The clock strikes midnight on Vazquez

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Yep, you stink. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

You could see it happening. It was that ugly seventh inning of last night’s game, the inning when starter turned mop-up man Javy Vazquez fell completely off the rails. A walk then three consecutive hit batters to force in a run. That from a guy who had hit four batters in his first 149.2 innings of the season and has demonstrated good enough control to unintentionally walk just 2.1 batters per nine innings pitched this century. The game was basically lost by that point anyway, but in the big picture it was the moment that Vazquez lost any chance to ever pitch another meaningful inning in pinstripes. What happened in the last two innings was completely irrelevant, his fate had already been decided.

I wanted to like Javy, and I still do like him actually. He’s an extremely nice and self-deprecating guy, or at least he comes across that way in interviews, but that doesn’t count for anything on the mound. While I certainly appreciate that mid-season stretch when he was arguably the team’s best pitcher, he’s been basically unusable since mid-July. The Yanks tried tinkering with his mechanics, tried giving him extra rest, tried him in the bullpen, but the results just aren’t there any more. The stuff, to put it kindly, has deteriorated to junk, and he hasn’t been able to adjust to it yet.

That’s not to say that Javy is a lost cause forever, remember it took Mike Mussina a year or so to figure out how to pitch with his mid-80’s gas. But for the Yankees, that’s it, any chance Vazquez had at redeeming himself was washed away when that curveball hit Kelly Shoppach in the back to force in a run last night. There’s almost no chance of him making the postseason roster even as the “break glass in case of emergency” 11th reliever, there’s absolutely no chance of the Yanks offering him arbitration after the season even though he projects to be a Type-A free agent (by the skin of his teeth).

Sure, Vazquez will throw some garbage time innings when they’re resting the regulars next week, but if it wasn’t obvious before, it is now. He’s just too unreliable for a team trying to win a World Championship, and he won’t get another opportunity to prove himself. It’s kinda sad when you think about it, especially since the trade was pretty well-received at the time. The Yanks gave up so little for a guy that seemed certain to give them 200 innings of at least average pitching. Arodys Vizcaino had never pitched in a full season league, Mike Dunn is a usable bullpen piece but hardly a shutdown reliever, and Melky Cabrera was about to get super expensive ($3.1M salary this year [!!!], and just think, if the Melkman was still around, he’d have taken at-bats away from Brett Gardner). All three were easily replaceable, and effectively have been already.

Anyway, back to Vazquez. The anti-Javy crowd that maintain that he can’t handle New York will think they’re right when in reality it was just his stuff that betrayed him. The fastball velocity is gone, the breaking ball doesn’t bite anymore, and the changeup isn’t as effective as it used to be because the fastball isn’t there to back it up. It’s gone downhill so quickly that I can’t help but wonder if he’s hiding an injury. And if he is I guess it’s admirable, but he did himself nor his team any good by pitching through it.

If an offseason of rest manages to help him get healthy, some East Coast National League team is going to get a pretty sweet deal when they sign Javy for one year and about $4M this winter (my money’s on the Marlins, nice and close to his home in Puerto Rico) and he gives them bulk innings against lesser competition. Either way,  last night was almost certainly the last time he’ll ever pitch in the Bronx as a member of the Yankees, and ironically enough, there weren’t enough fans left at the park to boo him off the mound.

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  • Yank the Frank

    I read in the papers this morning that Javy said that he thought his control was alright. Meh, I don’t get it. Good luck Javy.

    • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

      Pretty sure that was just self-deprecating humor. He knew he was awful, but what can he say? He knows he’s on borrowed time right now. He’s not going to be on the postseason roster, nor back in pinstripes next year, and his manager clearly has no faith in him at all.

  • http://www.mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    I stopping following the game during his blowup last night. When I went back and checked the box score I couldn’t believe how he finished in the 8th and 9th. Meaningless in the grand scheme, but at least he didn’t have to come off the mound feeling truly defeated.

  • forensic

    Same as I felt before the season, if he never throws another pitch in pinstripes it’ll be too soon.

