Tag:Javier Vazquez
Posted on: July 18, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Marlins may make Vazquez, Nunez available

As the Marlins continue to creep towards .500, their trade plans seem to have become more concrete.

They will consider dealing Javier Vazquez, Leo Nunez and Randy Choate. They won't talk about Ricky Nolasco or Anibal Sanchez, or Josh Johnson.

"We were told 'no way' on Nolasco," said an official of one team that checked in with the Marlins in the last few days. "They want to build around Johnson, Sanchez and Nolasco moving into their new stadium."

Marlins people have suggested that if the team can get to .500 this week (they're three games under, as of Monday morning), they may not sell at all. It seems impossible that the Marlins could get back into the playoff race (they're 10 games behind the wild-card leading Braves), but they may still take a shot.

Vazquez has had a good run recently, with a 1.39 ERA over his last five starts. That includes interleague games against the Angels, A's and Rangers, but it's still hard to see any American League team taking a chance on him.

"I think he gets hives when he even flies over an AL city," one scout said.

Vazquez has a no-trade clause in his contract, and it's not clear how many teams he would approve a trade to. Vazquez wouldn't address the issue Monday.

Nunez and Choate could also be of interest to teams. Left-handed hitters are just 5-for-54 against Choate this year, with one walk, 23 strikeouts and with one double as the only extra-base hit. Nunez is 26-for-29 in save situations.

Posted on: October 17, 2010 7:17 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2010 7:22 pm
 

Burnett is a problem, but 3-man isn't the answer

NEW YORK -- Sorry, but the problem isn't that the Yankees are sticking with their plan to start A.J. Burnett in Game 4.

No, the problem is that the Yankees have no real choice but to start A.J. Burnett in Game 4. The problem is that the team with the $200 million payroll still has only three dependable (or somewhat dependable) starting pitchers.

For the second straight year!

The Yankees got away with it last year. Thanks to an extra off day in the American League Championship Series, thanks to fine short-rest work from Andy Pettitte and (especially) CC Sabathia, the Yankees went all the way to a World Series championship using just three postseason starters.

They didn't trust fourth starter Joba Chamberlain, so they simply didn't use him. And they got away with it.

And here they are again, a year later, with the same exact problem. Phil Hughes has stepped in as one of the three (somewhat) dependable starters, but Burnett has stepped into the Joba role as the totally unreliable No. 4. Meanwhile, Javier Vazquez, who was acquired with the idea of avoiding this predicament, is even more useless than Burnett.

The solution? Sorry, it's not a three-man rotation, despite what is being written in many other places (including by our very able bloggers ).

There's a reason that nearly every postseason team for the past three decades has gone with a four-man rotation. There's a reason that all four teams that have gotten this far this year have planned to use four starters.

I know that it's popular to call for starters to go on short rest. I know that the Rangers got ripped for not bringing Cliff Lee back in Game 4 of the Division Series, that Bruce Bochy considered bringing Tim Lincecum back for Game 4 against the Braves, that Charlie Manuel is already being asked about bringing Roy Halladay back for Game 4 against the Giants.

Halladay could no doubt do it. Sabathia can do it.

Most guys can't. Over the last five postseasons, the only guys to start and win a game on three days' rest are Pettitte and Sabathia (once each last year), and Paul Byrd for the Angels in Game 1 of the 2005 ALCS.

For the Yankees to skip Burnett in this series, they'd need to pitch Sabathia on short rest in Game 4, followed by Phil Hughes on short rest in Game 5, followed by Pettitte on short rest in Game 6, followed by Sabathia on short rest again in Game 7.

Isn't it better to try to win with Burnett (as unlikely as that may seem), and then have Sabathia, Hughes and Pettitte strong and on normal rest for the final three games of the series?

If Yankees lose Game 3 on Monday night, I have no doubt that manager Joe Girardi will face even more questions about starting Burnett on Tuesday. If the Yankees lose the series after starting Burnett, plenty of people will blame Girardi.

Sorry, but the problem isn't the four-man rotation. The problem is failing to find four dependable starters.

And if the Yankees lose, that will be one reason why they did.


Posted on: May 23, 2010 10:04 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2010 10:06 pm
 

3 to watch: The Most Important Player edition

Just before opening day, we told you that Cole Hamels was not only the most important player on the Phillies, but the most important in the entire National League.

With Hamels off to a 5-2 start and the Phillies in first place despite injuries that have hit their rotation, their lineup and most notably their bullpen, we may well have been right -- except for one thing. The way the Phillies look with Jimmy Rollins out of the lineup, Rollins is starting to look like the Phils' most important player.

