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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pinch hitting: Jay Gargiulo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 31, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Now up in the Pinch Hitters series is Jay Gargiulo, who took a look at Javier Vazquez’s career to examine his reputation as a pitcher who crumbles in clutch situations.

Jay is one of two regular writers for a Yankees blog that’s listed in our blog roll, but has a name Sam and I aren’t quite sure we can post in such a family forum. You know the one. The blog started in 2008, but Jay says he has, “hated Kevin Youkilis since he, his hideous goatee and his obnoxious batting stance showed up in Boston in 2004.”

Jay has a professional background in market research analysis, and that guides much of his writing. He’s done more analysis of Vazquez in a longer post on his site, but the nuts and bolts are right here.

———

When the Yankees re-acquired Javier Vazquez shortly before Christmas, many fans were less than enthusiastic about the trade. Vazquez was coming off of an excellent year in which he set career bests in ERA along with K/BB, WHIP and several other peripheral stats and finished 4th in the NL Cy Young voting. There were few complaints about his 2010 salary, or parting ways with Melky Cabrera, Arodys Vizciano and Mike Dunn — although neither of those were trivial concerns — so what was the problem?

Simply put, many Yankee fans consider Vazquez to be someone who “can’t handle pitching in New York,” based mostly on his second half in 2004 during which he racked up a 6.92 ERA in his last 14 starts and pitched his way out of the playoff rotation. His first pitch to Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the ALCS only solidified that reputation. More recently, his former manager Ozzie Guillen publicly called out Javy for not being a “big game pitcher.”

Over the course of his career, Vazquez has excellent strikeout, hit and walk rates for a starting pitcher but sports only a slightly better-than-average ERA of 4.19 and a won-lost record of 142-139. In short, his talents as a pitcher seem to outpace his results. What causes this?

One possibility is that Vazquez gives up hits at inopportune times. After all, a double with the bases loaded has infinitely greater impact on a pitcher’s ERA than one with the bases empty. So how does Vazquez perform with men on base?

LoHud Vazquez graphic

In the chart we provided, tOPS+ measures opposing hitters’ production in each split against Vazquez. From the pitcher’s perspective, 100 is average and lower numbers are better. The results are clear: Vazquez gets hit harder with men on base and hardest with the bases loaded. How does Javy perform in relation to the score of the game? He’s roughly the same when the lead or deficit is between 0 and 4 runs but is significantly better when the margin is greater than four.

Combine the presence of men on base and the score of the game (along with the inning the game is in) — as Baseball-Reference.com’s leverage index does — and we see that Vazquez pitches worse as the significance of the at-bat increases.

Vazquez’s poor numbers with men on base suggest that he may lose something pitching out of the stretch. His tendency to pitch better when the game isn’t close might indicate he doesn’t respond very well to anxiety (which says more about how he is hard-wired than whether or not he’s mentally tough). But does this mean won’t pitch well as a Yankee this time around?

To say that Vazquez can’t handle pitching in New York requires the assumption that the stress resulting from in-game situations is the same as the pressure of pitching for one franchise or another. And anyway, the expectations of Javy are significantly lower this time around. Instead of being earmarked as a future ace after the departure of Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Wells as he was in 2004, Vazquez is only being asked to solidify the depth of a World Series winning rotation.

Furthermore, there’s a major difference between “hasn’t” and “can’t.” While it’s true that Javy hasn’t pitched well under pressure, it’s inaccurate to say that he can’t. As A-Rod proved this past postseason, it’s foolish to brand a player as a choke artist.

The bottom line is that Vazquez is a very talented pitcher who is likely to throw more than 200 innings while maintaining a better-than-average ERA in 2010. He might be frustrating to watch at times, but probably much less so than the Yankees’ previous fourth starter — Joba Chamberlain — was in 2009.

 
 

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80 Responses to “Pinch hitting: Jay Gargiulo”

  1. trisha - OPPC forever - (new lucky picture from last day at the old Stadium) BRING ON THE GHOSTS! January 31st, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I don’t know whether Jay’s expositon has made me feel better or worse. I was one of those people who wasn’t necessarily crazy about the signing, but that was based on both what Javy ended up doing in NY as well as what seemed to be a bit of nonchalance about it on his part at the time. I may go bottom line too quickly with some of this stuff but I believe that some people pitch better out of pinstripes than in them.

    Interesting article Jay, especially with respect to trying to figure out whether it’s Javy pitching out of the stretch that becomes the problem, Javy not handling the pressure of runners on base, or a combination of the two. I agree that the pressure on him this time will certainly be less than it was when he came here the first time.

    As alwways once the Yankees have actually signed a player, I remain hopeful.

    Good article.

  2. murphydog January 31st, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Statistics are not my game so I apologize in advance.

    How does Javy rank against the rest of the Yankee rotation, just so I can figure apples to apples.

  3. JeterJobaCanoFan2010 January 31st, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Ah – Jay G., Joba had an innings limit and a very unusual pitching schedule in 2009. Did you watch Joba pitch in 2007 and 2008?

