Mets Considering Javier Vazquez

All sorts of trade rumors coming from my source close to the Mets’ front office.  While it is well-known that the Mets are interested in Arizona righthander Javier Vazquez, my source names a pitching prospect contrary to published reports.

According to my source, the Mets are considering dealing Kris Benson and 19 year-old blue chip pitcher Gaby Hernandez for Vazquez.  Up to this point, published reports have named the polished 24 year-old Brian Bannister as the prospect in the deal.

While Hernandez has not pitched above A ball, he has a much higher ceiling than Bannister.  Bannister did impress in 45 Triple A innings in 2005, however.

Vazquez’s problem lately has been the long ball.  His HR/9 rate has hovered above 1.4 while his strikeout and walk rates were superb last season.  Unfortunately for the Mets, Vazquez carried his home run woes with him on the road in ’05.  It will troublesome if he continues to do so, but there’ s no doubt that Shea Stadium suppresses home runs (by 16%) and Chase Field inflates them (by 13%).

Even if Vazquez continues to surrender home runs, he’s a marked improvement over Kris Benson.  Benson managed a 4.13 ERA in 2005 to Vazquez’s 4.45, but consider:

He’s two years older than Vazquez. 
He was much worse away from Shea Stadium.
He hasn’t pitched 200 innings in a season since 2000.
His 2005 strikeout rate was a career low.

Considering that the Mets appear to be entering extreme "win now" mode, the Vazquez trade is a good move even if Gaby Hernandez pans out in 2007.

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