Why Javier Vazquez's Trade Back To The New York Yankees Makes No Sense

KP Wee@kpwee1Senior Writer IDecember 22, 2009

ATLANTA - JUNE 27:  Starting pitcher Javier Vazquez #33 of the Atlanta Braves against the Boston Red Sox at Turner Field on June 27, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Associated Press has reported that the New York Yankees have re-acquired right-handed pitcher Javier Vazquez, who spent last season with the Atlanta Braves.

Vazquez will head to New York, with outfielder Melky Cabrera going to the Braves.

Sure, Vazquez had a strong season in 2009, and was one of the top pitchers in the National League. He went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts, helping Atlanta stay in wild-card contention until September.

He even finished fourth in the NL Cy Young balloting.

But haven't the Yankees seen this guy before already?

Back in 2004, Vazquez spent one miserable season in the Bronx, and was one of the culprits in the biggest collapse in baseball postseason history.

Yes, he was an All-Star with the Yankees, but he went 4-5 with a 6.92 ERA (!!) in the second half.

His postseason was even worse, when he got the ball in Game Four of the ALDS at the Metrodome and got rocked.

Ruben Sierra's three-run home run off Juan Rincon rescued the Yankees, however, and New York moved on to the ALCS against the hated Red Sox.

For that series, Vazquez was banished to the bullpen, but still found a way to screw the Yankees.

In Game Three, he relieved an ineffective Kevin Brown in the third inning, and was rocked for two runs immediately.

Fortunately for him, the Red Sox's Curtis Leskanic was even worse, and the Yankees bombed their way to a 19-8 win for a 3-0 series lead. Vazquez was even credited with the victory, but it was ugly:

4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

That was the last time the Yankees would win the rest of the postseason.

The Red Sox won the next three, and in Game Seven, Vazquez once again relieved Brown, this time, in the second inning with the bases loaded.

New York was down 2-0, and called on him to stop the bleeding. As witnessed in the 2003 ALCS against the same Red Sox (ie. the Aaron Boone game), a Game Seven deficit was not insurmountable, as long as the guys on the mound kept the runs to a minimum.

And what does Vazquez do? Serves up a grand slam, on the first pitch, to Johnny Damon, and the rout was on.

And if that wasn't good enough, he served up another two-run bomb to Damon two innings later, after the Yankees had just got on the scoreboard.

In the offseason, Vazquez was dealt to Arizona in the Randy Johnson deal, ending his horrible tenure on the team.

Never mind he's a .500 pitcher (142-139, 4.19 ERA). The fact remains that he's already pitched for the pinstripers before, and he failed miserably.

Okay, so the regular season means nothing when it comes to New York. It's the playoffs that matter.

Well, take a look at his postseason history. His postseason ERA is 10.34. And this includes a start in the 2008 ALDS for the Chicago White Sox, where he imploded for six runs in only 4.1 innings — serving up two home runs to Evan Longoria — in his Game One outing against Tampa Bay.

And didn't White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen — who knows a little about winning, having guided Chicago to its only championship in the last 92 years in 2005 — have an issue with Vazquez last year?

Guillen, who is known to have outbursts about players to the media, criticized him for his lack of performance in big games. The manager said publicly before the start of an important three-game series against the Twins in late September 2008: "He hasn't been" a big-game pitcher, and "that's the bottom line."

(For the record, Vazquez then went out and dropped a 9-3 decision at the Metrodome, getting pounded for five runs in his pitiful four innings of work. In fact, over his final eight starts for the ChiSox, he was 2-6 with a 5.89 ERA.)

If he couldn't get the job done in Chicago, how can he get it done in New York?

And it's already been talked about to no end this past season: Pitchers with bad records in the AL who go over to the NL will have success. See Brad Penny and John Smoltz, who both failed in Boston, but went on to thrive in San Francisco and St. Louis, respectively.

So, to summarize:

1) Vazquez has already failed in New York once.
2) He is not a big-game pitcher and has a woeful postseason history.
3) He's going from the more pitcher-friendly National League to the American League.

And this deal is going to work out for the Yankees?

What's up with that?


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