Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vazquez Trade Reactions

We posted our initial take on the deal earlier this morning, but here is a collection of what else is being said around these here internets about the acquisition of Javier Vazquez:
Will from IIATMS looks at what this might mean for the Yankees' defense. Aaron Gleeman from Circling the Bases asks a similar question.

Ben from River Ave. Blues revisits Vazquez's last time in the Bronx.

Joel Sherman was the first to name Vazquez as the target this morning and has an in-depth breakdown of the trade. He also explained that the Yankees valued a starting pitcher over a left fielder and are still looking to keep their payroll under $200M, meaning LF will likely be filled on the cheap. They are also planning to deal either Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre before spring training.

There are over 200 comments on the BBTF trade dedicated to the trade as well.

And some quick quotes, taken completely out of context:
Dave Cameron, FanGraphs: "The reaction to this deal on Twitter has not been kind to Atlanta, with most people concluding that the Yankees got Vazquez for peanuts. I’m not so sure."

Joe Posnanski: Sigh. The Yankees traded for Vazquez to be their NUMBER FOUR starter. And the Royals signed Jason Kendall to be their starting catcher.

Keith Law: "At this point, the Yankees now have a rotation close to that of the Red Sox, and they could very well enter 2010 a better team on paper than they were at the same time before 2009.

Peter Abraham, Boston Globe: "You knew this was coming. Once the Red Sox signed John Lackey, there was no way the Yankees would go into next season with a rotation of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and two question marks."

Jonah Keri, via Twitter: "To be fair to the #Braves, any time you can acquire dryer lint for one of the best SP in baseball, you gotta do it.

Tyler Kepner, via Twitter: "Yanks use 6 prospects to get Granderson and Vazquez, yet keep Hughes, Joba, Montero, Melancon, Romine, McAllister. Not bad."

Ben Kabak, River Ave. Blues: "As much as it strengthens the team’s rotation, it also weakens their outfield. The leftfield situation currently looks like a Brett Gardner/Jamie Hoffmann platoon, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence."

Rob Iracane, Walkoff Walk: "Let it be known that this guy (points to self) would rather have dismissed Nick Swisher, who cannot field his position, run the bases, or dress like a grown-up. But hey, Vazquez strikes out batters like it's his job (note: it is his job) so as a Yankees fan, I am pleased."

Satchel Price, Beyond the Box Score: "Considering what the Phillies landed for one year of Cliff Lee, arguably a superior pitcher, at a cheaper salary, I think that Atlanta got a pretty solid return for Vazquez, even if it doesn't include the impact bat that Atlanta sorely needs."

Kevin Kaduk, Big League Stew: "It's often been said that Vazquez is a pitcher that throws best when the expectations are low and his stats do back that up. "

Josh, Jorge Says No!: "Make no mistake about it though, if Vazquez can give the Yankees 200 IP with 190+ K's, and a 3.75 ERA, then there is no reason why he won't be able to win 15+ games with the Yankees the way this team is constructed."

And It Comes Full Circle: Javy Vazquez Returns

When Matt created the Nick Johnson trade tree last week, he had to go all the way back to the trade that sent Johnson to the Expos for Javier Vazquez. Since then, Johnson's been oft-injured but productive when healthy, putting up .402 career OBP. A year after being acquired from Montreal, Vazquez was traded to Arizona for Randy Johnson, who was disappointing in his tenure in Pinstripes. In the five years since that trade, he's thrown over 200 innings every season, with a combined ERA+ of 110.

It seems that Brian Cashman is now attempting to right those wrongs as the Yankees have reportedly acquired Javier Vazquez from the Braves along with lefty reliever Boone Logan in exchange for Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino, who was just named the Yankees third best prospect by Baseball America after an excellent campaign in short-season Staten Island.

Vazquez is coming off a terrific season for the Braves in which he threw 219 innings to a 2.87 ERA. He'll be making $11.5M next year (the last on his contract), so he won't come cheap, but he's very similar to Andy Pettitte in that he's likely to pitch a whole lot of innings at a better than average ERA. The Yankees might have bought at the peak of his value, but this is a salary dump to a certain exent as well because they didn't give up a whole lot.

Boone Logan is a 25 year old lefty who was traded to the Braves along with Vazquez from the White Sox last winter in exchange for two minor leaguers and two of the least manly-named baseball players imaginable - Tyler Flowers and Brent Lillibridge. Logan's career ERA is north of 5.00 and it's not a whole lot better in the minors, but he'll likely compete for a spot in the bullpen now that both Mike Dunn and Phil Coke are gone.

It's sad to see Melky go, but he's starting to get fairly expensive and hasn't displayed the kind of tantalizing ceiling that makes you think he is going to be an All-Star caliber player in the future. Dunn is a converted outfielder, so he is still early in his development as a pitcher. He could very well turn out to be a solid reliever, but for now his walk rate is awfully high. Arodys Vizcaino is a long, long way from the Majors, but he flashed a lot of potential this year and is the one piece that could be the most painful to see in another uniform in the long run.

My overall impression is that this is a great deal for the Yankees for this year. They get a very solid starter to fill out the back of their rotation (and a possibly lefty for the 'pen) in exchange for two fringe MLB players and a pitcher that is still several leaps and bounds from the Big League club.

However, this means that top 4 members of the Yanks' starting rotation will be making $62.5M this year. It also means the Yanks will most likely have to go outside of the organization to fill the hole in left field. I guess it's good that the Yankees are spending the money they are making instead of stuffing it in the coffers, but the talk of a "budget" that was prevalent early in this offseason is getting more and more laughable by the day.

Montero To Scranton

Good morning Fackers. When we profiled top prospect Jesus Montero two weeks ago, I speculated that he could start 2010 at AA Trenton before moving up to AAA Scranton some time around midseason. Yesterday, Chad Jennings reported that Yankees Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman stated that the organization plans to have Montero start the year at Scranton as the regular catcher.

This serves as further evidence of the confidence the Yankees have in Montero. To have a 20 year old in AA is very rare, to have one in AAA - with less than a full season's experience at either AA or high A is nearly unheard of. Offensively at least, Montero hasn't encountered anything remotely resembling a challenge in his professional career. It will be interesting to see if that holds in the International League next year.

As we covered last week when Baseball America announced their top ten Yankee prospects, there is tremendous depth at catcher in the Yankee system. Starting Montero at AAA allows number two prospect Austin Romine to be the regular catcher at Trenton while highly regarded Kyle Higashioka slots in at low A Charleston. Other top prospects JR Murphy and Gary Sanchez will stay in extended spring training before being farmed out later in the season.

The one potential negative to Montero starting the year at AAA is that the organization will likely find it exceedingly difficult to stash a Major League caliber emergency catcher at Scranton. With the #3 prospect in all of baseball there and playing nearly everyday, no fringe player with Big League credentials is going to want to play back up / mentor to Montero. This is a minor point relative to Montero's development, but as we saw last year, it's tough enough for the Yankees to convince a decent emergency catcher to sign a minor league deal. Montero climbing another rung on the ladder will make this even harder.

With any luck the Yankees won't face a similar situation this year. But with Francisco Cervelli graduating to the back up job and Jose Molina presumably elsewhere, the Yankees likely won't have any sort of veteran back up plan in the event of an injury to either of their Major League catchers. If that were to occur, minor league veterans Chris Stewart or P.J. Pilittere would likely be first in line. Either that, or perhaps the Mets could loan them one of the seven back up catchers they've inked this off-season.

[UPDATE: Just after I finished writing this last night the Yankees signed Mike Rivera to a minor league contract. So just ignore those last two paragraphs]