Are you buying Javier Vazquez's assertion that his struggles in his first two starts are due simply to poor mechanics? That his slow start has nothing to do with 2004, and the fact that New York Yankees fans are having a hard time letting him forget it?
I will give him the benefit of the doubt. For now. And let me say I do believe Vazquez is a quality pitcher who will ultimately be successful. If he continues to struggle, though, there is no doubt it will become mental. Yankee fans have made it clear they will have little patience with Vazquez, so the sooner he gets going in the right direction the better.
The key to the Yankees upcoming nine-game, three-city road trip, which gets underway Tuesday night in Oakland, being a success is simply this: Bring Javy Vazquez back to New York with at least one victory, and preferably two, under his belt or risk having him face the wrath of the Beast of Yankee Stadium when the team returns home against the White Sox on April 30.
And they can begin work on that project right away, since Vazquez (0-2, 9.82 ERA) gets the ball against Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 3.38 ERA) at Oakland Coliseum in the series opener.
"It is something of a big start for him,'' manager Joe Girardi said. "There's been a lot made about his starts so you want to see him get going.''
The unspoken end to that sentence is, before he gets home. Vazquez was booed off the mound in his return to the Bronx as a Yankee last week, after allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings in what went on to be a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Afterward, he used an unfortunate choice of words -- repeating a reporter's question, he said the booing was "unfair,'' which created a minor tabloid firestorm -- which raised a disturbing specter about his future.
Could the Yankee Stadium fans, with their notoriously short patience and long memories, be getting into Vazquez' head? And once in there, can Vazquez ever get them out again?
"You know that, for sure,'' Vazquez said. "But you just got to forget about it, not let it bother you. Fans are fans and I know once I get going and start pitching better they're going to root for me.''
- The great baseball writer Joe Posnanski has an awesome look at revenue and spending in baseball. Poz points out that the Yankees spend almost exactly the same percentage of their revenue on baseball as do the Kansas City Royals. And that their percentage of revenue spent on payroll is virtually identical to league average. Poz writes:
The truth seems to be that the Yankees are NOT spending some out of control amount of money on payroll. Quite literally the opposite is true. The Yankees payroll is almost exactly in line with their revenue. ... The Yankee difference is that they make much, much, much, much, much, much, more money than any other team in baseball.
- The Yankees are heading to the White House.
- It's only 12 games, but doesn't it seem like Curtis Granderson has been a Yankee for, oh, 12 years or so?