Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Um, You Do Realize You Just Traded For Melky And Not Miguel, Right?

  • It had to be asked:
I'm not being smarmy. I'm just making sure that Braves GM Frank Wren is aware that Melky Cabrera and Miguel Cabrera are two different breeds of Cabrera.

On the surface, it appears to be a questionable move for both sides as the Yankees and Braves completed a trade yesterday. The deal went as follows:

To the Yankees: RHP Javier Vazquez; LHP Boone Logan

To the Braves: OF Melky Cabrera; LHP Mike Dunn; RHP Arodys Vizcaino

For the Yankees:

Personally, I would not bring Vazquez back to the scene of the crime after the way his first stint with the club degenerated into a disaster; and I'm not only referring to the nightmare that is rekindled with the dreaded words: "2004 ALCS, Game Seven".

The debacle of game seven was the final insult in a second half crash in which Vazquez went from All Star to train wreck. It was a rapid fall. You need only to look at his 2004 Game Logs to see how horrifically Vazquez was rocked all through July, August and September.

Vazquez has been a durable, innings-eater who should be at least serviceable as a fourth starter for the Yankees. He's not going to be as good as he was for the Braves in 2009. The move to the National League and Turner Field helped him improve from what he was with the White Sox from 2006-2008.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen couldn't stand Vazquez and questioned his mental toughness----an assertion not without anecdotal and statistical merit given his atrocious performances in every playoff game in which he's appeared. He hasn't just pitched poorly in his playoff appearances; he's been non-competitive to the tune of a 10.34 ERA in four appearances, with 24 hits, 18 earned runs and six homers allowed in 24 innings; and it's not as if it was one bad game that rocketed his numbers into the stratosphere; he's been universally horrendous in each and every one of his playoff opportunities. Every one.

It's hard to pigeonhole Vazquez as any one particular thing because he's been so up-and-down in his career. He was a rising star in relative obscurity with the Expos; looked like a Cy Young Award contender with the Yankees in 2004 and fell apart; was traded to the Diamondbacks where he was, at best, mediocre; was then sent to the White Sox where he was bad in 2006 and 2008 and okay in 2007; then he had the big year with the Braves in which he should've won 22 games.

Which Vazquez are the Yankees getting?

Can he handle New York in this second chance?

In the cosmic scheme of things, the Yankees are getting one year of Vazquez for Melky Cabrera and two minor leaguers, so it's not as if they're giving up a key member of the club. They're not going to be asking Vazquez to come in and be the number one or two starter they demanded in 2004; he'll be their fourth starter unless A.J. Burnett's injury bug returns (not a possibility to dismiss out of hand given Burnett's history); and it allows them to finally come to a conclusion with Joba Chamberlain and stick him in the bullpen once and for all. (Of course, they might put Phil Hughes back out there even though it makes no sense when Joba Chamberlain belongs in the bullpen.)

Vazquez's $11 million salary in 2010 is negligible because of the argument (I think proffered by Joel Sherman yesterday) that they were going to have to pay Cabrera about $3 million in arbitration anyway, so that's pretty much a wash for a pitcher from whom they can at least guarantee they'll get 200 innings in exchange for an outfielder who wasn't going to play very much and would never achieve a greater value than he has now.

Even with all of the reasons to make the move, I would've shied away from Vazquez if I were the Yankees. I'm reluctant to indulge in second acts with players who've failed in a certain locale once before. It's like re-marrying a once-divorced spouse----history's proven that if it didn't work the first time, it probably won't work the second time either.

Boone Logan is a lefty who throws very, very hard and will easily replace Phil Coke and more. Logan has fared much better against righties in his career than he has lefties, but he can get both out. This is an underrated pick-up.

For the Braves:

I've had just about all I can take of hearing about the one trade that has made GM Frank Wren appear as if he knows what he's doing. Every time I mention Wren's multitude of missteps on and off the field, I hear the following: Jair Jurrjens for Edgar Renteria.

Fair enough. That was a literal steal. But aside from that, Wren has alienated Braves legends Tom Glavine and John Smoltz; aggravated manager Bobby Cox to the point that Cox wanted to quit last spring; has been so out of touch with reality that he's made aggressive acquisitions when they were foolhardy (Mark Teixeira), and they traded those assets for almost nothing (Teixeira for Casey Kotchman); he almost single-handedly destroyed Jeff Francoeur; and is reviled by the players.

The Braves still have such a deep pitching staff that they're legitimate title contenders next year...if they get a power bat. Wren insists that he's going to get said bat because even he realizes that Melky Cabrera is not said bat----I think.

Despite assertions to the contrary, this trade is more of a salary dump than anything else because the talent the Braves got back is far less than what one would expect they should've gotten after the year Vazquez had and they couldn't give Derek Lowe away because of his massive contract.

