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Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Rangers interested in Javier Vazquez? 

A report out of New York indicates that the Rangers are interested in Yankee righthander Javier Vazquez, and that the Yankees could look at taking Soriano as part of a deal for Vazquez.

Vazquez is an interesting case. Toiling in anonymity in Montreal, he flashed electric stuff and very good results, but also had the type of workload that can run a young pitcher into the ground. After his 2003 season, I thought Vazquez would be a great pitcher for the Rangers to target in the 2004-05 offseason, but then the Yankees picked up Vazquez in exchange for Nick Johnson and signed him to a 4 year, $45 million deal.

Vazquez started off great in New York this season, posting a sub-4 ERA through the All-Star Break, but then went south in the second half, going through a miserable stretch that had folks wondering whether he was hurt, or just couldn't handle the pressure of pitching in New York. With three years and about $35 million left on his deal, and with King George supposedly already ready to cut bait with him, there has been talk that the Yankees would look to dump him elsewhere, and pick up a big chunk of his remaining contract, much as they did with Jeff Weaver.

Vazquez in Texas could be an interesting combination. He's a fastball/flyball pitcher who gives up a lot of homers, which leads some to fear that, in TBIA, he'd be the second coming of Chan Ho Park. But unlike the Ho, Vazquez has always had exquisite control, posting superior K/BB and walk numbers. Vazquez, when healthy, is the type of #1 starter than the Rangers have needed since...well, since forever, and the fear that he's suddenly going to implode because of pitching in TBIA seems, to me, to be unwarranted.

I've speculated about a deal with the Yankees involving Soriano and Vazquez, but this is the first I've read that indicates that there might be some mutual interest in making it work. It would depend on how much of the Vazquez contract the Yanks pick up, but centering a deal around these two guys is something that I'd like to see the Rangers pursue.

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