    He beat Beckett IN Boston 1-0 in 2008. Line score: IP, 7; H, 3; R, 0; ER, 0; BB, 1; So, 9. Under an AP headline “Chamberlain dominates Red Sox” was included: He walked one, didn’t allow a runner past second base and retired his last 10 batters, five on strikeouts.

    I know nothing about Vazquez other than what other fans have posted on these boards. I did find it unusual with his 2009 creds that if he was available another team did not pick him up for a top of the rotation and that the Yankees got him for one year only. Is there something we should know?

    That said, as a Yankee fan I hope that he does pitch well and complements CC, AJ and Andy.

  4. Doreen January 31st, 2010 at 9:54 am

    How to explain Vazquez doing very well – well enough to be an all-star – in the first half of that season? Pitching through an injury is what has been said to account for his ineffectiveness in the second half. Whatever. I always thought that given a second season here, he would have been fine. I thought at the time he was being expected to fill at least 2 pairs of shoes (Clemens & Pettitte) and that is unrealistic.

    At any rate, with a position in the rotation that affords a lot less in the area of expectations, I think Javy will do very well. At the very least, he will give the innings that will safeguard the bullpen from overuse and overexposure. I think it was a good trade, in spite having losing Melky.

  5. bru January 31st, 2010 at 9:54 am

    i for one did not care for the trade & losing melky,viz,etc on top of it

    if vazquez is simply ok while melky takes off & viz turns into an ace the we got burned

    unlikely?
    yes but possible

    if vazquez is the 2nd best pitcher on the team,wins 1 or 2 games in each round of the playoffs & melky bats .270 with 10 hr/60 rbi/.330 obp,viz turns into a number 4/5 pitcher we did well.

    the yankees have done well in not giving up any prospects that turn into stars & i have too trust them now.

    i just am never big on revisiting players that struggled with us in the past

    i love our team now but we knew that damon & matsui would perform in the clutch,we don’t know about vaz,cg,nj & time only will tell

    i like cg replacing damon but i am concerned with him against lefties

    nj gets on base with the best of them but matsui passed every test & is a true number 5 hitter that nj will never be

    what i am curious about is if nj gets hurt & montero is mashing what happens

    miranda,montero dh or do we sign one or trade for one?

  6. murphydog January 31st, 2010 at 10:02 am

    And how does Javy rank (tOPS+) as against other No. 3 or No. 4 starters in the league?

    Or am I missing the point of tOPS+? (It’s very possible that I am).

  7. Rishi January 31st, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Today from Buster on Damon:
    =========================================================

    Johnny Damon isn’t going to the prom

    Saturday, January 30, 2010 | Feedback | Print Entry

    The merits of the New York Yankees’ three-team trade for Curtis Granderson are debatable, and in time we’ll know if the choice of trading some of its young assets in that deal was the right or wrong call. But it’s laughable that the Yankees are taking flak for not working out a contract with Johnny Damon — if you consider what happened, as it happened, rather than the historical revision of those covering tracks.

    Back in early November, the agent for Johnny Damon, Scott Boras, compared Damon to Derek Jeter in an interview with the New York Post and indicated at that time he was looking for a three or four-year deal. Just standard agent posturing? Well, in the hours after the Granderson trade was completed, they moved to seriously engage Damon in talks, and — as reported on ESPN.com at the time — they were told over and over: If you’re going to offer a contract that represents a decrease in salary, don’t bother to make an offer. Damon, himself, told the Yankees that directly. If you want to cut my salary, talk to the hand.

    At that time, the Yankees’ internal discussions were about perhaps reaching a two-year deal, through negotiations, that might approach the two-year, $19 million deal that Bobby Abreu got with the Los Angeles Angels. But the talks never got started; Damon wanted no talks if he was to be offered less money than what he made in 2009.

    The Yankees had two choices. They could sit and wait and hope that Damon came around to their way of thinking — as the Houston Astros famously did with another Boras client, Carlos Beltran, to the team’s chagrin — or they could pursue other negotiations. They believed that Damon didn’t have offers along that the lines that Boras was talking about, but they didn’t know for sure — the Red Sox can speak to that experience, having lost out on Mark Teixeira — and the Yankees’ offer to make offers wasn’t even being entertained.

    So they moved on, pursuing Nick Johnson, who had the highest on-base percentage of any free agent — and they had to move fast, because Johnson was deep into negotiations with the Giants. Johnson was the Yankees’ Plan B to Damon, and given that their Plan A wasn’t even willing to talk, they reached an agreement on a one-year, $5.5 million deal with Johnson.

    It wasn’t until after word of Johnson’s impending deal broke that Damon’s side indicated a willingness to barter, and the Yankees did talk about a two-year concept — which was immediately rejected. But at that point, having reached a verbal agreement with Johnson, the team’s priorities had shifted.

    They had someone in Johnson who could hit second in the lineup, and they still hadn’t addressed their need for a starting pitcher — which they had been willing to put off in their attempt to re-sign Damon. Once Johnson agreed to terms, that changed; the pursuit of Javier Vazquez became their priority, rather than another hitter.

    Last week, Damon reached out to the Yankees, wanting to talk, and so the Yankees again re-engaged the left fielder, offering the money they had left they had under the budget that was set before the winter meetings. Even then, however, they were told that Damon had other options, including multi-year offers. They were told he wanted more than the $6 million package in salary and incentives that the Yankees were willing to pay.

