|Point-Counterpoint - Javier Vazquez Trade Analysis||| Print |||Send|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on December 10, 2008
Big Deal Moving Non-Big Game Pitcher
The Braves might have won this deal.Â That is, of course, if the Javier Vazquez who shows up in Atlanta is not the same Javier Vazquez who showed up in New York, Chicago or Arizona since leaving the oblivion of Montreal.Â
And thatâ€™s why the White Sox dealt him away. Well that and the tens of millions due to a pitcher who has a reputation for pitching himself out of organization rather than into big games.Â That came to a head at the end of last season when Sox manager Ozzie Gullien challenged Vazquez to show up for just a single big game in September and October.Â Â Vazquez responded to the pressure by getting shelled his last four starts - including one in playoffs.
In none of those games did he last more than 4.1 innings.
Thatâ€™s what the White Sox were dealing away: a pitcher who canâ€™t handle pressure, who the manager and organization felt they couldnâ€™t trust in a crucial situation.Â Even worse, an overpaid pitcher who they couldnâ€™t trust in a big situation.
Thus, the already pitching-rich White Sox could afford to make themselves better by subtraction - but they did a lot more than that.Â They dealt him to a pitching thin organization who in the mind of White Sox General manager Ken Williams way overpaid for a middle-tier pitcher.
To get Vazquez, the Braves parted with top catching prospect Tyler Flowers, infielders Jonathan Gilmore and Brent Lillibridge and lefty Santos Rodriguez.Â Â Flowers who has terrific power (.288 with 17 home runs at single A Myrtle Beach last season) was the player who Williams seemed the most enthusiastic about, saying he could be top catcher for years to come.
But thatâ€™s promise for the future as are third baseman Jonathan GilmoreÂ (who hit .337 at A Danville) and pitcher Santo Rodriguez (who was pitching at a rookie league level last year).Â Â
The only player in the deal with a chance to make the big team this year is 25-year-old shortstop Brent Lillibridge, who struggled at the big league level but possesses a good amount of speed and a hint of power - and probably will be the favorite to win the shortstop position during spring training.
On the balance sheet this was a good deal for the Sox, and unless the Braves can fix whatever is going on with Vazquez in big situations, this deal was a big winner for the budget trimming ChiSox.
Atlanta Wins with New Starter
The Braves in 2008 were a mess, and it began with their starting rotation. They lose co-aces John Smoltz and Tim Hudson to shoulder and elbow injuries, respectively. Atlanta lost Tom Glavine to both shoulder and elbow injuries. Throw in the annual Mike Hampton injury, and it is difficult to think that Jair Jurrjens, a rookie, managed to stay healthy the entire year.
That is what makes this trade such a huge success for the Braves. They need a starting pitcher who can throw 200 innings with good enough numbers to be in the front of the rotation. Javier Vazquez provides exactly that. He has wonderful command, strikes plenty of hitters out and has taken the ball every fifth day throughout his career.
Of course, whenever a team makes a trade, they must send something back. Tyler Flowers, who put up ridiculous Arizona Fall League numbers this year, looks to be a good major league bat. There are concerns about his defensive value behind the plate, which may entail a move to first or designated hitter. If so, his bat obviously wonâ€™t be as valuable. If he did stick at catcher, the Braves would have to find some way to move All Star Brian McCann, who lost 20 pounds this offseason and is signed long term.
Other than Flowers, the rest of the prospects arenâ€™t that amazing. Brent Lillibridge was highly regarded a few seasons ago, but he looks to be nothing more than a multi-position reserve. Santos Rodriguez, a left-handed pitcher the White Sox received, throws in the mid-90s and has some projectability.
This move also gives the White Sox a little bit of payroll flexibility. With about $40 million coming off the books this offseason, Atlanta didnâ€™t need to worry about Vazquezâ€™s price tag, however. This was a solid haul for Chicago, but the Braves came out better in this deal.