The Vazquez Rumors

Rumor has it that Ken Williams is looking to deal Javier Vazquez, partially because of his dropoff in performance and partially because of manager Ozzie Guillen’s disgust for the righthander. Guillen publicly expressed his displeasure with Vazquez on several occasions last season, particularly down the stretch. For example:

“Javy is a consistent pitcher sometimes, and we haven’t scored enough runs for him. [But] sometimes he hasn’t pitched well enough. I don’t have an ace here.”

and

”He hasn’t been,” Guillen said Sunday of Vazquez as a big-game pitcher, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “That’s the bottom line.”

Naturally, if the Mets can trade Luis Castillo straight up for Vazquez, it would be great — but it’s completely unrealistic.

Despite Guillen’s indictments, starting pitchers who consistently throw 200+ innings and strike out 200 do not grow on trees, so prying Vazquez away from the ChiSox would take a considerable package. Don’t be fooled by the nonsense that the White Sox are “on the hook” for two years and $23M — that’s a BARGAIN in this market (for example, try getting Derek Lowe for that kind of deal). So it’s going to take a heckuva lot more than the balky-kneed Castillo to bring back Vazquez.

And as much as the Mets would welcome the 200 innings that Vazquez brings, those comments by Guillen are disturbing — particularly to a team that has collapsed down the stretch in consecutive seasons. While Vazquez would no doubt be an integral part of helping the Mets “play meaningful games in September”, what if it’s another close race? Will he blow the big games? This franchise can’t handle another “close but no cigar”.

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of Vazquez, and believe a workhorse such as he is an addition the Mets need to make this offseason. If not Vazquez, then Lowe, or a similar innings-eater. I fear that John Maine will not be a 200-inning pitcher in 2009, and there are already holes at the back end of the rotation.

How about this: trade Luis Castillo and Carlos Delgado for Javier Vazquez and Paul Konerko? You dump Castillo’s bad contract in return for Konerko’s bad contract (2 years, $24M), and you sell high on Delgado in order to get the workhorse starter you need. Konerko’s RH power bat is much needed in the Mets’ lefty-heavy lineup. From the White Sox’ point of view, they shed $17M over the next two years, can move Alexei Ramirez to shortstop, and get the lefthanded power bat they’ve been seeking for their righty-heavy lineup.

I know, I know — Konerko was awful last year, and Delgado was the Mets’ MVP. But you have to give up something to get something, and I truly believe that Konerko at age 33 has a better chance of rebounding than Delgado at 37 does of repeating the second half of 2008. But hey, look at it this way: would you trade Delgado straight up for Vazquez? If so, then you might also trade Castillo straight up for Konerko, right? In addition, I like Konerko’s leadership skills (he’s the White Sox captain) and the fact he owns a World Series ring. The trouble is, he has the right to veto any trade, and may not be interested in leaving Chicago.

What do YOU think?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude November 4, 2008 at 4:53 pm
    Very interesting, Joe…and when I saw the Vazquez rumors last week I was tempted to make a trade proposal on here – in fact, the very same one you have concocted! But I balked when I saw that the White Sox would prefer to get a 3B or 2B in return. Kenny Williams would probably love to dump Konerko’s contract and underperforming bat while acquiring a one-year contract in Delgado, who happens to be coming off an MVP caliber season. But you are exactly right in that 200-inning, 200 strikeout pitchers DO NOT grow on trees. And no matter how desperate the Sox are gonna sound to get rid of Vazquez, they’re not goiung to give him away for a deal that nets them a 38-year old 1B and a gimpy, slap-hitting 2B. Throw in FMart or Niese and they may bite, but I still don’t see it happening. Chicago will likely be inclined to sit tight on trading Javy until someone offers a bigger, younger bat for the middle infield (Roberts from Baltimore? Atkins from Colorado?). I just don’t see the “right match” between the Mets and Sox.
  2. joe November 4, 2008 at 5:29 pm
    I think you’re right — Colorado and Baltimore are both much more realistic trade partners.

    It’s interesting, when you look at these trades from the Mets POV, they look very realistic. It’s when you step away, and look at possible trades from an outsider’s POV, and suddenly realize there are better partners for MOST of these guys who are supposedly on the block.

  3. Micalpalyn November 4, 2008 at 7:06 pm
    But there was also no way Omar could pull off a trade with Minn when the Yanks and BoSox had so much better talent to trade with.
  4. joe November 4, 2008 at 7:15 pm
    Completely different case, Mic. There were only 3 teams in all of MLB that could have afforded the contract Johan demanded. Once the Yankees pulled Hughes off the table, and Boston did likewise with Buchholz or Lester, Minnesota had no choice but to make the deal with the Mets.

    In contrast, Vazquez’s contract is easily digestible by any team — including the Marlins and KC and any other “small market” club. In fact, a team like the Royals could be looking at the Rays and thinking, “hey, we can do that”, and snap up Vazquez easily. I also look at the Rangers having plenty to offer to the ChiSox (namely, a young catcher).

