Braves Trade Vazquez to Yankees

I know I’m a day late on this one, but it’s taken this much time for me to process the trade.

For those living under a rock, the New York Yankee$ traded Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.

You don’t need me to point out that the Braves were supposedly shopping Derek Lowe for a big bat, but wound up dealing the man who finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting for a defensive-minded fourth outfielder. This one is a head-scratcher from the perspective of both teams.

First, why would the Yankees want Vazquez to return to the Bronx, after proving he wasn’t fit for New York? Though, they gave up next to nothing for a formidable innings-eater (quick, who is the only pitcher to hurl more innings than Vazquez in the 21st century? Answer is below), so you can’t blame them too much. What’s bothersome is this: if Vazquez were acquired by the Mets, he’d arrive as their #2 starter. On the Yankees, he’s a #4 — possibly a #5 if Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain reaches his potential.

Also bothersome: the Yankees nearly picked up Carlos Zambrano to be their #4. Again, a pitcher that would slot in as #2 for the Mets. If this isn’t a wake-up call as to where the Mets stand in relation to serious postseason contenders then I don’t know what is.

On the other side of the mystery is the Braves, who gave away an excellent pitcher for Melky Cabrera and prospects. Is Michael Dunn that good? Is Melky’s defense in center that outstanding? Or was this a salary dump to put the Braves in a better position to acquire a high-priced bat? Something’s fishy here and I don’t like it one bit.

Most troublesome is that this deal effectively adds two more teams to the market for a power-hitting left fielder and/or first baseman. I had this nightmare where the Yankees signed Matt Holliday and the Braves signed Jason Bay.

Meanwhile, did I mention the Mets are in very serious talks with R.A. Dickey? My apologies if I did, but I didn’t want you to miss that news.

(Trivia answer: Livan Hernandez has thrown more innings than anyone else in the 21st century)

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. Paul December 23, 2009 at 9:06 am
    I really believe that the Yankees are serious about keeping their payroll under $200 million, so I don’t think that Jason Bay or Matt Holliday benefit that much from this move.

    And I’m sorry, but the Mets are far enough from playoff contention that I don’t think I want them to commit the years and money it would take to sign either one just to satisfy the fan base and the media.

    Let’s just close the book on this era of Mets baseball and bring in a new front office to start a rebuilding process already.

  2. isuzudude December 23, 2009 at 9:54 am
    Boy, seeing what it took for the Yankees to land Vazquez, I wonder if the Mets should have gotten in on that action. Though, to be fair, the Braves probably would have asked for more from the Mets because they are interdivisional rivals, and that the players the Yankees gave up were expendable for them, whereas if they were on the Mets they’d likely all (Cabrera and Dunn, anyway) be projected to have significant roles on the 2010 team. I suppose if the Mets wanted to mimic this deal using their own players, it probably would have cost them Pagan/Parnell/Familia to get it done. Would that have been worth giving up for a pitcher making $11.5M with only one year left on his contract, along with a subpar LOOGY? Tough call, but I’m leaning towards yes. Maybe I’m just desperate to make a move.

    Now the projected Braves OF looks pretty weak, with Cabrera, McLouth, and Matt Diaz, so I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if they’re back in the market for an outfielder. Though, looking to years past, I don’t see them making a huge free agent signing to plug the hole because that’s not their style. Last year they ‘cheaped out’ and signed Garrett Anderson, the year before that it was Mark Kotsay, and the year before that it was Craig Wilson. So I can see them going after a Jermaine Dye or a Randy Winn and offering them a 1-yr deal more than I can see them giving $80M+ for a Jason Bay or Matt Holliday.