    So again, the Yankees had a choice: Sit around and wait to see if Damon would take those other offers, or move on. The Yankees then filled their left field hole with Randy Winn.

    Think of this like trying to get a date for the Senior Prom, and Johnny Damon as the target who keeps saying no. The Yankees wanted Damon more than anybody else has wanted Damon, and Damon has repeatedly turned them down — for a time, essentially telling them to not even bother calling.

    So they got another date.

    Is that their fault?

    He’s a good guy. He’s a good teammate. He’s a terrific player, coming off a very good season in a park tailor-made for him. With a couple of more strong seasons, he’ll have a good case for election to the Hall of Fame.

    He didn’t want to take a cut in pay, but it appears that the Yankees’ two offers — the two-year, $14 million concept discussed after the Johnson signing, and last week’s $6 million package — might be about the same or even better than what other teams offered. Several prominent teams that needed outfielders eventually decided to pass because of concern that Damon would not be so good in their respective parks, given that his OPS was 120 points lower outside of Yankee Stadium in 2009. The market for Damon has never really developed.

    This just in: The Yankees are not required to pay him what he wants, just as Damon is not required to take what the Yankees offer. They are not required to pay him above and beyond what his value is on the open market. They might have, if they hadn’t been rebuffed time after time in December by Damon and Boras.

    But Damon and Boras seemed to assume that the Yankees would break their budget to keep him and pay him far over market value, and that was their mistake.

    Heard this: Oakland has determined that it is out of the running on Damon and moving on to other things, like the pursuit of veteran outfielder Gabe Gross.

    Mike Lupica thinks the Yankees should spend the money to sign Damon, and within the same column also writes about the Mets.

    Phil Rogers thinks Damon will wind up with the Tigers.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/esp.....ney_buster

  8. Yair January 31st, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Great article. Vasquez is decidedly anti-clutch. For a fourth starter, as you say, this shouldn’t worry us overly much.

    This also shows that Ozzie Guillen does know what he’s talking about on occasion – another instance where careful statistical investigation and day-to-day observation can complement each other. (Unless you preclude the very idea of player’s being clutch or the reverse from the start.)

  9. Rob January 31st, 2010 at 10:06 am

    So you can’t link to Jay’s site but everytime my kid comes to your site he has to look at graphic ads for the local strip club. Real family friendly. What a joke, get over yourselves guys.

  10. murphydog January 31st, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Thanks Rishi.

  11. Carl January 31st, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Thanks Rishi

  12. Rick January 31st, 2010 at 10:08 am

    The Yankees could not have done better for a No. 4 starter that eats innings than to get Javy Vasquez.
    2004 being used as a measure of his previous time as a Yankee is pointless. With the pitching staff the team had that year, Javy pitched through shoulder soreness for a manager notorious for burning out arms, (see Tanyon Sturtze, Paul Quantrill, and Tom Gordon among others).
    I liked Melky as much as anybody else but nothing for nothing in this world.
    Javy Vasquez will bridge the gap in the starting rotation and allow Joba and Phil to continue their development minus pressure.

  13. Joe from Long Island January 31st, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Nice article by Jay. I’m usually not too big on stat arguments, but this one was well presented.

    Like murphydog, I don’t know anything about tOPS+, and I would want to see some construct validity; how do CC, AJ, Andy, as well as other pitchers (Mariano, for instance?) fare with this stat? And how does Vazquez rank against other #4 starters in the league?

    And, in response to a commenter up top, I thought that his salary for 2010 ($11M?) was too rich for the payroll of many teams that otherwise would be interested, hence Cash taking him (one of the advantages of being the Yankees, you can take on some players others can’t afford).

  14. Yair January 31st, 2010 at 10:13 am

    The real question for me is how do Vasquez’s clutch stats compare to John Lackey’s? They have similar overall numbers, career-wise (though not in innings), but Lackey’s rep is as a big game pitcher. Do both common conceptions of the two pitchers hold up? Might go a long way towards impacting the AL East…

  15. Fran (the original) and OPPC member January 31st, 2010 at 10:15 am

    If Vasquez was being brought in to be the ace of the staff I would be nervous. But as a #4 and being healthy this time around, I think it is a good move by Cashman.

    Also Vasquez said he was not comfortable with Torre so having a different manager may help.

  16. Alan January 31st, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Since when does a hoot like Lupica find himself privvy to any real Yankee information ?
    A writer from El Paso, Texas can provide more sensible information than Lupica can ever provide.

  17. Chip January 31st, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Oddly enough I find myself agreeing with Buster.

    The Yankees weren’t going to bid against themselves to just hand Damon whatever he wanted simply because he was Johnny Damon. What were they supposed to do, sit home and wait for him to come around? No, they moved on. Tough luck.

    Speaking of Damon – I find the NY Daily News amusing. Lupica rants for 3 pages about how Cashman saying he has a budget is laughable, talks about how they should still sign Damon to a 2 year deal because the idea of them landing Carl Crawford just shows that the Yankees are willing to buy players so why not buy Damon (Because Damon is old you fool) and so on and so forth.

