Javier Vazquez

December 22, 2009 by USA Post 

Javier Vazquez:Moving aggressively to fortify their rotation, the Yankees have acquired the right-hander Javier Vazquez from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for outfielder Melky Cabrera, the left-handed reliever Mike Dunn and a prospect. The Yankees also received Boone Logan, a left-handed reliever, in the deal.

Vazquez will join C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte in a rotation that will be loaded with strikeout pitchers. Vazquez had 238 strikeouts last season, second to the Giants’ Tim Lincecum in the National League.

Vazquez was 15-10 with a 2.87 earned run average for Atlanta last season, and has been among the most durable starters in baseball for more than a decade. In the five seasons since the Yankees traded him after the 2004 American League Championship Series, Vazquez is one of only two pitchers with 1,000 innings and 1,000 strikeouts. The other is Johan Santana of the Mets.

Vazquez was an All-Star for the Yankees in 2004, but he crumbled in the second half of that season, culminating in Game 7 of the A.L.C.S., when he gave up two home runs to Boston’s Johnny Damon, including a grand slam. His reacquisition has made for a pinstriped game of musical chairs.

Damon played the last four seasons with the Yankees, a tenure that ended when the Yankees signed Nick Johnson to be their designated hitter. Johnson is in town for a physical, and if he passes it, his one-year, $5.5 million deal will be official. Johnson was originally a Yankee, but was traded to Montreal for Vazquez after the 2003 season.

Vazquez will make $11.5 million in 2010 in the final season of a three-year, $34.5 million deal. According to The Post, the prospect the Yankees are sending to Atlanta is the right-hander Arodys Vizcaino, 19, who was 2-4 with a 2.13 E.R.A. in 10 starts for Class A Staten Island last season. Vizcaino was rated the team’s third-best prospect last week by Baseball America.

As for left field, Cabrera was expected to be the starter, and without him, the Yankees could turn to Brett Gardner, who had 26 steals and a .345 on-base percentage. Their payroll is nearing $200 million, a level they did not want to exceed, and I was told last week that the difference between Johnson’s salary and Damon’s expected salary would make it easier to acquire a starting pitcher. That is exactly what happened.

Because they’re the Yankees, it’s tough to rule anything out. But the notion that the Yankees simply must go out and splurge on Damon or Matt Holliday to fill left field is silly. They have won the World Series with Chad Curtis, Ricky Ledee, Shane Spencer and, yes, Brett Gardner in the outfield. If they give the job to Gardner or sign a stopgap/supersub kind of guy, like Mark DeRosa, it would not surprise me at all.

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