Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 8, 2007
BASEBALL: Landing the Unit

My discussion the other day of the Yankees' deal of Randy Johnson overlooked the other side of the equation: what it means for the Diamondbacks, who have now shelled out $26 million for two years for Johnson's age 43 and 44 seasons.

Money-wise that may sound crazy, but again, recall that the Mets have committed $12 million to El Duque, Adam Eaton is drawing $8 million a year, Ted Lilly $10, Barry Zito $17, etc. For the D-Backs this deal is driven by two factors, one rational, one non-rational.

The rational factor is the relative weakness of the NL West. If Johnson puts together a solid season this year, Arizona could suddenly become the frontrunner. That's worth a gamble; Johnson at that price wouldn't make sense for, say, Baltimore or Pittsburgh.

The non-rational factor (not to call it irrational, as it's not) is the desire to cement in the public mind (including the folks in Cooperstown who put the hats on the plaques) the identification of Johnson (and perhaps his 300th win, if he has 20 more in him) with the Arizona organization. For a young organization, you can't underestimate that desire to have a stamp in the history books.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:28 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Small market teams have to be pissed at Arizona (and Detroit) for letting the Yankees off the hook. It may seem like the Yankees have unlimited resources, but that obviously isn't the case. The one way to even the playing field is for the Yankees to spend themselves into trouble. Last year they said "next year be damned" and traded for Abreau. Here comes next year and Detroit takes Sheffield's contract off their hands and gives them prospects to boot. Now here is Johnson another big contract with an ERA over 5.00 and Arizona says "hey, can we help you with that albatross?" These deals also help relieve the Yankees from having to pay as much revenue sharing. Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa Bay have to be pissed at Arizona today.

Posted by: largebill at January 8, 2007 12:18 PM

I gather this deal also allows the D-backs to refinance the $40+million they still owe Johnson in deferred money from his previous stay, so I think the finances of it are hard to evaluate as a fan. As a strictly baseball move it doesn't make much sense.

Posted by: Jerry at January 8, 2007 2:05 PM

Shef was not under contract, Yanks were free of obligation. They held a team option, exercised it because they determined there was demand for Shef at that price. Johnson is somewhat murkier, but I think the Dbacks will be happy the move in a couple months.

Posted by: abe at January 8, 2007 10:36 PM
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