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White Sox Extend Javier Vazquez

In a surprise move, the White Sox signed 30 year-old right-handed starter Javier Vazquez to a three-year, $34.5MM extension today.  The deal starts in 2008, as Vazquez is due $12.5MM this year.

I love the move.  If the Sox had to choose one of their guys to extend, Vazquez was the right one.  Plus, they get him at a slight discount after a 4.84 ERA that did not represent his skills.  How many American League pitchers strike out 8 batters per nine and walk fewer than 2.5?  Not many.  Vazquez's command, as measured by K/BB, is among the best in the AL. Only Schilling, Santana, Haren, and Halladay pitched 200 innings with better command.  And Vazquez is a virtual lock for 32+ starts.

PECOTA says the White Sox overpaid by $7MM, but given the current market, I think it's more than fair.  If Ted Lilly requires 4/40 and Gil Meche 5/55, Vazquez's deal is a steal.  One of these years, maybe 2007, Don Cooper is going to solve the enigma of his disproportionately high ERAs.

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You would think they would have waited until he had a decent year for them first...

No that would be the bad move, then he'd want 4 years or $13MM annually.

Good move, I still don't think he's reached his potential.

I don't think Vazquez is that good...but to get him for just a 3 year commitment is smart. Even if he isn't worth $11.5MM per year, the deal won't come back to bite them like Zito etc. will.

"I love the move."

Of course you do, because you value projections, PECOTA, ZIPS, etc. over *actual,* genuine results.

" the Sox had to choose one of their guys to extend, Vazquez was the right one."

Maybe, maybe not.

"Plus, they get him at a slight discount after a 4.84 ERA that did not represent his skills."

Flat out BS. This is where the "projectionists" and "new statisticians" UTTERLY FAIL. Year after year after year you guys spout out the same BS. "Uhh... his peripherals and PECOTA and his FIP say he's really better! So ignore his REAL PRODUCTION and just base your beliefs on a system that has not accurately represented him for THREE YEARS."

I've been called a sabermetrician often. But this where all the people who think they're gurus because of the new stats look like idiots. Because year after year they SWEAR Vazquez will come along and Barry Zito will crash and burn, and year after year, they're WRONG. After 2 years of below-projected performance, I thought people were foolish to get all excited about Vazquez. Now it's 3 years? Look at how much you're banking on this comeback! You continue to believe the BS after THREE YEARS. THREE YEARS. It's not happening. Talking like it is doesn't make you a cool insider, it makes you a dupe.

I'd excuse these people after one year or two. But not three. Acting like Vazquez is an ace based on his PROJECTED numbers over the past three years is idiocy. Admit you're wrong and start treating him like he should be based on his real numbers.

"How many American League pitchers strike out 8 batters per nine and walk fewer than 2.5? Not many."

How many guys post ERAs like him year after year and continue to get talked up by people who can't buy a clue? Nobody. How many guys still draft him way too high just because some wise ass says "His WHIP is so low, his ERA is sure to come down!" Three years of this nonsense.

Why don't we try looking at the way Vazquez leaves so few runners on base CONSISTENTLY. Or the way he coughs up home runs in trouble spots.

The deal is fine, because you can't buy crap nowadays. But all of this Javier Vazquez asskissing is intolerable. It's going to be another year of nice strikeouts, fair enough walk totals, low WHIPs, higher home runs, a bloated ERA, and people scratching their head going "Well, maybe next year!"

I was playing a dice-rolling game with my friend once. It was simple - all I had to do was roll anything higher than a 1 and I'd win.

So what do you know? I roll a 1 the first time. So I play again. I roll a 1 again! One more time? Damn, I rolled a 1 again. I've got to play again - I can't roll another 1, can I? I've got an 83% chance of rolling something other than a 1!


I was pretty upset with myself. I'd excuse myself after roll one or two. But not three. I continued to believe the BS after THREE ROLLS. THREE ROLLS. It's not happening.

That's cool Dental Plan...you roll with the gut feeling, I will roll with the projection systems.

Here are five players whose component ERAs were far above their actual in '06. Since you don't believe that component stats should be used to project ERAs, you likely believe that these players will approximate their '06 ERAs. I believe that component stats should and can be effectively used to project ERAs, so I believe their ERAs will come down.

Unit
Bush
Cain
Vazquez
Beckett
Peavy

It sounds like you are pointing the exception and calling it the rule.

Betcha five bucks Vazquez posts an ERA below 4.84 in '06. The RESULTS call for another 4.84 though right?

