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Wednesday December 3, 2008 10:55 pm

Javier Vazquez Traded to Braves

Vazquez to Bravos

Javier Vazquez was traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Atlanta Braves today and the balance of power shifted in the National League East.

Okay, nothing quite so impressive happened. And the reports differ on who the Braves gave up - was it Tyler Flowers, the brawny powerful catcher with great on-base ability that was the cornerstone of the deal? Or was it Jo-Jo Reyes, the mercurial lefty with poor results so far in the major leagues? The reports agree that speedy infielder Brent Lillibridge is in the deal either way, but Lillibridge doesn’t sting too much, as he’s struggled to reclaim his former top prospect status since hitting the high minors. And the remaining players will surely be long-shots from the low minors.

In order to really get at whether or not this trade was worth it, let’s assume the more expensive trade, the one with Flowers, is the real trade. Was it worth giving up a top offensive catcher prospect for two years of Javier Vazquez?

Read More | Atlanta Journal and Constitution

Yes, yes it was.

For one, Brian McCann is the Braves catcher of the near future. Flowers wasn’t going to take that mantle, and his defense wasn’t really good enough at first base in order to step in front of Freddie Freeman, the Braves’ first baseman of the future. So Flowers is a great chip to use in a trade, and not a real building block.

So why use that chip to get Vazquez and not Jake Peavy? For one, Peavy would have cost more. Yunel Escobar and some pitching prospects would probably have been included. In this trade, it was basically just Flowers for Vazquez, with some peripherals.

And don’t tell me Vazquez is not a big-game pitcher. Of course, that is Ozzie Guillen’s oft-stated opinion, and the reason why Vazquez had to leave Chicago, but this is a pitcher that is rock-solid. He has a 3.89 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 55 September starts. Where none of those starts big games? This is a 32-year old who has not only pitched 200+ innings the last four seasons, he’s pitched well in those innings. He’s topped 184 Ks in all four of those seasons, and had less than 61 BBs in all four seasons. A 3-to-1 strikeout ratio, and an ERA that hovers between the league average and better - and all of this in the Big Boy League.

Vazquez will be a solid number two in the NL East, where he won’t have to face those AL offenses any more. He’ll probably pitch over 190 innings, strike out more than 180 batters, and walk less than 60 batters. That’ll give him a sub-four ERA and a sub 1.25 WHIP in the National League.

And pitching production like that is worth a top prospect these days, especially when it only costs you $11 million a year for the next two years.

If the A.J. Burnett to the Braves rumors are true, Burnett and Vazquez make a good duo at the top, too.

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