Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Vasquez/Cabrera Trade and Nick Johnson's Return to NYC
So after a week of pondering the trade between the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves here goes my take. First the trade: the Yankees send OF Melky Cabrera, RHP Mike Dunn and LHP Arodys Vizcaino (along with cash considerations) for P Javier Vazquez and RHP Boone Logan. Now anyone that knows me has heard me say that outfielders are a dime-a-dozen. Only a choice few like the Angels Torii Hunter and the Mariners Ichiro Suzuki not fall under that category. That doesn't mean that I'm not without emotion with this trade.
As much as I feel that you can easily replace outfielders, a home grown player is ideal. Cabrera was exactly that. In prior posts I said that the Yankees outfield was complete with Cabrera, Granderson and Swisher with Gardner as the backup. But knowing how much of a premium starting pitching is I see the value of trading for Javier Vazquez. Though to Yankees fans like myself, the last image of Vazquez in pinstripes was of the 6 RBI scored by Johnny Damon in the game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. Melky Cabrera had an average of .274 in 154 games where he had 133 hits (28 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR) and 68 RBI. Cabrera struck out 59 times and walked 44 times, had an OBP% of .336 and a SLG% of .416 for an OPS of .752 and a fielding percentage of .990 with only 3 errors. I loved the infectious energy that Melky brought to the team but in the game of baseball, there are only a few players that are truly untouchable. With Cabrera at the age of 24 the Yankees trade a potential superstar in the making and two minor league pitchers.
In return for Cabrera, the Yankees get Vazquez, with a 15-10 record with an ERA of 2.87. with 181H, 75 Runs (70 earned runs) 238 K's 46 BB(2 IBB) for a WHIP of 1.026. The Yankees also get Boone Logan who with the Atlanta Braves was 1-1 with an ERA of 5.19 with 21H, 12 Runs (10 earned runs), 10 K's 12 BB (3 IBB) for a WHIP of 1.731. Vazquez brings to the Yankees a starting pitcher who will compliment C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettite and match up solidly with the Boston foursome of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. The trade also gives the Yankees the option of making either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes the permanent 8th inning option or the 5th starter. Logan replaces the traded Phil Coke in the Yankees bullpen.
In a separate move, the Yankees signed 1B Nick Johnson who with the Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins in 2009 hit for an average of .291 in 133 games where he had 133 hits (24 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR) and 62 RBI. Johnson struck out 84 times and walked 99 times, had an OBP% of .428 and a SLG% of .520 for an OPS of .942 and a fielding percentage of .989 with 12 errors. I've always said that I hated to see Nick Johnson traded to the Montreal Expos prior to the 2004 season (along with Juan Rivera and Randy Choate for Javier Vazquez). I always believed that the Yankees were better off resigning Tino Martinez after the 2001 season and having Johnson apprentice under him than signing Jason Giambi. If Johnson stays healthy, he gives the Yankees depth not only off the bench at 1st, but also at the plate as a DH who fits the profile of the patient Yankees hitters. But staying healthy is the key. I'm not sure if the trade for Cabrera opens the door for Johnny Damon's return but if his agent is willing to lower his demand... We'll see.