Busy holiday season for Wren and the Braves
After making my 11-hour journey back home for the holidays yesterday, I learned that that yesterday’s trade of Javier Vazquez had made many of you just as sick as my three female passengers, who had never previously been introduced to the twists and turns on West Virginia’s mountainous turnpike.
But after looking at this trade and getting a feel for what the Braves learned while navigating this year’s trade market, I’d have to say the only reason that I currently dislike Braves GM Frank Wren stems from the fact that he made a point this morning to point out that the Mexican beaches he is enjoying lack the snow and cold temperatures that exist here in Wheeling, WV. <p>
Before getting into this trade, let’s touch on Troy Glaus, who will seemingly become the Braves new first baseman once he’s able to get to Atlanta to undergo a physical. Weather conditions in the northeast part of the country imited hindered his immediate travel plans.
So with some of the Braves doctors already beginning their vacations, it will likely be after the holiday break before Glaus could be introduced as the newest member of the Braves roster.
Now back to the pitching front, where the Braves committed to trading either Vazquez or Derek Lowe once they gained the belief that Tim Hudson actually provided more certainty than either of these other two veteran right-handers.
It’s no secret that the Braves pushed hard in an attempt to find a suitor for Lowe. But in the process, they found just a couple of potential suitors and each of these clubs wanted them to eat about half of the $45 million the veteran sinkerballer is owed over the next three years.
Given that Vazquez finished fourth in this year’s balloting for the National League Cy Young Award, there was reason to believe the Braves would have a much easier time moving him.
But as time passed, it became apparent that among the clubs looking to acquire a starting pitcher via trade, the Yankees stood as the only potential suitor willing to spend as much as $10 million.
With this in mind, the Braves were thrilled when the Yankees were interested enough in Vazquez to highlight this five-player trade with the inclusion of Arodys Vizcaino, a 19-year-old right-hander who was rated by Baseball America as the third-best prospect in the Yankees organization.
The Braves view Vizcaino as being just as promising as Julio Teheran, a soon-to-be 19-year-old right-hander who was tabbed their third-best prospect by BA.
While making his frustrations known last week, Lowe playfully talked about reports that indicated the Braves were now just looking to get prospects for him. This led the witty right-hander to ask, “What’s next? You think they’ll be able to get an “L” screen for me?”
With Vizcaino, Mike Dunn and Melky Cabrera, the Braves got much more than they would have received in return for the salary dump they would have made by trading Lowe.
Obviously to find value in this trade you have to look far beyond Cabrera, who will serve as a cheap versatile outfielder who can play each of the three outfield positions. When the Braves are facing a tough right-handed pitcher, he could spell Matt Diaz in left field. When they are facing a tough lefty, he could spell Jason Heyward in right field.
Or maybe he just assumes an everyday role in right field until Heyward is deemed Major League ready. Whatever the case, the Braves certainly didn’t view him as the centerpiece of this deal.
There’s no doubt that it’s tough to see Vazquez depart after just one year in an environment where he proved to be so comfortable. He’s a true professional who had a positive impact on Yunel Escobar, Jair Jurrjens and many of the other players in the clubhouse.
But when it came time to make projections, the Braves certainly couldn’t assume that Vazquez would definitely match the career-best season he enjoyed this past season. In fact, there were some members of the organization, who felt it was much smarter to sell high on him and avoid having to sell low on Lowe.
Even with Lowe coming off a career-worst season and Vazquez coming off a career-best season, recent history indicates you could place them in the same category.
Durign the past three seasons, Lowe went 41-35 with a 3.91 ERA and 605 innings pitched. Vazquez went 42-34 with a 3.74 ERA and 644 1/3 innings pitched during this span.
Given that Vazquez spent two of those seasons in the American League and is three years younger, you could certainly argue that he was the guy to keep. But at the same time, the Braves also came to the realization that he was the only member of this duo who was going to provide any kind of return.
Thus while exercising your right to voice your opinion about this trade, keep in mind that it was one that was necessitated once the Braves made the decision to provide Hudson with his three-year contract extension.
If you weren’t in favor of bringing Hudson back, then you certainly have reason to be upset about the fact that Vazquez’s time in Atlanta was limited to just one season. But while kicking and screaming about this, keep in mind there was no guarantee that the Vazquez that appeared last year was going to materialize yet again in 2010.
Before saying happy holidays to all you loyal bloggers, I’d like to add that Wren left Lowe a lengthy message after the pitcher voiced his displeasures to me about the fact that it seemed like the club was giving up on him after just one year.
A few hours later, Lowe sent Wren a text message that essentially said there were no hard feelings.
OK, time for me to send Wren my own holiday wishes. I’m thinking it will consist of a reminder that stepping on seashells will prove much more painful than walking through this snow.