FLOWERS FOR VAZQUEZ

The White Sox packaged the extremely talented righthander Javier Vazquez and bullpen lefty Boone “They’re not saying Boone” Logan to the Braves for C-1B Tyler Flowers, SS Brent Lillibridge, 3B Jon Gilmore, and southpaw reliever Santos Rodriguez. Vazquez has a dynamite fastball, an explosive curveball, and very good control, yet he is two games below .500 in his career, despite the fact he has over 2,000 strikeouts. Down the stretch, when the White Sox needed him most, Ozzie Guillen & Vazquez, himself, lost confidence. This game is hard enough, but there is no way to succeed when you don’t believe in your stuff. That, in a nutshell, seems to Javier’s problem, not believing in his ability. It seemed, from my vantage point 34 rows behind home plate, Vazquez would be getting batters out, overpowering them, when all of a sudden he’d start trying to fool hitters, rather than just get them out. He’d get ahead 0-2, then nibble, rather than take advantage & put the hitter away. Still in this pitching starved era, this 32 year old will give you 33 starts & 200 innings, not bad, but he’ll drive you crazy, good luck Atlanta! Then there’s the case of Boone Logan, a herky jerky motion, from the leftside, couldn’t get my grandmother out in the second half of the season. In fact 97 year old granny was two for three, with a homer against Logan.

Now here’s what we got back, it was better than a half eaten bag of potato chips, so I’m happy. Tyler Flowers is a 6’4″ 245 pound righthanded hitting catcher/firstbaseman out of Georgia. Flowers played in High Class A ball for the Braves in 2008, where he hit 17 homers & 32 doubles, while hitting .288, with 98 bases on balls. But where Tyler really shined was the Arizona Fall League, where he was the home run leader with 12 home runs in only 20 games, with a batting average of .387. Atlanta drafted him in the 33rd round of the 2005 draft out of a junior college, then he was suspended fifty games for testing positive to taking performance enhancing drugs. A knee injury may limit him to a career at firstbase.

Brent Lillibridge was the Bucs shortstop of the future when he was drafted out of the University of Washington in the 4th round of the 2005 draft. In 2003 at the age of 19 Brent batted .388 with some pop at Washington. Even though he batted .220 with 90 strikeouts in 2008 with Richmond, it’s hard to think he’s washed up at the age of 24, in fact the Braves brought him to the majors for a cup of coffee, where he batted .200 in 80 at bats with the big league club. The book on Brent is that he’s a good fielder, with speed, who needs to re-find his stick.

Jon Gilmore is an interesting prospect, drafted by the Braves with the 33rd pick in the 2007 draft out of high school. This, 6’3″ 195 pound, 20 year old, thirdbaseman was born in Florida, but played his high school ball in Iowa City. 2008 was a split decision for Gilmore, as Jon batted .337 with 23 doubles in only 258 at bats in rookie ball, but then really struggled at Class A, hitting only .186.

Then there’s 20 year old lefty reliever Santos Rodriguez. It’s hard to get a read on Santos, as he’s only pitched two years of rookie ball. But in 2008 Rodriguez struckout 45 batters in 29 innings, with a nifty 2.79 ERA.

All in all, I like the deal. Sure we gave up a solid member of our rotation, but we got back value, and Vazquez had pitched on the Southside long enough, let the Braves enjoy him. Kenny Williams has been a genius and I’m not going to second guess him at this point.

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