From the AP tonight:
Ron Villone went to his first game at Yankee Stadium in 1976, when New York was starting a run of four AL pennants and two World Series titles in a six-season span.
He remembers watching Ron Guidry pitch and Don Mattingly hit. Now Guidry is his new pitching coach after the Yankees acquired him from the Florida Marlins on Friday for minor league pitcher Ben Julianel.
“It was a great stage to play on,” Villone said. “The Yankees were the best team. You always wanted to be a part of it. I guess today I get to live that dream a little bit.”
He grew up in Edgewater, N.J., and lives now in Upper Saddle River, a short drive to the ballpark. The 35-year-old left-hander was a combined 2-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 79 games last season for the Seattle Mariners and the Marlins, who acquired him at the July 31 trade deadline.
“It starts to form something we’re very comfortable with,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who had tried to sign Villone last winter and acquire him from Seattle last summer. “He’s versatile. He can spot start, he can long relieve, he can situational lefty. He has the ability to do all of those without complaint, and that’s attractive.”
The Yankees have been looking at Villone for a while. And, last year, LH batters went .222/.326/.256 against him in 117 ABs. In 2004, they went .203/.314/.287 in 143 ABs. And, in 2003, they went .267/.345/.475 in 101 ABs – but he pitched half of that year in Colorado. In 2002, they went .233/.301/.333 in 120 ABs.
Villone does not do an excellent job against RH batters. In fact, I do not believe that you want him pitching to a righty with the game on the line – at least not on a regular basis.
Still, it’s more than safe to say that Villone can get lefties out. That’s good.
Ben Julianel is a lefty RP with a nasty change up – the Yankees got him from St. Louis in 2003 for Sterling Hitchcock. But, he’ll be 26 next year, has never pitched in Triple-A yet, and needs to work on his control.
If the Yankees use Villone in a role where he can do well – like a lefty specialist – this is a good trade. If they use him as a long-man or spot starter, he’ll just be average. Still, that’s a lot better than Scott Proctor.
I like this trade.