    As for the Yankees, now they have the perfect opportunity to make another huge splash and push their payroll ever closer to $300M by inking either Holliday or Bay for LF, but so far they’re playing coy and not revealing any interest in either player. If that attitude proves true, then I gotta think Johnny Damon will be back in the Bronx in 2010. I haven’t heard of anybody else being interested in him thus far, and he’s gotta know he’s going to have another great chance to win another title if he re-signs. And from the Yankees perspective, though $10-$11M per year might be steep for Damon, since when is money an object for them? Plus, he’s still ultra-productive and fits in with that team so well. It seems like such a no-brainer I’m surprised the deal hasn’t happened by now.

    That leaves Holliday and Bay still available, and still likely to have to settle for smaller contracts than they’re holding out for. That’s just how I see it.

  3. Ken December 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm
    I think Paul is right on with his comment. I’m 41 years old and I’ve never had less fun rooting for the Mets in my life. It’s tedious at this point knowing this group isn’t going anywhere and even if we overpay for Holliday, we’re not winning the division so what’s the point. Even if we snuck into the wildcard they are not going to the world series. They are far from being an elite team despite the elite payroll. I sincerely wish we could move on from the Minaya era, and start building rebuilding our team the way the good organizations do, with good scouting, drafting and development. The Minaya Era is starting to feel alot like the Isiah Era.
  4. Mic December 23, 2009 at 1:54 pm
    1. I have gotta believe that the structure of the contract with bay is at issue. I feel that (wilpon) is trying to underbid and get (real Estate) on the cheap. I think if I was Bay instead of 10m in the first yr I need 15m with a more equitability in the contract.

    2. I agree the longer this plays the more embarassing it looks for the mets.

    3. As far as the Yanks they sweem to be counter punching the Bosox..I see Vazquez as the best answer for Lackey.

    4. Isuzu…I think Zambrano is there for the taking.

    5. The Braves may not want Bay, but I think O-dog is a possibility.

  5. CatchDog December 23, 2009 at 4:44 pm
    Here are some interesting 2009 pitching stats. Below are the total innings pitched by the top 3 starters on each NL team.

    600+ IP- 6 teams

    550-600- 4 teams

    500-550- 3 teams

    450-500- 1 team

    400-450- 2 teams

    League Average: 560 IP by the top 3 starters

    Mets: 447 IP (113 IP below the avg and 49 behind the Nats; trailed only by the Pads, with 406 IP).

    The Mets were the only team to have nobody pitch 190 IP. Technically, the #3 pitcher in terms of starter innings was Tim Redding with 96 IP as a starter.

    While the Mets certainly lost offense due to injuries, they clearly had serious pitching instability which led to a bullpen that was taxed beyond endurance. Therefore, the top criteria for a new starter(s) should be a demonstrated history of durability. If the quality isn´t out there (no Sabathias or Becketts this year) the plan should be to at least go for durability.

  6. joejanish December 23, 2009 at 7:08 pm
    CatchDog – those are great numbers, thank you for sharing. Ironic, isn’t it, that the actual #3 starter in terms of innings — Livan Hernandez — did not finish the year with the club?

    But why would the Mets need to acquire more starters? You mean you don’t believe the dynamic duo of Oliver Perez and John Maine will combine for 400+ IP and 30 wins? And/or that Niese / Nieve will recover 100% from their serious leg injuries and have spectacular “breakout” seasons?

    Geez, you sure are a pessimist!


    The scary thing is? Even if all the above happened, the Mets’ rotation still wouldn’t necessarily be head and shoulders above the Braves’ or Phillies’.

  7. CatchDog December 24, 2009 at 8:21 am

    It is the season of good tidings. Perhaps there’s even a Miracle on 126th & Roosevelt.
    At this point, us fans may just wish for the return of healthy players to the roster.

    That said, the absolute BEST to you, your family and all of the METS TODAY bloggers.

    Have a Cool Yule !!

  8. joejanish December 24, 2009 at 1:18 pm
    Thanks CatchDog!

    And all the best to you and yours … enjoy the holiday season!!!