    Then, a page later, Anthony McCarren lauds the Mets for signing Mike Hessman because he is the real life Crash Davis.

    Look, I have no problem with people having different opinions on the Yankees and Mets etc…but the fact that nearly every member of the Daily News sport’s staff also collects paychecks from SNY (owned by the Mets) makes me question their credibility when it comes to their take on the two New York baseball teams.

    There is even talk of Lupica leaving ESPN’s Sports Reporters for his own show on SNY similar to the one Francesa does on NBC.

  18. Kevin January 31st, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Just because Javy hasn’t been clutch in the past doesn’t mean he won’t turn it around. Look at Arod and CC, before the season started everyone said they weren’t clutch and wouldn’t be able to get it done in the postseason. How did that turn out. To say a person hasn’t been clutch is fine but to say it was a bad trade already before he has even thrown a pitch is insane.

  19. murphydog January 31st, 2010 at 10:33 am

    “There is even talk of Lupica leaving ESPN’s Sports Reporters for his own show on SNY similar to the one Francesa does on NBC.”

    Besides the Mets, another reason not to watch SNY.

  20. Captain Chaos January 31st, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Jay nice analysis of Javy’s problem. Pressure is always difficult to handle in New York; however, if you come in with a known problem you are asking for trouble, sans his first tour with the Yanks. Ameliorating this by pushing him down on the depth chart will help, unfortunately even the 4 or 5 slot still face important games. Will he do better than our parade of back end of the rotation guys last year. Time will tell, I think (just my opinion) that Hughes will be our #5 but will likely out perform Javy should do no worse than what we had so… we are better. Good move in my opinion as we need someone in the rotation that will tied us over until some of our young talent becomes available.

  21. upstate kate January 31st, 2010 at 10:39 am

    The 2004 collapse was by no means all Javy’s fault. I would hope Yankees fans would realize that…otherwise they are no better than red sox fans blaming poor Bill Buchner all those years.

  22. Frank January 31st, 2010 at 10:44 am

    For my money, Vazquez is the 2nd best starter on the team behind Sabathia, though some of Jay’s presentation here gives me pause. It would definitely be interesting to see a similar presentation on Pettitte and Burnett. My guess is Pettitte will measure much better with men on base and in tight games. Burnett? I’d guess he too is better with men on, but not necessarily better in tight games.

    One thing I would suggest is that Vazquez allowing fewer baserunners than both Pettitte and Burnett mitigates the problems he may have with runners on base, when doing a comparision.

    Also wonder whether there is something in his delivery out of the stretch that causes him to be ineffective (beyond the obvious) and whether the coaching staff might be able to help correct/improve upon it?

    Nice piece Jay.

  23. Backbench January 31st, 2010 at 10:46 am

    As Jay indicated, Javy may not be comfortable pithing from the stretch for one reason or another, and this is ‘in his head.’ He puts additional pressure on himself and things spiral out of control from there.

    CMW seemed to have the same challenge. Matzuzaka, on the other hand, seemed to relish the challenge in 2008.

    Given the dramatic number of runs Javy seems to give up with men on, is there any reason to simply forget about going from the stretch? How much worse could a stolen base be?

    Just asking.

  24. pete January 31st, 2010 at 10:48 am

    great post. I agree, the information suggest, above all, that Vazquez has some issues pitching out of the stretch. He does a pretty good job keeping guys off the bases, though, and while he may give up a big hit or two most games, he typically goes 7 innings, and our offense is more than capable of bailing him out of 4 ER starts, especially if he’s pitted up against other teams’ 3rd/4th/5th starters. I expect Javy to be around a 4.15 ERA with about 200 innings. I actually see him and AJ ending up with very similar overall numbers, while I think Andy may take a step back this year, and be around 175/4.50. I think CC will maintain his dominance, and I think Joba will take a pretty big step forward, going around 175/3.90. When our offense (and improved defense) is considered, I have absolutely no worries about this team.

  25. Joe from Long Island January 31st, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Thanks, Rishi, for posting that Olney article.

    Pride is one of the deadly sins. If Damon had been willing to put his ego aside, and deal in the real world – seeing what happened to Bobby Abreu last year and this, and what happened with Andy Pettitte – then a contract with the Yankees could have been wrapped up before Thanksgiving.

    And I put this on Johnny, not Boras. Boras is merely the agent. If Damon had told Boras to get a deal done with the Yankees, it would have happened.

  26. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 10:51 am

    2004 wasn’t Javy’s fault AT ALL.

    He was put in an untenable situation.

    Why would you bring in a starter – and a RHP prone to the long ball,in Yankee Stadium with its short right-field porch, to pitch to a guy who had success off him – a left-handed hitter, no less, with the bases juiced???

    Excuse me, Joe Torre: know your pitcher, know your stadium, know your batter, know the history of the pitcher/batter, and understand that it’s no spot for a FB pitcher who is also a starter, not a reliever.

    Javy is, IMO, absolved of all blame: he was set up, by his manager, to fail.

    Now, if Javy had been named the Game 7 STARTER, rather than Brown, I would not have had the forboding I did going into that game. What an ABYSMAL call – and EVERYBODY knew it but Torre.