    Unfortunately, I still believe Girardi will find a way to get him on the postseason roster. I was wavering a little until I saw the way he responded in the post-game press conference when (I assume Wally Matthews) asked why he left him in the game, and he reacted like there wasn’t a single other arm in the bullpen that he could’ve gone to, reponding along the lines of ‘Who else could I use? No one was available’. Um, Sanchez, Brackman, Mitre, Albaledejo, Bueller, etc… were available. Where’s the harm in seeing if they at least have a stronger pulse than Javy?

    • RR

      Right… you would imagine, give the young arms some playing time, since Javy is clearly a lost cause this season. Sanchez was warming up, I kept watching the game because he would get a chance. Girardi has been making some odd pitching decisions.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        At that point, though, it was 10-3. Might as well let Javy keep soaking up the meaningless innings and save all the rest of the bullets for the 9 games left against Boston and Toronto.

        • forensic

          But that leaves maybe one game for each of them to pitch. Wouldn’t you rather get a look at 2 games instead of wasting time with Javy?

          You figure 4 or 5 of those 9 will be pitched by the big boys holding a lead (hopefully…). That leaves only about 4 games for the others. Also, if you think they’re going to keep Nova on the postseason roster instead of Javy, then you have to figure on him getting one relief appearance next week to get a feel for relieving and warming up.

          Just seems like last night was a wasted opportunity.

  • http://dontbringinthelefty.blogspot.com Lucas AA, aka don’t_bring_in_the_lefty

    You mention Mussina … his 2007 season actually wasn’t all that terrible. His BB/9 was 2.07, and his BABIP was .340.

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      But can’t you attribute the high BABIP to him refusing to pitch inside so hitters were looking middle-away, therefore making better contact?

      • http://dontbringinthelefty.blogspot.com Lucas AA, aka don’t_bring_in_the_lefty

        He pitched inside in 2008, and his BABIP was .322.

  • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

    I liked the Javy trade and I actually still stand by it. The few months that he was the Yankees best pitcher far outweighs anything Melky could have given the team, and Logan has been a nice surprise. If Arodys turns into a great SP then I’m sure I’ll end up regretting it, but for now… no.

    I firmly believe that if we had obtained Javy a year earlier or never let go of him after 2004, he would have ended up being a great Yankee pitcher. Again, I don’t buy the “can’t handle the bright lights” bullshit for a minute. He fell apart in 2004 and he fell apart in 2010. It had nothing to do with where he was pitching.

    • CBean

      It was a good trade when it was made. No one could have predicted that Javy would fall off so completely.

      • Poopy Pants

        But a lot of people did.

    • ROBTEN

      This.

      It’s much easier to predict failure in sports than it is to predict success. All one can do is maximize the opportunities for success, while trying to minimize the opportunities for failure. And, many times, the nature of sports means that results often remain somewhere in-between.

      For instance, even now the odds are that this trade still helped the team going forward. Melky was going to become incredible expensive for an under-performing player, Dunn is replaceable, and Arodys is still so far away from the ML that it is difficult to bank on him becoming a solid SP. In the short term, the Yankees dealt from a position of strength in an attempt to get better for this season without locking themselves into long-term deals that would effect their ability to be strong players in the free-agent market next year.

      While it might not have worked out the way that everyone expected or would have liked, it’s a model that they should continue, regardless of whether the Javy trade is ultimately declared a “success” or “failure.”

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        For instance, even now the odds are that this trade still helped the team going forward. Melky was going to become incredible expensive for an under-performing player, Dunn is replaceable, and Arodys is still so far away from the ML that it is difficult to bank on him becoming a solid SP.

        I agree with the general gist of your comment, but this probably goes a bit too far. We would have been better off going forward if we still had Arodys instead of Javier, because Arodys would still be an asset that could be flipped for something else we need, while Javier is a sunk cost.

        That being said, part of the calculus as to why it was a good move was the potential while the deal was initially made that Javy himself could be turned into draft picks at season’s end (provided that he didn’t totally implode, which he regrettably did). The thinking was, losing the Arodys asset would be mitigated by possibly replacing him with two new assets when Javy declined arb and signed elsewhere.

        • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

          Well said.

        • ROBTEN

          Good point.