Now their rotation will have the question mark of Kenshin Kawakami at the back end; a youngster in Tommy Hanson (don't discount the reality of a sophomore slump and the hitters adjusting to a young pitcher); an angry Derek Lowe; a still returning from injury Tim Hudson (did they have to give him a 3-year deal?); and the sublime budding superstar Jurrjens.

We'll have to see what the Braves do next because judging from Wren's history, I'd be very concerned that he's going to do something stupid in his quest for a bat. There's a history there; the history is pretty extensive; and it's not good.

  • The wheeling and dealing Nats:

I can certainly understand the Nationals wanting to bring in a recognizable name or two to drum up some interest in the club while they wait for the Stephen Strasburg era to begin, but how much better are Jason Marquis, Brian Bruney and Eddie Guardado going to make them, if at all?

Any offense with Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham isn't that terrible and with slightly better pitching, they won't lose 103 games again, so putting a better product on the field is a smart enough idea as long as people don't get carried away and think the Nats are suddenly going to win 75 games.

As for their pursuit of John Smoltz, I have no clue why Smoltz would want to go to Washington and endure 90+ losses when it's reasonable to presume he'd have other options for better clubs in the National League to work as a starter or reliever. Smoltz does still have something left and no one has a right to tell him to retire if he still wants to try and pitch; but if he goes to the Nationals I'd have to question his motives. What's the point?

  • Yeah, I wanted to read about this too...

Here's a teaser line from's "Rumor Central" (I prefer to call it "Imagination Central", but that's neither here nor there):

Rumors: Beane, now running from Moneyball

Anyone who reads me with any frequency at all knows I'd be all over that not just to read it, but to unload on Beane, Michael Lewis, et al if the "rumor" is what the title implies. It sounds like a foundation for hilarity and could be folded right into my continued construction of the ultimate weapon. The problem is that the link leads to ESPN's Imagination Central and there's nothing about Billy Beane running from Moneyball. I've clicked on it again and again to see if there was simply a slight delay in the addition popping up and...nothing.

Isn't it great to be the "Worldwide Leader in Sports"?

With dogmatic, clownish and mean-spirited bloggers; clueless and inept reporters (except for Jayson Stark and Jerry Crasnick); and overt buffoonery more interested in palling around with the players and acting inanely like Chris Berman, ESPN is a traveling carnival masquerading as a credible organization to disseminate sports news. They're a farce.

If you're waiting for them to get their heads out of their asses, I suggest you move on because it ain't gonna happen. Ever.

  • Viewer Mail 12.23.2009:

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Jeff Francoeur:

Nice article on Francoeur. If he had Beane's "genius" and Brad Pitt swagger and good looks, I'd make him an Hall of Famer right now. That IS how it works, right?

I kinda like Frenchy's swagger myself.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Javier Vazquez:

No chance in hell the Yankees get Vazquez. One of your best predictions ever!

I was shocked that they went down that road again. As I said above, it does sorta make sense. I wouldn't be so quick to bow to Brian Cashman's judgment on pitchers though. Within a two year period, the Yankees have gone from relying on the three young starters (about whom they were warned by me over-and-over again----it's in writing too) to spending, spending, spending on veterans; dumping Ian Kennedy and shifting either Chamberlain or Hughes to the bullpen.

As for the prediction, I like the quick resolution. I was wrong almost immediately after making it! No ambiguity. We can move on!

Beeeebzy at Pretty In Pinstripes writes RE Frank Wren:

Well, I think we can all agree on one thing: Frank Wren is a freakin' GENIUS! (I hope my sarcasm isn't wasted over the internet).

What's worse? That he's inept or that he's also a jerk?

The "Welcome to Atlanta, Miguel Cabrera!" will have to go back to the printer once he realizes he's actually getting Melky and not Miguel. No refunds, either.

Joe at Statistician Magician writes:

See, a commenting section. Isn't it nice? :) I updated my blog finally. Don't know how frequently I will do so, but there is a post up! I don't care about the Coco signing as much as you. Because Beane must have a plan. I can't see him spending money without some kind of plan. And Coco is going to track down plenty of balls in that outfield. $5.5 million isn't all that much...

There's a commenting section on my main site and the absence of an any and all comers makes it more of an incentive for people to write something worthwhile.

Just a bit of advice RE updating? If you don't post regularly, even your most loyal readers will abandon you and stop bothering to check in.

With Crisp, I couldn't care less what Beane does aside from the fact that with each bizarre maneuver and passing day, the farce that Moneyball is becomes even more evident and proves my point about pure anarchy being the more logical way to go than trying to boil human beings down to their statistical parts. (That might explain why I'm a Mets fan. Hmmm. EPIPHANY!!!!)

I've gone into the crapulent nature of the statement: "well, he must know what he's doing!". Sometimes people who screw up didn't have a sensible outcome in mind. Sometimes they just screwed up or are doing things because they can't figure out what else to do. Coco Crisp adds absolutely nothing to the A's except more ammunition with which I can blast away at Billy Beane. In that respect, I heartily approve.

