• The Mess That Is Javy Vazquez

    Posted by on May 3rd, 2010 · Comments (19)

    Via Tyler Kepner

    The decision not to use Vazquez in Boston, then, is a stinging indictment of a pitcher the Yankees privately believed would perform like a No. 2 starter. Instead, Vazquez will pitch Monday at Comerica Park in Detroit, against a Tigers team that has hit much better than the Red Sox. It reinforces the notion that he cannot handle a big stage.

    “When you’re struggling like this in a market like this, it’s louder and it’s harder,” General Manager Brian Cashman said. “It just is. No one’s going to run from it. It bothers him. It hurts. He wants to do right by everybody, and he’s fighting himself to keep doing it.”

    Vazquez did not make himself available to reporters Monday, but Girardi said Vazquez told him he wanted to start at Fenway. Girardi said that he understood but that he told Vazquez he believed he would benefit from extra days off.

    By starting his second New York stint with a 9.78 earned run average, highest in the league among pitchers with five starts, Vazquez has called into question his stomach for pitching here. It is safe to say the Yankees believed they were past that.

    Vazquez is a genial person, but staying hidden from reporters before Monday’s game was not a good sign.

    But the Yankees are convinced that Vazquez is so lost that he could not win on the road against a Red Sox team that looks strikingly ordinary. A victory at Fenway could boost Vazquez’s shattered confidence. By not giving him the chance, the Yankees revealed just how worried they are.

    “Unfortunately, there’s a clear recognition that there’s some major struggling going on here,” Cashman said. “It’s an opportunity for us to show we’re going to do everything we can, in our power, to fix this on the run.”

    You know, at the end of last season, Big League Stew said that “Vazquez’s worst ERA+ years — with the exception of his first two seasons — all came with contenders: the ’04 Yankees, the ’05 D’Backs and the ’06 and ’08 White Sox.”

    Maybe the Yankees should have considered that?

    Me? 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 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.

    And, I really meant that – in that I thought it was fair to expect 200 innings pitched and somewhere around 12-14 wins from this guy in 2010.

    Of course, that could still happen…but the clock on that hope is ticking fast…because it sure sounds like Javy Vazquez is one messed up little dude.

    Comments on The Mess That Is Javy Vazquez

    1. MJ Recanati
      May 3rd, 2010 | 11:32 pm

      I refuse to debate the usual Vazquez points because, frankly, it’s exhausting having to repeat the same things over and over to people that believe a season’s final chapter is already written on May 3rd.

      The only thing I want to say about this particular post is that I just don’t understand how Vazquez is “embarrassing the stripes” as your story category states. The Yanks are embarrassed because they have a struggling pitcher? Were the Yankees embarrassed from May 26 to June 21, 1997 when Andy Pettitte pitched to a 5.53 ERA? Were the Yankees embarrassed from July 26 to August 10, 1988 when Don Mattingly’s batting line was a less-than-stellar .263/.279/.298?

      I’m not trying to pick on Pettitte or Mattingly as much as to show that poor performance is not a cause for embarrassment. You might retort that Pettitte had won a World Series ring and Mattingly an MVP but it wouldn’t make your argument any more cogent. You don’t have to like Vazquez but he’s not “embarrassing the stripes” in any way.

    2. May 3rd, 2010 | 11:40 pm

      “a 9.78 earned run average, highest in the league among pitchers with five starts” and being called out for being a mental case is not embarrassing?

    3. MJ Recanati
      May 4th, 2010 | 12:01 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      being called out for being a mental case is not embarrassing?

      Your interpretation, perhaps, or Kepner’s. But just because you read into things that may or may not be there still doesn’t make Vazquez an embarrassment to the team.

    4. Raf
      May 4th, 2010 | 12:20 am

      You know, at the end of last season, Big League Stew said that “Vazquez’s worst ERA+ years — with the exception of his first two seasons — all came with contenders: the ‘04 Yankees, the ‘05 D’Backs and the ‘06 and ‘08 White Sox.”