    Anyone laying that loss at Javy’s feet is sorely misguided, and simplistic in their understanding to a fault.

  27. Doreen January 31st, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Rishi -

    Thanks for that. Makes me pause quite a bit.

  28. Bronx Jeers January 31st, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Think how hard the pen worked last season in Joba’s starts.

    He didn’t make it to the 6th inning 18 times last season. I think 5 of those were by design but even in those starts he came up short often reaching his max. pitch count too early.

    Think about the 5th starters and how often they came out of the game early. Wang, Mitre, Hughes, Gaudin. Hughes was probably the most effective and even he only pitched 6 innings twice. Mitre did it once. Wang never did it. Gaudin twice.

    Bottom line? The Yanks 4 and 5 starters only pitched 6 innings in about 30% of the games they pitched.

    That’s a lot of extra innings the BP were forced to pitch.

    Javy Vasquez has the ability to cure that problem.

  29. Drive 4- 5 January 31st, 2010 at 10:53 am

    The fact that Vazquez pitched in a Yankee uniform at the 2004 All Star games is often overlooked. When healthy he was fine.
    Here’s a piece of All Star trivia: Who did Vazquez succeed in the 2004 All Star game?

    Answer: CC Sabathia

    How cool would it be if the same holds true in 2010?

  30. Jay Gargiulo January 31st, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Thanks for the kind words, folks.

    For those asking about other pitcher’s stats in similar situations, it’s actually pretty easy to look up at Baseball-Reference.com.

    Go to a player’s page, click on “Splits” and select “Career”. You have to scroll down a ways, but the three main headings for this information are “Bases Occupied”, “Clutch Stats” and “Leverage”.

    Here’s A.J. Burnett for starters:

    http://www.baseball-reference......;t=p#bases

    You can look at those same stats for individual years, but the sample size is too small to be reliable so you can’t read too much into year to year fluctuations.

    One thing that I didn’t mention in the post is that this information could be actionable to Joe Girardi. If Vazquez puts men on base in later innings, he could prevent some of the damage by having a quicker hook then he does with other starters, for example.

  31. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Nice post, BTW. Although I am always leery of conclusions based on statistics, if those are meant to support the intangible, allegedly emotionally driven, outcome – in other words, what I consider to be ultimately insupportable.

    Just want to add that I did not and don’t like this trade, even though Javy will be fine. I would prefer having the effortless Vizcaino in the system, and Melky Cabrera in the lineup. Dunn is a lesser concern, but he does have an electric lefty arm, so there is some loss there, as well.

    Just re-stating my response to the trade.

  32. bru January 31st, 2010 at 10:56 am

    when vazquez pitches a big game & gets it done like pettitte has done throughout his career & burnett did last year we can compare them

    i don’t care about the era,strikeouts,innings vazquez right now is not on the same planet as pettitte until & unless he builds a similar resume

    pitchers like pettitte have an inner strength that allows them to overcome every obstacle too reach the mountain top
    pettitte has done it,vazquez has not

    pettitte might not be a true # 1 pitcher but he has pitched like one throughout his career in big games

    who do you wan’t pitching a big game,pettitte or vaz?

    pettitte 10 out of 10 times

  33. Joe from Long Island January 31st, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I gave up regularly reading Lupica years ago. Talk about pride and ego. Some people, like Joe West, the umpire, insist on making themselves the story, instead of the game and players. I think Lupica is an example of that.

    Writers/reporters who are professional and objective, who know the focus is the game and the guys who play the game, and do not push a personal agenda – are the most pleasurable to read. Thankfully, there are many out there who fit this bill, inclulding our own Chad and Sam.

  34. David in Cal January 31st, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I’m not crazy about the Vazquez trade because we got only 1 year of Vasquez, at a cost of several years of Melky and Vizcaino. Nevertheless, I think the trade makes the Yanks considerably stronger for 2010. Melky and Gardner are about equal. Gardner full-time should be about as effective as a platoon of Melky and Gardner. The only cost in 2010 is a reduction in outfield depth.

    Jay’s excellent post tells me that Javy’s ERA may be more predictive than his peripheral stats. His lifetime ERA+ of 107 means has has been a slightly better than average pitcher. That’s OK for a #4. He was a lot better than that in 2009 and 2007, so there’s some hope that in 2010 he’ll be better than his lifetime average. Note that prediction models based on the last 3 years show to Javy’s advantage, because of his excellent 2007 and 2009.

    BTW AJ Burnett’s lifetime ERA+ of 110 is only a little better than Javy’s, making him below par for a highly paid #2, but that’s another story.

  35. Kevin January 31st, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Don’t forget we will most likely offer Javy arb. at the end of the year.

    So we might have him for two years and if not we will get two draft picks. Those picks might be able to replace a guy like Vizcaino.

  36. rover January 31st, 2010 at 11:03 am

    It is reasonable assumption that the out of the stretch has its costs more for some than others. Attempting to be to careful with runners on, in place of just bringing it could also contribute. Fishing for the corners etc can get a pitcher in trouble. Could be he doesn’t challenge as much or well with guys on. I prefer I a guy who says you may beat me but you will need to hit my best stuff to do it. so here it comes.
    As a four or five starter maybe he will be enough leads that he can feel good about challenging instead of possibly picking.