Rollins' right calf injury has kept him out of 31 of the Phils' first 43 games. Their record when he plays: 9-3. Their record when he doesn't: 17-14.

Not only that, but after beating the Red Sox 5-1 on Friday night with Rollins in the lineup, the Phils put Rollins back on the disabled list Saturday. Sure enough, they nearly got no-hit by Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday, and didn't score until the ninth inning of an 8-3 loss to Tim Wakefield and the Sox on Sunday.

So as the Phillies go to Citi Field this week, their ability to score runs without Rollins is every bit as interesting as Jerry Manuel's future with the Mets.

Speaking of which, this could be an interesting week for managers, with the Baltimore Sun already speculating that the Orioles could finally fire Dave Trembley.

On to this week's 3 to watch:

1. With Josh Beckett on the disabled list with back trouble, the Red Sox need Jon Lester even more than ever. Lester threw a complete game to beat the Twins the day Beckett went on the DL, improving to 4-0 with a 1.65 ERA in his last six starts. A bigger test comes in Red Sox at Rays, Tuesday (7:10 EDT) at Tropicana Field , when Lester faces the team that beat him 7-1 last month at Fenway Park.

2. The Yankees believe Javier Vazquez is getting things figured out. Or, at the very least, the Yankees hope that Vazquez is getting things figured out. We'll know more after Vazquez's next start, which for now is scheduled to be in Yankees at Twins, Thursday (8:10 EDT) at Target Field . One unanswered question is whether the bruised index finger that forced Vazquez out of his Friday night start against the Mets will affect him, or even keep him from starting. Another unanswered question: Will Jason Kubel's grand slam off Mariano Rivera last week at Yankee Stadium give the Twins any more confidence against a Yankee team that won all four games in Minnesota last year (three in the regular season, one in the playoffs).

3. The last time the Mets and Phillies met, the Mets could at least dream that they were ready to challenge the Phillies in the National League East. That's not really the case this time, not with R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi the scheduled Mets starters in the first two games of the series. But the Mets have a chance against anyone with Mike Pelfrey on the mound, and he's Hamels' scheduled opponent in Phillies at Mets, Thursday night (7:10 EDT) at Citi Field.


Posted on: May 21, 2010 11:42 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2010 1:53 am
 

The big Yankee question: Is Javy comfortable?

NEW YORK -- It's crazy to think that Javier Vazquez can't pitch in the American League. He went 15-8 for the White Sox just three years ago.

It's a little hard to believe that Javier Vazquez simply can't pitch in New York. He made the All-Star team in his first go-round with the Yankees, off a 10-5, 3.56 first half.

It's perfectly believable, though, that Javier Vazquez has a bigger need than most pitchers to find his own personal comfort level. Get him in it, and you get a winning pitcher, capable of making the All-Star team and even getting Cy Young votes. Get him out of it, and you may as well get him out of town.

So now the big question: Are two strong starts, sandwiched around a one-out, four-pitch relief appearance, any sign that Vazquez is finally finding a comfort zone in this second go-round with the Yankees?

"I feel like I'm taking steps," Vazquez said after beating the Mets, 2-1, Friday night. "Hopefully, I'll start to pitch better."

His start against the Mets was curtailed after six innings, 70 pitches (and just one hit) by a bruised right index finger, suffered on a bunt attempt in the top of the sixth. Vazquez, who led the National League in sacrifices last year, was embarrassed to get hurt that way, but confident that he'll be able to make his next start, Thursday in Minnesota.

The Yankees will hope he can do it, even if some Yankee fans, with memories of his 2004 meltdown and his 9.78 ERA through five starts this year, would rather see anyone else pitch.

Some of those fans will no doubt attribute Vazquez's Friday night success to pitching against an NL team. They might be more correct than they know; the Mets made Vazquez look good by swinging early in the count, and rarely waiting for a good pitch to hit.

Vazquez's velocity has been down so far this year, and he topped out at 91 mph on Friday. But the fact still is that he has faced 47 batters over the last three appearances, allowing just nine of them to reach base and only two of them to score.

"I'm making better pitches," he said. "That's the bottom line. I think I'm making more quality pitches."

The Yankees skipped Vazquez for a start at Fenway Park, and then after a rainout in Detroit that gave them options with their rotation, they chose not to have him face the Red Sox or Rays this week at Yankee Stadium.

Eventually, he'll need to pitch at home (before fans who may well boo if things don't go well), and he'll need to face the best teams in the American League East.

But maybe it's possible that he is settling in, getting comfortable, and that he'll become the solid starter that the Yankees thought they were trading for. Add him into a rotation that includes CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes, and perhaps the Yankees will really be five-deep in quality starters.