          I agree that Arodys certainly might have more value going forward, even if only to flip for someone else in a later trade. It would have also helped if it were possible to recoup the two draft picks if Javy declined arbitration. In fact, I certainly should have included the possible picks from arbitration in my post.

          However, I do think that this is the kind of trade that you consider including an Arodys-type player in. He’s so far away from ML-ready that any projection essentially remains a best-case scenario while he’s still good enough to get a solid, ML starting pitcher that, if things had worked out, would have helped the team in the short and long terms. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem to have worked out that way.

        • http://www.paychex.com chris c.

          For instance, even now the odds are that this trade still helped the team going forward.

          How in the hell can trading 3 young players for a guy you can’t even stomach seeing on the field be good for the team moving forward? That statement makes no sense whatsoever.

      • http://www.paychex.com chris c.

        “Mike Dunn is a usable bullpen piece but hardly a shutdown reliever”

        Sorry, I don’t agree with this at all. I’ve seen Dunn pitch a few times this year, and he is very close to being the best situational lefty in the game. In his limited time this year, he’s made 19 appearences, threw 16 innings, gave up only 2 earned runs, and struck out 20, posting a 1.16 era. Lefties are hitting .172 vs him, rightees are hitting .179.

        Now I know that’s not a whole season’s worth, and a small sample size, but if that isn’t being a “shutdown reliever” in the chances you’ve gotten, then the term itself is extremely bullshitty.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Oh come on. He’s walked 16 in 16 innings. That’s the exact opposite of shut down, it’s opening the door wide open.

          • http://www.paychex.com chris c.

            His one flaw is walks. He’s still on his way to becoming a major asset out of the pen. Certainly was not just a throw-in to that deal.

            • http://www.mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK

              Haha. You’re funny. Best situational lefty in baseball.

              I like Dunn but…haha.

        • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

          He walks way too many guys and his WHIP is 1.625. We’d be calling for his (and probably Girardi’s) head if he was doing that in the Bronx. I can hear it now, “Why the hell does Girardi keep bringing in this guy in key spots!?”

  • dark side of the goon

    Javy is the least of my concerns right now. The entire pitching staff seems to be a giant question mark. I think Andy and CC will be fine in the post season but the other starters are shaky and the bullpen isn’t a sure thing. I think we cruised last year with 3 starters due to the strength of the bullpen. I’m not feeling confident right now.

    • Jon

      The yankee bullpen with the best era in the american league?

      Huge over-reaction for one game that got away.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Meh, if you remember by the WS no one in the bullpen could reliably get an out other than Marte and Mo. Joba was okay. We still did pretty good for ourselves.

      • Jon

        Meh, that was last year.

        • jsbrendog (returns)

          meh

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            meh

            • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

              meh

      • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned with the Yanks’ bullpen.

        (And I’m not saying the bullpen is bad, all I’m saying is that we can’t counter someone’s concerns by saying ‘well that concern was also valid in another season yet the team won in spite of it.’)

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Who in the Yanks bullpen are you concerned with?

          Certainly not Mo, Joba, Wood, Robertson, or Logan. And they’ll get 85% of the postseason innings, and whomever fills out those last two spots (between Nova/Ring/Gaudin) will barely see the mound.

          • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Again, as I actually pointed out above, I was just taking issue with the response, not commenting on the underlying argument.

            Re the underlying argument, I’m not overly-concerned. There are concerns, sure, but that’s just how bullpens are. While they could be stronger in LHP, I like the pieces they have in the ‘pen and I think they’ll be fine.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              No, I know what you meant and were doing.

              My question wasn’t “ZOMG WHO IN THE YANKS BULLPEN ARE YOU CONCERNED WITH?!?!??! STOP CONCERN TROLLING YOU MORON!!!!”, it was a simple “Who in the Yanks bullpen are you concerned with?”

              No malice/snarkiness/subtext/persuasive-statement-disguised-as-innocuous-interrogative intended.

              • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Ok no worries, needless clarification on my part.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  … meh.

                  • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                    Meh.

                    (Eats hand since no food is within grasping distance.)

