After his latest in a seemingly never-ending string of pitching debacles, Javier Vazquez has almost certainly lost whatever remaining supporters he may have still had in Yankeeland. While the Vazquez reacquisition was met with both praise and scorn last December, it was hard to argue logically that the deal didn’t made sense.
Although I myself was slightly dubious about Javier’s pending success in New York, I cast my doubts aside. Instead I argued that trading for Vazquez a second time was one of Brian Cashman’s smarter decisions. Regardless of how any of us felt about Javy, he was a good pitcher in actuality and was just coming off a Cy Young-caliber year. Considering the unlikelihood of the Yankees’ entrusting two rotation spots to both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, it made sense for the Yankees to try and reacquire the veteran innings-eater. At the very least, it seemed reasonable to expect somewhere in the vicinity of 200 league-average innings.
The outlay on the Yankees’ end was minimal — the hacktastic Melky Cabrera was eminently disposable. Arodys Vizcaino was a high-ceiling, super-young prospect. It’s possible that losing him will come back to haunt the team one day. Realistically, there was no way to know the future of a player who hadn’t even graduated from low A ball yet.
More importantly, the Yankees needed to bolster their rotation to compete in what was considered an epic three-way battle for the AL East. Although Javy’s basically done the exact opposite of bolstering the rotation (though Boone Logan has been unexpectedly helpful out of the bullpen), it was the prudent decision at the time. $11.5M later, Javy would be returning to the Bronx for a second stint.
Javy’s return to pinstripes didn’t exactly go as planned. We’re all aware of how “awesome” his April was. He posted a robust 9.00 ERA over 20 IP. He allowed five home runs while opposing hitters batted .309/.398/.580 against him. At the time, seemingly all of the yahoos on the internet were hearkening back to the 2004 debacle. Bad pitching couldn’t possibly be resultant of deteriorating ability. His struggles had to have been indicative of a lack of testicular fortitude for the fish bowl that is New York. Remember all of those endless discussions?
Fortunately for the Yankees, it seemed as though Javy had righted the ship from May through June. He posted a 4.91, 3.23 and a 3.34 ERA, respectively, during those months. His home runs allowed number was still a touch high, but that’s to be expected with Home Run Javy Vazquez. In any event, over the next 93.1 IP, he was the second-surest name in the Yankee rotation aside from the big fella himself.
He accumulated eight of his 10 wins during the May/June/July timeframe, and held opposing batters to .266, .187 and .237 averages during those months. Even better, over that span, his WHIP steadily declined from April’s 1.80 to 1.455 in May, 0.974 in June and 1.113 in July. In June, his strikeout totals jumped to 35 (in comparison to May’s 18), suggesting a possible return to normalcy for the veteran. In other words, those of us who defended Javy were finally being rewarded for our patience. I won’t lie; I did claim victory at that point for choosing the side of rationality over intuition.
Irony, it would seem, is not without a sense of humor. August arrived and the “new Javy” looked a lot like the “old Javy.” The ERA spiked back up to 5.96 with a WHIP of 1.714. Once again, batters delighted in his misery, hitting .282/.358/.573. The HR allowed actually increased (from four to eight) and his SO/BB ratio worsened. The rest is history. Javy became the most expensive long relief mop-up guy in the history of baseball and is now vying for a spot in the playoff roster (undoubtedly for the inglorious last-man-long-relief option).
I for one, have no interest in seeing him the playoffs, regardless of the score. I also have no interest in seeing him on the mound in a Yankee uniform ever again. Perhaps, he will rebound with some other team next season (and for his sake, I hope he does). The third try won’t come at the Yankees’ expense, though. I still believe Cashman’s decision was absolutely correct in bringing him aboard at time. However, now it’s time for Cashman to make another correct decision and cut his losses.