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Relax Braves fans, this deal is not so bad

Dec 22, 2009, 10:37 AM EDT

Longtime reader ECP comments:  “C’mon now, Craig, it’s the Braves!  It’s your team; you are allowed to add some acerbic commentary!  How do you REALLY feel about this?”

I’ll be honest, I feel rather “meh” about it. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I’m excited about Melky freakin’ Cabrera, because I’m not. He’s a fine player, but his press has been outsized by the fact that he has played in New York. There are a lot of Melky Cabreras out there, and my team just traded a dude who got Cy Young votes for him.  But here are some random thoughts that make me feel generally fine about it:

  • The regression: Vazquez probably just put up his career year. He’s going to backslide a bit, and I think that even if the Yankees didn’t give up too much for him, they did buy high and will find that Vazquez is a good, but not great pitcher for them in 2010;
  • The comeback: By the same token, I don’t think Derek Lowe is done, and I could totally picture him having a bounceback season.  Sure, it may be a bit awkward for a week or two with all of that “sorry we were shopping you” and “sorry I was complaining about being shopped” talk, but they’ll get past it. Upshot: the Braves still have a very strong rotation for 2010.
  • The alternatives: The Braves could have done way, way worse to fill their outfield hole. Remember Garret Anderson last year? Remember the zombie incarnation of Brian Jordan in 2005-06?  At least Cabrera has functioning legs. And having him may allow Cox to slide Nate McLouth over to a corner, giving the Braves some decent outfield defense for the first time in a while.
  • The platoon: And maybe you don’t just hand Melky a job. Matt Diaz is still around. Diaz destroys lefties. Melky, a switch hitter, is better against righties in his career (though not profoundly so, and not last year).  Keep everyone fresh, let Diaz do what he does best. I could talk myself into this.
  • The money: the Braves just saved $10 million for 2010, which they could use to give to Adam LaRoche or some other option at first base. Or to make some other sort of deal. Maybe they trade for Uggla now. That’s certainly not my preference, but the point is that they now have flexibility to add some offense.
  • The prospect: I know nothing about him other than what I heard this morning, but Arodys Vizcaino is supposed to be pretty good. He struck out 52 in 42 innings in the New York-Penn League this year with a 2.13 ERA as an 18 year-old.  People are tweeting highly of him this morning, most notably Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner.

  • The competition. The Braves aren’t gunning for a division title against the Yankees. They’re in it against the Phillies and the Marlins and the Mets and Nats (sorry — I need a laugh this morning). Along those lines, Cameron tweets that the Braves got a better return for their ace than the Phillies did for Cliff Lee. I agree. I’ll also note that Vazquez was not the Braves’ ace. Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson have the best claim to that title going forward, and Tim Hudson may have something to say about it this year.

Would I have rather the Braves received Nick Swisher? Sure. But Nick Swisher is owed $16.5 million over the next couple of years, and the Braves have a habit of doing dumb things when they have guys with contracts like that.

This is not the best deal they could have made. But it’s not the worst, and with the promise of a prospect like Arodys Vizcaino and the chance that Vazquez takes a step back, it could turn out pretty nicely in the long run.  

  1. John Willumsen - Dec 22, 2009 at 10:52 AM

    Cy Young vote, I believe, not votes. 😉

  2. John Willumsen - Dec 22, 2009 at 10:58 AM

    And yes, Arodys is the player Yankee fans will almost certainly end up missing the most. He was probably their third highest ceiling’ed pitching prospect. But for Yankee fans who love prospect, consider this, how often to the team’s pitching prospects actually make it to the rotation? Hughes is now relegated to the bullpen, and Joba may one day find himself there too if the Yankees go on a shopping spree next off season. The truth is, if Arodys pans out, he probably would have been traded further down the road, or would have ended up in the “vaunted” 8th inning.

  3. ecp - Dec 22, 2009 at 11:16 AM

    But the Nats ARE in it, Craig! They just added Jason Marquis; he’s a stone cold lead pipe lock to make the playoffs!

  4. TucsonTumbleweed - Dec 22, 2009 at 11:41 AM

    Seems like a fair trade for both. Cabrera is probably an average CF overall. Vizaino was NY’s #2 prospect and while only 19 looks very good (especially his curve). Also Dunn was the player holing back the Granderson deal as the Yanks wanted to keep him. He could be a LOOGY or possibly develop into a setup guy. All this for one year of Vazquez? Thats not bad. I say this as a Yankee fan and I like the deal from our end as well. However, in 5-6 years if Vizaino pans out its going to be seeing him pitch like an ace for another team. But if the flip side is the Yank’s win the World Series in 2010 it will all be worth it.

