Javier Vazquez vs. Brandon Webb

Yesterday I posed the question on Facebook about whether fans would be more inclined to take Roger Clemens or Brandon Webb on a one-year deal, sight unseen.  The question got me thinking, is there a realistic scenario a Major League GM may be facing that is similar to the question I posed?  The most realistic possiility would be that of Javier Vazquez's possible return and Webb's return.

As we covered yesterday, Brandon Webb will be throwing for scouts this month.  That means a return to the Majors is possible.  However, if he does get a contract, it will likely be a minor league deal.  The same can be said for Javier Vazquez.  A couple days ago, news was furthered that Javier Vasquez could make a comeback to the Majors.  After a year off tough, he would likely only get a minor league contract.  That being said, both pitchers would be invited to Major League camp this spring and both would be given their chance to break camp with the big league club.  So who do you sign?

Come on, you're the GM.  You're cup of coffee is sitting getting cold as you pour over the numbers.  So what's the problem?  You can't make a decision.  One is old and a year removed from baseball, and the other has never proven that he can recover from mysterious shoulder problems.  That's the beauty of baseball.  One of these pitchers could be a diamond in the rough, but he doesn't need to be.  All he needs to be is serviceable.

Vazquez has had an impressive Major League career.  His time in baseball has been the type that players dream of when they are riding the bumpy busses of the minors.  They hope for a steady paycheck and the comforts of air travel between cities.  Of course, those very same players dreamt of being so much more than Vasquez ever was when they were young and uninitiated to the rigors of baseball life.  Once the progressional life begins, almost every player would be more than happy with 165 wins over 14 seasons.  They would gladly take a 4.22 career ERA if it meant the chance at the postseason and large paychecks.

That's Javier Vazquez.  Good, not great.  Productive, not dominant.  He was an All-Star in 2004 and he finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2009.  Outside of that, Vazquez got by.  He helped the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox to the postseason.  He stayed healthy.  He ate up innings.

Now, Vazquez is trying to crank it back up.  A year out of baseball in his late thirties may be something Vazquez is not able to overcome.  In 2011, Vazquez tossed 192 2/3 innings for the Florida Marlins.  He had an impressive year, going 13-11 with a 3.69 ERA.  Surprisingly, Vasquez did not really lose velocity over his career.  In 1998, his rookie season, Vazquez averaged 90.5 mph on his fastball.  In 2011, he averaged 90.4 mph on his fastball as well.

Then there's the story of Brandon Webb.  His is a tale of promise and productivity cut short by mystery.  Webb, a large righty from Kentucky, looked like a farm boy when he took the mound.  His size was almost as intimidating as his stuff.  He gave the Arizona Diamondbacks hope as they struggled through the 2004-06 seasons.

Webb last pitched in the Majors in 2009.  He pitched a total of seven seasons making 198 starts.  But his arm - specifically his shoulder - couldn't carry the weight of consistent 200+ inning workloads.  For five straight seasons Webb pitched at least 200 innings.  In four of those seasons, he pitched at least 220 innings.  The wear and tear caught up to him.  It ate up his shoulder and left him without a concrete plan for recovery.  Instead, Webb was forced to rehab and attempt comeback after comeback.  But nothing worked.

Now, at 33 year old, Webb has a few years left in the take under normal circumstance, but he may not have anything left considering his injuries.  He made one start in 2009.  In that start, Webb pitched four innings, gave up six runs on six hits.  It was a bad start, and things would only get worse as Webb missed the rest of that season, missed all of 2010, 2012, and 2012.  The likelihood of a comeback at this point is low.  But baseball is a game of beating odds, and Webb could give the game one if its more impressive comeback tales.

So imaginary GM, make your choice.  You haven't seen either player pitch, but you've heard they can still deal.  Sight unseen, who are you signing?

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3 Responses to Javier Vazquez vs. Brandon Webb

  1. Sades of giving the ball to Ramon Ortiz, Livian Hernandez, Sidney Ponson, Jeff Francis, Kevin Millwood, or any number of others. If they will sign a minor league contract, be content to pitch at least 6-20 starts at triple-A if they don;t blow people away in spring training, take a chance on them. Right now, both Miami and Houston should be looking at ANYONE cheap and with promise that they could flip in mid-season.

    1. I think taking a chance on Vazquez would be easier to stomach than Webb, but who knows?

  2. With all the young arms that the D-backs have (and had when Trevor Bauer was still around), Brandon Webb would be a great addition to their Spring Training roster to instruct by example the precious gift that pitching in the majors is. If he has recovered, he'd be a nice spot starter and long reliever in 2013 who would instantly be a valuable leader among boys on the developing Snakes pitching staff.


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