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Thursday, December 24, 2009
Yanks' No. 4 starter could be No. 1

Catching up after a couple of days out of touch, and was surprised by the Yankees trading for Javier Vazquez, who did not pitch well in his previous stint with the club. First thing I did was look for It's About the Money (Stupid)'s take ...
Vazquez's single season as a Yankee was widely seen as a failure, and it was a failure despite his 14-10 record. So I was surprised to discover that Vazquez's only All-Star season was 2004. And yes, that happened because Vazquez actually pitched quite well before the All-Star Game: 10-5, 3.56 ERA, 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. But a switch didn't get flipped during the All-Star break. Vazquez pitched fairly well for another few weeks. On August 6, he ran his record to 13-6 (and still had a 4.12 ERA). What ruined his season were his last nine starts, when he went 1-4 with a 7.30 ERA. And he got blasted in his three postseason outings, too.

But whether it was an injury or mechanics or just a spot of bad luck, the point is that there's little evidence to suggest that Vazquez struggled because he couldn't handle pitching in New York. If that was the case, wouldn't it have showed up before August?

Vazquez will not duplicate his 2009 performance in 2010. He was one of the three or four best pitchers in the National League, and probably won't be one of the 10 best pitchers in the American League. But of course he doesn't need to be. Instead he'll probably be the best No. 4 starter in the majors, which is all the Yankees need him to be. Happy, as a Yanks fan? I would be deliriously ecstatic.