Which of these two pitchers is going to go for more in your auction this year? Here are their 2009 stats and their 2010 ages:
Player A: 15 W, 2.87 ERA, 238 Ks, 1.026 WHIP, RHP, age 33
Player B: 2 W, 3.61 ERA, 30 Ks, 1.465 ERA, RHP, age 34
Now, that comparison is not really fair, as Player B was obviously hurt at some point while Player A had arguably the best season of his career last year. So, let’s use some career numbers instead.
Player A: 4.19 ERA, 8.14 K/9, 1.24 WHIP
Player B: 3.64 ERA, 6.13 K/9, 1.26 WHIP
That closes the gap considerably and you could reasonably opt for Player B, preferring his likely ERA to Player B’s definite K advantage. A lot would depend on the health of Player B and the respective teams of the two pitchers. Let’s throw another piece of information into the mix, the Bill James 2010 projections for both players.
Player A: 15 W, 3.60 ERA, 204 Ks, 1.20 WHIP
Player B: 10 W, 3.64 ERA, 89 Ks, 1.29 WHIP
That projection sees the ERA and WHIP as tossups, but a huge advantage in W and Ks for Player A, in part due to a 68-IP advantage for Player A. The Mock Draft crowd has already spoken, giving an ADP of 57 to Player A , with a high draft position of 41 and a low draft position of 71 in the last 199 drafts. Meanwhile, Player B had an ADP of 192, with a high draft position of 144 and a low draft position of 230.
As you might have guessed, Player A is Javier Vazquez while Player B is Tim Hudson. The Braves essentially had this choice and opted to go with Hudson. They have the best information on his health and they determined he was worth a 3 Year/$28 million contract, which includes a $1 million buyout of a fourth year, also at $9 million. Meanwhile, Vazquez at $11.5 million on the final year of his contract was dealt away in what was at least partially a salary dump.
The Braves would have preferred to have traded Derek Lowe, who is older, less effective and costs more money than Vazquez. But no one was willing to step up and take Lowe off their hands, at least they did not offer a haul greater than that offered for Vazquez, a haul criticized on most Atlanta message boards.
The Braves are generally regarded as a well-run team. They knew that signing Hudson gave them six SP and that they would have to shed the salary of one of them prior to the season. They decided that three/four years of Hudson at $9 million per year was better than one year of Vazquez at $11.5 million plus additional salary the following two seasons or two compensation picks. And they did this knowing that this is the final year for manager Bobby Cox and knowing that the window for another championship for Chipper Jones is closing, too.
From the Braves position, we cannot evaluate this trade until we see what they do with the money freed up in the differences between the salaries of Vazquez and Melky Cabrera, roughly $9 million. Do they trade for Dan Uggla and make him their first baseman? Do they sign Mark DeRosa and make him a starting outfielder? Those are just two of countless options now available.
But what we do know is that we need to reevaluate the 2010 rankings of both Hudson and Vazquez. If the Braves think Hudson is healthy enough to lock up for three or four years, than he is a decent bet to provide better results than his ADP as the 49th SP off the board would indicate. And with Vazquez in the AL, pitching half his games in 2009’s best HR park in baseball, we probably need to adjust him downward from being the 10th SP selected, his current ADP.