07/19/2004: Unit Watch, Day 3
Like I said, never say never.... Dammit, this has to become a non-story soon (when's the friggin' trading deadline, anyway?), but I still keep seeing interesting things around the 'net....
Right now, I'm leaning towards the "Johnson ain't going anywhere" scenario, if push comes to shove. Some interesting updates....
- According to the Associated Press, Johnson's agent told the Arizona Republic on Saturday that Johnson hasn't been asked to waive his no-trade clause, and that he (the agent) doesn't think that the D'backs are shopping him around:
The Diamondbacks ace isn't headed anywhere, according to his agent, Barry Meister.
Meister told the Arizona Republic in Saturday's editions that the team hasn't asked Johnson to waive his no-trade clause and he doubts the team is shopping the lefty. What's more, Johnson has not asked for a trade, he said.
"And he has certainly not presented a list of teams he would be willing to play for, nor has the team asked him to present a list," the agent told the paper.
The Diamondbacks seconded Meister's proclamation.
"There is nothing going on," team CEO Jerry Colangelo told the Republic. "I'm leaving for Italy tomorrow, so if something happens, let me know, will you?"
- "Rivals in Exile"--a recurring "feature" of The Hardball Times which pits a Yankees fan vs. a Red Sox fan--bring some expertise into the discussion. Their conclusion: Johnson ain't going nowhere...
Larry Mahnken [the Yankee fan --LRC]: [The Yankees] don't need more starting pitching right now, but they might need more starting pitching in a few weeks -- and they've only got two weeks to make a trade without having to worry about Boston blocking them on the waiver wire. And with Randy Johnson officially being sort of on the market, they can't afford to pass up an opportunity to get better that they might not have again this year.
Now, putting aside all the irrelevant issues about it being "good for the game", or whether it's fair or not, the simple fact is that the Yankees are at a clear disadvantage here, even with Johnson apparently favoring a trade to the Yankees, perhaps even to the degree that he'll accept no other.
Frankly, the Yankees don't have very much to trade. Third baseman Eric Duncan, catcher Dioner Navarro and second baseman Robinson Cano may very well become good, or even very good major league players, but they're still too far from being ready to be considered outstanding prospects. Now, perhaps a package of two of those and maybe Halsey, or even Contreras, wouldn't necessarily be that bad a return for a Diamondbacks team in rebuilding mode. However, the Diamondbacks aren't looking for prospects at those positions.
I guess if Johnson makes a nuisance of himself and demands to go to New York, then the Diamondbacks might decide that they're better off dumping him for whatever the Yankees can offer. But I don't see it coming to that, and I don't see Johnson coming to New York.
Ben Jacobs [The Sox fan --LRC]: As for Johnson, I'm beginning to think he's not going to go anywhere. There were all sorts of rumors about him possibly getting traded, and they just multiplied when he finally said he'd consider going somewhere else, but I don't know how much he really wants to leave Arizona.
You know the Simpsons episodes where Bart and Lisa really want something so they keep asking Homer (Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore? Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore? Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore? Etc.) until he says yes? Well, I kind of think the same thing happened with Johnson.
So many fans want him to be traded to their team and so many reporters want to have the story on where he might go, that they just kept hounding him. Are you willing to be traded? Are you willing to be traded? Are you willing to be traded?
Finally, he said that he would consider a trade.
The thing is, the logistics of this thing don't fit real well. The team that has the most to offer for him (Anaheim) doesn't appear to want him. The teams that want him most (Boston and the Yankees) don't have enough to offer. And the team that has him doesn't really want to trade him that badly.
The New York media seems to think it's a given that he'll end up with the Yankees, but I think it's anything but. Either way, I've resigned myself to the fact that the Red Sox aren't going to get him, so I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed that I'm right about him staying in Arizona (or hope that an NL team steps up to the plate and gets him).
- And of course, the New York area media, still living in an apparent fantasy world, insists that the Big Unit may as well start fitting himself with pinstripes:
What we do know for sure is that his first-and only-choice right now is the Yankees. His agents are trying to get him to consider a trade to the Cardinals, the team with the second-best record in baseball but one which might be unwilling to take on his salary.
Just to show how sporting he is, Johnson is willing to consider the Cardinals, as well as the 2002 Angels, the 1973 Dolphins and the 1916 Georgia Tech football team, the one that beat Cumberland, 220-0.
The Big Unit isn't going anywhere, but if he does it's as likely to be the Cardinals as anyone.... which is to say that when a Johnson trade is announced, a good portion of the baseball world is going to be shocked because the team that gets Johnson will not be the Yankees, the Cardinals have traditionally been most mum about major moves as they are developing (can you say "Scott Rolen"? I knew you can...) and deep in my heart, I still haven't counted out Walt Jocketty's ability to pull a trade rabbit out of his magic hat at the appropriate time.
Wishful thinking? Sure, but I'm entitled to it. I'm not a baseball analyst with sources in high places, I'm just a fan who gets to indulge his fantasies online.
The only ironclad prediction I'm willing to make: any Johnson trade is not going to see him going to the Yankees.
But I could be wrong--just ask either of my ex-wives....
Len on 07.19.04 @ 07:59 AM CST