    But I’m with you on the “anything is possible” idea …. because, after all, anything IS possible.

  5. Micalpalyn November 4, 2008 at 7:26 pm
    MLB rumors: AJ Burnett IS a FA.
  6. joe November 4, 2008 at 7:36 pm
    SHOCKER !!!!!!!!!!

    Now, who’s going to give him 4 years / $80M ? Not the Mets.

    In other shocking news, the Yankees declined their option on Carl Pavano. I’d throw him an incentive-laden, one-year deal.

  7. isuzudude November 5, 2008 at 9:25 am
    While on the topic, here’s a very interesting read:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/whitesox/chi-05-gm-meetings-soxnov05,0,7236960.story

    Details include Chicago’s lack of interest in “shedding” Paul Konerko’s contract, although they’d like to find a new suitor for Nick Swisher – a switch-hitting 27-year old 1B/OF with 20+ HR power and traditionally high-OBP. However, he’s also coming off a bad year and is due a hefty chunk of change (at least $22.05-mil) thru the 2011 season. The biggest problem with acquiring an OF with such a long contract is that it blocks the path for FMart, unless Omar plans on trading FMart or Church sometime in the near future. Unless, of course, Omar wants Swisher for 1B, in which case Delgado again becomes expendable. Remember when the offseason started we thought there would be plenty of options for which direction the Mets wanted to go in? Well, this looks to be a perfect example. The article also suggests the Sox may be more interested than you’d think to acquire Castillo for Vazquez, although I’m still finding it hard to believe. Whatever the case, I think these trade rumors between the Mets and White Sox aren’t going to go away any time soon.

  8. joe November 5, 2008 at 10:20 am
    Nice find, ‘dude!

    Heck I’d take Swisher in a deal for Castillo — or as a replacement in my proposition (Delgado-Castillo for Vazquez-Swisher). He’ll turn 28 in a couple weeks, and there’s no way he hits as poorly as .219 again.

    If he were on the free agent market right now, 3 years / $21M (which is what’s left on his contract) would be reasonable, IMHO. I don’t see him as blocking F-Mart, and I wouldn’t worry about anyone being “in the way” of F-Mart — let him earn his way up to MLB, and if he makes it, you have a surplus for trade.

  9. Micalpalyn November 5, 2008 at 11:03 am
    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/

    so now marry up this links, and interject Jeff Wilpons comments and I am beginning to see this ‘makeover’ and its potential impact.

    1. I think there is potential in that trade possibility. Also Church HAS been rumored to be ‘available’. also Tatis is ionsurance against a potential OF injury and Omar does not want to appear to have to play F-mart too early.

    2. I have salivated over Vaz if only because of those two factors, durability and strikeouts. With Pedro AND El duque gone santana is the oldest guy in the rotation. Pelfrey had a breakout year….in part. But Maine is going to be a question mark. It figures then that Omar trades for one starter…’note his comment on buying low…’, and picking off a FA.

    3. and Joe, since a player can demand a trade if traded during a multi-year deal alot of supposed ‘affordable contracts really are not affordable. In the case of Vaz the Mets could inherit a 23M contract, or he does a Burnett and opts out. 2nd scenario Mark Buerle …

    4. the GM meeting will throw up several more flares, but the next rumor i expect is one linking Don Omar with Dontrelle, Barry Zito and the afore-mentioned Pavano. I think Pavano is a great name as a potential 6th starter in the annual Jose Lima/Brian Lawrence role.

  10. Micalpalyn November 5, 2008 at 11:05 am
    Another name to look at is Edwin Jackson who i propose here at least once every other month.
  11. Micalpalyn November 5, 2008 at 11:18 am
    http://www.nypost.com/seven/11052008/sports/mets/mets__rays_in_arms_talks_137044.htm

    More speak here. My 2 cents as you remember from LAST off season is that AJ burnett got the rep as a hot head in Fla and then was bad mouthed by JP Ricchardi. The present dialog is nothing more than show. AJ put up good numbers knowing his FA oppurtunty was there PLUS his rep had been sullied. Now he will get paid. BUT NOT in Toronto who simply want the picks. I think AJ and Omar could nmesh well, but Omar will keep his options open. I think AJ and Olllie get similar deals.

  12. joe November 5, 2008 at 11:53 am
    Good stuff, Mic.

    It would be quite ironic if your beloved Edwin Jackson were traded for my beloved Aaron Heilman, no? Probably not happening, though. Heilman’s stock is so low now he’s only a throw-in to a deal. At best he can be traded straight-up for a really bad contract, an arbitration dump (i.e., Mota for Estrada), or a career AAAA player (i.e., Nelson Cruz, Dan Johnson).

    I don’t see the Mets giving AJ Burnett a four-year deal worth in excess of $60M, which is what he’ll likely get. AJ and Omar might mesh, but AJ and NYC won’t.

