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So which pitcher are the Yankees targeting?

Dec 22, 2009, 8:00 AM EDT

I went to bed assuming that Buster or Rosenthal or Feinsand one of those guys would have the Yankee trade story all nailed down by the time I woke up. Then I remembered that reporters and general managers sleep too. So no new news on the Yankees’ pursuit of a pitcher. 

Feinsand does have a nice breakdown of the possibilities this morning.  His candidates: Josh Johnson, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Roy Oswalt, Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang and Brandon Webb. He throws in Felix Hernandez to make Yankee fanboys crazy for a minute, but he’s not serious. Makes me like Feinsand a lot more than I already do, however.

Oswalt is an intriguing name on that list (UPDATE: David Pinto mentioned him first, last night). I’ve heard bubkis along the lines of him being shopped, but it would probably be a really smart move to trade him in order to jump start a much needed rebuild. Of course, (a) Oswalt has a full no-trade clause that he’d have to waive, and given that he once asked for (and received) a bulldozer as a gift from owner Drayton McLane, it doesn’t strike me like the kind of guy who would waive it to go to New York City; and (b) if Houston was really interested in a rebuild they wouldn’t do things like pay Brandon Lyon $15 million. So maybe it’s not Oswalt.

I still think the most likely target on that list is Javier Vazquez.  Here’s my reasoning:

  • The Braves are the only team around openly shopping starting pitching;
  • Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez have been prominently mentioned as potential trade candidates out of Atlanta;
  • Mark Feinsand of the Daily News doesn’t know who it is, but he says that it’s not a salary dump deal, which seems to rule out Derek “$45 million” Lowe. Vazquez, however, is only on the hook for
    one year at $11.5 million;
  • Vazquez is coming off a 2.87 ERA season with a whole mess of strikeouts. Even if you added a run or so on account of league-change and regression, he still projects to have a pretty nice season as a third or fourth starter, which is what the Yankees are looking for;
  • The only reason to shy away from Vazquez is that he has a history in New York. 2004. It was one of his worst years as a major leaguer. Feinsand, however, notes that Vazquez was hurt much of that year.  He’s a better pitcher than he showed in 2004, and I don’t think Brian Cashman is such a slave to the tabloids that he’d avoid Vazquez simply because someone at the Post would come up with some biting headline about his return.

We’ll obviously see how this develops today, and of course, the Yankees could be talking to someone completely different than Atlanta about someone completely different than Vazquez.  But there are a handful of circumstantial reasons why Vazquez makes sense to the Yankees, and why someone the Yankees could trade — Nick Swisher? — makes sense to the Braves.

We’ll see.

  1. John_Michael - Dec 22, 2009 at 8:18 AM

    Craig, I’m with you regarding why Vazquez might be a target. The one thing I haven’t seen, however, is why the Yankees would be looking to move Swish’. This would give a lot more leverage back to Boras RE: Damon. And the OF sans Damon would be Granderson, Milk-Man, Gardner? Or is the “three steps ahead” thinking putting money behind a late Bay/Holliday all-in?

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 22, 2009 at 8:23 AM

    Could be a play for Damon on a low, two-year deal, the kind of which they just rejected. Could be a play for Holliday. I think the key here is that the Yankees think they’re in more dire straits rotation-wise than they’re letting on. Sabathia and Burnett are fine. Pettitte should be fine, but one year he’s going to go Glavine on us, and it could be 2010. They’ve talked up Hughes and Joba, but the odds of them both being decent starters in 2010 — or even one of them really — aren’t anything close to a sure thing, and they’ll want at least one of them in the pen. That leaves Gaudin and Mitre which, quite frankly, aren’t championship-caliber starters.
    So, if the Yankees think they can replicate Swisher’s production with Damon for comparable money (which they could), and they could get a solid starter to round out the rotation, why not do it?

  3. David Pinto - Dec 22, 2009 at 8:31 AM

    By the way, I started the Roy Oswalt rumor.

  4. John_Michael - Dec 22, 2009 at 8:37 AM

    Ahhh…I see what it is. Swisher as a Brave would complete the Calcaterra Trifecta. From bb-ref.com:
    Nick Swisher
    Born: November 25, 1980 in Columbus, OH
    High School: Parkersburg (Parkersburg, WV)

  5. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 22, 2009 at 8:41 AM

    There is something to that, John. When I lived in Parkersburg as a kid I helped a friend with a paper route that went by the house people said was former Cardinal and Cub and (Nick’s father) Steve Swisher’s. I carried around a 1979 card for a while thinking I might get an autograph.
    Nick grew up with his mom in Columbus (Worthington, actually) from what I understand. Like me, he went to Ohio State.
    I can’t say I’m a big fan of Swisher’s — nice player, but whatever — but given the general path, it would be kind of cool to see him in Atlanta. That and the fact that we desperately need a bat for the corner.

  6. B_Rease - Dec 22, 2009 at 8:49 AM

    Is it definitely a starter? What about all the Ben Sheets talk? Please no Zambrano, Arroyo or Lowe….

  7. YankeesfanLen - Dec 22, 2009 at 8:54 AM

    While we’re driving ourselves crazy, might as well get into this:
    1. Melky is always trade-bait, keep Gardner/Granderson/Damon in the OF.
    2. Vasquez could work for the Yanks again, Cashman could be at the bring back an oldie point which used to be quite common.
    3. Only one of Joba/Hughes will be in the starting rotation (I hope Hughes).
    4. We won’t know if Andy will implode before July.
    I don’t know if Diane Sawyer is a good replacement for Charlie Gibson, she looked like she had gas last night but was trying to smile through it.

  8. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 22, 2009 at 9:02 AM

    Oh yeah?
    I started the Lilly rumor! Well, not really, but I made the case that Lilly was a better trade target than Big Z:
    http://tinyurl.com/yeg6cna

  9. Felipa Davia - Jan 17, 2010 at 6:15 AM

    Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

  10. Golf Headlines - Jan 31, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you cleared up some things for me!

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