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wren_found_another_gem_in_vazquez | December | 2008 Articles

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Wren Found Another Gem in Vazquez

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Frank Wren and Bobby Cox held a press conference today, officially announcing Javier Vazquez as the newest member of the Atlanta Braves. The 32-year old hurler is the latest of an impressive list of Wren's acquisitions during his first fourteen months on the job. This trade fills one of the club's biggest needs and shows yet again that John Schuerholz picked a more than capable replacement.

In trading for Vazquez, Frank Wren acquired something that the Atlanta rotation was in dire need of: consistency. Vazquez averages just over 206 innings per year over the course of his career and has topped the 200-inning mark in eight of the past nine seasons (threw 198 for the Yankees in 2004). In fact, since 2000 only Livan Hernandez has pitched more innings than Vazquez. That kind of stability from the middle of the rotation is very valuable, especially to a team who saw its starters throw the second fewest innings in the NL and its relievers, the second most.

Sure, Vazquez may not be the ace starter that many of us were expecting to see (of course most of you didn't seem too excited about the prospect of acquiring Jake Peavy), but let's not discount his ability. The right-hander's results over the past few years have been hit and miss, but remember, no more DH. Vazquez has a 4.20 career ERA when pitching in the NL and if you take out his rookie and sophomore seasons (6.06 ERA and 5.00 ERA respectively), that number drops to 3.80. He still may not even be the number two starter that a playoff team would want but he should at least be a very good number three.

What really sells this trade for me is the cost, both in dollars and the package the Braves sent to Chicago. At $11.5 million per year, Vazquez is far below market value. Derek Lowe, who is three years older than Vazquez and has pitched similarly over the past four or five seasons, could be looking at a 4-year deal in the $60 million range this off-season. Going past the financial terms, Wren didn't really part with anything of value other than Tyler Flowers, who is blocked by Brian McCann behind the plate and Freddie Freeman at first base. Other than Flowers, the White Sox got a future utility infielder and two relatively high upside players (Jon Gilmore and Santos Rodriguez), who have a very long way to go before they even have a chance to be impact players at the major league level.

The bottom line in this deal is that the Braves got a consistent and affordable middle of the rotation starter without giving up an advanced pitching prospect or anything that the team really needed for that matter. That's a win in my book.

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