I can’t say this option has much of a shot, as this player has been pretty solidly quoted as saying retirement is his number one option. The player, of course, is Javier Vazquez, but the last update heard from him was tracked by MLBTR back in early December. Originally, he was waiting to potentially return to the Marlins, but with that option gone it was assumed he would retire.
Of course, there has been no formal announcement and no note of Vazquez filing with the office to retire. That doesn’t mean he isn’t fully planning to retire, but perhaps he is still weighing his options and a signing is still possible; even outside of Miami. I’m sure fans in Boston think of the Vazquez who pitched in New York and cringe, but there is plenty about Vazquez worth liking in a Red Sox uniform.
Understanding FIP vs ERA
Back in another lifetime, I wrote about Vazquez on another site (unfortunately they have since removed the article — reason to always save you work to your own database). My analysis took a thorough look at why Vazquez could never match his FIP and his ERA was always a third of a run higher on average. While he had some poor defenses behind him a few years, the biggest problem for Vazquez was a poor makeup when pitching from the stretch.
In his career Vazquez has a K/BB of 3.32 and is excellent when the bases are empty at 4.04. When a runner is on base though his K/BB fell to 2.53, which is good, but troublesome for a fly ball pitcher. The league average pitcher in 2010 had a K/BB of 2.51 with no runners on and fell to 1.84 with runners on base. That is a 37% drop for Vazquez and a 27% drop for everyone else. This led to a rate of runners left on base that was often lower than league average as he gave up more hits and base runners when in the stretch.
His career numbers confirm he is continue to pitch poorly from the stretch and will almost always be worse than his FIP projects. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful number five in Boston.
Projecting Vazquez in Boston
The numbers in the AL have not been great for Vazquez, but there is still room for optimism in a return. He spent time in New York twice, as most around here know, and had a three year stay in Chicago with the White Sox. His overall ERA in the AL stands at 4.65 vs an ERA of 3.99 in the NL.
His time in New York was awful at best, and much of 2010 was moved back and forth from the pen resulting in more time spent in the stretch. He also had injury woes and was slowly removed from the rotation. He only totaled 157.1 innings that season, which was his lowest since 1999 with the Expos.
His time in Chicago was up and down, but had a solid total ERA of 4.40 with one season pitching very well to an ERA of 3.74. His career has never been consistent, but other than 2010 he has always been an innings eater and been a 3-6 fWAR pitcher. He’s in the twilight of his career at 36 years old, but in comparison to Aaron Cook, Carlos Silva or Vicente Padilla, I would give him first chance for sure.
His projection according to OLIVER gives him an ERA of 3.93 in 180 innings totaling 2.9 WAR. Also it’s worth noting that OLIVER gives Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt a projection of 2.6 and 2.9 WAR respectively. There would have to be some adjustment for signing back in the AL for any of these pitchers as well as moving to Fenway Park, but they all seem on equal ground according to OLIVER.
It’s very likely that Vazquez doesn’t even play in 2012, but the Red Sox hopefully have placed a call to see what interest Vazquez might have in playing in Boston. He would make a solid number five with the history to eat plenty of innings. That seems like a better choice than Oswalt at this point with injury concerns. The rumblings from the Red Sox is that they will pass on anymore starting pitchers and head to spring training as is.
The team will surely compete for the Wild Card as is and with more luck than we have seen in a few seasons compete for the division, but adding one of the available pitchers including Gavin Floyd by trade would make the team much more competitive in the AL East for 2012. Depending on the interest and contract needed to get it done Vazquez would be a surprising, but solid addition.