Hours after the New York Yankees were hit with a luxury tax of $25.69 million, the World Series Champions raised their payroll for next season over $200 million. By acquiring right hand pitcher Javier Vasquez from the Atlanta Braves and seeing outfielder Melky Cabrera go to Atlanta, the Yankees opened up their options in the outfield and solidified their starting pitching rotation.
Lefthander pitcher Michael Dunn, the promising prospect who was in the Yankees bullpen plans was also shipped to Atlanta along with right hand pitching prospect Arodys Vizcain, along with that always other part in a deal, $500,000 of Yankees money that never seems to be an issue
So Yankee fans may be critical of the deal. They lose Cabrera who seemed to come along during their championship season of 2009. And they regain Vasquez who finished fourth in the NL CY Young Award balloting with a 15-10 record and 2.87 ERA in 2009. The 33-year old came to the Yankees the first time in 2003 and finished with a 10-5 record in 2004 pitching with an ailing sore shoulder.
Not a very good first stint in New York for Vasquez, and General Manager Brian Cashman believes Vasquez is a different pitcher that will help the backend of a Yankees rotation. “The second half of 2004,” commented Cashman in a conference call, “which was poor cannot erase the long success that he’s had in both the American and National League.”
Most of the problems for Vasquez when he previously wore pinstripes came in the second half of that 2004 season. He does rank second to Livan Hernandez in starts with 327 and innings with 2,163 among active big league pitchers since 2000. And his 2,001 strikeouts are second to Randy Johnson since the 2000 season.
Cabrera will get the start for the Braves. The Yankees lose a good arm in the outfield and for the moment will find a way to deal without his career highs in doubles, 28 and the 13 home runs he hit in 2009. The Braves wanted Cabrera and more so, the youngster Vizcaino in the deal.
“We had to have him in the deal,” said Braves GM Frank Wren about Vizcaino, the 19-year old who was 2-4 with a 2.13 ERA in Single-A. “He is a special young pitcher,” added Wren who acquired veteran relief pitchers Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito earlier this month.
Cashman continues to pull the strings, though the Yankees appear to have less punch int heir lineup with the departures of Hideki Matsui to the Angels. The future of Johnny Damon is uncertain and it appears the Yankees have no interest in bringing the outfielder back
Be certain that Vasquez is not the last move. Dunn is gone, so is pitcher Phil Coke who went to Arizona in the three team trade that brought outfielder Curtis Granderson to the Bronx. Where will Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain be before the winter is over?
That is something that Cashman may still need to address. And something Yankees fans await before the start of the 2010 campaign,