      UZR/UZR150

      04: -69.6/-10.5
      05: -52.1/-7.8
      06: -19.4/-5.4
      08: -13.0/-1.9

      Of course, ERA+ isn’t the best indicator to assess how a pitcher’s doing…

    5. May 4th, 2010 | 8:16 am

      @ MJ Recanati:

      Dude. It’s the talk of baseball now – how Javy is screwed up and failing. Perhaps some don’t want to see that, because it’s another “F” on the Cashman Report Card (so far)? But, it’s truly what people are talking about and therefore an embarrassing situation for the team.

    6. MJ Recanati
      May 4th, 2010 | 8:33 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Dude. It’s the talk of baseball now – how Javy is screwed up and failing.

      Actually, the talk of baseball is that the Yanks made the right decision to skip Vazquez’s turn because he’s a good pitcher that needs to right the ship and return to a place where his talent can show again. Not a single thing I’ve heard or read among intelligent people has suggested “embarrassment.” Sure, if you take your cues from Lupica or WFAN, then you’re right. But then that speaks to the kind of sources you’re interested in taking your leads from.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Perhaps some don’t want to see that, because it’s another “F” on the Cashman Report Card (so far)?

      Pure bullshit. Perhaps others don’t want to remain objective when the topic turns to Cashman. I think you’re pretty clearly on record as having admitted to lacking objectivity in that regard.

    7. May 4th, 2010 | 9:07 am

      @ MJ Recanati:Honestly, you don’t think Cashman is having buyer’s regret on Vazquez right now? In the YES coverage yesterday, Kim Jones said that Cashman clearly stated that the Vazquez we’re seeing now is not the same pitcher that he saw throw last year for the Braves. Sure sounds like he feels like he was sold a bill of goods on this one.

      Now, that’s fine. Everyone gets fooled when dealing with things that are unknown. But, the Yankees had Vazquez before – so, they should have seen, then, what his make-up is all about. Hence, the current grade of “F” on this one.

      Of course, there’s still time to turn that grade around. But, will it?

    8. Raf
      May 4th, 2010 | 9:25 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      But, the Yankees had Vazquez before – so, they should have seen, then, what his make-up is all about.

      “Makeup” isn’t the reason his velocity is down.

    9. MJ Recanati
      May 4th, 2010 | 9:26 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Honestly, you don’t think Cashman is having buyer’s regret on Vazquez right now?

      No, I honestly don’t. That’s the difference between a process-based GM and a reactionary GM. You don’t get buyers remorse the first minute things don’t go your way. That lack of patience is how BAD teams get constructed, not GOOD teams like the one we have here in the Bronx.

      Now, you might be feeling that way and you’re just projecting your own feelings onto Cashman, Vazquez and the trade but that doesn’t necessarily make it so. But Cashman’s frustration doesn’t equate to buyer’s remorse. Sometimes a rose is simply a rose.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      But, the Yankees had Vazquez before – so, they should have seen, then, what his make-up is all about. Hence, the current grade of “F” on this one.

      Because you’re assuming that his problems are mental, doesn’t meat that they are exclusively mental or that they are mental at all. I won’t pretend to know how Vazquez is feeling but I assume he’s feeling pretty low about how the season has started off for him. I won’t discount that low self-esteem can lead to poor performance but you and people in your camp have this idea that there are only certain types of players that can survive in NY. That’s simply not true. I won’t argue the point anymore other than to say that Vazquez was obviously mentally well-enough equipped to handle New York from April-July 2004. He’s not some basketcase, no matter how many times you replay Game 7 of the ’04 ALCS and assume that it maens something.

      I’m done discussing this.

    10. clintfsu813
      May 4th, 2010 | 10:14 am

      @ MJ Recanati:
      but you and people in your camp

      Steve has a camp? I fear the worst for Cash’s personal safety ;)

    11. Corey Italiano
      May 4th, 2010 | 11:20 am

      The Marte/Nady trade was an F till this past October. Let’s give it some time.

    12. May 4th, 2010 | 12:05 pm

      Good point on this from Joel Sherman today:

      Here is one final item to remember about Vazquez and it is not inconsequential: When the Yankees traded Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and Aroldys Vizcaino to the Braves they thought they were getting more than Vazquez. They also thought they were going to get two high picks in the 2011 draft.

