Bradley’s Buzz: Vazquez could be going, but I bet he stays

"We won't trade you unless Norton-for-Pujols falls through" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"We won't trade you unless the Norton-for-Pujols deal falls through." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The well sourced Buster Olney of ESPN’s Insiders keeps hearing the Braves will trade their best pitcher. (Link requires registration.) Writes Mr. Olney:

“Some rival executives are convinced that Atlanta’s Javier Vazquez, who was arguably one of the four best pitchers in the National League this past season, will be traded in the weeks ahead. Vazquez will make $11.5 million next season before becoming eligible for free agency, so the Braves might be compelled to move him now to take advantage of his value. Atlanta needs a right-handed-hitting outfielder, and the other possible trade pieces on the Braves’ pitching staff — Derek Lowe (who is owed $45 million over the next three seasons) and Kenshin Kawakami (owed $13.3 million over the next two seasons) — do not generate much enthusiasm among some rival talent evaluators.”

If this line of reasoning sounds familiar … well, there’s a reason. We’ve been hearing it for six months. Heck, I broached the scenario in May, and I wasn’t just talking out of my Homburg. The possibility had been mentioned to me by a person within the organization  in position to know how the Braves were thinking. But then something happened: Vazquez pitched great.

And now I wonder: Can you really trade your best pitcher and call yourself a franchise?

Re-signing Tim Hudson for three years might make Vazquez seem expendable, but look again. Vazquez is a year younger and is coming off a season better than any of the five Hudson has had as a Brave. And Vazquez hasn’t undergone arm surgery. On the contrary, he has averaged 200 innings over 12 big-league seasons.

And I understand the part about the Braves craving a right-handed-hitting outfielder. (Jason Heyward bats lefty, FYI.) I know they need a big bat in the worst way. But let’s think about that, too.

Should the Braves trade Javier Vazquez?

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A small-market team with a young slugger — say Arizona and Mark Reynolds, who isn’t an outfielder but who does bat righty and hit homers when not striking out — isn’t going to trade that guy for a 32-year-old pitcher who makes $11 million and is about to become a free agent. The trade suitor would have to be a big-market club in search of a starting pitcher to push it to the top. Like maybe the Dodgers.

If you can get Matt Kemp for Vazquez, you do it. Kemp fits the profile: He bats righty, plays center field and drove in 101 runs. But I can’t see the Dodgers giving up a 24-year-old cornerstone for a pitcher who might be a one-year rental. (There’s another Dodger who plays the outfield, bats right-handed and could be available. But he’s scheduled to make $20 million in 2010. So forget Manny Ramirez.)

I understand the consensus thinking: The Braves have six starting pitchers and lack a big bopper. Ergo, Vazquez is the bait. But I think it will be tough to make a proper match. The big boppers tend to make big money, and teams that have big boppers tend to keep them because they’re hard to find. If I had to guess, I’d say Javier Vazquez will be the Opening Day starter … for the Atlanta Braves.

172 comments Add your comment

Joe Spooner Cocks

November 10th, 2009
1:58 am

I think you keep him at all costs. Guy is money and a hoss.

Richard Nieh

November 10th, 2009
2:41 am

Trading Vazquez could be meaningless, there are no suitable trade for him unless some GM is willing to give up their best (young) hitters, which is hardly possible. People keep moping about Braves’ offense but the thing is that they are really not that bad. They were one of the best hitting club in second half of the 2009 season and they will have Prodo and Mclouth (plus someone better than GA in the leftfield) starting for them in the beginning of the 2010 season. A right hand bat, yes, it will be helpful but it is not absolutely essential. I think Kawakami is the one who is most likely to be traded and keep the team about the same level as the second half of 2009 season.

By the way, I think Tommy Hanson may win CY next season and I cannot wait for it to happen. 2009 Giants ride on Lincencum to win 88 games, 2010 Braves will be better than the 2009 Giants in almost everyway (except bullpen once they lose Gonzales and Soriano) when Hanson produces Lincecum kind of season and I know it will happen.

