw in 2010, the Yankees wouldn’t have gotten anything much better from their minor league system, or bullpen. Yes, it is true that the Yankees may have been more inclined to go after Cliff Lee if Vazquez was not around, but that would have had its costs as well, probably including the Yankees young catching prospect Jesus Montero.
Logan, on the other hand, may have made the deal all together worth it. In 51 appearances, Logan had a 2.93 ERA, and struck out 38 batters in 40 innings pitched this season for the Yankees. At just 25, Logan can be a very valuable left handed pitcher in the Yankees’ future.
As quick as many may be to criticize the Yankees for this trade, or come up with reasons to hate Vazquez, it is important to weigh both sides of the equation. Yes, the Yankees gave up a young outfielder and a pitching prospect for virtually a useless starter, but the two pieces they gave up have questionable values. Furthermore, they gained an extremely valuable member of their bullpen that may succeed for years to come.
Trades are tricky, and they usually end up having unpredictable results. In this case, it may or may not have worked out, but it won’t be until years past until we truly know the value of this trade.
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