WTNYDecember 05, 2003
Yankees counter Schilling
By Bryan Smith

I hope everyone enjoyed the Cubs Organizational Meeting above, but I wanted to address the Vazquez trade for the weekend as well. Officially, the Yankees sent Montreal 1B Nick Johnson, OF Juan Rivera, and LHP Randy Choate in exchange for their ace. First, here are a few of Javier's 2003 splits:

Overall: 13-12 3.24 198/230.2 241/57
Home: 9-4 3.29 116/126 134/26
Road: 4-8 3.18 82/104.2 107/31
Pre-ASB: 6-6 3.95 114/125.1 139/35
Post-ASB: 7-6 2.39 84/105.1 102/22

Vazquez was sensational last season, especially during the second half of the season. He pitched better on the road, despite a .333 winning percentage, largely due to the Expos' enemic road offense. Vazquez did see his strikeout rate plummet a bit in the second halh, although his K/BB, BB/9, and H/9 rates all improved. He's a workhorse, similar to Curt Schilling, and it wouldn't suprise me for Vazquez to out pitch Schilling from Boston. As it stands, this is the 2004 New York Yankees starting lineup, assuming Andy Pettite remains a Yankee...

1. Mike Mussina- RHP
2. Andy Pettite- LHP
3. Javier Vazquez- RHP
4. Jose Contreras- RHP
5. Jon Lieber/Jeff Weaver- RHP

Pettite along with one more hitter is basically everything the Yankees have left this offseason, and I expect both to be finished within a week. Kenny Lofton should soon accept a full-time job as the Yankees center fielder, giving the team this lineup:

1. Kenny Lofton- CF- LH
2. Derek Jeter- SS- RH
3. Jorge Posada- C- SH
4. Gary Sheffield- RF- RH
5. Jason Giambi- 1B- LH
6. Alfonso Soriano- 2B- RH
7. Hideki Matsui- LF- LH
8. Bernie Williams- DH- SH
9. Aaron Boone- 3B- RH

The Yankees will have amazing balance, and should benefit from having Lofton and Jeter at the top, rather than Soriano and Jeter. Luis Castillo was probably the Boss' first choice, but Sheffield and Vazquez were simply higher on the priority list. This team is very compareable to Boston's lineup, if not superior. And the Bronx Bombers' have already completed their 2004 bullpen, which looks like this:

CL- Mariano Rivera
SU- Tom Gordon
RH- Paul Quantrill
RH- Steve Karsay
LH- Chris Hammond
LH- Felix Heredia
Long- Lieber/Weaver/Bret Prinz

Enough about the Yankees already. For moving so much money, I really like how the Expos did in this deal, adding a lot of offense in Johnson, along with a former #1 prospect and possible replacement for Guerrero in Juan Rivera. Randy Choate may allow the team to non-tender Scott Stewart, becoming the team's second leftie out of the bullpen. First, here are a few numbers of the three:

Johnson: .284/.422/.472
Vs. RH: .285/.429/.482 Vs. LH: .282/.393/.437
Home: .287/.412/.507 Road: .282/.430/.443
Pre-ASB: .305/.455/.517 Post-ASB: .270/.402/.446

Rivera: .266/.304/.468
Vs. RH: .236/.282/.390 Vs. LH: .340/.358/.604
Home: .294/.324/.510 Road: .225/.276/.408
In 325 AAA AB: .325/.374/.461

Choate in 54 AAA appearances: 3-5 3.91 75/71.1 56/24

Johnson has already become a fantastic hitter, and his power numbers may have been higher if not for injury. He has no real platoon split, and I would ignore his slightly lesser road and post-break numebrs. He is also a former top prospect of the Yankees, and should immedietly become the Expos' clean-up hitter, assuming Vladimir Guerrero leaves the team.

Rivera had a somewhat disappointing seson, although he hit well in AAA. He rakes left-handed pitchers well, and hopefully he'll adjust from not playing in Yankee Stadium anymore. Rivera will battle with Terrmel Sledge for the right-field spot, although Sledge is also competing for CF with Endy Chavez. Brad Wilkerson is in left, and should be primed for a big 2004. The infield will contain Johnson, Jose Vidro, and Orlando Cabrera, and the third base and catching positions are still up in the air.

Losing Guerrero and Vazquez gives Omar Minaya a little economic wiggle room, as he will be able to keep the majority of the other players from that 2003 team. Don't be suprised to see El Duque, Tomo Ohka, and Scott Stewart non-tendered, although that may be it. This Expos team will finish fourth next season, although their future just got brighter with Johnson and Rivera. I would offer Jose Vidro a long-term deal now, as he has suddenly become the team's best player.

That's it for the weekend, I'll be back Monday, during which we should have some big news to talk about. Until then, keep your eye on Pudge Rodriguez and the Marlins.