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With Javier Vazquez’ recent demotion to the bullpen, I can’t help but ask myself if this is the end of the Vazquez in the Bronx.  Two times Vazquez came to the Bronx among high expectations and two times now he has failed.  He might even be done there for good.

After a great start to the 2004 season which saw him start the all-star game, Vazquez finished the season like a chump and was shipped off to Arizona.  I personally had high hopes for the guy when he was acquired from Atlanta this offseason for Melky Cabrera.  Vazquez was coming of a season which might have been his best ever as a pro.  He was 15-10 for an Atlanta team that was at best an average squad.  He boasted a career best 2.87 ERA and his second-highest career total in strikeouts with 238.

For his career, Vazquez even appears as a safe bet.  Since 2000, his numbers are eerily consistent.  He has not started less than 32 games or more than 34.  He has won at least 11 games a season, but never more than 16.  Excluding 2009 and 2010, his ERA was always between 3.42 and 4.84.  His career record is 151-148 with a career 4.23 ERA while playing mostly for

Vazquez is 9-9 this season with a career-worst 5.05 ERA.  Even worse, he has not won a start in 4 weeks and has not made it to the 7th inning since July.  He has lost two of his previous four starts and has experienced an astounding drop in his pitch velocity, requiring him to pitch around batters and throw anywhere from 80-100 pitches in 4-5 innings.  Not exactly the definition of effective pitching.

Don’t quote me on this, but I believe his contract is over at the end of this season and pitching .500 ball with a 5.05 ERA sort of makes him expendable.  Newcomers Dustin Moseley and Ivan Nova have been more than willing to and seem more than capable of filling the roles left behind by Vazquez and the injured Andy Pettitte.

On September 1, the rosters of every team expand to 40.  Unless Vazquez can reinvent himself as a member of the bullpen, he’ll just be one of the pitchers in the ‘pen that the Yankees never use.  He won’t make a potential playoff or World Series roster and will find himself somewhere other than Tampa for spring training next season.

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Phil Hughes, last season’s long reliever in the bullpen, was named the Yankees fifth starter Thursday beating out Joba Chamberlain and others for the coveted last spot in the Yankee rotation.  Hughes will most likely have an innings limit this year, much like Joba had last year.  Some writers are speculating the limit could be around 170 innings, meaning we should see Joba or others make some starts toward the end of the season.

Hughes also beat out Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves and Chad Gaudin.  I forecast Mitre to be sent to AAA to stay warm as an injury replacement starter and Aceves back in the Yankee bullpen.  Gaudin was released outright this week after not earning the spot in the rotation and the Yankees felt paying him $2.95 million to pitch in Scranton was too much.  Since his contract was not guaranteed, it was a smart decision for the Yankees and I could definitly see Gaudin catching on strong elsewhere.

One other notable pitching story comes from Boston, the Red Sox manager Terry Francona confirmed that Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be ready to pitch for the Sox until a couple weeks into the season.  However, Tim Wakefield, the aging knuckleballer has most definitely earned his spot in the rotation.  Wakefield will apparently pitch until he gets so old his arm falls off.

The Yankees seem to have everything firing on all cylinders this spring.  The team seems well-organized and with everything going to plan, according to Joe Girardi.  Every time I hear him quoted, he’s got something positive to say.

I do think that the Yankees coaches are a little confused about pitching.  Too many guys are pitching too well and need innings.  The team also suffered from a rain out on Sunday, preventing a few guys getting the opportunity to throw.

Trying to make it work with only one game scheduled against the Phillies, the Yanks set up an intra-squad game featuring the left over pitchers facing minor leaguers.

It’s great that there’s so much talent that the Yankees still have this many pitchers in camp right now.  But with the season starting in two weeks, we’ll probably see several sent to minor league teams this week, making the next few days severl guys’ last chances to make the team now.

There is probably no doubt anywhere that Roger Clemens used steroids. As he continues his legal wrangling with his former trainer, Brian McNamee, the Yankees want none of it. However, McNamee has plans to include the Yankees.

According to a story by Nathaniel Vinton in the Daily News, in a brief filed on Friday, McNamee has named a handful of current Yankees as potential witnesses in Clemens’ defamation suit against McNamee.

The Yankees have never relished the destructive defamation suit former pinstripe hero Roger Clemens brought two years ago against his accuser, former Yankee trainer Brian McNamee, but bigger headaches for the club may yet lie ahead according to a new appeals-court brief issued by McNamee’s defense attorneys.

A footnote deep in the 60-page brief lists current Yankee stars Andy Pettitte,Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter as witnesses McNamee might call to the stand for sworn testimony about Clemens’ purported use of steroids and human growth hormone. Also listed among potential witnesses for McNamee is Angela Moyer, an alleged mistress of Clemens who tended bar near the Upper East Side apartment where McNamee said he visited Clemens after Yankee games to inject the pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone (Clemens has testified he thought the syringes contained vitamin B12).

The brief, which McNamee’s attorneys sent Friday to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, portrays Clemens’ defamation suit as nearly dead in the water. It comes in response to Clemens’ appeal of a lower court’s ruling last year that eviscerated the suit, which Clemens first brought against McNamee on Jan. 6, 2008, three weeks after a report by former Senator George Mitchell first publicized McNamee’s accusations. Mitchell was also listed as a potential witness. He and the others could also be summoned to testify as part of a defamation countersuit that McNamee himself brought against Clemens last year in a federal court in Brooklyn — and will likely pursue, at least in order to recover his monumental legal fees.

Right now only the legal system could prevent from having the Yankee players testify. If the courts are convinced with the brief, then this won’t happen.

Newly signed pitcher Chan Ho Park joined the Yankees Spring Training Workouts on Sunday after agreeing to a contract with the World Series Champs last week.  You might remember Park threw 3+ scoreless innings against the Yankees in the World Series as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

I missed this story since I was on vacation in Puerto Rico last week and I commend the Yankee brass on this move.  Acquiring Park at a measly $1.2 Million with a possible $300k in bonuses is a steal for a guy who has playoff experience and should be a nice setup man for Mariano Rivera.

To make room for Park, the Yankees designated Edwar Ramirez for assignment.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see another team pick him up – so adios Edwar!

Also on Sunday, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes threw their second batting practices of the spring and CC Sabathia threw his first.  According to the AP, Joba and Hughes will throw their first spring training game on Friday against Tampa Bay.  Sabathia will take his first start on Thursday.  No word on when the other three starting pitchers will get their first starts/appearances.

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