  9. isuzudude December 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm
    Mic: Zambrano’s got a no-trade clause and was rumored to have been against waiving it to go to the Yankees. That leads me to believe he wouldn’t want to become a Met, either, and who can blame him. Also, regarding O-Dog and the Braves, Atlanta seems pretty intent on giving their 2B job to Prado, so I don’t see Hudson being much of an option for them.

    C-Dog: Though I agree 100% that the Mets need to find more durable and reliable arms for the rotation, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to say that only the offense suffered from injury last season while the starting pitching only suffered from instability. After all, Johan Santana is as stable as they come, but had his season cut short due to injury. Also, Oliver Perez threw 177 and 194 innings in 2007 and 2008, respectively, so it wasn’t irresponsible for the Mets to think they could get 185 or so innings from him last year. But again, the injury bug hit. If Johan, Ollie, and Pelfrey were being counted on to throw in the neighborhood of 550-600 innings in ’09, I don’t see that as being a crazy estimation. But Pelfrey faltered, and Johan and Ollie got hurt, which left the Mets burdening the bullpen too heavily and relying too much on the likes of Redding, Livan, and Misch.

    Where you have to be careful is not over-valuing a pitcher just because he’s durable. For example, many Met fans were in love with Jason Marquis because of his consitency to throw 180+ innings, and probably wouldn’t have been against giving him a contract representative of a #2/3 starter. But the Nats proved he can be signed for much less than that, and what’s not to be overlooked is that Marquis, as well as ‘innings-eaters’ like Garland and Piniero, may also be coming with ERAs near 5.00 with terrible strikeout numbers and bloated opp avgs. Sometimes it’s not always about quantity (of innings thrown) but also about quality.

    I’m not against bringing on board a Garland, Piniero, or Padilla, if the price is right, but you also have to be open-minded about guys like Sheets, Duchscherer, and Bedard, because they may be had on the cheap and may still have the gas left in the tank to be a big contributor. Regardless of who’s left on the market, the Mets absolutely have to sign somebody, because the current quintet of Johan/Pelf/Ollie/Maine/Niese is going to need much more backup than what the organization currently boasts.

  10. CatchDog December 25, 2009 at 10:02 am
    Presents opened : check
    Kids orbiting house : check
    Ok; time to talk baseball.

    ‘dude; Right on. What has apparently been discussed everywhere but in the Mets front office, the Mets need to sign a minimum of four pitchers. At least one from the “innings eater” column and a couple from the “low risk/high reward” column. I like Jon Garland and Ben Sheets (believe Duchscherer signed back with Oakland yesterday).

    Then I’d grab two guys similar to last season’s Freddy Garcia & Livan and give them a minor league invite. Chien Ming Wang sounds like an interesting opportunity. He’s already ensconced in NYC and would be a nice addition to the roster in June or July. Another possible darkhorse could be Mark Mulder. Haven’t heard much from him but if the shoulder is healing, he might be another low risk move for some point next season.

    The key is health. Can the Mets expect to cobble together a full season of quality starts from Santana, Pelfrey, Perez, Maine, Niese or Nieve? And would a duo of Garland & Sheets catapult the rotation over the top? Could Wang, Mulder, Misch, Redding or Figgy be enough filler?

    It looks like it’s going to be an interesting January. Merry Christmas.

  11. mic December 25, 2009 at 8:46 pm
    Happy Xmas.
    Always nice to hear your thoughts:
    1. Jason Bay: If I am preaching too much let me know. The fanbase is amok with anti-Bay sentiment. But NOT widely discussed is the issue of the backloaded contract. Bay’s Sox offer was 15M per yr. The sox offer to Holliday was 16.5M per. All the Mets need is to replace is Delgado’s stats. Del earned 16M so its a wash. I think Bay OR Holliday would be fine. Given the market, acrimony and the stalemate, why not return to Bay with a 2yr /15M per offer, add incentives and option years if he hates Citifield he walks.

    2. Correct Isuzu there are too many question marks in the rotation. I see arroyo as a Derek Lowe something the mets need.