January 5th, 2007 → 4:33 pm @ Seth Mnookin
More activity from New York: as everyone now knows, the only man ever to slaughter an innocent dove in the middle of a major league baseball game is counting down the days, waiting for the time when he can get to Arizona. The details of the deal worried me at first: since I’m almost willfully ignorant about minor league prospects (especially in the NL), for all I knew Ross Ohlendorf was gonna win Princeton its first MVP award and Steven Jackson was on his way to being the second coming of Mariano Rivera. (Luis Vizcaino, while occasionally nasty, is also more than occasionally wild, so he wasn’t a huge concern. To me, anyway.)
Thankfully, Keith Law calmed me down a bit: he does know minor league talent and doesn’t think any of these guys are difference makers. Law, along with Bob Klapisch, also points out that RJ’s departure leaves a definite hole in the Yankees rotation…although I can’t imagine Cashman is anywhere near done for the offseason.
Still, as I said way back in December, a Johnson trade is nervewracking regardless of whom they get in return, both because it means New York is getting rid of another onerous contract and because it offers one more illustration that the charmingly insane George Steinbrenner is no longer running the show. (Said I: “Suddenly, the Yankees are shedding payroll like theyâ€šÃ„Ã´re the Marlins, and Brian Cashman looks determined to pick up young prospects and jettison the senior citizens collecting outrageous paychecks…”) Sure, it’s challenging when your competition raises its level of play, but I was just fine when Boston’s front office was executing a plan and the Yankees were indulging Cuddly George’s every whim.
Postscript: I’ve never been a Randy fan, but I do hope he does well in Phoenix, if only because that gives the Diamondbacks — currently run by former Red Sox asst GM Josh Byrnes, one of my favorite people in all of baseball — a chance to win a pretty weak division.
December 26th, 2006 → 7:10 pm @ Seth Mnookin
Yup: three full days without a post. I’m pretty sure that’s a record. For that, I’m sorry. I know people need to get a break from their families. (Believe me, I know.) And there’s been precious little baseball news out there to serve as a distraction. (No matter how you try to spin it — the impact on the Zito sweepstakes, the NLCS MVP leaving the Cards, whatever — Jeff Suppan signing with the Brewers does not count as news.)
There is, however, one development that shook me out of my holiday stupor, and, I’m sorry to say, it was a distressing one: the confirmation that the Yankees and the Diamondbacks are discussing a deal that would send Randy Johnson back to Arizona. New York’s signing of Johnson was exactly the sort of boneheaded, reactionary move that has defined the Yankees of the modern era (read: since 2000). The Johnson acquisition came about immediately after Schilling had helped lift the Sox to their Series win, a fact which reputedly caused the Boss tell his minions he wanted a “warrior” of his own. He got one — an over-the-hill, overpaid warrior with a crappy attitude and a bad back — when he could have had someone like, say, Carlos Beltran…and that would have made the Yankees frightening.
Those days appear to be over. Suddenly, the Yankees are shedding payroll like they’re the Marlins, and Brian Cashman looks determined to pick up young prospects and jettison the senior citizens collecting outrageous paychecks.
This doesn’t mean the Red Sox and the Yankees will have anywhere near equal payrolls, but it does seem to indicate that Steinbrenner (and his Tampa-based suckups) are no longer making baseball-related decisions. If that’s true, it’s bad news for Boston (and everyone else). A senior member of the team’s baseball ops staff told me last year that the only reason the Sox had a fighting chance against a team with $80 million more in payroll was because New York made such stupefyingly idiotic moves. If that’s not going to be the case anymore, it means the Yankees and the Sox are going to be operating more and more on the same plane…not because, as some would have you believe, the Red Sox have become the Evil Empire II but because the Yankees are starting to act (and yes, it hurts to say this) intelligently.
Gulp. Two thousand and seven, here we come…