Friday, July 09, 2010

Hughes To The Pen, or Vazquez To Mets?

In the offseason, the Yankees picked up Javier Vazquez. By most accounts, they've now picked up Cliff Lee, in a trade with the Seattle Mariners. That leaves the Yanks with six bonafide starters (seven if you include Joba Chamberlain). What are the now pitching-rich Yankees to do? Two options immediately jump out.

1. Move the recently struggling Phil Hughes to the pen, even though he has 10 wins on the year.

2. Trade away Javier Vazquez.

The first option has some merit: the Yankees are trying to limit Hughes's innings this year, and moving him to the pen would accomplish that (however, it could set him back as a starter). Hughes could still be made available for spot starts.

The second option seems more likely. Vazquez's contract is up at the end of the season. While he's turned his season around in recent weeks, the stench of what he did to start the season (and how he performed in his last stint as a Yankee) is hard to forget. There's no denying that in the right setting (i.e. the National League), he can be a superstar. The only question is, what can the Yankees get for him?

Last year for the Braves, Vazquez added 6.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement Player) in value to his team. So far, this year, he's added only 0.4. But his true value is certainly closer to the 2009 number. A National League team, in the playoff race but in need of a good arm, could certainly use him.

Sounds like the Mets to me.

The Yankees would love to restock their farm system after all the shipping out they've done these past two years (Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson, Jose Tabata, and now Jesus Montero, to name a few). The Mets are not rich in prospects, but they do have pieces that can fit the Yankees nicely. Fernando Martinez, their top outfield prospect, and Wilmer Flores, their top shortstop in the system, could be down-the-line replacements for Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter, respectively. Toss in a few lower-level guys, and you've got a deal.

The Mets could really use a guy like Vazquez to solidify their shaky rotation. He had a 2.27 ERA vs. the NL East last season.

And Vazquez wouldn't have to move, so he'd be happy.

People are saying it'll be Vazquez to the Phillies for Jayson Werth, and certainly, the Phillies GM has shown more aptitude for front office management than Mets GM Omar Minaya. But Werth is a piece that doesn't fit as well into the Yankees plans. He adds some pop for now but doesn't address the Yankees long-term needs. I'd take the prospects.

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