December, 17, 2007
LaTroy Hawkins and Luis Vizcaino switch teams and receive the same annual salary ($3.75 million). Vizcaino gets two years from the Rockies, Hawkins one from the Yankees. Both pitchers are leaving parks well-suited to their pitching styles for less hospitable environs. Hawkins succeeded at Coors Field by throwing strikes and keeping the ball down, posting a ground-ball percentage of 65 percent -- a career best. That approach might work anywhere, but Hawkins was helped tremendously in 2007 by pitching in front of one of the best double-play combos in the majors in Troy Tulowitzki and Kaz Matsui. Hawkins now moves to a club with an inferior infield defense featuring a consistently below-average shortstop in Derek Jeter and an average second baseman (good range, questionable hands) in Robinson Cano, while also switching to the more difficult league. If Hawkins continues to get ground balls on nearly two-thirds of balls in play, he'll help the Yankees, but he has much less room for error than he had in Colorado.