Coach (2010-Mr.Overrated retires)

November 10th, 2009
2:44 am

Bradley, not to be a smart ass or anything but haven’t you forgotten about Javy’s no-trade clause to the west coast? It precludes the Dodgers and Diamondbacks.

If anything Vazquez is even tougher to trade than Derek Lowe. When considering his no-trade clause which effectively eliminates nine teams and two divisions, then our own NL east and four division rivals coupled with all the small market teams, and roughly 20-21 teams are out of the trade picture right from the get go.

Here is a better idea. The Angels.

They are one of the few big market teams capable of absorbing Derek Lowe’s bloated contract. Juan Rivera could part of the Braves solution in the outfield. He’s right handed, plays great defense, has decent power and is under contract for 9.5 million for 2010-2011 (10:$4.25M, 11:$5.25M). Throw in a couple of minor leaguers from the Angels system and it’s a done deal.

Pick up the Padres Luis Durango, maybe sign Mike Cameron for another 7-8 million for one season and presto, the outfield, defense and power problems are fixed.

Atlanta could start McLouth, Rivera and Cameron with Diaz on the bench, and still have Heyward, Schafer, Durango if needed down at AAA Gwinnett.

On second thought, this makes too much damn sense, so forget about it. Frank Wren will probably be forced to overpay for another bloated contract because he doesn’t have the chops to actually compete with the rest of his peers.

Ostrich Racer

November 10th, 2009
2:59 am

Solid analysis, as always. (Well, other than last week’s acid trip about putting Hanson in the bullpen.)
I am but a simple caveman; your world frightens and confuses me. But I know this: Vazquez #1, Hanson #2, Lowe should be closing.

Wren Hater

November 10th, 2009
6:30 am

If Javier Vazquez gets traded, the buffoon known Frank “Wrong Again” Wren should be fired and then have a pitchfork shoved up his rectum.

The Braves need MORE players & pitchers like Vazquez, NOT fewer.

FsuNoleInDC

November 10th, 2009
6:41 am

I think the one line says it all ” you don’t trade your best pitcher and call yourself a franchise” the braves need to stop making some of these foolish moves and keep their best pitcher. I’d rather trade Lowe if possible or kawakami….if they braves want to win, they are going to have to speand a little money.

dagnabit

November 10th, 2009
6:48 am

How can the Braves improve and get me back by trading their best pitcher. And who is Katt Williams.

Braves fan since 1956

November 10th, 2009
7:00 am

Whats the difference between a right handed hitter and a leftie if he hits 35 homers and drives in 100+ runs? Leave Diaz(who has earned it) in left, put Heyward in right. Keep your money and pitchers(you’ll have injuries).

F-105 Thunderchief

November 10th, 2009
7:16 am

It has to be a 100-rbi guy for Vazquez. Do you really wear a Homburg? Wonder how many people will read that and think it’s what you sit on?

ManiacBravesFan

November 10th, 2009
7:21 am

Trading Vazquez would be bad, this guy is really good and he wants to be near his family in PR so I would keep him and put Lowe or Kawamki on the trade block, Lowe definitely.

RHR

November 10th, 2009
7:23 am

Well I was hoping they’d keep him too but now that he’s been bitten by the Bradley jinx…..so long, Javy.

MitchC

November 10th, 2009
7:24 am

Mark, I really hope you’re right. As you know, I’ve posted on your blog for many months that I’m dead set against the Braves trading Vazquez. He’s still young, and he can help us next year, and hopefully for years to come.

So, you know I have to ask: If Vazquez stays, what do you think the Braves will do about the six starting pitchers? Or, do you think that Bobby would dare do what you suggested a bit back, and make Hanson the closer, thus eliminating the need for a closer?

MitchC

November 10th, 2009
7:26 am

What I meant to say is.. of course, thus eliminating the need to trade for, or sign another closer, if both Gonzo and Soriano are let go.

