• Commentary On Reported Melky Cabrera For Javier Vazquez Trade

    Posted by on December 22nd, 2009 · Comments (25)

    As promised, here’s my opinion on the trade reported today.

    First, toss out Mike Dunn and Boone Logan. That’s a push. They’re both lefty. They both can’t get big league batters out, consistently. It’s six of one and a half-dozen of the other.

    This trade breaks down to Melky Cabrera and Arodys Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez. Actually, it’s for “one year of Javier Vazquez” since he will be a free agent after 2010 (assuming the Yankees don’t extend his contract – which is a safe bet…’cause they’re not extending him while ignoring Derek Jeter’s possible extension).

    Now, when Melky Cabrera first came up, I thought he was exciting. And, I was a huge fan of his potential. But, the scouts were right about Leche – he’s a .280 hitter who doesn’t walk and has almost no power. Basically, he’s a swell 4th outfielder – and someone who deserves to play in the major leagues. But, he’s not a star and should not be a full-time player on a contending team. Losing Cabrera, at the worst, hurts the Yankees in the sense that he was Robinson Cano’s “primo” and now Cano will have to find someone else to spoon with when he’s feeling low. (Luckily for Robbie, K-Hud and A-Rod just broke up and Alex Rodriguez is available.)

    Arodys Vizcaino is one of the Yankees best pitching prospects. But, is he the next Pedro Martinez or the next Octavio Dotel? We don’t know because he’s yet to pitch above the short-season Penn League. Basically, we have years before we know what Arodys Vizcaino is all about, etc.

    On the “risk” scale, in terms of what the Yankees gave up in this deal, the needle is much closer to the abstinence side of the meter than it is to the glory hole side of the scale.

    So, how about Javier Vazquez? Well, first, as mentioned, he’s a rental player. And, you always have to be concerned about a guy who is traded five times in six years. That’s a red flag, for sure. Blistering red, if you ask me.

    But, the big thing with Vazquez is: Can he pitch in the American League? If you look at his career, in terms of his component skills, Vazquez is pretty consistent. Yet, for some reason, his bubble-gum card stats, outside of 2007, are much better when he’s in the N.L. than when he’s in the A.L. (where the Yankees play). In the Senior Cicuit, he’s a Cy Young contender. In the Junior Circuit, he’s a league average pitcher. Perhaps it’s the A.L. ballparks that do him in? (By the way, his lifetime ERA while pitching in the Bronx is 7.09 over 6 games.) But, even at his worst, Javy should be good for close to 200 innings pitched and somewhere around 12-14 wins.

    In a sense, Vazquez should give the Yankees what they get from Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett in 2010 – meaning 30 starts, 200 IP, and around 13 wins. Is that good news? To me, that puts a lot of pressure on CC Sabathia to post a W-L record that’s at least 10 games over .500. Can he do it? Sure, he’s done it in the past. But, can you count on it? I dunno…

    Bottom line, is this a good trade for the Yankees? Well, it’s not the worst trade they’ve ever made…but, I don’t see a ton here to get excited about it…it’s not like dealing for Roy Halladay or something. And, as I said, if Sabathia does not shine in 2010, and Burnett/Pettitte/Vazquez pitch to the reasonable expectations from them, it could mean the Yankees don’t win 95 games in 2010 – which is what they will probably need to make the post-season.

    Comments on Commentary On Reported Melky Cabrera For Javier Vazquez Trade

    1. Corey
      December 22nd, 2009 | 11:36 am

      First, toss out Mike Dunn and Boone Logan. That’s a push. They’re both lefty. They both can’t get big league batters out, consistently
      ————–
      That’s not a fair assessment of Dunn. How do you know over the span of 4 innings that he can’t get anyone out?

    2. Corey
      December 22nd, 2009 | 11:38 am

      Bottom line, the 2010 Yankees > 2009 Yankees IMO.

    3. December 22nd, 2009 | 11:44 am

      Corey wrote:

      That’s not a fair assessment of Dunn. How do you know over the span of 4 innings that he can’t get anyone out?

