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A fragile pitcher's psyche isn't confined to the Bronx

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The New York tabloids have taken the Yankees to task for bringing back pitcher Javier Vazquez, despite the fact that his first tour of duty in the Bronx wasn't so great in 2004, ending when he lost the deciding game in the ALCS to Boston. But after a stellar 2009 campaign in Atlanta, someone convinced GM Brian Cashman to bring Vazquez back for a 2nd go-round, at the expense of outfielder Melky Cabrera, who's been up & down in the first few weeks of the season playing in the NL.

So far, the returns on Vazquez haven't been too good, either. He's been booed at home, and was intentionally passed over in the weekend series in Boston. He goes tonight in Detroit against the Tigers, and the Daily News put Vazquez on their back page this morning, wondering what it would take to get him back on track, regaining the form he had with the Braves.

Vazquez isn't the only NY pitcher whose mindset needs to be called into question, however. Across town, Mets fans might be wondering why their team even bothered to let Scott "20 Mule Team" Boras con them into re-signing Oliver Perez last year when they could've cut him and held onto Pedro Martinez.

Perez walked 7 in 3 1/3 innings vs. San Francisco on Mother's Day, but was lucky to escape with a No Decision as the Mets rallied to take a lead late, only to see it slip away on an Aaron Rowand homer in the visiting 8th. Perez blamed the cold. The Mets should've remembered that he has had bad games in those conditions before at home, including a pre-season game against Boston last year, which I'd wrote about before. Perez is 0-2, virtually back to the luckless pitcher he was when the Mets got him from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline 4 years ago. Why the Mets kept him and not Martinez remains a mystery a year later.

Martinez is out there, looking for work. If the Mets really want to be players in the NL East, they need to just swallow the remainder of Perez's contract and bring back Pedro, who got a hero's welcome when he returned to Boston opening night for pre-game ceremonies before the 1st match vs. the Yankees. Imagine the ovation he'd get at Citi Field if he returns to the orange & blue he wore from 2005-08.

Clearly, Vazquez & Perez would be well served to ply their trade elsewhere. I can envision the Mets shipping "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Perez" off to either Oakland, Texas (where Boras probably isn't well liked, either), or Anaheim. Vazquez? Maybe he should ask Ed Whitson for advice before his next career move. Whitson was the poster child for fragile moundsmen in the 80's, playing for the Yankees, but he eventually flourished elsewhere. Vazquez pitched admirably in Chicago & Atlanta, and it was assumed he was over his '04 struggles. But there's something about Yankee Stadium, regardless of which one it is, and the microscopic scrutiny that goes with playing there, that does near-irrevocable damage to a pitcher's health.

Hmmm. I wonder if Boras isn't misrepresenting Vazquez, too. I wouldn't be at all surprised.


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