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Sunday reading: Javier Vazquez, Alex Rodriguez, Oliver Perez, John Maine and Jose Reyes

I attended yesterday's Yankees game, but I thought the most interesting moment occurred after the game, when Joe Girardi announced that Javier Vazquez would be skipped in the starting rotation. It was an acknowledgement that Vazquez clearly ranks fifth in the Yankees' pecking order.

Bad news? Sure. But good news for the Yankees that their other four starters _ A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia _ are performing so well. Given Vazquez's track record, the Yankees should feel reassured that Vazquez is only their fifth starter, as he could wind up an asset - as hoped.

--As Vazquez tries to find himself, the Yankees' other big 2010 returnee, Nick Johnson, very well might need surgery to repair his wrist. Prior to yesterday's game, Brian Cashman talked as if he knew this was a possibility when he signed Johnson. That if Johnson, given his offensive skill set, wasn't injury-prone, he'd be a $15-million per season player, rather than the $5.5 million he received.

That's all well and good, but it doesn't take away that, right now, Johnson doesn't look as if he'll be earning that $5.5 million. Yet as long as the Yankees use yesterday's lineup often - the one with Francisco Cervelli at catcher and Jorge Posada at DH - they should be able to weather the storm.

--The Yankees' offense has woken up after a tough few days in Detroit, Kimberley Martin writes. How much do the Yankees own the Twins in the Bronx? The Twins have lost 11 straight in New York, including two playoff games last year. The last time Minnesota won in the Bronx, the winning pitcher was Johan Santana, in this game.

--John Flaherty thinks the 2004 Yankees are off the hook, in light of the  Bruins' collapse against the Flyers. Sounds like some seriously wishful thinking on Flaherty's part, to me. But what the heck.

--What with the Phillies making news on this front, Jim Baumbach offers a primer on sign-stealing.

--Have the Mets officially attained train-wreck status? I'd say so. I was listening to the radiocast as I drove home from Yankee Stadium, and I've never heard a broadcaster sound so blown away as Howie Rose did during John Maine's first inning. Goodness gracious.

Between Maine's problems and those of Oliver Perez, we're reminded how badly the Mets erred by not capitalizing on a buyer-friendly market and signing a veteran starting pitcher on the free-agent market. Jon Garland, one of the last guys to sign, has a 199 ERA+ with San Diego so far.

Perez is getting much flack for refusing to go to the minor leagues, but I say, good for Ollie. He has no obligation to do so. If the Mets don't want Perez on their major-league roster right now - and let's face it, the odds are slim that he can help out of the bullpen - then they should find a trade partner that will give up a B- or C-level prospect in return for the Mets paying the freight. Or release him. Perez is a sunk cost, at this point.

--Jose Reyes returned to the leadoff spot, and while hitting Reyes third will not go down in history as a brilliant idea, Jerry Manuel shouldn't take all of the blame. This idea was conceived above him, by Omar Minaya and his lieutenants. It just never made sense to take Reyes out of a spot in which he was a) extremely comfortable and b) extremely good, and in which the spot itself was extremely important.

Speaking of lineup changes, it sounds like Jeff Francouer will get a break today, yielding to Chris Carter, and that can only help. Francoeur is looking far more like the player the Braves felt compelled to boot out of his hometown and far less like a Mets future star.

--For my Sunday Insider, I wrote about Alex Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt, and the Red Sox's long-term catching situation.

--Self-promotion alert: I'll be on "Sports Extra" tonight, at 10:30 on Fox 5, with Duke Castilgione.

--Have a great day.

 

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