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Monday, December 25, 2006

Star-Ledger: Yankees: Talking with Diamondbacks about Johnson deal

“A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.”

The Yankees are in discussions with the Arizona Diamondbacks about sending Randy Johnson back to the team for which he starred in 1999-2004, according to a baseball official.

The official, who works for a third team but has spoken to people involved in negotiations, asked not to be identified because of the confidential nature of his discussions.

“They’re talking,” the official said.

Repoz Posted: December 25, 2006 at 12:21 PM | 226 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: arizona, rumors, yankees

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   201. Raskolnikov Posted: December 26, 2006 at 04:38 AM (#2268745)
Credit goes where it's deserved. It looks like the package being offered is more along the lines of what Levski proposed than what I was envisioning.

Unit's trade value has plummeted in 2 years.
   202. Sam M. Posted: December 26, 2006 at 04:42 AM (#2268747)
What is there to lead us to believe he won't?

I already point to two: one, he's already declined consistently in his peripherals, and two, he has refused to make or even appear to attempt to make adjustments that most former fastballing aces attempt when they reach this stage in Johnson's career. I suppose we just disagree on whether a player's adaptability is a factor in whether he will or won't bounce back. And on whether the consistency over time of a decline is predictive of whether it will continue.

And yes, I meant four years. 2004 wasn't a rebound from 2003 -- 2003 was simply a season interrupted by injury. It was a decline from 2002. Still great, but the beginning of the trend. And it's gotten worse ever since.

I think Sam has been talking about rocks and gravity all night long. Poetry in motion.

I have indeed, Levski. Sadly, I honestly think Johnson is a rock on his way downhill, and there is very little in his way to stop him from continuing to fall the rest of the way. Unless he can make some adjustments, which to date he's shown no ability to do.
   203. 1k5v3L Posted: December 26, 2006 at 04:54 AM (#2268752)
Credit goes where it's deserved. It looks like the package being offered is more along the lines of what Levski proposed than what I was envisioning.

Unit's trade value has plummeted in 2 years.


LOL, Raski. Thanks. I was just throwing out what *I* would offer, and was just hoping JByrnes saw the situation similarly. So far, no mentioning of Tracy, who, for many reasons (as I elaborated) never really made sense to be included in this trade.

Unit's value has plummeted because he's 2 years older (duh) and is coming off a back surgery and two pretty crappy (at least on the surface, and at least for him) seasons in NY. And he's owed $16m.
   204. 1k5v3L Posted: December 26, 2006 at 05:00 AM (#2268756)
And yes, I meant four years. 2004 wasn't a rebound from 2003 -- 2003 was simply a season interrupted by injury. It was a decline from 2002. Still great, but the beginning of the trend.


YEAR, ERA+

1999, 177
2000, 178
2001, 184
2002, 190
...
2004, 171

I don't know, Sam, 2004 looks mighty similar to his 1999 and 2000 years, and he won the Cy Young then. And he should've won it in 2004 as well.

When you're coming off an ERA+ of 171, you can decline quite a bit over 3-4 years and still be a mighty fine pitcher.

Furthermore, I think we've beaten to death the fact that RJ's decline in NY, while real, isn't nearly as dramatic (aside from ERA) as most people perceive it.
   205. Raskolnikov Posted: December 26, 2006 at 05:14 AM (#2268759)
Isn't that exactly the myth that Bill James refuted years ago? Ceteris paribus, the pitcher with the higher strikeout rate lasts longer. (Aside: isn't it silly to talk about who will "age well" when we're discussing a 40 year old and a 42 year old? They've both already aged very well.)

Yes, I was afraid that someone would pull up that study. Yes, that would seem to be the relevant study.

However, in that study, James concludes that the reason why the low-K pitcher eventually becomes ineffective is that he falls below that magic number of minimal Ks (I think it was around 5K/9IP). High K pitchers have a larger margin to work with.

In Glavine's case, I've been waiting for 5 years for that K rate to decline. It hasn't. It's clear that either
a) Glavine's effectiveness is not dependent on his speed
b) His speed has a remarkable slow attrition rate.

Either way, Glavine's rate of change of K rate is zero.

In Unit's case, his K rate has fallen markedly these last two years. It's pretty clear why in my view.
a) He no longer throws as hard (as evidenced by the lack of his presence in BJ's list of hardest throwers)
b) He can't get as many swings and misses at the speed that he is working at.
c) Since hitters don't have to commit as early, they're laying off the slider.

I suspect these sets of observations are why the Yankee Primates are in consensus about trading him. This is a real decline, rate of change is negative.