Just wanted to clarify so it makes sense. It’s early, lol

Marco

November 10th, 2009
7:32 am

Katt Williams is a 3-foot-1 comedian from Atlanta.

SWAT Native

November 10th, 2009
7:35 am

As Bobby says, just when you think you got too much pitching, go get some more.

Bobbito Heat

November 10th, 2009
7:36 am

Mark,

Sometimes you’re dead wrong, but sometimes you are spot on! (But you’re always entertaining!)

And this is one of those times where you are so MONEY! I could not agree more. He wants to stay here and his teammates and coaches want him. And the fans’ stomachs churn with even the thought of losing him.

Wren will do the right thing though. He’s earned our faith from last offseason’s reconstruction of the starting rotation. I really don’t want to believe that he would take that big of a step backwards with something he worked soooooooo hard to accomplish. He’s looking to build on it!

And if Lowe’s too hard to move. Then move Kawakami… that’s at least 7 million we would save on next year’s payroll. If you get something for him – Great… If not – then you get 7 million of salary space to apply towards a leftfielder/firstbaseman along with whatever else they’ll have.

BRAVES in 2010!!! Do it for Coxie!!!

RobertNAtl

November 10th, 2009
7:36 am

I think they’re going to trade either Vazquez or Jurrjens for a bat, and, of the two, I’d rather they trade Vazquez.

Kudzu

November 10th, 2009
7:41 am

Better be making plans for 3rd base…

Tim and Jim(aka 2 homo boys)

November 10th, 2009
7:45 am

Why trade Vazquez, The white Sox cut ties with Jermaine Dye,Yes we know he has played with the Braves before,he could help the Braves and give them the power they need.he could hit betweent Chipper and Big Mac.also keep in mind people keep mentioning trading Vazquez to the Angels or Padres, That is not gonna work as he has a no trade clause to West Coast teams.So keep him.move Lowe to the closer role or try Hudson at closer and let Gonzo and Soriano walk,another possibility is sign Mike Cameron or don’t even worry about a right handed power bat,A left handed power bat can also be just as beneficial as a right handed one.We don’t see what difference it makes whether a hitter bats left or right.
A left hander can hit with power the same as a right hander.If you have a chance to get a left handed power hitter that is good also because getting a power hitter is better than not getting one.The Braves have the pieces to make them better but you don’t trade them away.another possibility is Dan Uggla,dude can outright hitt anrd left/right got nothing to do with it.Get Uggla put him between Chipper and big Mac and there is your power bat.there are possibilites available to make the team better.Wren needs to forget this right handed power hitting thing and get a power hitter rather than saying we want a right handed one.
Also Braves need to resign Adam Laroche,he can also hit with power.
my husband and I know tht Freddi Gonzalez likes Jo JO Reyes a lot,so Wren needs to work a deal with florida for Uggla or Cody Ross.KJ,JOJO.plus a mid level prospect and a lower level prospect might work.Never know unless you try.talk to the Marlins you never know what might develop.nothing ventured = nothing gained.Bottom line is the Braves need to keep Vazquez.As far as trading within your own division my husband and I see nothing wrong with it.a lot of trades have worked out that were made within the same division.Wren and the Braves need to be flexible.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

November 10th, 2009
7:54 am

Nice title MB, thats like “Bank Walker could be dating ScarJo, but I bet he doesn’t.”

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

November 10th, 2009
7:58 am

there are two sides hers: (1) if you think Javy was a one year wonder and will revert back to the way he has pitched every other year then you trade him because his trade value will never be higher or (2) if you think he just matured and turned the corner on pitching then he is top 5 in the NL, you will never get equal value so therefor you keep him.

Extremus

November 10th, 2009
8:00 am

In my experience one is never tempted to do the RIGHT thing; therefore my inclination is for the Braves to hold onto Vasquez. He’s earned another year in what could be the league’s best overall rotation next year.