      Have you seen his AA and AAA stats since 2008:

      Year Age Tm Lg Lev ERA G IP BB BF WHIP BB/9
      2008 23 Trenton EL AA 0.00 1 1.2 1 7 1.200 5.4
      2009 24 Trenton EL AA 3.71 26 53.1 32 230 1.369 5.4
      2009 24 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre IL AAA 2.25 12 20.0 14 90 1.550 6.3
      Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
      Generated 12/22/2009.

      Dunn has no command, whatsoever. That’s not good when facing MLB hitters.

    4. clintfsu813
      December 22nd, 2009 | 11:45 am

      the needle is much closer to the abstinence side of the meter than it is to the glory hole side of the scale.

      Spit my coffee on my keyboard yet again..damn you Scuba Steve! :)

    5. Pat F
      December 22nd, 2009 | 11:56 am

      agree this is not a wild deal or anything. but it is a solid one. and that’s because vasquez is solid. not front end, but consistent and reliable. that’s a good thing from middle-back end guys. you’re getting innings (which is big after post-world series workloads from sabathia/burnett/pettitte) and you’re getting strikeouts (which is big in yankee stadium). we won 103 games last year without a starter as consistent/productive as vasquez in the 4 slot, so with his addition we should be able to endure some sort of falloff from one of the front three and still win more than 95 games. that to me is the biggest part of this deal. the protection his consistency and reliability provides for potential post-world series drop offs (just look at buerhle, garcia, garland, verlander, beckett, hamels, and myers the year after pitching in a world series).

      have to agree with corey here too. dunn can’t get big league hitters after 4 innings? at the age of 24 having been converted to pitching from another position throwing in the mid-high 90s? yikes, that’s more of an assumption than a farm system isn’t deep unless there are more hits than misses in the first 10 rounds of the draft yesterday (which was totally arbitrary by the way, what is the average for hits relative to misses around baseball?)

    6. Scout
      December 22nd, 2009 | 12:01 pm

      Vasquez is a reasonable addition. The Yankees cannot expect anything like the numbers he put up in Atlanta in 2009, but he gives quality innings, should win 13-14 games, and has strong K/9 and K/BB ratios. The Yankees gave up a useful fourth outfielder but held on to both Chamberlain, Hughes, and Montero, which means they retained all of their top organizational assets. And now the Yankees need to break in only one young starter in 2009. Good value for a low price — this is a smart deal.

    7. MJ
      December 22nd, 2009 | 12:47 pm

      Corey wrote:

      That’s not a fair assessment of Dunn. How do you know over the span of 4 innings that he can’t get anyone out?

      His MiLB stats indicate that he’s a walk-machine. That’s why Steve said it, and I’d agree.

    8. MJ
      December 22nd, 2009 | 1:04 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      On the “risk” scale, in terms of what the Yankees gave up in this deal, the needle is much closer to the abstinence side of the meter than it is to the glory hole side of the scale.

      That is easily the funniest and wittiest thing I’ve ever read on any baseball blog, period. Brilliant.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      …if Sabathia does not shine in 2010, and Burnett/Pettitte/Vazquez pitch to the reasonable expectations from them, it could mean the Yankees don’t win 95 games in 2010 – which is what they will probably need to make the post-season.blockquote>

      I don’t see why you wrote that, however. In 2009, the Yanks had 4 starters make at least 31 starts and, other than Sabathia’s 19 wins, the other three starters (Burnett, Pettitte, Chamberlain) combined for 36 wins. 55 wins for 4 primary starters.

      Next year, assuming the same performance from Pettitte, Burnett and Chamberlain, and assuming Sabathia comes back down to around 15 wins, that’s 51 wins before you get to Vazquez’s 12-14. That gets you back up to 63-65 wins.

      Starters wins are a horrible way to predict performance but, simply by your own accounting, the Yanks would have a staff equipped to “out-win” their 2009 squad by as many as 10 wins.