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          Fair point, but I agree with what you said about not being all that concerned about the bullpen.

      • dark side of the goon

        I anxiously held my breath last year hoping we could do it…and almost lost faith by Game 2 of the ALDS (until we went into extras and won, then I was pumped for the rest of the way).

        But this year I just don’t have that kind of faith with pitching issues, injury issues, RISP issues, some of Girardi’s managing decisions and a cold Tex. I don’t know. Maybe I’m being dramatic. But Javy doesn’t seem to be the thing I think about most these days.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          I don’t know. Maybe I’m being dramatic.

          You are.

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for

    I agree with moat of what you wrote here except for the trade being generally well received. Here to be sure, but in most of the MSM oriented/non-analytical sites, etc. the “Javy can’t handle NY!” and “But Melky is teh man and Gardener sucks!” crowds very much were in the majority if memory serves. In fact I remember much of the discussion here was aimed at correcting these flawed notions. But the need to correct the flawed notion arose because there was so much hate out there after the trade.

    In any case, I speculated about this OS for Javy in a comment on a prior post. I thought $2 million but I guess you’re probably right – someone likely goes a little higher, perhaps to $4 million, depending on how he does in mop up innings from here on out. That may be a meaningless small sample, but some GM will decide that it’s meaningful. Omar you out there?

  • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

    Disappointing, but no one predicted that he was going to go from 91-92 to 86-88.

    The only thing that annoys me if when people say “How are we going to dumb Javy in 2011!?!” If you’re a Yankee fan and don’t know that he’s a FA after this year then just go away.

  • It’sATarp

    I’d still use him over gaudin though.

    • Yank the Frank

      I’d say it’s a photo finish but I would give it to Gaudin. Regardless, if either one of these guys makes the post season roster you will only see them if we are 10 runs up or 10 runs down.

  • larryf

    68 curve/78 change/88 fastball. The Javy story comes to an end in a few weeks, unless Joe wants to yet again surprise us with his managing of our pitching staff. The headscratching may continue I fear.

  • bonestock94

    Sucks that it failed…again.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Luckily Javier Pt. II won’t have the same sad ending to the season that Javier Pt. I had.

      • billbybob

        That never happened.

      • bonestock94

        I’m not sure what you’re referring to, I was on hiatus.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        It was really sad when he got horribly burned in the volcano fires of 2004, yeah.

      • thurdonpaul

        Huh,what ?

  • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

    Javier Vasquez was primed for a big season coming off last year’s monster year. For shame.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      I wasn’t expecting 2009-level production, just because that was a ridiculously awesome year and expecting that again would’ve been setting myself up for disappointment. But I sure as heck didn’t expect his 2010, which is just sad to see.

      • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

        Even 3/4 of his ’09 would have made a good season.

    • http://www.paychex.com chris c.

      Javier Vasquez was primed for a big season coming off last year’s monster year. For shame.

      Yes, and for the 9,974th time, a National League pitcher is not guarenteed ANYTHING in the AL. Vazquez had previously proven this not once, but TWICE before the Yankees re-acquired him last year!

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    I’ve always liked Javy and wanted him to succeed.

    Here’s hoping he signs with the Nats in the offseason and reestablishes his quality career. Mospeed, friendo.

  • vin

    This is one of my favorite comments from this season:

    Pete says:
    August 14, 2010 at 1:23 pm
    “Thames has been an excellent weapon for this team all year long. I’m glad at least one of Cashman’s many good decisions of this past offseason actually worked out.”

    http://riveraveblues.com/2010/.....nt-1034290

    Cashman did make some good decisions this offseason, but it is remarkable how few have actually worked out.

    Nick Johnson, Javy Vazquez, Randy Winn all made sense at the time (although there was some trepidation by fans for all 3). Fortunately Granderson is reminding everyone that he’s an all-star caliber player, and the trade-deadline moves were perfect.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Fortunately… the trade-deadline moves were perfect.

      (fighting the urge to make a JerZGuy reference)

      • vin

        Well obviously Berkman sucks. And all Kearns does is strikeout. Oh, and Wood is just one pitch away from complete elbow and shoulder reconstruction. Besides all that, the moves were good.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          And the guys we traded away are all studs. It’s going to suck watching Mark Melancon, Jimmy Paredes, and Zack McAllister turn into Mariano Rivera, Rogers Hornsby, and Walter “Big Train” Johnson.

