Javier Vazquez is arguably one of the most reliable and constant pitchers in the game. For the past 10 seasons he’s pitched more than 198 innings and never had less than 150 strikeouts. Last season on the Atlanta Braves we watched him throw one of the best seasons of his career. He went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA, 219.1 IP, 238 K’s and only 44 BB, along with 3 complete games.
Fortunately for the Mets he was traded to the New York Yankees on December 22nd along with Boone Logan for Melky Cabrera and two other prospects, a steal for the Yankees.
As a result of this trade, the Braves freed up the $11.5M they owed Vazquez in 2010. Many thought they would go out and sign a big hitter with the money they saved. So it was time for the Braves to spend money on a big time player… or not.
They made 3 “major” signings this off season getting Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito and Troy Glaus. However, they also lost Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano and Adam LaRoche.
They were rumored to be after Matt Holliday, Jason Bay and Johnny Damon. Holliday went back to St. Louis, Bay came to the Mets and Damon is still out there but seems as though he is going to playing in Detroit.
So the Braves trade their best starting pitcher for an average outfielder and don’t use the money they saved on the trade to improve their club. Their rotation and bullpen is weaker this year and they downgraded from LaRoche at first base to Glaus.
The Yankees on the other hand now have one of the best rotations in the game. They do get slightly weaker with Brett Gardner in left instead of Melky, but overall they are an improved ball club from 2009… and they won the World Series in 2009.
The off season isn’t over yet and there are still some solid player out on the market. But if this is the team the Braves are going to go with in 2010, it is much less of a threat than the team in 2009.