  5. JE - Dec 22, 2009 at 11:42 AM

    IMHO, Craig, Frank Wren owes Keith Law BIG time. By giving Vazquez a second-place in the Cy Young vote, the ensuing chatter about the pitcher’s numbers vis-a-vis Carpenter’s bumped up his value.

  6. TucsonTumbleweed - Dec 22, 2009 at 11:47 AM

    @JE isn’t 44 bbs to 238 ks over 200 ip worth a #2 vote? Javier wont repeat this obviously especially in the AL East and Yankee Stadium but those are some impressive numbers for 2009.

  7. Andrew Chelton - Dec 22, 2009 at 11:53 AM

    Yes, Javy is going to come back to Earth a bit next year (especially back in the AL, let alone the AL East), but Melky Cabrera is all you can get for a guy coming off an excellent season? Why not go after an outfielder that can actually make a bigger impact? There has to be teams out there that jump at Javy after what he did last year. Unless they’ve got an immediate plan (and a good one) for that extra money, this just doesn’t add up for me.

  8. JE - Dec 22, 2009 at 11:58 AM

    I am not kvetching about Law’s ballot, TT. Had it not been for Law, the MSM would have ignored Vazquez’s uber-impressive numbers. Hell, who knows if even Wren would have figured it out!

  9. Wooden U. Lykteneau - Dec 22, 2009 at 12:05 PM

    Braves are 47-44 against Washington, and a losing record over the past two seasons (14-22).

  10. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 22, 2009 at 12:14 PM

    And the Nats have finished 27 and 12.5 games behind the Braves in those two seasons. What’s your point?

  11. Wooden U. Lykteneau - Dec 22, 2009 at 12:31 PM

    That the Braves haven’t exactly dominated the Nats when they’ve been the NL’s worst team. Is that too obvious?

  12. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 22, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    No, not too obvious, but the point (first by me and then by ECP) was that the Nats aren’t likely to challenge for the division title. Their head-to-head prowess against the Braves over the past couple of years is irrelevant to that question, as they have routinely finished double digits behind them and the other teams in the NL East over the past few years.

  13. Wooden U. Lykteneau - Dec 22, 2009 at 12:55 PM

    Irrelevant, until you consider that had the Braves dominated the Nats the way, say, Boston did with Baltimore (e.g. 16-2 in ’09), then the Braves might have won the division (six more wins = 90; Philadelphia won 89). That’s the more subtle implication.

  14. ecp - Dec 22, 2009 at 1:25 PM

    Actually, my point was not that esoteric…it was really that Jason Marquis has been on playoff teams every year of his major league career.

  15. ecp - Dec 22, 2009 at 1:29 PM

    Oh, and the two prospects, Dunn and Vizcaino, are both in the Yankees top ten. Of course, that may say more about the Yankees system than it does about the players.

  16. leutbneot - Dec 22, 2009 at 4:14 PM

    Yankee fan here. Just wanted to say that you guys did very well on this trade. Melky is a lot better than most people think, and the kid is only 25. His best seasons are ahead of him. He’ll put up a positive UZR anywhere in your OF, he has a cannon arm (seriously, think Ichiro or Vlad… it’s that good), and his power is developing nicely. I don’t think he’ll ever be a super high on-base guy, but .300/.350/.425 with 25 jacks is totally not out of his reach. I’ve also seen Arodys Vizcaino pitch in the minors and I’m pretty despondent about losing him. He’s going to be your best pitching prospect in 2 years. I like Javy, too, and I think this is a pretty fair trade for both teams. Let’s be friends?

  17. RyanMalmstrom - Dec 22, 2009 at 7:02 PM

    At the moment, I’m bummed at losing Vazquez. But I (and other Braves fans) really have no choice but to wait until another move is made. Will we see that big bat at first base or will it be Xavier Nady? We’ll see…

  18. chris - Jan 8, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    while Arodys is good, our best pitching prospect in 2 years will be Teheran. Arodys will be #2 and Randall Delgado will be #3 and Minor #4. That’s a pretty NICE top-4 and, with out depth, we can make deals for the positional prospects we so sorely lack (outside of Heyward and Freeman, of course).

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