By acquiring Javier Vazquez, the Yankees are addressing one of their more pressing needs this winter: more starting pitching. And by acquiring Vazquez, they sure picked up a good one. Vazquez is coming off the best season of his career with the Braves and was one of the top starting pitchers in the National League last season. On paper, the Yankees now have a starting rotation comparable to that of the Red Sox.
But you have to wonder how Vazquez will fare with the Yankees. Vazquez was a bust for the Yankees back in 2004 and now he will be moving out of the cozy NL East and into the potent AL East. In many ways, it's like moving from junior varsity to varsity. And in that respect, I would expect Vazquez's numbers to go up from last season.
Make no mistake about it though, if Vazquez can give the Yankees 200 IP with 190+ K's, and a 3.75 ERA, then there is no reason why he won't be able to win 15+ games with the Yankees the way this team is constructed.
While this trade does not give the Braves the power bat they were looking for, it does free them of the $11 million owed to Vazquez this season and allows them to become players on the free agent market should they choose too. It remains to be seen if they will be able to pursue Holliday or Bay, but given how poorly both of their markets have developed, the Braves would seem to have a good chance to land either player, especially Bay. At the very least, the Braves should have the funds to re-sign Adam LaRoche or go after Dan Uggla.
And it's important to note that the Braves did not just get rid of Vazquez's contract, but they also got more in return that I thought. Melky Cabrera should be a very useful fourth outfielder/platoon partner for the Braves who can hit for some power and play solid defense. In addition, Cabrera is not projected to be a free agent until after the 2012 season, which is yet another plus for the Braves. Also, Mike Dunn could be a realistic option for the Braves bullpen this season and lemme tell you this, I watched Aroyds Vizcaino pitch several times for the Staten Island Yankees last season, and that dude has phenomenal stuff. Sure he is still a ways away from the majors, but the raw talent is certainly there.