Monday, November 29, 2010

Javier Vazquez Was Brian Cashman's Mistake...Again

Javier Vazquez (according to multiple reports) just signed with the Florida Marlins with a one year deal worth $7 million. That's not a bad paycheck for a guy who according to WAR brought zero value to the Yankees. With the travails of A. J. Burnett being so prominent on every one's mind, the Vazquez debacle was often overlooked. And the thing about the mistake in signing Vazquez was that it was the second time the Yankees made it.

In some aspects, it's hard to blame Mr. Cashman on what happened with Vazquez in 2010. The pitcher pitched quite well for the Braves the year before and compiled a 5.2 WAR for that team in 2009. The pitcher's fastball was in the 91 MPH range regularly with Atlanta and he struck out 9.8 batters per nine innings while only walking 1.8 in those same nine innings. That's terrific pitching and it would seem reasonable that he could repeat it. And $11.5 million seems like a steal if a guy could come close to those kinds of numbers again.

But there had to be some hesitation based on Vazquez's first experience in New York. That year (2004) was Javier Vazquez's worst year since his sophomore season in 1999. And if you are Javier Vazquez, you have to have that in the back of your mind too when you are negotiating as a free agent and have choices on where you will pitch. So put a little blame on the player too. But like it or not, sometimes what a general manager does backfires and this was one of those occasions. The Yankees got no value at all for the money they spent on Vazquez.

And make no mistake about it, 2010 was a disaster. Only Shields of the Bay Rays gave up more homers than Vazquez and Shields pitched fifty more innings. Vazquez gave up 32 homers in just 151+ innings for a 1.8 homer per nine rate. He finished with an 80 ERA+. His fastball was in the 87 to 88 range instead of 91 (suitors for Cliff Lee take note). It's only 4 MPH, but it made a huge difference in results.

Well, we could also blame the departed pitching coach, Dave Eiland, who didn't help Vazquez get back on track. It's always good to have a fired guy to blame results on. You can also blame a couple of catchers who had really poor years behind the plate. Perhaps there is plenty of blame to go around. The bottom line though is that Vazquez was a bust for the Yankees and if he cost them three or four games, he cost them the AL East title.

Now Vazquez will go and play for his Puerto Rican buddy in Florida. The Marlins could get lucky as Vazquez has this quirky every other year thing going. Vazquez has thrived in the NL East before. The ball park in Miami doesn't yield homers easily which could help Vazquez. Maybe he will have a great year again. It's a gamble worth taking for the Fish.

And if he succeeds in Florida, then all Brian Cashman can do is scratch his head because the Yankees tried Vazquez twice and got bit twice for doing so.


bobook said...

Think you're right about the big ballpark helping Vasquez (who's name what with the q and the z is an unusual type). Marlins will again be competitive and like the way they have stockpiled pitchers. Haven't liked how the NYY have traded their young arms. Cashman would have been better keeping them as Vasquez, Burnett, et al, less effective than the formers scattered in Pittsburgh and Detroit and Washington and...

Josh Borenstein said...

I told some Yankee fans before the season started that Garland would have been a good sign for their 5th starter. He was definitely a Petco Product this year, but I still think he would have done better than Vazquez in pinstripes.