Still when you post those kind of component rates 2 years in a row and have bad era's it's time to start looking for other reasons. I still think you're right that his era should be lower but in *this* case it makes you wonder why something is happening and trying to firgue that out will only lead to a better understanding of the game.

No system is ever perfect. Even The Matrix had an anomaly. :) I thank guys like Tim because the methods they use (check that, INVENTED) come the CLOSEST that we can to predictions. MLB is VERY hard to predict afterall. Maybe in the future we will know why his ERA was higher than his peripherals were leading us to believe. The reason any of us will ever know is people like Tim will dig and find out why. Theres pretty much NO reason to post somthing so heated. Afterall, what projections did YOU have the last 3 seasons DentalPlan? Please provide that link....

Besides, If he posts good stats in 4 categories, I'll take him. I can live with a 4+ ERA from an AL Central pitcher. If you don't like him, just don't draft him.

I agree with a bit of everyone. Vazquez isn't going to be a sub-4 ERA pitcher in the AL, its probably not going to happen. He should be better than a 4.84 ERA. He should be, and stats back that up.

But that guy is right, projection systems cannot take into account intangibles. You could have a low WHIP but a high ERA, and we know this watching a game, how pitchers run into trouble pitching out of the stretch.

Again, on those 5/6 guys Tim named earlier, not one of them should have posted an ERA that high. They are all better than that, Beckett and Unit especially should have done better. But they got hammered in a few starts that killed their ERA. Overall, they did just fine.

Thats the problem with ERA as a whole, if you are going to lose, does it matter how badly it is, and that ruins ERA's without effecting results. I know with Beckett, you take out the two starts in a row against NYY and the blue jays, and his ERA drops about half a point.

We know the limitations of stats from Tim's sentences

"PECOTA says the White Sox overpaid by $7MM, but given the current market, I think it's more than fair. If Ted Lilly requires 4/40 and Gil Meche 5/55, Vazquez's deal is a steal."

Pecota says they overpaid, we all know given what has happened in the last off season or two, they have anything but.

But overall, the work done with Pecota, and all the guys (tim too) who project stats, they overwhelmingly, they get it pretty damn close. Because they use a variety of sources, probably including components and past performance. If they didn't get it close, they wouldn't exist, because no one would care.

What's the secret? Vazquez gives up more hits that the average high K/9 pitcher and he's way too homer prone. 1.2/9 through his career. Who cares if you keep the walks down when you have a tendancy to get banged around the park like that?

I expect another mid-high 4 ERA until he gets a bit better at keeping the ball in the park.

Every rule has its exceptions and the numbers suggest Vazquez might be one of them.

I think it's a great signing for the White Sox, especially considering the current market. Vazquez reminds me of the pre-2005 version of Contreras: basically lights out the first four innings, then in the 5-6 innings, his concentration wains or something and he makes some huge mistake pitches. Totally fixable flaws. I'd be surprised if his numbers don't trend better through the life of this contract. Williams and company seem to have a plan and know what they're doing.

I am a huge Vazquez fan and watch most of his starts.

Vazquez's problem is this....

Vazquez has impeccable command. Atho he has power stuff, he is a true pitcher at heart.

Vazquez likes to live on the edges of the plate, unless he's trying to bury his change up or a breaking ball on u.

Unfortunately, Vazquez doesn't always get a consistent strike zone. Not only is it inconsistent, it tends to be smaller than say, oooh I don't know, Barry Zito.

For a pitcher like Vazquez, this has a significant impact. Couple this with Vazquez's temper (or the temper of just about any pro-athlete) and u have ur problem.

When Vazquez is at his best, he is as good as anyone in the game. He's mixing it up with an array of anywhere between 4 to 8 pitches if u consider slghtly different arm angles.

Vazquez can make the ball move in jus about any direction, a la Maddux.

Even when in this state of mind tho, a few bad calls turns him into Aaron Heilman.

He gets frustrated and turns into a 2 pitch pitcher, 80% of the time throwing his 2 seamer, which is a devastating pitch unless it's thrown that often.

Heilman does it becuz he sucks.

Vazquez does it becuz he's frustrated and pouting to a certain extent.

While Greg Maddux gets the biggest zone that I've ever seen in my 25 years of experience as a baseball fan, Vazquez gets one of the smallest.

I won't speculate why. This board isn't
intellectual enough to handle a sociological/philosophical discussion like that.

bsox, you were making a legitimate argument for the first three quarters of your post. Then you resorted to the arguments of "Heilman sucks" and "I'm smarter than this board anyway so it doesn't matter what anyone else says." Oh well, the first three quarters were maybe somewhat valid.