Bravesbloggerinlawschool writes RE Javier Vazquez and the Braves:

On first blush, I hated this trade. But for now I'm just going to reserve judgment on it. Second of all, I think its hard to deny the fact that the prospects that Wren got back for Vazquez were greater than the prospects he gave up. So essentially he got a free year of Vazquez, plus upgrade Tyler Flowers (who was blocked at the MLB level by McCann) into a better prospect.

We'll see what this turns into. I've heard everything from AGonz to X. Nady. If it turns into X. Nady, bad move. If it allows this to turn Javy Vazquez into Adrian Gonzalez, without giving up Hanson or Heyward, f'ing amazing trade.

But I guess my overall point is that this just can't be proof that Wren is a bad GM, since he's leaving Javy Vazquez after getting a career best year and getting back more than he gave up to get him.

It's kind of funny that you approved of the Lowe contract, hated the original JV trade, yet they turned out totally backwards.

If you're going to say Wren is an awful GM, you're basically saying that the D. Lowe contract outweighed all the other moves that worked out. And no, I refuse to believe that giving up Francouer for a bag of balls was a bad move until Francouer actually has a full season of being an above replacement level bat.

As bad as Vazquez was over the past five years (ignoring his innings-eating), who could possibly have expected anything more than a 13-10 type year from him even with going to the National League? The guy was great, which makes the get-back of Melky Cabrera look all the worse!

Flowers can really hit if you look at his minor league numbers and he's an on-base machine; you can't judge a trade like that especially with Flowers about to turn 24; his upside is way past Melky Cabrera's and for a catcher? Forget it. Plus he can play first base as well.

Lowe was horrible for most of last year after having been quite good for the Dodgers in the previous four years. Did he hit the wall? Or was he in a slump? Or were his mechanics off? Who knows? The thing about the contract isn't the amount of money itself, but that the $45 million still owed to Lowe precipitated the trade of Vazquez because no one wanted Lowe even with the Braves willing to take a chunk of his salary. It's not an individual contract that I look at when assessing; it's whether a certain contract prevents other necessary moves or causes such things as the Vazquez trade.

I don't see how you can get Gonzalez without giving up Heyward or Hanson (neither of which I would do); the Padres are under no mandate to trade Gonzalez now.

My judgment of Wren has nothing to do with the Vazquez trade; it has to do with his whole body of work going back to his days with the Orioles. I have to question the sanity and/or rationality of an executive with the Orioles who thought he could win an organizational tug of war with Cal Ripken Jr. Then the tragicomedy with how he botched the Glavine/Smoltz situations; the Teixeira trades, etc. His talent evaluation skills leave something to be desired and he's loathed by what seems to be everyone. That's a problem. Say what you want about Omar Minaya, but people like him personally.

With Francoeur, I find it hilarious that when the trade was made, it was almost universally regarded as a win for the Braves. All I heard in response to my saying how much I loved the trade was that "Church is a better player". Well, it didn't take long for the Braves to see what Church was----streaky, with a great arm and a penchant for having brainlock---and decide to bench him. It's not as if I didn't warn you and everyone else about him.

Then when Church gets released, I hear, "the Braves were going to non-tender Francoeur anyway". And now Church is the equivalent of a "bag of balls"? What's the excuse going to be if Francoeur plays as well for the Mets over the course of a full season as he did after his arrival? The guy lit the place up on and off the field. It was like he was let out of prison. Why not just say that the Braves didn't get enough for a player of Francoeur's natural, if raw, talents; they shouldn't have traded him within the division where he'll have a multitude of chances to come back to haunt them; and move on? That would be better than continually moving the goalposts for convenience in defending a move that was ridiculous then, now and in the future no matter what happens.


Gabriel said...

I like League. He would work as a great setup man, provided he finds his 2008 control. I don't know about Morrow, but I'm preparing for a long, long season with the Blue Jays' rotation filled with youngsters.

Jeff said...

"Melky not Miguel" -- Funny stuff!

As for the Statistician Magician, it'd also be wise to know that if someone (like myself) is ignored for four or five months at a time after having asked legitimate questions as to his (Joe's) whereabouts, then said person (me) shouldn't be expected to jump up for joy at the prodigal son's return. So, y'know, don't expect that, Joe. The one thing I detest above all else is being ignored. Having said all that, welcome back, Joe.

I look forward to seeing the "bag-of-balls-off" competition between Francoeur and Church through a whole season. So far, Francoeur is way ahead. The dude actually has a job.

Joe said...

Sorry, Jeff. Rough time of late.

Phillies Outsider said...

I think this trade is just does nothing to stop the Phillies repeating as NL East champs again...
Merry Christmas to you and your family, hope you have fun and enjoy...:-)

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