          /Bret’d

          • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

            Arodys Vizcaino will be the next Felix Hernandez!

    • dark side of the goon

      I like Grandy though I was pretty attached to Ajax for a long time and hated to see him go. I think Cash was pissed at Damon for the dance he did at the behest of Boras and was reasonably nervous about Godzilla’s knees and he made the NJ trade, which a lot of people predicted would end horribly and it did. I think Cash sometimes gets too emotional about some things and gets into crazy/reactionary mode(see Igawa, Kei). But Javy wasn’t one of those times. He really had a great 2009 and Cash was smart to sign him. I like Javy too and wished it had worked out. But it’s not Cash’s fault that it didn’t. I’d blame him for other things that didn’t work (Johnson/Igawa) but not Javy.

      • dark side of the goon

        reply fail. ugh

      • pat

        I don’t blame him for Nj either. He basically had three DH options to choose from between NJ, Vlad and Thome. He went with the youngest guy who had played the most games the prior year. Oh well.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          That.

          People act like Nick’s injury history was the only red flag issue amongst all the DH options and Cash stupidly picked the riskiest option. That’s not the case, though.

          In fact, all things considered, Cash probably picked the LEAST riskiest option and just got unfortunately burned.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Clarification:

        Nick Johnson wasn’t a trade, he was a signing; Javy Vazquez wasn’t a signing, he was a trade.

        Other than that, rock on.

        • I am not the droids you’re looking for

          I continue to be impressed with your patience, which is why I took the time to respond to your response, as opposed to taking the time to respond to the errors you rightly corrected. Nicely done sir.

    • http://www.paychex.com chris c.

      “Cashman did make some good decisions this offseason, but it is remarkable how few have actually worked out.”

      Every trade is a steal the day it’s made.
      When two GM’s make a trade and they both call it a WIN-WIN, you can bet your ass that one of them will not be feeling like a winner 4 months down the road. And when Casman makes trades with Dave Dombrowski, he’s always that guy.

  • BG90027

    I still trust Javy more than Gaudin, Mitre or Moseley. I know that’s not saying much but as a result, I wouldn’t completely rule out his making the post season roster. I’d say Nova has nearly locked up a spot now though and Ring’s chances went up a lot last night.

  • http://twitter.com/Mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    I think its kind of funny that with the Yankees old home week push during the off season, the only one that wound up being anything better than a total disaster was Marcus Thames (and Thames has been quite a bit better than that) Nick did what everyone thought he would do and Vazquez has been worse than I think even the most pessimistic would have predicted.

  • http://yesnetwork.com Anthony Solis

    I believe he was a terrible pickup for the Yankees. He has shown struggles back in ’04 and I knew coming again to the Bronx wasn’t right thing for him or the Yanks. We shouldve signed a Type B free agent to get us through the season. I also ho[e he doesnt make the team because he doesn’t belong he has had it shot to prove that he could bounce back from his terrible postseason in ’04 but truly he didn’t impress being very unconsistent. I personally am eager to see him leave after this year! So long Javy thanks for nothing!

  • http://yesnetwork.com Anthony Solis

    Nick Johnson, possibly the worst free agent signing for the Yankees in the last 5 years. I know he only signed a 1 year deal but still only playing in 24 games this season hitting only 2 homers, and AVG. of .167 and a OBP of .388 (why we signed him)was a waste or space on the roster. We could’ve used that $5 million to sign Hideki
    Matsui again for at least 1 more season in pinstripes and knowing that he would’ve still produced for us with the short porch in right. With Johnson;s injruy track record we shouldve known what to expect this year. Ow and by the way how did he get injured?? I know for sure it wasn’t in a game. Nick Johnson is a washed up player, a has been and I and many others think hes never been. He isn’t fit to be a Yankee. So long Nick ow and be carefull you dont want to hurt yourself cleaning out your locker!

    • http://www.mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK

      I laughed so hard I cried.