That Norton for Pujols trade, on the other hand, does have its appeal…

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

November 10th, 2009
8:07 am

thats funny (2:44) a platoon of Cameron Diaz. When did we trade for her and how can we trade up for Salma Hayek

rhynster

November 10th, 2009
8:11 am

Anyone who thinks that Vazquez will have another season like last year either…

A) has not looked at Vazquez’s career history

or…

B) believes in unicorns, leprechauns and the tooth fairy,

Vazquez is NOT a #1 or a #2 pitcher. He’s a #3 with last season being an aberration.

TROTTINGHOME

November 10th, 2009
8:11 am

Where’s Dave O’Brian?

Nativebird

November 10th, 2009
8:12 am

Not only keep Vasquez, but if you have to package TWO other starters (Lowe and Kawa) then do it for a big bat. Lowe is A BUST at the money. Plain and simply he cannot be counted on. Vasquez has proven, he IS money and is a pro on and off the field. Match with Huddy and Hanson and you’ve got the makings to put with an badly needed acquired OFFENSE.

Mike S

November 10th, 2009
8:15 am

Bottom Line – JUst as DEFENSE wins championships in football, PITCHING wins championships in baseball.

The Braves have the pitching. it wouldbe stupid to trade it away. Vasquez, Hudson, Jurrjens, Hanson is a championship staff. Trade Lowe or Kawakami and get what you can, the other remains as 5th starter. if a decent deal can’t be made, Kawakami becomes long relief and Lowe just adds to the strength of the rotation.

Another option, give Lowe a look at setup or closer.

Nice

November 10th, 2009
8:19 am

Yeah, hate on Wren. He only brought us Jair, LaRoche after JS cast him off, finally cut bait on Andruw, and Frenchy, and oh yeah, also brought in the article’s subject, Javy Vasquez. Getting rid of Javy with Hudson coming back from an arm rebuilding surgery, and Hanson less than half a year into his career. I mention the last because let’s not forget, Chuck James looked very good his first season and into his second and Kyle Davies was even okay in spots when he first got here. I’m not saying Hanson will devolve into either of those, but we need to give him a season to make sure he is what we think he is. Also, as an aside, do we really think we can afford to stick Diaz and his 300 plus annual average on the bench as a part time player? I mean every year but one he has torn the cover off of the ball, and let’s face it, someone has to get on base for the ‘big bopper’, whomever it may be, to drive in. I think Diaz plays left or right, wherever the ‘bopper’ is not and truthfully, we might end up with the bopper in center. Not a bad thing, given McClouth is basically a 260-270 hitter with minimal power.

Nice

November 10th, 2009
8:20 am

Meant to say that getting rid of Javy…would be a huge mistake.

Sonny Clusters

November 10th, 2009
8:27 am

They should trade Vazquez for a Clusters. We was definately not pitching as good as Vazquez but we was always much cheaper. The Braves could replace they pitcher Kawakami for a Clusters and it could be a Vazquez Clusters pitching duo, with Stinky Wintes behind home plate.

j

November 10th, 2009
8:30 am

We don’t need to trade him. Lowe is the worst in the league WHEN HE IS OFF (84 MPH fastball??) and Kawakami is simply not that good. We need to keep this guy and figure something else out. How about our cheap a$$ owners sell us to someone who gives a damn? Or maybe get rid of Frank Wren?

2010 in site

November 10th, 2009
8:30 am

They wont trade Jurrjens, hes part of our future sitting beside Hanson. Just think of a rotation of Vazquez, Hudson, Jurrjens, Hanson and KK. I think that Lowe is the one who should be traded. Those big money clubs would go for him. Especially if all they have to give up is prospects. Then we take the money and sign a couple of free agents to fill the void in the outfield.

