Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vazquez returning to Yanks, Melky off to Atlanta

Vazquez returning to Yanks, Melky off to Atlanta
December 22, 2009 by KEN DAVIDOFF / ken.davidoff@newsday.com

The Yankees are about to re-acquire Javier Vazquez, Newsday has confirmed, in return for a package headlined by Melky Cabrera.

Vazquez, 33, put up his best major-league season in 2009, going 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA for the Braves. He struck out 238 batters in 219 1/3 innings. The New York Post first reported that the Yankees were targeting Vazquez as their fourth starter.

As SI.com first reported, the Yankees will receive Vazquez and lefty Boone Logan in return for Cabrera, young lefty pitcher Mike Dunn and pitcher Arodys Vizcaino.

Most Yankees fans probably don’t have fond memories of Vazquez. The team acquired him prior to the 2004 season, as part of a plan to make the team’s starting rotation younger, and Vazquez put up a 4.91 ERA. Joe Torre didn’t use him as a starting pitcher in the 2004 American League Championship Series, and when Vazquez relieved Kevin Brown in ALCS Game 7, he promptly served up a second-inning grand slam to Boston’s Johnny Damon.

Vazquez has established himself as an innings-eater who has, in general, put up better numbers in the National League in the AL. Now that the Yankees can slot him in the back end of their rotation, however, expectations should be reduced.

Cabrera, 25, put up a solid 2009 season, and he was in line to be the Yankees’ starting leftfielder. It’s unclear whether the Yankees will replace him with a big-money veteran _ Jason Bay, Johnny Damon and Matt Holliday are all still available _ but the Yankees have insisted they’re going to stick to a budget this offseason. Vazquez has one year left on his contract, at $11.5 million.
(Graf) With four established starting pitchers, the Yankees will likely wind up using either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes as the primary setup man for Mariano Rivera, assuming that Vazquez, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte all stay healthy.

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