If so, Joe Girardi is the one who will feel comfortable.


Category: MLB
Posted on: May 21, 2010 10:21 am
 

3 to watch: The Mind the gap edition

Since this time a year ago, the National League has added Roy Halladay, Matt Holliday, Jason Bay and Jason Heyward, with Stephen Strasburg on the way.

The American League has added Javier Vazquez, Milton Bradley and Juan Pierre, with Mike Cameron on the way back from the disabled list.

You'd think the NL would finally be catching up, except that everything you see on the field tells you it isn't. Or, at least, that despite all the catching up the NL seems to have done, there's still a massive gap in talent between the two leagues.

"This league stinks," seems to be the most common refrain from scouts who cover the NL.

Which should be good news for the 14 American League teams that plunge into interleague play this weekend, at least until they realize that all their rivals get to face NL teams, too.

On to 3 to watch for the weekend:

1. The Yankees did everything they could to avoid having the struggling and unpopular Vazquez start against one of their rivals (the Red Sox). But they seem to have no problem having him open the Subway Series against their other rival, as he'll do in Yankees at Mets, Friday night (7:10 EDT) at Citi Field . The other pitching matchups in this series are much better, with the improved Mike Pelfrey against the even more improved Phil Hughes on Saturday, and the aces CC Sabathia and Johan Santana colliding on Sunday night. But with the Yankees losing key players by the day, and the Mets self-destructing, even the Vazquez-Hisanori Takahashi matchup in the opener is tough to skip. One question: If Vazquez gets booed at Citi Field, will the Mets fans or Yankees fans be doing the booing? Or both?

2. The Rays are the best team in the better league, or at least they have been so far. The Astros are the worst team in the worse league, or at least they have been so far. So naturally, they get matched up on the first weekend of interleague play. At least it should provide a nice homecoming for Houston native Andrew Friedman, the Rays general manager, and for Houston natives Carl Crawford and Jeff Niemann, who is the scheduled starter in Rays at Astros, Saturday night (7:05 EDT) at Minute Maid Park .

3. The Reds were the NL's hottest team, at least until they stumbled badly the last two days in Atlanta. The Indians may well be the American League's worst team, and they proved it by losing two straight at home to the Royals. So if the NL truly is getting better, maybe it will show by the time we get to Reds at Indians, Sunday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Progressive Field .
Posted on: December 22, 2009 1:59 pm
 

Is Vazquez the pitcher the Yankees needed?

As general manager Brian Cashman rightly pointed out last week, the Yankees still have every starting pitcher they used on the way to a 52-22 second half and eventually a 27th World Series title.

As Cashman rightly showed with Tuesday’s trade for Javier Vazquez, the Yankees still badly needed to add another pitcher.

Is Vazquez the right guy?

That depends on the answer to two questions: First, will Vazquez handle the pressures of New York better as a 33-year-old number four starter than he did as a 27-year-old presumptive ace? Second, was Vazquez’s outstanding 2009 season an indication that he has figured things out, or a sign that he was just a lot more comfortable pitching in Atlanta for Bobby Cox than he has been at other stops?

No matter what, the Yankees are getting a pitcher who can be counted on for 200 innings. They’ve added veteran depth to a rotation that already has CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, and they’ve set themselves up to allow Phil Hughes and/or Joba Chamberlain to go to the bullpen.

They’ve given themselves a potential fourth starter for the postseason (which they didn’t have in 2009), and a little protection in case one of their big three gets hurt. Remember that the durable Pettitte will be pitching at age 38 by the end of 2010, and the not-always-durable Burnett is coming off pitching 234 1/3 innings and working into November for the first time in his career.

Expect both Hughes and Chamberlain still to go to spring training as starters, but unless someone gets hurt, there’s only room for one of them -- at most -- in the Opening Day rotation. The question of who goes where will likely be asked for months to come.

Other questions must be answered a lot sooner than that -- for both teams involved in Tuesday’s Vazquez-for-Melky Cabrera swap (and for one team that wasn’t). The biggest ones:

-- The Braves always intended to trade either Vazquez or Derek Lowe for a much-needed bat. Cabrera could help them, but he’s not really that bat. So the Braves will take the approximately $9 million they save and keep shopping. They say they still can’t afford Matt Holliday or Jason Bay (and probably not even Johnny Damon), but who does that leave them with? Jermaine Dye? Marlon Byrd? Or another trade?

-- If the Braves believe that the 25-year-old Cabrera can be a long-term answer in center field, does that mean they’d make Jordan Schafer available in a trade?