Roto-
Perhaps you should point out Vazquez's era in the second half of the season, and particularly in the final month of the season. Cooper is on record saying he asked Vazquez to stand up taller in his delivery and keep his body closed. Somewhere in-between this never-ending fight about gut-feelings vs. projections stands real mechanical changes. If there is anyone to have faith in here, its Don Cooper. I give the deal a thumbs up.

Component ERA takes into account both HR and hits allowed. The point is, with ALL of his stats (excellent K and walk rates, poor HR rate) he should still be posting a lower ERA.


If you look at the league as a whole, CERA has better predictive value for future ERA than ERA itself does. That is just about all you can ask for.


My dice-rolling analogy was not a joke. Every year, of course, there are players will post ERAs higher and lower than their CERAs. It's just basic probability theory that some players will be below for several years in a row, and others will be above, thus giving the illusion that "CERA doesn't apply to them."

Everyone keeps saying that Vazquez gets hurt by the long ball, but he only allowed 23 last year. A .9 HR/9 certainly isn't getting banged around the park, and that was spectacular coming in a hitter's park (US Cellular ranked 2nd last year in HR park factor according to ESPN losing out only to Arizona, Vazquez last stop). So Vazquez' peripherals stayed pretty much the same last year as the previous one & he dropped 12 HR, yet his ERA rose nearly by nearly .5. Go figure. 20 of his 32 starts he allowed 3 runs or less, giving his team an excellent chance to win the game. IMO, that's a damn good pitcher.

Good point bobo. Does anyone know a site that lists Quality Starts as a stat? I can't find it anywhere.

Vazquez has an awesome reptoire. His issue seems to be mechanical or a head issue. If he can get over that he certainly has the ability to dominate.

He had a 1.72 ERA against Boston and the Yankees last year in 3 starts. How much do their players make again????

I can't find QS on any player pages, but ESPN has it in its statistics section in the "Expanded I" type.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stats/pitching?seasonType=2&type=pitch2&sort=ERA&split=0&season=2006&pos=all&hand=a&league=mlb&ageMin=17&ageMax=51&minip=0

pinetar good stuff. Thats the best stat that ive seen about vazquez. Ill take a guy giving up 3 or less runs in 20 out of 32 starts, especially an inning eating machine like vazquez. bobo also good stuff.

You can go to his bbref page, click on game logs and look at his game scores. Vazquez had 15 QS last year by game scores (50+) with 4 more that were borderline. He had 9 starts with a GS under 40.

For comparison sake, Halladay, who tends to post similar K:BB ratios had 23 QS and 2 games under 40.

Comparing Vazquez to Halladay is like comparing apples & oranges. Halladay is very likely the #2 pitcher in MLB, & I don't think anybody's comparing Vazquez to the #2 pitcher in baseball. He's the ultimate control pitcher of this age & throws CG's in under 100 pitches. K:BB is about the only comparable stat you can find between the 2. Vazquez gets himself into trouble by throwing too many pitches. The fact that he had 20 games with 3 or under ER while only 15 of them were QS is a testament to that. If we were talking about Halladay here, we'd be discussing whether it was prudent for the team to sign him 7 yrs $140MM.

The original qualifier was that he gives up way more hits than other pitchers who have similar K/9. If you look at the #'s though, you'll find out that isn't true.
K/9 H/9 ERA
Smoltz 8.19 8.6 3.49
Bedard 7.84 9.0 3.76
Harang 8.30 9.3 3.76
Schilling 8.07 9.7 3.97
Vazquez 8.17 9.2 4.84

He obviously wasn't homer prone last year either. So it is still a big secret...to me at least.

Outstanding comment thread here fellas. I don't feel like such a homer after having read each one, as usual :)

Yeah, this is one of the best threads I have read on this site. Some really great arguments, incite, and statistics being thrown around here. Well done.

Problem here is, I thot it was a given that Vazquez was a good pitcher.

Didn't realize that was still up for debate.

Watch 3 of Vazquez's starts and u'll see exactly what I'm talking about.

He will be dominating painting the corners with 2 seamers, 4 seamers (at about 92-95), change ups, curveballs and sliders.

In the 4th inning, the ump will cheat him on 1 or 2 pitches and poof, he will be completely unraveled.

Then count how many 2 seamers he throws. It won't be hard, becuz it's generally one after the other.

It happens often enough that u will definitely see it happen if u watch 3 of his games.

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