It seems there is an over whelming amount of optimism in the right arm of Javier Vazquez – and perhaps rightfully so leading up to the 2009 season. Vazquez and his 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball this week, coupled with his solid performance in the WBC certainly validates the salivating in Braves Nation. Even though his outing was against the lowly pirates, and according to reports his control was not all there, Vazquez seems to be positioning himself in the upper-half of the Braves rotation. Consider the words of Bobby Cox himself:
“He’s looked outstanding every time out,” Cox said. “In the [World Baseball Classic], he looked great. Every start here he’s looked great. He’s ready to go. You can’t pitch any better than he’s pitched.”
The 32 year-old righty from Puerto Rico was the fifth round selection by the Expos back in 1994. Since that time Vazquez has been as consistent as the government is wasteful, posting nine consecutive seasons of double-digit wins and nearly 200 innings per year. And while Javier has never been an ace, and has never really been up to expectations (see New York Yankees circa 2004) he is and should be a solid horse for a team that desperately needs a return to the great rotation days.
The main concern is not who the braves had to give to acquire Javier. It seems they were content to part with Tyler Flowers and Brent Lillibridge but in desperate need of this stability. No doubt the White Sox wanted to get younger and could live without the 4.50 + era that comes along with him. The problem may lie in his 11.5 million dollar contract that needs to be paid over the next two seasons. The hope is that Vazquez has a career year in an organization that has done more than enough for a pitcher or two over the course of the years. Vazquez with his fairly good control (under 3BB/9IP) and experience, should be a solid, and perhaps even out