The Braves have their rotation set and if they want to compete with the big clubs again, they are going to have to spend a little money to bring in a player or two who can get the job done. Chipper Jones is no longer that player. Bring a couple in who will pull the weight and put people in the seats. Everyone loves a slugfest and thats what we need to go with the pitching. You just dont tear apart something as sweet as a Vazquez, Hudson, Jurrjens, Hanson rotation. You just make yourself week when you give away your top pitcher.

j

November 10th, 2009
8:34 am

Nice,

I do understand what Wren has done but we should have been in the playoffs. We probably would have been if HE had brought Hanson up sooner. I could give a $h!t about all of those moves because I had to watch the POS Phillies go to the World Series again. I am also not satisfied with ending the season on a six game skid.

j

November 10th, 2009
8:39 am

Oh yeah…And the Scott Proctor deal? Correct me if I am wrong but I think we have enough bad relief pitching right now!

PMC

November 10th, 2009
8:41 am

Depends on what they can get in trade. If they can get a bonified slugger they can consider it. He will never have higher value than now.

I’m good with keeping him too because if he’s a back of the rotation starter and we can move Cowpajami and Lowe to the BP until someone inevitably gets injured that would be a tremendous rotation.

They still need to address what they will do at Cleanup and Leadoff.

Poorbrave

November 10th, 2009
8:46 am

I hope you are right and he is the starting pitcher Opening Day. Vazquez is #1 and loves playing in Atlanta and gets the job done.What else do you want in a pitcher. Yes, we need a big RH bat but thats nothing new? how many years now has that been? Need big relief pitcher also .

Need a new Manager also!

BRAVE CHEIF

November 10th, 2009
8:46 am

Yes,the Braves should trade him and throw in Chipper Jones in the deal!Afterall Vasquez was never really sucessful in any of his other stops with the exception of the Expo’s.The Yankees paid big free agent $’s for him and he was a wash…history shows that he will fail miserably this season….TRADE HIM WHILE THE VALUE IS HIGH!

jeffrey d

November 10th, 2009
8:49 am

People on these blogs talk like Javier Vazquez is the greatest pitcher in Braves history.

No! It would be stewpid to trad him because he’s awesomeee!

Here’s the thing(s):

1) He’s only had ONE great season to go along with his +4 career ERA
2) He’s approaching his mid-30’s
3) He’s only under contract for one more year
4) He’s got a ton of value

Why not trade him? We’ve got enough pitching. He’ll be gone after this year anyway. I know a lot of people seem to have a distorted sense of worth (”Hey I got an idea! How about we offer Derek Lowe and JoJo Reyes for Ryan Braun!”) but we won’t get much for Lowe or Kawakami.

MLH

November 10th, 2009
8:52 am

It is amazing how many ignorant people here are hating on Frank Wren. Do you people not remember the Braves record before he reconstructed the roster? Or do you people just not know anything about baseball?

MLH

November 10th, 2009
8:52 am

It is amazing how many ignorant people here are hating on Frank Wren. Do you people not remember the Braves record before he reconstructed the roster? Or do you people just not know anything about baseball?

Big Ten Sleeper

November 10th, 2009
8:56 am

trade him for calvin johnson

jeffrey d

November 10th, 2009
8:57 am

How about our cheap a$$ owners sell us to someone who gives a damn? Or maybe get rid of Frank Wren?

Those owners dish out nearly $100 million a year, in the middle of a recession mind you, which ranks among the top half of baseball payrolls.

And what on earth has Frank Wren done? Built a solid foundation that’s going to be competitive for many years? Yeah okay. Do you think at all before you post, or do you just dish out whatever’s on the top of your head?

Doug B

November 10th, 2009
8:59 am

DO NOT TRADE JAVY!!!

Reid Adair

November 10th, 2009
9:00 am

I don’t see how Frank Wren cannot move Javier Vazquez. The contracts that he gave Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami a year ago make it virtually impossible to deal either one of them, and Wren has to find some money somewhere to deal with the offensive needs.

Besides, what on Earth do the Braves do with six starting pitchers (Vazquez, Kawakami, Lowe, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens) for an entire year in 2010? Wren got away with this for 2009 while Hudson was recovering from his injury, but he won’t have that for 2010 (unless somethign disastrous happens).

