Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Extra Extra Long

I promised I wouldn't report this one 'til it was done...and now it's official.

Sure, we had to get past Jerry Colangelo, Paul Depodesta, Bud Selig, a small army of doctors and one slightly-ruffled CBS cameraman to get here, but Randy Johnson is finally a Yankee.

The deal? Javy Vazquez, Dioner Navarro, Brad Halsey and $19 Million, plus $36 Million more to sign the Unit for 2006 and 2007.

Leaving the money aside, it's fair. Vazquez was perhaps the most coveted pitcher the Yanks have ever acquired...and he suffered a meteoric loss of standing, from being the stud that's going to carry the Yanks for the next four years, to the dud who couldn't stop Game 7 of the ALCS from becoming a laugher. More on him in another post. Dioner's an undersized catcher with one really good minor league season under his belt. We wish him well. Halsey's a relatively unheralded lefty who deserved better than he got last season.

Lets get all of the negatives out of the way now: he's old (41), he's whiny crotchety (see cameramen, above), one of his knees is practically bone-on-bone (see Synvisc), his back's not much better, and the money ($55 Million over the next three years) could've gone a long ways to getting Beltran.

On the other hand, Randy Johnson is unique. Hall of Fame type talents are rare enough in themselves, but in Johnson, you're talking about someone who bloomed into a HOF talent at the age of 29. People just don't do that. He's the real Yankee-killer, a guy who pitched 10 innings in about 48 hours against the Yanks in 1995, and then threw in back-to-back games to beat the Yanks in 2001, each time collecting matching W's for his team. Pitchers just don't do that anymore. Since 1998, he's missed the 240 innings mark...once. Pitchers don't do that anymore, either.

Yeah, he's 41, and sure, the whole thing could blow up in the Yanks' face. But he's a 41 year old who was the best pitcher in his league last year. He's a much-needed strikeout pitcher (since heaven knows the Yankees aren't going to win on defense this year). A guy who, when he can pitch, won't give you "six and out" like the 2004 starting staff did. An Ace.

Sure, it cost the Yanks plenty to make this move. Javy and Halsey may flourish with a non-Mel Stottlemyre pitching coach, and Beltran may bring a pennant to Shea. But it's hard to be unenthusiastic when the team's finally gotten a guy I've wanted in pinstripes for the past decade-plus.


Ruben (Ain't Nothin' But a Sammich) Sierra signed one-year, $1.5M deal. That's a lot of cheddar for a pinch-hitter, one of those "for luxury's sake" features like a marble tray table on a private jet. Keep him under 200 AB's, and things should be OK.

Has another team's GM ever dominated a Yankee off-season like Omar Minaya? It was like Omar pursued Pedro and Beltran just so that Cashman wouldn't have to.

It's appropriate that Wade Boggs will have a Red Sox cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. But seriously, would Red Sox fans have given a damn otherwise? I was living in Boston at the time, and I can tell you--I've never seen fans distance themselves from a star player as fast as New Englanders ran away from Boggs in '92 (all but chased out by calls of "Give us Scott Cooper!"). Boggs went from being the team's bragging point, to being just some bum you hadda get out of town in about 20 minutes.

The funniest thing was, when he reached the Bronx, Boggs wasn't the "25 guys, 25 cabs" type that everyone expected. He suddenly became a team player--heck, a team leader--and he got to do his horseback victory lap for the World Champs in 1996. A nice second career Boggsie had in New York, a second career that got him into the Hall of Fame.

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