    9. #15
      December 22nd, 2009 | 1:06 pm

      Not a bad deal, all things considered. Less risk than Sheets and Javy is playing for his next contract. Saves the pen from getting burned up. There is a lot of innings in those first 4 starters. Pushes Joba to the 5, and maybe Andy to the 4. If no one gets injured, that’s good enough to make the playoffs. Don’t recall the exact stats, but our top 4 starters accounted for ~ 55 wins last year, meaning nearly 50 wins spread out over our fill-in squad of 5th starters and the pen. I can see us getting more than 55 wins out of the top 4 in 2010, and Joba just adds icing if he’s really ready to be unchained as a starter (I still like him in the pen). Melky was a nice spark from time to time and I’m glad he got a ring with the Yankees. I don’t think he got enough credit for his D. To me, the interesting question is whether or not the Yanks rethink the Damonic question, because if he comes back and has the same year he just had, then the Yankees are better because Grandy + Johnson > Matsui + Melky in terms of offense and defense. Throw in a better 1 through 5 rotation than last year… Works for me. We match up okay 1 through 4 against most of the other contender’s starters for the playoffs. Add a little Joba spice to the pen late in the run and that works too. Still think we missed a once-in-a-generation chance to build a dynasty by adding another front line pitcher. Overall, I’d rather see Damon as the everyday LF/#2 hitter than Dash Gardner as the LF/#9 hitter with Johnson in the 2 hole.

    10. MJ
      December 22nd, 2009 | 1:07 pm

      Correction of previous formatting error:

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      …if Sabathia does not shine in 2010, and Burnett/Pettitte/Vazquez pitch to the reasonable expectations from them, it could mean the Yankees don’t win 95 games in 2010 – which is what they will probably need to make the post-season.blockquote>

      I don’t see why you wrote that, however. In 2009, the Yanks had 4 starters make at least 31 starts and, other than Sabathia’s 19 wins, the other three starters (Burnett, Pettitte, Chamberlain) combined for 36 wins. 55 wins for 4 primary starters.

      Next year, assuming the same performance from Pettitte, Burnett and Chamberlain, and assuming Sabathia comes back down to around 15 wins, that’s 51 wins before you get to Vazquez’s 12-14. That gets you back up to 63-65 wins.

      Starters wins are a horrible way to predict performance but, simply by your own accounting, the Yanks would have a staff equipped to “out-win” their 2009 squad by as many as 10 wins.

    11. GDH
      December 22nd, 2009 | 2:03 pm

      Provided we re-build the bridge with Damon, this team is set for the season. If we sign Damon for 2yrs $20 or something like that, then we can afford to let Johnson walk again after next year and DH Damon in place of a new LF (Crawford, please). The 1 year rental of JV works for me, and works well for future roster flexibility. Not a bad move at all.

      Conversely, if we let Damon walk, and play Gardner out there (or substitute any other available 4th OF type) then there is a slight weakness there. If that’s the case I prefer Gardner and his defense and low low price and give him the AB to see if he can reach base. (Doesn’t look like it though).

    12. Corey
      December 22nd, 2009 | 2:25 pm

      @MJ

      http://yankees.lhblogs.com/2009/12/21/montero-ready-to-move-one-step-closer/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LohudYankees+%28The+LoHud+Yankees+Blog%29

      Has nothing to do with the trade, but this report says that Montero’s footwork is improving which, as I was saying, is not impossible.

    13. 77yankees
      December 22nd, 2009 | 2:32 pm

      Thanks to Cashman for defecating in every Yankee fan’s Christmas stocking.

      Is he going to bring back Randy Johnson too?

    14. December 22nd, 2009 | 2:41 pm

      @ clintfsu813:
      @ MJ:
      Thanks guys. Next time somebody calls me a cranky old man, I’m going to send them your way and you can tell them I still have a sense of humor. ;-)

    15. Corey
      December 22nd, 2009 | 2:43 pm

      77yankees wrote:

      Thanks to Cashman for defecating in every Yankee fan’s Christmas stocking.

