Don’t Panic: Vazquez, Granderson, and Johnson will Succeed in Pinstripes

May 2, 2010   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

Since Brian Cashman took the reigns of a championship-bound team in 1998, he has acquired several players who were run out of town following their disastrous tenures in pinstripes. Scathing condemnations written by dozens of columnists questioned these previously successful players’ respective abilities to succeed under the bright spotlight of New York. 

So as all three of Cashman’s previously lauded offseason acquisitions—DH Nick Johnson, CF Curtis Granderson, and P Javier Vazquez—continue to struggle as the calender turns to May, public opinion has shifted noticeably. More specifically, the average Yankee fan has begun to wonder whether any of these athletes, especially Vazquez, will be able to positively contribute towards a successful 2010 campaign.

But as I often like to say, nothing denotes the ignorance of the average sports fan—and journalist —more than overreactive impatience.

The fact is that of all of the supposedly exemplary players who failed in New York, none were as talented, established, or consistent as Javier Vazquez. In fact, Vazquez is the only pitcher in the history of the sport to have posted 10 consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins and 150 strikeouts.

The main problem is that expectations for Vazquez were simply far too high. Never in his career has the righty been as thoroughly dominant as he was in 2009, nor was he even decidedly above average in four full seasons in the American League, where he only once posted an ERA under 4.60.  

That said, if one’s idea of success for Vazquez—a number four starter who was acquired for a fourth outfielder and two above-average prospects—was a Cy Young caliber season, he or she needs to take a long, hard look at the mirror.

The fact is that after a completely inept April, many have come to believe that the totality of Vazquez’s 2010 season will be more like those of previous Yankees busts than any of Javy’s own. But again, these people are simply wrong, as previous acquisitions who failed to succeed under the New York spotlight cannot be evaluated in the same respect.

Carl Pavano had one good season in Florida before getting paid $40 million to wilt under pressure and pain. Jaret Wright got paid a mere $21 million to do much of the same.

Jeff Weaver had a half of a season of a sub-4.00 ERA before he started his career in New York, and Kevin Brown was 40 by the time he imploded in pinstripes.

Not surprisingly, a lack of Major League experience resulted in mediocre careers for Jose Contreras and Hideki Irabu. 

Looking back, there was little reason for optimism for any of the aforementioned pitchers. Most of them simply did not have a large amount of talent. The only one who did was born during during the Johnson administration.

So when thinking about the prospects for the rest of the 2010 season, it is only appropriate to be reasonable. Do not stoop to the level of the average fan and suspect that pitching’s version of the apocalypse is afoot. Instead, understand that five starts is far too little of a sample size to predict failure.

Do not suggest that the slumps that Granderson and Johnson are currently going through are characteristic of long-term busts. Instead, realize that both are undergoing the same frustration that every Major Leaguer experiences several times a season.

And most of all, do not claim that New York is the greatest place to play in the world and then shower the city’s athletes with unwarranted hate and regret. Instead, recognize that players of Vazquez’s caliber do not simply implode in a certain city when they have pitched favorably for four other teams.

As special as New York is, to suggest that one place is such a prestigious and volatile place to live is also indicative of the average Yankee fan’s egotism. Sure, New York is great, the media is rough, and the pressure is measurable, but these things have never, in the history of sport, had such a profound effect on the career of a single athlete. 


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