Oh Javier Vazquez, what happened to you? Such a promising young talent with the Montreal Expos who turned in quality starts against the Mets time after time.
You know what happened? The Yankees happened. In 2004, Vazquez went 14-10 for the Yankees so everyone proclaimed him as the next big thing. However, his 4.91 ERA was not so hot.
After a few more mediocre years with the White Sox, Vazquez finally put it all together in 2009 with Braves, finishing 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts.
So of course the Yankees go and reacquire him. And how does he repay them? By posting a 5.91 ERA.
Vazquez is a free agent this offseason. He is 34 years old as of today. I didn't even realize he was available until one of my buddies alerted me. At first, I was unsure of what to think, but now I believe Vazquez could be a viable option for the back end of the 2011 Mets rotation.
And here is why.
Vazquez is a National League pitcher, pure and simple. He finished with double figures in wins while posting a solid ERA in four straight years for a pretty bad team in Montreal.
Then he jumped leagues and his stats began to inflate. Regardless of the one year he pitched for Arizona, Vazquez posted ERAs of higher than 4.60 in three of his four AL seasons.
Then he jumped back to the NL in 2009 and had his career season. Finally, the 2010 season with the Yankees can arguably be considered his worst season.
So why would the Mets want to bring in an overpriced, aging starting pitcher?
Well, based on his performance last year, there probably won't be too many teams knocking on his door with a blank check. His stock has obviously declined so maybe other teams may not be willing to take a chance. He has earned seven figures for the last six years, but most likely will not be offered that type of money.
I wonder if a move back to the NL as his career wanes would benefit Vazquez. Maybe a change of scenery would motivate him to execute better on the mound.
Now I'm certainly not saying the Mets should sign Vazquez to a three-year, $36 million deal like they did with Ollie P (sorry to remind you of that again). But maybe a one-year deal with a club option could work.
Vazquez could slide into the fifth starter position while Santana heals, and based on his performance, he could remain there or pitch long relief. Pelfrey, Dickey, Niese, Gee (or Mejia or another FA) and Vazquez. This rotation doesn't exactly wow anyone, but it could be serviceable at least until Johan returns and if the Mets can consistently score runs (that's a topic for a whole other article).
The problem with this is that there might be a team out there willing to take more of a chance on Vazquez and maybe sign him to a two or even three-year deal. Besides Cliff Lee, the starting pitching FA market is mediocre at best, so teams in need of a starter may resort to desperate measures, like Vazquez.
If his price tag and year commitment were too hefty, then I'd say stay away. But if no one acts on Vazquez, this could be the time to take the chance, even if it is just as an insurance policy. We saw how well R.A. Dickey worked out as an insurance policy last year, so I'm optimistic in thinking that maybe the same thing can happen with Vazquez.