  13. isuzudude November 5, 2008 at 1:04 pm
    I’d pass on Burnett. If last year indicates he only gets motivated to pitch well when he stands to make more money, then he’s someone Omar should just skip over. He’s also a bit on the injury-prone side, and isn’t necesarily known for his knack for being on winning ballclubs (2003 aside, although he was on the DL for the entire season). If the Mets are dead-set on improving their rotation thru free agency, I’d much rather spend half the dough on a Derek Lowe/Jon Garland/Paul Byrd type pitcher – someone who is a virtual lock for 180+ innings, 10+ wins, and comes with a postseason track record.
  14. Micalpalyn November 6, 2008 at 2:50 pm
    OK I’ll bite: At Metsblog/MLBrumors there is a comment that indicates Omar has a frontline FA in mind, also as i suspected he plans on bolstering the candidates for Pelfrey’s (old) role as #5.

    I discussed that yesterday. I see ed Jackson as that #5 type. An arb eligible who might make too much for the team he’s with . Or an old vet on the rebound (Freddy garcia).

    but as pedro leaves and El duque leaves that leaves the top of the rotation bare. Maine is recovering too. As such I see Burnett, CC, Sheets et al, as the type to fill that role. You cant rule out Burnett.

  15. joe November 6, 2008 at 5:22 pm
    I’d love to see Jackson coming here, but I suspect the Mets don’t have anything the Rays are interested in. If the Rays are smart, they’ll put Edwin Jackson into the bullpen and try him as a closer or setup man. Who do you think the Rays would ask for in return? Ryan Church maybe? Murphy and Parnell?

    In spite of your insistence, I’m ruling out Sabathia, Sheets, and Burnett. The Mets would be silly to spend big bucks on the fragile Sheets and Burnett, and won’t roll out the Brinks truck for Sabathia.

  16. isuzudude November 12, 2008 at 12:45 pm
    Rumors persist in the Chicago Tribune that the Sox are very willing to trade Nick Swisher. I think he is one of the few players who could help the Mets and be easily accessible. If the Sox are as low on Swisher as reports are suggesting, it probably wouldn’t take a package much more than Castillo and a mid-level prospect (Caleb Stewart, Mike Carp) to complete the deal. Swisher’s making a good sum of money (approx $21-mil thru 2011), but that’s nearly offset by Castillo’s $18-mil owed thru 2011. Compared to Castillo’s 33, I give the 27-year old Swisher a much better chance of bouncing back from his sub-par 2008 season. Swisher is traditionally a 20-30 HR per year slugger, with an OBP of .370-.380 depending on how many hits he gets. He’ll rank in the top-10 in Ks, but also in BBs. He hits better from the right-hand side, which is a good thing hitting amongst Delgado, Church, Beltran, Schneider, and all the other lefties in the current lineup – and if he struggles against RHP that gives Jerry the perfect opportunity to give Dan Murphy (assuming he doesn’t get traded) plenty of ABs. Swisher probably doesn’t have the strongest arm in LF, but he won’t embarass himself with the glove either. And I think the best thing is that, since he also has plenty of 1B experience, he can fill in as the LF stopgap for 2009, and then move to 1B when Delgado leaves via free agency next offseason. Obviously, it would be great to try to include Javy Vazquez or Bobby Jenks in any deal with the Sox, but my inclination is that Ken Williams will use Vazquez as a lure to get a big 3B or OF (to replace Swisher), like Garrett Atkins from Colorado, or Ryan Ludwick from St Louis, and that Jenks can only be had for a star prospect, which the Mets are not eager to give up at this time. Also, the Mets would be in the market for a new 2B (again, assuming Murphy doesn’t get handed the job), and my #1 choice would be signing Orlando Hudson. So, for shoots and googles, he’s my desired lineup for next season:

    SS Reyes (S), 2B Hudson (S), 3B Wright (R), 1B Delgado (L), CF Beltran (S), RF Church (L), LF Swisher (S), C Schneider (L)
    Bench: Castro (R), Murphy (L), Tatis (R), Chavez (L), Anderson (L)

    Not too shabby, eh? There’s an obvious lack of a backup player who can play the middle IF (although Anderson has in the past and Murphy is being groomed to now), but I don’t doubt a handful of low-tier free agents are brought in to compete for the 25th roster spot who can handle 2B/SS duties, and someone from the above list will be DFA or optioned to AAA.

    Any thoughts?

  17. joe November 12, 2008 at 1:21 pm
    Thanks for the tip, I’ll add it to the rumors shortly.

    While I understand that the Chisox are trying to swap Swisher (say that ten times fast), I’m not so certain he’s available for Luis Castillo, because Ken Williams may be just as interested in Orlando Hudson.

    From what I’ve heard, it sounds like O-dog wants to play for the Mets. But, if the Mets spend their time on more pressing needs — i.e., finding some arms — they may miss the boat and allow Hudson to sign elsewhere. Though it’s certainly possible that Omar is negotiating with Williams as we speak in an effort to get Vazquez / Jenks, and in the process dumping Castillo and acquiring Swisher. It would certainly be a blockbuster.

    We’ll have to keep a close eye on this one.

    BTW I’m not so sure Schneider returns, and if he does, it might be in a platoon role.