  37. Carl January 31st, 2010 at 11:03 am

    You can bet someone on the Yanks is making the All-star team because Joe G is the manager this year regardless of votes :)

  38. Drive 4- 5 January 31st, 2010 at 11:04 am

    bru,

    “who do you wan’t pitching a big game,pettitte or vaz?

    pettitte 10 out of 10 times”

    Make that 7 out of 10 with the other 3 being when the Yanks have enough of a series lead to rest Andy an extra day.lol

    True. Vazquez has never shown as much fortitude as Pettitte, but here’s an opportunity for him to prove he can do it. Vazquez has pitched well when healthy and he made an All Star team as a Yankee.

  39. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 11:05 am

    The fact that Vazquez pitched in a Yankee uniform at the 2004 All Star games is often overlooked. When healthy he was fine.
    ===

    That’s the truth, but it’s not sexy in a Culture of Blame.

  40. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Bronx,

    Got your pics and sent some, too.

    Thanks :D

  41. murphydog January 31st, 2010 at 11:07 am

    http://www.baseball-reference......=&t=p

    See: Sabathia tOPS+ Bases Occupied, clutch, etc.

    2009 Leverage: High, Medium, Low

    CC: 99, 111, 86

    AJ: 106, 96, 102

    Pettitte: 95, 96, 108

    Javy: 120, 100, 92

    Lackey: 91, 72, 145

    Beckett: 142, 102, 83

    Lester: 101, 85, 125

    Laptops: 74, 94, 119

    Dice K: 27, 116, 116

    Draw your own conclusions, number of 2009 games pitched and number of each situation varied. One statistic should not be used in isolation or without context to evaluate a players’ overall performance. Plenty of other stats to glom onto at baseball-reference.com

  42. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Dave in Cal,

    The assumption that Gardner will produce like Melky is a shaky one, IMO.

    Melky has a better bat, and has always been able to hit breaking pitches. He’s also a switch hitter who can drive the ball line to line. Gardner will have to manufacture “hits” to take advantage of his speed – he doesn’t have much hitting talent, IMO, including a much slower bat. I hope he changes his approach at the plate and learns to bunt, as I, and others have expressed ad infinitum. If he can lose that upper-cut swing that will never produce ground balls, and hit the ball on the ground, and learn to bunt, he can be very useful. There’s a lot of: “If he can…” and “If he can…” here that isn’t the case with Cabrera.

    We will see.

  43. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Kevin
    January 31st, 2010 at 11:01 am
    Don’t forget we will most likely offer Javy arb. at the end of the year.
    So we might have him for two years and if not we will get two draft picks. Those picks might be able to replace a guy like Vizcaino.
    =====

    We might – the potential two Type A picks are certainly some consolation.

    And I know the Yankees feel Jose Ramirez and Chris Cabrera have similarities to Vizcaino.
    But my point is, I’d like to have all 3 of those guys in the system, and the easy motion that Viz throws with, and the way the ball explodes – at his tender age -and the arsenal he already possesses, among other attributes which I won’t repeat here, may bring acute regret.

    He has a long way to go in terms of leagues to cross and cover, but that’s no salve, because his stuff is that good. Barring injury, he’ll move fast, very fast…. For Atlanta, unfortunately.

  44. Rose January 31st, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Javy will be fine as the 4th starter. He is an innings eater and will get good run support from the Yanks.

    As far as Lupica is concerned, he is a Yankee hater. In his newspaper columns he always takes shots at them. Can’t stand him.

  45. Kevin January 31st, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Bodhisattva – Destiny Wears Pinstripes
    We might – the potential two Type A picks are certainly some consolation.

    And I know the Yankees feel Jose Ramirez and Chris Cabrera have similarities to Vizcaino.
    But my point is, I’d like to have all 3 of those guys in the system, and the easy motion that Viz throws with, and the way the ball explodes – at his tender age -and the arsenal he already possesses, among other attributes which I won’t repeat here, may bring acute regret.

    He has a long way to go in terms of leagues to cross and cover, but that’s no salve, because his stuff is that good. Barring injury, he’ll move fast, very fast…. For Atlanta, unfortunately.
    ———————————————————-

    I’d love to have all three as well but Vasquez+ramirez+C. Cabrera+2 picks>>>Vizcaino+Ramirez+M. Cabrera+C. Cabrera

  46. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 11:27 am

    But he’s so transparent in his anti-Yankee agenda, Rose.

    Who cares what he has to say?

  47. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I’m sure that’s how the Yankees see it or hope it plays out.

    I remain unconvinced.

  48. Kevin January 31st, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Bodhisattva – Destiny Wears Pinstripes
    January 31st, 2010 at 11:30 am
    I’m sure that’s how the Yankees see it or hope it plays out.

    I remain unconvinced.
    ————————————————————

    Who was the last NYY prospect you regret trading?

  49. whatever January 31st, 2010 at 11:42 am

    i dont like his stuff, never have.. his stuff is more suited for the NL where he can get away with his fat 92 mph fastballs.. that aint working in the AL.

