Javier Vazquez

Javier Vazquez:

 Javier Vazquez's first go-round with the Yankees began gloriously and ended ignominiously.

"Everybody knows I didn't want to leave here the first time around," Vazquez said on a conference call Tuesday, shortly after being reacquired by the Yankees in a five-player deal with the Braves. "I'm glad I'm back. You don't like to leave anywhere with a bad taste in your mouth."

The Yankees obtained Vazquez, a right-handed starter who has proven to be steady, if not as spectacular as once envisioned, and lefty reliever Boone Logan for outfielder Melky Cabrera and pitching prospects Mike Dunn and Aroldis Vizcaino.

Vazquez, 33, was 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA in 32 starts for the Braves in 2009, one of his best seasons. The Yankees counted on him to be their ace when they got him in 2004, but now he fits into a solid four-man rotation that includes CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett, leaving Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain to fight for the one remaining starting spot. The other will go to the bullpen.

"We feel we've deepened our team," general manager Brian Cashman said.

Cashman was given a budget to meet in putting together a team for 2010, and he has looked for players without long-term commitments. Vazquez has one year left on his contract, at $11.5 million, so the Yankees are not tied to him past 2010.

Cabrera was to be their starting left fielder, making at least $3 million after arbitration. The Yankees now need a corner outfielder, but Cashman all but ruled out a "high end" acquisition, so Jason Bay or Matt Holliday are not likely. Jermaine Dye or Mark DeRosa are right-handed batters who could fit. The candidates already with the team are Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffman, acquired in the Rule V draft.

With Cabrera's departure, the Yankees will defend their title without three regulars from the 2009 team. World Series MVP Hideki Matsui has signed with the Angels. Johnny Damon, still on the market as a free agent, is unlikely to return because of salary demands.

Instead, the Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson to play center field and Nick Johnson, traded for Vazquez in 2003, to be the DH. The plan is to have a marginal cut from the 2009 payroll, which was $201 million at the start of the season.

In 2004, Vazquez won 10 games for the Yankees, including the home opener, and made the All-Star team. But he pitched terribly in the second half, finishing 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA, and fared no better in the postseason.

"My arm didn't feel as good as it did in the first half," he said. "I never said anything, I went out there every fifth day. I hate not going out there. Maybe that was my mistake. I waited too long to get treatment [on the shoulder].

"I have more experience now. I know what to expect."

In Game 7 of the ALCS, Vazquez relieved Kevin Brown and gave up a grand slam to Damon, then with the Red Sox, and another homer to Damon later. That was his last appearance for the Yankees; Vazquez was traded to the Diamondbacks in the deal for Randy Johnson.

Vazquez can chew up some innings. He has worked at least 198 innings in 10 consecutive seasons and has a career record of 142-139.

"Javy has pitched in a number of different markets now," Cashman said. "His second half for us [in '04], which was poor, can't [negate] a long run as a durable, successful major league pitcher."

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