Johnson. Vazquez. Really?
The Yankees’ last two moves elicited the same reaction from the chorus. “Really?”
Not so much because they brought back two alums, although the Yankees have never been known for recycling players. But let’s look at the fine print.
The interesting thing about choosing (in a sense) the left-handed bat of Nick Johnson over that of Johnny Damon is that the Yanks replaced one of the most durable players of all time with one of his generation’s most fragile.
In fact, should Johnson produce enough Reggie-like heroics to get a candy bar named after him, I’m pretty sure it will have the word “brittle” in it, like “peanut brittle.”
Damon has played 140-plus games for 14 straight seasons — and the only others in baseball history to have done that are Pete Rose, Brooks Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.
Frail Nick has never had a 140-game season. To paraphrase him, “Ouch!”
As for the return of Javier Vazquez … well, guess that points to Joe Torre as the one who had issues with him the first time around.
The Yankees picked up Vazquez in a December 2003 deal with Montreal, thought enough of him to give him the ball on Opening Day in Yankee Stadium — and matters quickly soured after that.
The prevailing perception became that Vazquez lacked the guts to pitch in the Bronx and that the Yankees couldn’t wait to shed him — which they did in January 2005 — one year after having signed him to a four-year deal for $45 million.
Vazquez now comes back to the same ownership, the same GM, some of the same teammates — but a different manager.
By the way, the player dealt to the Expos for Vazquez six years ago? Nick Johnson.