      Vazquez pitched so well last year for the Braves that he put himself on the track to Type-A status. The Yanks were planning on Vazquez retaining his Type-A status, which is determined on stats accumulated over a two-season span. If Vazquez were able to retain Type-A status going into free agency then the Yanks planned to offer the righty arbitration. In that scenario, had Vazquez signed elsewhere, then the Yanks would have received either a first-round pick and a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds or the sandwich pick and a second-round selection depending on the record of the signing team.

      But Vazquez’s horrendous start has imperiled his Type-A status. He might still be a Type-B, which would net the Yankees a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds.

      However, it is looking more and more as if the Yanks could not even risk offering arbitration to Vazquez on the risk he would accept and earn in the $11 million range again for the Yanks in 2011.

      There is still a long way to go for Vazquez to determine his status and for the Yanks to determine how they will proceed with him in the offseason. But the early signs are that Vazquez is not only hurting the Yanks in 2010, but beyond, as well.

    13. May 4th, 2010 | 12:16 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      I’ve got to agree with you here on Cashman having buyers’ remorse. I also wrote in my blog today about how Cash seemed to imply that Javy was hurt and not fessing up, which was why his velocity was down. Gee, what a shock – a guy who previously hid an injury with the Yankees might be hiding another injury. Who’da thunk that?

      And what is this “not the same player” Cash thought he was getting? Javy is exactly the same player many Yankee fans thought the team was getting.

      As for the Type A pick the Yanks thought they were getting, I think that’s just spin from the Yankee front office to justify the deal.

    14. MJ Recanati
      May 4th, 2010 | 12:55 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Letting Sherman guide your thoughts is your first mistake.

      I patently disagree with this line of thinking because 2008 and 2009 have shown us that Cashman is not the type to offer arbitration to players. He correctly passed on offering Abreu abritration and (in my opinion) he mistakenly passed on offering arbitration to Damon. I see no reason to believe that Cashman acquired Vazquez with the intention of ever keeping him beyond 2010 or with the intention of turning him into a compensation-eligible free agent.

    15. MJ Recanati
      May 4th, 2010 | 1:00 pm

      lisaswan wrote:

      And what is this “not the same player” Cash thought he was getting? Javy is exactly the same player many Yankee fans thought the team was getting.

      Fans, in general, are morons. The same fans that feel like they’re being proven right are the same fans that thought the Yankees would never win a World Series with Alex Rodriguez on the roster because he was never going to be a clutch player.

      lisaswan wrote:

      As for the Type A pick the Yanks thought they were getting, I think that’s just spin from the Yankee front office to justify the deal.

      Did the Yankees front office ever say anything to that effect? If they didn’t offer arbitration to Abreu/Damon, why would they to Vazquez? It hasn’t been their M.O.

    16. YankCrank
      May 4th, 2010 | 2:10 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Fans, in general, are morons. The same fans that feel like they’re being proven right are the same fans that thought the Yankees would never win a World Series with Alex Rodriguez on the roster because he was never going to be a clutch player.

      Amen brother, Amen. Truer words have never been spoken on this site.

    17. Raf
      May 4th, 2010 | 2:39 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      The Marte/Nady trade was an F till this past October. Let’s give it some time.

      Can’t say that I agree; winning it all doesn’t negate that both did little in their time with the Yanks. Having said that, can’t really give the trade an ‘F’ as the Yanks really didn’t give up anything of consequence… Yes, I understand that top prospect Tabata was included in the deal.

    18. Raf
      May 4th, 2010 | 2:44 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Letting Sherman guide your thoughts is your first mistake.

      Especially since the Yanks have shown for 30+ years that they’ll go with a “proven veteran” over an “untried rookie,” and has typically been an organization that has drafted poorly (for whatever reason) more often than not.

    19. YankCrank
      May 4th, 2010 | 2:47 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Corey Italiano wrote:
      The Marte/Nady trade was an F till this past October. Let’s give it some time.

      Can’t say that I agree; winning it all doesn’t negate that both did little in their time with the Yanks. Having said that, can’t really give the trade an ‘F’ as the Yanks really didn’t give up anything of consequence… Yes, I understand that top prospect Tabata was included in the deal.

      I’ll agree to disagree with you on this. I can see both sides to the argument, but the fact that Marte showed up in the World Series and completely neutralized the tough lefty bats of the Phils makes this a win to me. No hits, no runs, no walks and five strikeouts in 2.2 innings was flat out domination.

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