Despite remarkable consistency, Vazquez has been traded four times in the past six years and has made 100 starts for just one of the five franchises for which he has played.
The latest is Atlanta, where Vazquez is having a strong but somewhat overlooked season.
"I love it here," Vazquez told FanHouse. "It was always a place that I saw myself playing one day. It never happened until this year, but I'm happy it did."
The Braves seem just as happy to have him.
"I always thought that he would look good in a Brave uniform," Chipper Jones said. "I always wanted to have him on this club because he knew how to pitch. He's not a guy with overpowering stuff but he knows how to pitch. He can get big strikeouts when you need it, which is important. I've been very impressed.
"People have said, with the Yankees and with the White Sox that he just wasn't getting the job done, but man he's done nothing but pitch lights out all year for us."
|Pitchers with most consecutive seasons of 10-plus wins and 150-plus strikeouts:|
|Steve Carlton||18 (1967-84)|
|Don Sutton||13 (1966-78)|
|Tom Seaver||12 (1967-78)|
|Walter Johnson||11 (1908-18)|
|Jim Bunning||11 (1957-67)|
|Mickey Lolich||11 (1964-74)|
|Don Drysdale||10 (1959-68)|
|Gaylord Perry||10 (1966-75)|
|Roger Clemens||10 (1996-05)|
|Javier Vazquez||10 (2000-09)|
|Source: Elias and baseball-reference.com|
Said Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, who's had a few good pitchers on his staffs: "He's got everything going for him -- great athlete, he hits, he fields, he hold runners, every pitch is above average, he's always been among the strikeout leaders and he's a professional. He's focused and goes to the post every fifth day."
His 1,358 strikeouts since the start of the 2003 season are more than anyone but Johan Santana. And Vazquez is just the 10th pitcher ever with 10 straight seasons of double-digit wins and 150 or more strikeouts, and the other nine includes eight Hall of Famers and Roger Clemens (see chart).
"The consistency, I guess, is something that I pride myself in," Vazquez said.
And Vazquez's character has never been questioned. He is intelligent, well-respected by teammates and, as agent Seth Levinson put it, "truly one of the very best people we have ever known."
So why has Vazquez bounced around so much?
"You always want to stay in a place," Vazquez said. "Also you understand that you can get traded at any time. Sometimes you get traded and you don't want to be traded. Sometimes you get traded and you want to be traded.
"People see us making lots of money but they never realize you've got a family, you've got kids. You'd like to stay in a place. But when you want to be a professional athlete you understand that is something that's going to come with the territory."
Vazquez came up with the Expos, who traded him to the Yankees after the 2003 season, a year before he was eligible for free agency. The trade included a four-year contract for Vazquez.
But after the 2004 ALCS collapse and Vazquez's rough second half, the Yankees dealt him to the Diamondbacks for Randy Johnson. Except Vazquez didn't want to be that far west; he felt it was important to be on the East Coast so he could get home to Puerto Rico as often as possible.
After a year with Arizona, Vazquez exercised his right to demand a trade, and that got him to the White Sox in December 2005. After one year in Chicago, he signed another extension, for 2008-10 (with a no-trade clause that allowed him to veto any deal sending him to the West).
But the White Sox wanted to move his salary last winter, so they sent him to the Braves for a package of minor-leaguers.
"I liked Chicago and I still do," Vazquez said. "But now I'm here and hopefully I'll be here for a few years."
Maybe so. Atlanta general manager Frank Wren declined comment, and Levinson said in an e-mail, "Javy loves Atlanta but it remains to be seen whether he will be with the Braves long-term."
Said Vazquez: "I've never been a free agent. ... I've never really chosen a place myself. But definitely Atlanta was always a place I was interested in playing.
"So far I think I've had a pretty good career. And we'll see what happens."