This Guy Is Playing Golf Right Now: Javier Vazquez

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As the playoffs and award season gets underway, we want to take a gander at some players who had outstanding seasons in 2009 but whose teams ended up just shy of making the postseason and who will (most likely) not pick up any fancy trophies. Quite a consolation prize: a round of golf and a write-up on a low circulation sports blog.

Previously, Russell Branyan, Ben Zobrist, Adam Lind and Prince Fielder.

Next up, Javier Vazquez as written by the Manchester Union Leader's Brian MacPherson, also of One if by Land

It's almost a knee-jerk reaction in Atlanta. Walk into your friendly neighborhood Publix and hang out in the produce aisle and mention the name "Javier Vazquez," and the reaction you get will be almost unanimous: Trade him. Trade him. Trade him. Trade him.

Well, OK, the Braves have a chance to go into next season with an overflowing starting rotation. Tommy Hanson is a stud. Jair Jurrjens is a stud. Tim Hudson has stud-like symptoms. Kenshin Kawakami and Derek Lowe are st--, well, they're signed to lucrative deals through 2011 and 2012, respectively.

The Braves need a bat. The Braves have pitching to spare. Vazquez isn't young and isn't locked into a lengthy deal that ruins his trade value.

It only makes sense: Trade him.

But there are two issues with this:

  1. As Robert Moses Grove once said after descending from Mount ShibePark, thou shalt not ever have too much pitching. Thou also shalt covet thy neighbor's pitching even if thou shalt be blessed with too much pitching.
  2. Javier Vazquez was one of the best pitchers in the National League this season.

"I'm not going to play GM," third baseman Chipper Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm just going to give you my opinion on it: Javier Vazquez needs to be on this team next year. I think we'd all be disappointed if he wasn't."

Chris Carpenter, Tim Lincecum and Adam Wainwright will dominate Cy Young voting this season, but if you believe in the idea that pitchers only can control walks, strikeouts and home runs, there wasn't a better pitcher in the National League this season than Vazquez.

No Senior Circuit pitcher other than Vazquez had more than 200 strikeouts this season while issuing fewer than 50 walks and surrendering fewer than 25 home runs. Not one. Not Carpenter, who struck out just 144. Not Lincecum, who walked 68. Not Wainwright, who walked 66.

Vazquez struck out 238 and walked just 44. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.41 was far and away better than any other pitcher in the National League - except Arizona's Dan Haren, who, incidentally, gave up 27 home runs.

In his career in the National League, Vazquez has a 4.02 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 3.5. Combining Vazquez with Jurrjens and a full season from Hanson, the Braves could go into next season with the best starting rotation in the major leagues.

Frank Wren, it would behoove you to Heed the Advice of Chipper: If you have World Series aspirations next season, hang onto Javier Vazquez.

Brian MacPherson is a sports writer for the Manchester Union Leader and blogs about Boston sports at his fine blog One If By Land

(Photo courtesy of Chris J. Nelson)


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8 Comments

I like the cut of your jib.

They'd be foolish to trade Vasquez, no matter how badly they need a power bat. People harped on the bad offense, but Atlanta was on a 100 win season pace after June 28th. Heyward will provide an upgrade in power in RF or 1st if they don't resign LaRoche.

Vasquez should be even better next year, he's commented on how comfortable he is in Atlanta, after being a 'journeyman' most of his career.

KEEP VASQUEZ

Atlanta was on a 100 win season pace after June 28th

I was about to shout SMALL SAMPLE SIZE but half a season isn't really that small for an entire squadron. It took two equally remarkable streaks by the Phillies and Rockies to bar the Braves from the postseason. Keep Javy, trade Lowe, re-sign Eyebrows LaRoche, and get Jason Bay.

Boom, fixed.

Not for nothin, but Wren was responsible for the Jurrjens/Renteria trade and the Vasquez/prospects trade.

As much shit as he got for the Smoltz/Glavine nonsense, he got 2 top line pitchers for almost nothing.

Jurrjens has even commented that Vasquez helped him a lot this year. Now if the offense helps them out next year, they could be up there with the Carpenter/Wainwright duo as the best 1, 2 in the NL

Would Javy have given up that many tater tots if he pitched half his games in the homer-happy Chase Field? Just askin'.

IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY THESIS STATEMENT THAT YOU DONT TAKE AWAY A DOGS BONE IF HES HAPPY CHEWIN AWAY ON IT YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT KIND OF MESS HELL WRAP HIS MOUTH AROUND. SO IN ESSENSE THE SAME APPLIES TO JAVY I MEAN FIRST YOU GET RID OF MY OLD BOY JAVY LOPEZ NOW YOURE RUNNIN AND GUNNIN AFTER JAVY VAZQUEZ WHAT IS IT WITH YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS DUDES NAMED JAVY ? THINK OF THE COMMUNITY RELATIONS FOR ONCE AND ALSO THINK OF OUR MASSIVE DISAPPOINTMENT ITS PROBABLY MY SWAN SONG IN '010 SO DO IT FOR ME

I'm a Braves and Auburn fan, but it seems to make the most sense to let Hudson go. Unless they can talk the White Sox into taking DLowe.

Are the White Sox some sort of clearinghouse for players with bad contracts?

Hey now, we love our bad contracts in Detroit too!

And Lowe is a native!

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