  50. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Considering our farm system has only revived over the last few years, there’s not much to regret.

    I would have preferred to hang on to Tabata, despite the vigil for his power. Having seen him live many times, I believe he will be a very good hitter – he has hitting instincts that can’t be taught.

  51. Alex Anthropologist January 31st, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Who was the last NYY prospect you regret trading?
    ======

    They’re bound to be wrong, sooner or later

  52. John Doe January 31st, 2010 at 11:46 am

    “hated Kevin Youkilis since he, his hideous goatee and his obnoxious batting stance showed up in Boston in 2004.”

    I can barely even look at the guy, let alone watch him wiggle his body around as he hits. The funny thing is that when I lived in Mass everyone always talked about how he looked like he was gonna cream the ball. I imagine something entirely different when I watch him hit, although cream is definitely still involved

  53. Betsy - Romine wasn't built in a day January 31st, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Um, Buster, the merits of the Granderson trade are NOT debateable, lol

  54. Bronx Jeers January 31st, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Lupica, the last umpteen years? “The Yankees do nothing but spend. A billion dollars…No titles. Whine, whine, whine”

    Lupica now? “Budget this! Get Damon!”

    The verdict?

    Lupica gave up being an objective sports journalist a long time ago.

    Since then he writes about whatever he feels is the lowest common denominator opinion of the average Yankee fan. Whatever sells the most newspapers. That’s his opinion.

    I don’t even think he gets THAT right anymore.

  55. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 11:49 am

    They WERE ALREADY wrong when they tried to swap Robinson Freakin’ Cano for Randy Johnson.

    Thank goodness for the mutual ignorance – Arizona didn’t want Cano.

  56. Kevin January 31st, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Tabata has had off the field issues though which we don’t know if that will derail his development.

  57. Betsy - Romine wasn't built in a day January 31st, 2010 at 11:51 am

    That said, thank you Buster for laying it on the line. Why can’t other mediots see it that way? The Yankees tried, more than once, and Damon (not a Damon hypnotized by Boras, but a Damon who actually knew what he was doing) rejected them. If he ends up with a lesser deal in a place he doesn’t really want to be, too bad

  58. Betsy - Romine wasn't built in a day January 31st, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Rishi, thanks for posting!

  59. Rich in NJ January 31st, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    “Who was the last NYY prospect you regret trading?”

    The Yankees had so few picks and/or drafted so poorly between the late ’90s and 2004 or so that they were unlikely to get hurt by trading prospects. As the farm system has improved under Cash (and they sign more IFA), the prospects they trade are more likely to to have good careers.

    The reason I have reservations about trading Vizcaino is that according to some observers, like Dave Cameron, the Yankees gave up more for one year of Vazquez than the Mariners gave up for one year of Lee.

    btw, I hated trading Tabata for Nady/Marte despite his off the field issues.

  60. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Not able to post

  61. Kevin January 31st, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Aumont alone is better than vizcaino.

  62. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Rich,

    my feeling is this: either the off-field issues couldn’t be resolved, even through the efforts of the Yankees, to their satisfaction, or they just jettisoned their “problem” child without making much of an effort.

    What many people don’t understand about Tabata: he’s not a “toolsy” kid with no feel for hitting. He has tools, but his natural ability at the plate is what stands out. He knows how to hit.

  63. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Lee is better than Javy, and the Mariners weren’t going to offer Lee big money, since they have Felix. It made sense for them.

    Of course, the Yankees can sign Lee next off-season.

  64. hardwired January 31st, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    nice post

    added points for including the word “hardwired”

  65. Monty January 31st, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I gave up reading Lupica’s column a long time ago. He takes the joy out of reading sports with his negative opinions and political bias.

  66. hardwired January 31st, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Mike Lupica reminds me of a yapping Pomeranian.

  67. Rich in NJ January 31st, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Bodhisattva

    I could have understood trading Tabata at some point, but not for the package they traded him for. Tabata’s value was probably at an all-time low, and Nady’s value was at an all-time high. Now, if Marte can continue to pitch at or close to the level that he pitched during the playoffs for a few years, then the trade will look a lot better.

  68. Tarheelyank January 31st, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Nice post Jay.

    “Over the course of his career, Vazquez has excellent strikeout, hit and walk rates for a starting pitcher but sports only a slightly better-than-average ERA of 4.19 and a won-lost record of 142-139. In short, his talents as a pitcher seem to outpace his results.

    One possibility is that Vazquez gives up hits at inopportune times.”

    I am a firm believer in the fact that unusual stat results, will eventually go to the mean (over time) for GOOD players and Teams. In other words Javy is due for not only better “clutch” numbers but quite possibly excellent clutch numbers. Same thing with Robbie and RISP, you know he’s going to break out in a big way; it’s just a matter of when.

  69. Shame Spencer January 31st, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I can’t believe there are still so many people here that are hurting because the name “Melky Cabrera” will no longer be penciled in the 8th or 9th spot of our lineup.

