Adios Javy, it’s been (not particularly) nice knowing you

Home Run JavyAfter 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.

4 thoughts on “Adios Javy, it’s been (not particularly) nice knowing you

  1. I know Melky Cabrera isn't a hall of fame player and isn't going to hit 20 HR's which are so "valuable" from a bottom of the line up hitter but he was a part of a WS championship team and his play last year wasn't bad at all. Toss in the fact that the Yanks gave up a quality young arm which should be considered "valuable" since prior to the season the Yanks didn't know what they had in terms of pitchers in their farm system this trade made little sense. Melky played great D, has a great arm, and as a switch hitter you didn't need to trade for clowns like Austin Kearns or Lance Berkman who aren't any good at all. Trading for a 4th starter was a need but why in the world did the Yankees think Vasquez was the answer? The fact the Braves were willing to part with a guy who had a great year for them should have been a clue as to how invaluabe Vasquez is. He is also a sign of why basing decisions soley on equations is just as reliable as the old school way of thinking. Javy has never and will never win an important game whether it is for the team or himself. Even his good stretch came against terrible teams. When he went up against good to great teams he was crushed.

  2. Well Brian, I'm sure there are plenty out there who share your sentiments.Here are couple points worth considering though:Melky was (is) a fairly limited player in terms of capability. If memory serves, he wasn't even slated as a starter in 2009. He ended up taking the spot back from Gardner after the first month or so (after an injury, I believe). Perhaps, he's a better fourth outfielder than Kearns. Honestly, I'd guess it's probably a push (both offensively and defensively). Just because Melky was a popular member of the team does not mean he was a good fit. Gardner, Granderson, and Swisher are all better players. Trading a 4th outfielder and an unproven low-level prospect for a starting rotation pitcher is almost always the right thing to do. Besides, guys like Golson are essentially doing the same thing and are cheaper alternatives. Non-offensive speedy outfield replacements are a dime a dozen. As for Berkman, he was supposed to be a DH – not an outfielder (to fulfill the role Johnson was originally acquired for). Apples to oranges, dude. On a side note, Berkman has also historically been a very productive hitter.As for Javy, the Braves were getting out of his expensive contract – not so much his abilities. Even if they knew something the Yankees didn't, no one in the Yankees organization expected him to be a CY candidate. Rather he was brought in to provide decent performance over the course of bulk innings which is absolutely what the team needed. Given his historical performance, he certainly should have been able to accomplish this. There was no way the Yankees could afford to risk their bullpen over a full year while 2 young kids found their way as starters. With an aging Pettitte and a sporadic Burnett, the idea was to find a consistent alternative. Javy was the available option who met this criterion.The Yankees assumed he would work out for the same reason every other team would consider him to be an option worth considering. He's historically been pretty good. Many of us forget the times he's had success though for those past instances that we choose to remember where he's been pretty bad (obviously this year was a little different).Referring to statistics over subjective inclination is absolutely the way to go, though. It's rational and methodical. It's just unfortunate things didn't play out differently for Javy. Oh well.

  3. Anonymous

    Austin Kearns can pitch, he had mid 90's mph fastball with a variety of other pitches on his resume, when drafted. Do I hear conversion?

  4. At this point…sure. Why not?!?!

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