-- With Cabrera out of the picture, the Yankees will shop for a better left-field option than Brett Gardner. But who will that be? Will they break their promise to cut payroll this winter and jump in on Holliday or Bay? So far, they’re suggesting they won’t, but their history says don’t count them out. Would they reverse course from last week and go back to Damon? Unlikely. So far, the only suggestion is that after adding left-handed hitters Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson (to replace Damon and Hideki Matsui) this winter, they’d prefer a right-handed bat.

-- And what to make of the Angels, who earlier in the offseason lost out on top targets Roy Halladay and John Lackey? They were considered a prime suitor for Lowe, and possibly even Vazquez (although they would have had to buy him out of a no-trade clause and a longstanding desire to remain on the East Coast). They seemed to have a match, with Juan Rivera available to trade. Yet sources said they never truly joined the talks.
Posted on: December 22, 2009 9:52 am
Edited on: December 22, 2009 12:15 pm
 

Yankees to get Vazquez from Braves

The Yankees and Braves have agreed to a trade that will send Javier Vazquez back to New York, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

Melky Cabrera will go to the Braves, along with pitcher Mike Dunn and top prospect Arodys Vizcaino. The Yankees will also get left-hander Boone Logan.

The New York Post first reported the deal this morning.

The 33-year-old Vazquez, who is coming off maybe the best season of his 12-year career, fills the Yankees' need for a proven starter to team with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. The Yankees are still expected to have both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes come to spring training as starting pitchers, but barring an injury at least one of them will open the season in the bullpen.

Vazquez wasn't very good in his first stay in the Bronx, going 14-10 in 2004, with a 4.91 ERA that is still the second-highest of his career. He was included in the Randy Johnson trade with Arizona after the season, then went on to the White Sox before landing with the Braves in a trade last winter.

He found a home in Atlanta, where he was second in the National League in strikeouts (238), and third in WHIP (1.026). The Braves weren't anxious to trade him, but they could afford to move a starting pitcher and needed a hitter, and they found that Vazquez had much more value than Derek Lowe.

Lowe has three years and $45 million remaining on the contract he signed last winter. The Braves were willing to pay some of that money in the right deal, but still weren't able to find anything to their liking.

So Lowe stays, in a rotation that also includes Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Kenshin Kawakami. Cabrera moves into the Braves outfield, and there's a chance that his arrival could make Jordan Schafer more available in a trade.

The Braves still need another hitter, and by trading Vazquez for Cabrera, they've freed up about $9 million. That's not enough to bid seriously for Matt Holliday and Jason Bay (Braves people say both remain out of their price range), but it could be enough to add a second-tier free agent such as Jermaine Dye, Marlon Byrd or Johnny Damon, or to add money in a trade.

Cabrera, 25, hit .274 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs for the Yankees in 2009. He lost his spot in center field when the Yankees traded for Curtis Granderson, but he was still the leading candidate to play left field.

Brett Gardner remains as an outfield option, but it seems almost certain that the Yankees will acquire another left fielder before Opening Day. To this point, they haven't seemed to show great interest in either Holliday or Bay, and they appeared last week to be cutting ties with Damon.

The addition of Vazquez, who will make $11.5 million in 2010, pushes the Yankees' salary commitments very close to $200 million. General manager Brian Cashman insisted last week that the Yankee payroll, just over $200 million last year, will fall in 2010.

The Yankees have said similar things in the past, only to break the promises. But if they keep their word this time, Holliday, Bay and even Damon would almost certainly be out of their price range.



Posted on: December 8, 2009 11:06 am
Edited on: December 8, 2009 12:28 pm
 

Penny, Wolf deals could help Braves

INDIANAPOLIS -- Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez are starting to look a little bit cheaper.

The salaries of Lowe ($45 million over the next three years) and Vazquez ($11.5 million in 2011) haven't changed. But one signing and another near signing show that the price of mid-range pitching is going up again.

Brad Penny, who had a 5.61 ERA before the Red Sox released him last August (and later pitched better for the Giants), signed Monday with the Cardinals on Monday for $7.5 million, with a chance to make another $1.5 million in incentives. And Randy Wolf, who a year ago had to settle for $5 million from the Dodgers, was closing in on a three-year, $30 million contract with the Brewers.

The Braves have been trying to trade either Lowe or Vazquez to get the big bat they need.

Atlanta now has another pitcher to trade, after reliever Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration at Monday night's deadline. The Braves already signed relievers Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, so the plan is to move Soriano. While he could get a large contract in arbitration, he could still have trade value, since teams prefer relievers on one-year contracts.


 
 
 
 
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