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Earlier this week, the Yankees made a trade with the Braves sending Melky Cabrera and prospects Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino to Atlanta for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan. Of course, Vazquez already had a stint in the Bronx in 2004, and his performance was very average.
Now, the circumstances in 2004 were much different for Vazquez than they are now. He was expected to be the ace back then, and perhaps the pressures of playing in New York got to him as he posted a 14-10 record with a 4.91 ERA, and 150 strikeouts in 198 innings pitched. These numbers are all down from his 162 game average as calculated by Baseball Reference. This site has his averages at 13 wins with a 4.19 ERA, and 198 strikeouts in 213 innings pitched. This season, Vazquez arrives as the expected number four starter and is coming off a great 2009 season where he posted a career high in strikeouts and a career low ERA.
However, I do not believe Vazquez's second stint in New York will be much better than his first, though if his numbers are around the same as in 2004, they will not be terrible for a number four starter. Obviously, Vazquez pitched in the old Yankee Stadium in 2004, but the new stadium has the same dimensions to right and left, so statistical comparisons remain viable.
In 16 Yankee Stadium starts in 2004, Vazquez posted a 6.74 ERA, allowing 17 home runs. Ten of those homers came against lefties and the short 314 foot right field wall. Last season overall, baseballs were flying out of the new stadium at a record pace so there is not much reason to expect a change in home runs allowed by Vazquez. He allowed 33 home runs overall in 2004, and has never allowed fewer than 20.
Furthermore, Vazquez has worked with five catchers in which he shares at least 700 plate appearances, or the equivalent of just over one season of work. Jorge Posada is one of those five catchers. Vazquez worked mainly with Posada in 2004, and the tandem will be reunited this season. Statistics show that among those five catchers, Vazquez's second-highest career opponent's batting average (.265) and on-base percentage (.325) came when working with Posada. Also, his second-lowest career strikeout to walk ratio (2.54) came with him.
To see more, including a sortable table that more clearly illustrates the above statistics, please click here.
This statistical analysis points to Vazquez having a very similar year to that of 2004, and I predict an ERA somewhere around 4.50 and around 200 innings and 200 strikeouts. Home runs will float around 30 once again. The bottom line is he will not repeat his 2009 season, yet his stats will be acceptable for a fourth starter, especially with that Yankee offense to help him out.
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