    The guy was a nice player, but personally I can’t believe it took this long for us to ship him out for something more useful. People on here make it sound like we just traded the future Bernie Williams. He’s and average outfielder who is a streaky hitter and always scared the hell outta me when he took crazy routes to pop ups. He had a great arm, but that was really his only plus. He’s very replaceable. In our lineup, we can really make anyone look good at times (Cervelli anyone?) but that doesnt mean we shipped off a vital part of a championship team. Again, totally replaceable. (If Johnny Damon is viewed as replaceable how the hell is Melky the key to a repeat?)

  70. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Marte was unhittable in the postseason, except for that hiccup against the Twins.

    I still would not have moved someone with the upside of Tabata for a reliever, however.

    As you rightly observe, Nady’s value was high and Jose’s low at the time. Didn’t like it from go.

    Of course, your assets don’t just hopefully fill out your roster one day, they’re also trade inventory. I am always more content when lesser types go in trades – not Vizcainos and Tabatas. I want those for us.

    I am just grateful that winning didn’t compel Cashman to trade Joba or Hughes or Montero. Whew.

  71. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I am a firm believer in the fact that unusual stat results, will eventually go to the mean (over time) for GOOD players and Teams. In other words Javy is due for not only better “clutch” numbers but quite possibly excellent clutch numbers. Same thing with Robbie and RISP, you know he’s going to break out in a big way; it’s just a matter of when.
    ====

    Agree, but I don’t think YS is the best park for Vazquez. That said, I have much greater faith in peripherals than ERA and remain suspicious of trying to lend statistical substance to what must be viewed as idiosyncratic.

    I most emphatically agree re Robi.

  72. Kevin January 31st, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Does anyone else feel that Sanchez and Murphy are like Montero and Romine all over again?

    Sanchez and Montero international signings, big money, big bats, alot of hype

    Murphy and Romine 2nd round picks, athletic, solid bats

  73. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I agree that Cabrera is replaceable.

    However, we don’t have that replacement in house currently.

    Also, don’t agree at all with your version of Cabrera’s ability to track the ball.

    Emphatically disagree with that, but I’ve had this discussion too many times. And I think Melky’s got offense to mine in his bat, and I think that will bear out.

  74. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes January 31st, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Montero’s pretty close to the majors, and Romine isn’t far off.

    Sanchez is what – 16?

    Murphy’s already quite a hitter, but just learning his position.

  75. Rich in NJ January 31st, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    “I still would not have moved someone with the upside of Tabata for a reliever, however.”

    I agree. I’m just looking for a sliver lining in an attempt to recoup sunks costs.

  76. ortforshort January 31st, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    The sample that people have decided to use to call Vazquez a post-season choker is very small and tainted. In 2004 with the Yankees, he hadn’t been pitching well prior to the post season so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see him get lit up in the playoffs. In his only other post-season appearance with the White Sox in 2008, he was having an off year and the off year appears to have carried into the playoffs, as well. As far as the pressure of pitching in New York. I remember 2004. He was doing very well the first half of the year when you would think the pressure would be on and, in fact, made the All Star team. To think that he suddenly started feeling the pressure after that is a really moronic conclusion to make.

  77. sam January 31st, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    apologies if this was mentioned above already. i am 100% not a supporter of bringing this clown back. that being said, i think youd find there are many guys out there that statistically pitch worse with men on and as the game is tied/close vs being up or down 5 runs. You pitch from the stretch, and secondly youre forced to make pitches in a tighter game.

  78. Andrew January 31st, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    my main problem with it was the departure of arodys….granted i know very little but according to keith law he has potential to be a future ace. granted i know that gets thrown around alot. we did need someone like Vasquez because of the workload of the pitchers last season. i guess its a toss up but i personally am glad we have vasquez.

  79. TLB January 31st, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    One thing to keep in mind with regards to this topic is 2009. The Braves were in the Wild Card race down to the final week of the season, and Vazquez’s performance was nothing short of dominant:

    6 starts, 43.1 IP, 2.28 ERA, 9 BB/46 K, and an opponent OPS of .527

    Included in his stellar September were two complete-game wins, one of which was in St. Louis, against the Cardinals (with their regular lineup) & ace Chris Carpenter… to complete a three-game sweep by the Braves. He shut out the potent Phillies offense over 7 innings in his very next start. One problem that I believe is inherent in labeling someone a “big-game pitcher” or not is that it’s almost always going to involve small data samples — not to mention the problem in trying to determine what type of game is a “big game” & what isn’t. So, does Vazquez’s dominance last September prove anything about him? No, not really. But neither does labeling him a “choker” or whatever it was that loudmouth Guillen set out to do.

    I really appreciate Jay’s focus on “can’t” vs. “hasn’t”, and wish more sportswriters (not meant as a shot at this fine blog) & announcers would highlight this distinction. Instead, I suppose we’ll continue to be stuck listening to & reading cliches. At least we have the internet to provide several excellent alternatives. Well done, Jay — your unbiased research into your subject made for an excellent read. Too often sportswriters go on a statistical search with their conclusion already reached, only finding numbers to support what they already “know.” Objectivity is just such a better method.

  80. TLB January 31st, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Whoops, my first line should have read “One thing to keep in mind with regards to this topic is September 2009.”


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