State of the Yankees update – Javier Vazquez edition
Brian Cashman spent more than 20 minutes on a conference call with the Yankees’ beat reporters this evening, beginning by discussing Javier Vazquez – the first player traded for twice by the Bombers since Jeff Nelson, for whatever that’s worth. Here are the short hops on the state of the Yankees updates, as we summarize the new landscape:
No second half thoughts: Cashman said that Vazquez’s second half of ’04 was not a major concern as the Yankees pulled the trigger on this trade.
“He’s a tremendous pitcher that has a long career of success and durability,” Cashman said. “Really, the second half of ’04 – which was poor – cannot erase the long success that he’s had as a Major League pitcher, both in the American and National Leagues.
“When you sit down and listen to the scouts and have them describe his abilities, and look at his production and how he’s performed, he is one of the better pitchers in the game. We look forward to having him join our staff.”
Back end rotation ripple: Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes will now be in competition for the fifth spot in the rotation, “and whoever loses that competition either goes to the bullpen or goes to Triple-A.” Don’t forget, Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre have to be considered in that mix too. Toss Zach McAllister and Ivan Nova in as well.
“The main focus of what we’ve done today was to solidify, strengthen
and deepen our rotation,” Cashman said. “We went with a three-man staff
as we went for the jugular in the World Series. This staff, if it can
stay healthy, is a lot better equipped right now as we move forward to
not be in a position to have to give the ball on short rest to someone
Dollars and sense for left field: Last winter was “once in a lifetime” in terms of budget. The Yankees have Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann right now to play left field, in what Cashman called “an evolving situation.” They could upgrade (of course … and I’d be very surprised if Gardner is actually the Opening Day left fielder at Fenway Park), but Cashman downplayed the idea of getting a big-dollar free agent like Jason Bay or Matt Holliday.
“I will continue to look at any remaining piece, but it won’t be a big
piece,” Cashman said. “Any speculation about some high-end player who has big ability
and dollars attached on a large scale would be inappropriate.”
It sounds a lot like even Johnny Damon’s offer (two years, $20 million) could be too much. What about the Yankees’ offer of two years and $14 million for Damon? Does Scott Boras dare let his client take a pay cut of $6 million per year to play where it seems like he wants to be?
If not, maybe Mark DeRosa fits? Jermaine Dye’s name was out there in reports too. By the way, the Yankees traded for Curtis Granderson to play center field, so don’t get too creative penciling Gardner into center.
“Pitching, pitching, pitching, and then left field”: Remember that quote from the Winter Meetings? You know, before the Yankees traded for Granderson (OK, and to be fair, before they re-signed Andy Pettitte too). Here’s a little more on the rationale for the Vazquez trade, and why it was OK to subtract Melky Cabrera.
“Trying to strengthen the rotation with quality pitching is harder to do than trying to find someone to play left field,” Cashman said. “Left field is an important portion of the team, but the pitching market is a lot thinner. There might be a lot of choices out there, but the amount of quality choices out there is certainly a smaller list on the pitching front.”
Turning the power down: I was among those who wondered what Granderson will do in Yankee Stadium, given that he hit 30 homers last year playing half his games in Comerica Park, not nearly the launching pad he’ll call home in the Bronx. Turns out, the GM isn’t looking for a whole lot more in terms of power production from the Grandyman.
“Curtis Granderson is not going to hit 40 home runs here,” Cashman said. “He’s going to be someone who’s going to track fly balls down in the outfield for us, he’s going to hit anywhere from 20 to 30 home runs. We know he’s got some power from the left side for us. He’s going to provide solid defense and great athleticism on the basepaths, and complement the rest of his teammates around him.”