Friday, November 11, 2005

Decline and fall of Javy Vazquez

Javier Vazquez went in the tank shortly before the All-Star break in 2004 and has not recovered since. Acquired by the Yanks to take over for Andy Pettitte, Vazquez had been a top pitcher on a crap team (Expos) whose makeup and ability seemed perfect for the Yanks -- quiet, tough, durable, power pitcher and young. He tanked in the second half of the season, stank in the playoffs and was rewarded by getting traded to the D'Backs as part of the Randy Johnson deal.

After his 14-9, 4.75 ERA with the Yanks in '04, Vazquez was comparatively worse in '05 -- 11-15, 4.42 ERA. Considering that NL team lineups are at least 11% worse than AL lineups thanks to the DH, and that NL teams have worse #8 hitters than AL teams, he should have lowered his ERA by 15% or more, not 7%.

Vazquez also pitches in a ballpark only mildly hitter-friendly, and a division that contains three of the worst hitters' parks in baseball: Petco, SBC and Dodger Stadium. He also did not pitch in Coors Field this year.

Today, Vazquez made a trade demand. This is a formal process whereby a player traded in the middle of a multi-year contract can demand a trade at the end of the year after he was traded. The team has until March 15 to finalize the trade or must cut him loose to become a free agent, and cannot re-sign him until May. The player can rescind the demand before the trade deadline.

It's a stupid ploy. Vazquez obviously wants out of Arizona, but the D'Backs are just as well off letting him go for nothing: his contract salaries are $11.5M for '06 and $12.5M for '07 and 'Zona doesn't want to pay that to a stiff #4 quality starter. Any other team will want Zona to pay some of his salary to take him off the Snakes' hands.

Money here is on Vazquez withdrawing the demand because he'll never get $24M for FOUR years on the market, never mind $24M for two.

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