There are now a lot of reasons to like Javier Vazquez in 2009. Just in case you have been living in a cave or haven't bothered to scan the post directly below this one I'll fill you in on the biggest reason for that change:
Veteran right-handed starter, Javier Vazquez and left-handed reliever Boone Logan have been traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for a package of prospects that almost certainly includes a young lefty starter, Jo-Jo Reyes and infielder Brett Lillibridge. The one remaining prospect has yet to be determined but speculation by ESPN reporters suggest that it is one or two of a group that includes catcher Tyler Flowers, third baseman Jon Gilmore, and pitcher Santos Rodriguez. Most reports are assuming that the White Sox will pick Flowers and with good reason. It has also been reported more recently that the White Sox will receive all three prospects and Lillibridge leaving Reyes with the Atlanta Braves.If this is the same package that the Braves were offering the San Diego Padres in the Jake Peavy negotiations then I now understand why they could not complete the deal. However, the Braves were rumored to be including two significantly better prospects - center fielder Jordan Schafer and right-hander Tommy Hanson. That deal would also have potentially cost them their potentially great shortstop Yunel Escobar. Instead, as a poster on the RotoJunkie forums put it, the Braves got 80 percent of the pitcher for 20 percent of the cost. Final- TRADE UPDATE
Almost every pitcher improves when he moves from the American League to the National League. This has been shown in several places. Their strikeouts increase mostly by virtue of facing other pitchers rather than designated hitters. Vazquez as an excellent strikeout pitcher should certainly benefit from this change. This alone should be enough to convince most owners to take a chance on Vazquez in 2009 but there is even more. The move from U.S. Cellular Field (+ 0.077 runs in 2008) to Turner Field which usually plays as a major pitchers' park (it didn't in 2008 probably because the Braves did not have many pitchers worthy of the starting jobs) should knock potentially almost a full run from Vazquez's performance stats.
It also helps that Vazquez has always looked statistically like a much better pitcher than his performance would suggest. His career FIP is just 3.93 compared to his career ERA of 4.32. His career K-rate is 7.99, his BB-rate is just 2.39 - a career K/BB of 3.34. He is a flyball pitcher who has allowed a career 1.19 HR/9 which is probably the biggest negative he has. Hopefully the better pitching environment in Atlanta can neutralize this.
Mark Hulet over at Fangraphs (remember those great statistical sources I told you about) has a great review of the prospects involved. Tyler Flowers is obviously the best of the lot, especially where fantasy baseball is concerned. He should be an extremely hot commodity in leagues that draft minor leaguers (there is a chance he starts the season in the majors but not a large one).
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