      Why do you say that? I think Javy is going to be the best 4th starter in baseball.

    16. 77yankees
      December 22nd, 2009 | 3:07 pm

      Corey wrote:
      Why do you say that? I think Javy is going to be the best 4th starter in baseball.

      He’s a NL pitcher – the lineups are a lot different when you’re facing .220 hitting shortstops in the 8th spot and then the pitcher’s spot.

      Right handed pitcher who gives up HR in a lefty hitter’s ball park. We’ll see what the headlines are when he gives up four HR to the Red Sox in the Stadium the first time.

      He’s not a big game pitcher. I won’t touch on Game 7 2004 & what happened there. Rather, last year, the last game I ever went to in the old Stadium vs. the White Sox. Chicago’s fighting for their division with Vazquez starting, and he got lit up – Abreu took him deep twice.

      Now, who plays LF? Gardner? Maybe they make another move there but my thoughts on him are well documented.

    17. MJ
      December 22nd, 2009 | 3:16 pm

      @ Corey:
      Considering the source is Mark Newman, I’d take everything he says with a grain of salt. Independent scouts don’t agree with that analysis and John Manuel over at BA.com made the subtle distinction between a regular catcher and a player that can catch. Montero is seen as the latter.

      In any case…

    18. MJ
      December 22nd, 2009 | 3:26 pm

      77yankees wrote:

      He’s a NL pitcher – the lineups are a lot different when you’re facing .220 hitting shortstops in the 8th spot and then the pitcher’s spot.

      He doesn’t have to dominate the AL the way he dominated the NL last year. All he has to be is league average for him to be useful to the Yankees. Given the four seasons he’s pitched in the AL, the odds favor him being exactly that.

      77yankees wrote:

      Right handed pitcher who gives up HR in a lefty hitter’s ball park. We’ll see what the headlines are when he gives up four HR to the Red Sox in the Stadium the first time.

      He’s given up an average of 1.2 HR/9 in his career, 1.1 HR/9 in the NL and 1.2 HR/9 in the AL. Is there some cause for concern? Yes, I’ll accept that argument. But, again, the Yanks only need him to be a league-average starter for 200 innings out of the #3 slot in the rotation. Nothing more.

      Separately, whatever the headlines want to write should be ignored by intelligent people. No doubt, the tabloids will seek to unfairly mutilate Vazquez every chance they get but let’s not forget that tabloids have never let facts get in the way of a good rant.

      77yankees wrote:

      He’s not a big game pitcher. I won’t touch on Game 7 2004 & what happened there. Rather, last year, the last game I ever went to in the old Stadium vs. the White Sox. Chicago’s fighting for their division with Vazquez starting, and he got lit up – Abreu took him deep twice.

      The same was said about CC Sabathia before he flat-out dominated the playoffs this past October. Vazquez has only 15.2 career innings in the playoffs so we can’t really make broad, declarative statements on his big-game ability with such a small sample size. Beyond that, if the Yanks decide that they prefer Andy Pettitte over Javier Vazquez in the playoffs, they can easily flip-flop the two and push Vazquez down to the #4 slot in the rotation. That’ll limit his exposure.

      MJ wrote:

      Now, who plays LF? Gardner? Maybe they make another move there but my thoughts on him are well documented.

      Melky and Gardner are the same flawed player. The only way this trade hurts the LF situation is from the standpoint of depth, where Gardner/Hoffmann are the only outfielders on the roster aside from Granderson and Swisher.

      My hope is that the Yanks bring back Johnny Damon. My assumption is that Cashman will make another move to address the lack of OF depth, either by bringing in a starter for LF (Damon or otherwise) or by bringing in a backup to Gardner.

    19. bfriley76
      December 22nd, 2009 | 3:34 pm

      MJ wrote:

      77yankees wrote:
      Right handed pitcher who gives up HR in a lefty hitter’s ball park. We’ll see what the headlines are when he gives up four HR to the Red Sox in the Stadium the first time.
      He’s given up an average of 1.2 HR/9 in his career, 1.1 HR/9 in the NL and 1.2 HR/9 in the AL. Is there some cause for concern? Yes, I’ll accept that argument. But, again, the Yanks only need him to be a league-average starter for 200 innings out of the #3 slot in the rotation. Nothing more.

