“Three days of rest” was a common phrase for me last October, and into November, as the Yankees were forced to employ a thin three-man rotation throughout the postseason, due to the lack of a clear fourth option (well, there were several options, however, such options were far from confidence inspiring). This winter, in order to prematurely preclude this potentially problematic issue, the Yankees opted to further their starting depth by acquiring former Yankee, Javier Vazquez, from the Braves. All it took, in the end, was Melky Cabrera plus two minor-league pitchers (although one of those pitchers – Arodys Vizcaino – was considered one of the Yankees’ best pitching prospects).
In his latest piece, SI’s Sky Andrecheck goes on to dub the Vazquez acquisition as the second best pitching gamble of the winter – Cliff Lee to Seattle is the first, of course – stating that the strikeout out throwing workhorse is “projected to have a 2010 ERA in the high 3.00’s and should be one of the more valuable pitchers around – easily worth his $11.5 million salary.” If one actually looks at the “advanced” numbers (e.g., peripherals, FIP, xFIP, etc.), it is rather evident that Andrecheck’s evaluation could not be more accurate, for Vazquez, despite his well-documented struggles in 2004, has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past three seasons. In fact, as it stands, the 33-year old right-hander might actually be the difference maker in the AL East—that is how important he is to the Yankees this year.
I say this because I know that there are a number of Vazquez detractors out there. I implore those fans to be patient in 2010. As he has done for the majority of his unlucky and underrated career, Vazquez will pitch well this season.
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