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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vazquez to Braves for a Bag of Goodies

The White Sox traded Javier Vazquez  and Boone Logan to Atlanta for Brent Lillibridge and three prospects the other day.  I actually read Keith Law's take on this trade earlier today so Keith, if you're reading, I'm sorry for stealing some of your thunder.  Actually, it's what I get for not getting this post up earlier in the week. 
 
The Braves perspective:
The White Sox traded the man slated to be their number two starter this week.  Now, part of me wants to jump up and down because Atlanta finally has a competent pitcher besides Jair Jurrjens.  But part of me realizes that Vazquez is not the perennial all-star many had hoped while playing in Montreal but instead is a guy whose main value lies in pitching 200+ innings each year.  Typically a non-believer in "clutch", I think there's something to the notion that Vazquez struggles in pressure situations.  Is it a coincidence that his best years came pitching in empty stadiums in Montreal?  Or that his September ERA was 6.25?  Maybe, but at 2 yrs for $23 million Atlanta will try to find out.  Moving to the non-DH league should only help a pitcher, though, so in this Atlanta acquires a #3 type starter who ably eats up innings to save the fragile bullpen and if blessed with the "good Javy" gets someone capable of putting up low vote totals on the Cy Young ballot.
Boone Logan represents a throw-in.  He doesn't throw particularly hard and from what I've seen doesn't know what to do against righties so perhaps he could find some value as a LOOGY, giving the Braves three from which to choose (O'Flaherty, Ridgway, Logan).  If I had to pick I'd say O'Flaherty with Logan as a fallback.

White Sox:
SS Brent Lillibridge, 3b Jon Gilmore, LHP Santos Rodriguez, C Tyler Flowers

Brent Lillbridge is the name in the deal, but his performance has been underwhelming at the major league level.  He's essentially a singles hitter who plays good defense at shortstop with the added value of his ability to play third and center field.  This probably ends the chances that Juan Uribe and Pablo Ozuna have of coming back and may even enable Ozzie to come up with some creative lineups.
Jon Gilmore is a prospect who hit well in the  Sally League but is still young and could be seen as a replacement for Josh Fields at 3b in two or three years.  However, I don't see how he'll be an updgrade since he has little power and bad defense.
Santos Rodriguez is a lefty with major control problems but 45 strikeouts in 29 innings must've caused Kenny Williams to do a double take.  There's upside but I doubt he ever amounts to much.
The real guy in this trade is Tyler Flowers.  Flowers is a prospect who somehow managed to stick around while the Braves traded off a glut of catchers (McCann, Saltalamacchia, Clint Sammons, Max Ramirez, Brayan Pena) so that says something right there.  His defense remains a work in progress causing some scouts to suggest a move from behind the dish is inevitable, but I think his offense will cause the Sox to overlook his defensive deficiencies in a Piazza-esque sort of way if you wish.  And for a team who has put up with Pierzynski, why wouldn't they?  In fact Flowers should be ready to take over full time right when Pierzynski is given the wave good-bye in 2010.

Verdict:
The White Sox get a player that should provide a serious offensive impact whether at 1b, DH, or C.  Obviously this addition will be maximized if Flowers stays at catcher but for a team with aging stars, this is a very very good acquisition.  Lillibridge is a nice utility player with some speed but no pop and Gilmore could be a starting 3b but that is far enough a way that it's perhaps just wishful thinking.  In my opinion, Flowers ranks as the Sox #3 prospect and allows them to save a bucket full of change.
On Atlanta's side they get a player that has value but what's the difference in winning 83 games from 75?  That's all I see and frankly it frustrates me.  At least they didn't give up Kelly Johnson.  Advantage: White Sox.


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