      I like this deal but I was a little worried about the HRs too. But then I saw this comment over at Baseball Think Factory:

      Giving up HRs doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective–even great–pitcher, he gave up 29 in Chicago and had a 126 ERA+ in ’07.

      And, like you said MJ, he’s just a #3/4 guy for us, so he really only has to be about league average. I’m liking this deal more and more the more I think/read about it.

    20. GDH
      December 22nd, 2009 | 3:44 pm

      Agree with MJ’s analysis here. It’s fair to say that based on his track record, JV will give us the chance to win a lot of games. A guy like him pitching behind our offense (and somewhat improved defense) stands a good chance to win a more games vs. Atlanta last year. It’s not fair to project his ERA to be the same, but it doesn’t need to be, in order for him to help us. He gives up a few more runs, he gets helped a little more. It’s a push – fair to say he helps us this year, especially in the #3 or #4 slot.

      @ 77yankees:
      I hear your concerns and still remember that awful choke job, but it took more than JV choking to eliminate us in ’04 – a lot more.

      Seriously doubt Cashman stands pat with Gardner in left, but I have no idea who he brings in. I hope it’s Damon and I hope it’s quick.

    21. Raf
      December 22nd, 2009 | 4:56 pm

      Melky’s a league average bat, Vazquez is a league average arm that’ll give you 200 innings. Sure, I’ll take that.

    22. 77yankees
      December 22nd, 2009 | 5:18 pm

      MJ wrote:

      The same was said about CC Sabathia before he flat-out dominated the playoffs this past October.

      Not necessarily – remember he carried that Brewer team to the playoffs on his back two years ago. Yes, he flamed out in his NLDS start, but not every big game happens in October. Remember that four game sweep vs. Boston back in early August at the Stadium? Those were huge games in hindsight.

      GDH, I don’t blame JV for the collapse in 2004 or Game 7. He didn’t put them in the 2-0 hole and load the bases. But I should point out, the very year before, Mussina, who wasn’t one of my favorites, came out of the bullpen 1st & 3rd, none out, down 4-0 in Game 7 and got out of it.

      As far as LF, Damon may be the call at this point to hold it over until Carl Crawford becomes a FA next winter. Maybe you give him a one year deal a little over the average Boras was looking for – they may jump at that just to save face. I can picture Boras’ spin: “loyal to the Yankees”, “wants to win again”, etc.

    23. GDH
      December 22nd, 2009 | 5:30 pm

      77yankees wrote:

      As far as LF, Damon may be the call at this point to hold it over until Carl Crawford becomes a FA next winter. Maybe you give him a one year deal a little over the average Boras was looking for – they may jump at that just to save face. I can picture Boras’ spin: “loyal to the Yankees”, “wants to win again”, etc.

      They say 1 year, he’ll say go screw. But they could sign him for 2, then let have the option of letting Johnson walk after 1 year and have Damon DH in 2011.

    24. 77yankees
      December 22nd, 2009 | 6:34 pm

      GDH wrote:

      They say 1 year, he’ll say go screw. But they could sign him for 2, then let have the option of letting Johnson walk after 1 year and have Damon DH in 2011.

      Well, you hope they’ve been humbled thus far by what’s gone down to grab the final straw.

      Plus, at this point, while he started his career in KC & Oakland, he’s played in the Northeast & gone to spring training in FL for the last 8 years. And he lives in Tampa. Would he really want to go play in SF and spend spring training in AZ at this point? Sometimes, despite the $$$, you have to believe that does matter to some players.

    25. May 3rd, 2010 | 11:07 pm

      [...] Well, when the Yankees made the trade for Vazquez, I wrote: But, the big thing with Vazquez is: Can he pitch in the American League? If you look at his [...]

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