J-man

November 10th, 2009
9:02 am

The owners have a hard salary cap on the team. It’s a lot higher than many teams, but it’s not as high as others (ie. Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Angels and Dodgers to name a few). Simply put, this is all about money and nothing else. Lowe isn’t really tradeable because of his costly contract. Jurgens, Hanson and Hudson will be kept. That leaves Vazquez and Kawakami. Vazquez is gone. Why? The front office will conclude that they can’t afford to re-sign him (probably he’s looking at Lowe type money if he has a good 2010) so they might as well trade him since Kawakami is cheaper to keep and has 2 years left.

Reid Adair

November 10th, 2009
9:04 am

“Those owners dish out nearly $100 million a year, in the middle of a recession mind you, which ranks among the top half of baseball payrolls.”

Those same owners CUT payroll from 2008 ($102,365,683) to 2009 ($96,726,166). I wouldn’t be surprised to see them tell Wren to cut some more for 2010.

While the Braves reduced payroll from 2008 to 2009, the Phillies increased their payroll by almmost $15 million.

For 2009, the Braves were 11th in payroll. It wasn’t that long ago that they were in the top five. Clearly, what you spend is a factor in success.

tbhawksfan

November 10th, 2009
9:08 am

Seems like we had a pretty good team last season. Seems like next season looks good too. A couple of lesser moves could do it.

KEEP VASQUEZ

Vasq / JJ / Hanson / Hudson /

Kawa or Lowe can keep both with one moving to the pen or trade one or both of them. The rotation will still be excellent.

Sign LaRoche. He puts up good numbers, plays great D and fits in well. Can’t wait for Freeman and can’t already count on him to do anything in the next two seasons.

Sign an OF that can hit with some power and hopefully play some D.

If the right deal comes along for a nice offensive prospect, you let Lowe or KK go in a second.

Heyward is on the way and we have a few others ready to contribute.

Extremus

November 10th, 2009
9:11 am

I admit Frank Wren didn’t win any extra fans for his handling of how Smoltz and Glavine were released (although I do understand the need for younger, more dependable arms). But over the past year I’ve seen the Braves franchise take some lumps and learn a few valuable lessons (such as the need to hold on to top prospects; let’s hope we’ve seen our last deal where we singlehandedly restock half of another team’s lineup with top-tier prospects like we did the Texas Rangers). I hope we’re able to have an efficiently-run offseason where we get a whole lot more in return for what we give up. I want to see Bobby Cox go out with one more World Series ring.

I think now that the biggest obstacle to the Braves’ return to title contention is the nebulous, distant ownership of the Liberty Media corporation. Anyone out there working for a corporation over the past few years knows well that the employees, the customers (in Liberty’s case, the Atlanta fans), and everything else come a distant second to profit margins (can I get a witness?). We need a human owner who has a genuine passion for the game, the city, and the fans; no corporation has or ever will have any of those qualities. Say what you will about the Yankees (yes, I hate them as much as you guys do), but no one can fault the willingness of their ownership for putting forth the effort and money (however ridiculous) to get a championship product on the field.

raleighbravefan

November 10th, 2009
9:16 am

Frank Wren has done pretty well so far with what he has had to work with. He DID bring in Vasquez, and he refused to give in to the demands for Pevey, thank goodness. What would you have done that would have made the braves more competetive? Don’t give me the off-the-wall fantacy trades most of you suggest, because the other teams would never consider most of your suggestions in a million years. They are trying to make their teams better as well, and they are not stupid.

rhynster

November 10th, 2009
9:16 am

I’m constantly amazed at the people who think it’s so obvious to trade Lowe or Kawakami.

Honestly, I don’t even know if you could trade either of them for a bag of bats.

Your only tradeable pitchers are Jurrgens, Hanson and Vazquez.

So, isn’t Vazquez the obvious choice?