Hence, my reasoning why Glavine will last longer and has passed Unit already as a pitcher.
   206. Sam M. Posted: December 26, 2006 at 05:26 AM (#2268763)
I don't know, Sam, 2004 looks mighty similar to his 1999 and 2000 years, and he won the Cy Young then. And he should've won it in 2004 as well.

When you're coming off an ERA+ of 171, you can decline quite a bit over 3-4 years and still be a mighty fine pitcher.


Yes, you can. And Randy Johnson has played out that string.

Look at Johnson's K/9IP:

2002: 11.56
2004: 10.64
2005: 8.42
2006: 7.55

Look at his W/9IP:

2002: 2.46
2004: 1.61
2005: 1.87
2006: 2.63

Johnson's decline was beginning in 2004, but to his credit (he was, after all, one of the all-time greats) he was great enough to dominate. He cut down his walks dramatically, which actually improved his K/W ratio (from 4.70 in 2002 up to 6.59 in 2004). But look what has happened the last two years, as the walk rate has moved back up again while the K rate has dropped -- his K/W rate dropped back to 4.49 in 2005, and into territory that is very, very dangerous for Randy Johnson, at 2.87 in 2006.

So, again: here is the trend in Johnson's K/W ratio. Remember, the jump in 2004 is due to the dramatic drop in the walks from 2002, which more than compensated for the drop in strikeouts:

2002: 4.70
2004: 6.59
2005: 4.49
2006: 2.87

So tell me: how exactly is Randy Johnson going to change that trend? Is he going to regain his fastball and start striking out more batters again? Is his walk rate going to drop again? What 43 year old pitcher has ever reversed a trend like this? I know there aren't many of them to begin with, so that's an unfair question, but there's no Fountain of Youth for him to drink from to find the extra MPH or bite on his slider. Hitters are going to lay off it, and he's going to have to throw from the stretch, and they are going to get around on the not-quite-what-it-was fastball. And I don't think Randy Johnson can pitch effectively with a 2:1 K/W ratio. He never has, and I don't see any evidence he can.
   207. 1k5v3L Posted: December 26, 2006 at 06:14 AM (#2268768)
Sam,

RJ can be a very effective pitcher in the NL with periphs like 8K/9IP and 2.5BB/9IP (if you more or less average these from his last 2 years in NY). What the move to the NL will do is help his K rate and potentially help his BB rate. He may not be Cy Young-like pitcher, but he's got a very good chance of being a very good pitcher.

I think it's unreasonably to expect him to be as dominant as he was from 1999 through 2002. So if your claim is that he'll never be THAT Randy Johnson, then sure, I'll agree. But his peak over those 4 years was so high that he can drop off quite a lot, to the 8K/9 and 2.5bb/9 periphs, and still be a very good to excellent starter over 200 IP.

My bigger worry with him is his back, and not the degradation of his periphs. And again, even if 8k/9 and 2.5bb/9 periphs, even with 25-30 homers over 200 IP, Randy Johnson will probably be one of the top 15 starters in the NL (assuming he's not extremely unlucky again). And if he does end up traded to the NL West, and seems healthy enough next year, I'll have no qualms betting you that he'll outperform any of the Mets starters CURRENTLY on the roster, assuming a 20 starts or 150 IP minimum limit.
   208. GM Posted: December 26, 2006 at 06:40 AM (#2268769)
And if he does end up traded to the NL West, and seems healthy enough next year, I'll have no qualms betting you that he'll outperform any of the Mets starters CURRENTLY on the roster, assuming a 20 starts or 150 IP minimum limit.

I don't see why not, though, aren't those conditions the sort of things Sam is factoring into his rather tepid expectations.
   209. billyshears Posted: December 26, 2006 at 06:45 AM (#2268770)
Wow - that Heyman article managed to create a Zito to the Yankees story based on no actual reporting or sources of any kind, which makes it just like most other Heyman stories, I guess.

As far as Johnson is concerned, his peripherals were better than his performance, but that was the case in 2005 as well. His peripherals and performance were both worse in 2006 than in 2005 though. Like any pitcher - there is the expectation that Johnson will pitch to his peripherals going forwards, but if Johnson is in decline, I'm just not sure where those peripherals will be. Most projection systems have difficulty at the margins and Johnson is pretty far out on the margins. I get the sense that any sort of valuation of Johnson is like trying to catch a falling knife - he's going downhill - the best you can hope for is that he's not going downhill so fast that you get cut badly.
   210. Raskolnikov Posted: December 26, 2006 at 06:56 AM (#2268771)
Falling knives, rocks, gravity, and time marching on. I hope Randy Johnson doesn't read this thread; he would get depressed.

To pile on - I didn't realize that the Unit was having major back surgery. That's a non-negligible chance of a catastrophic result - as in he might never recover from the operation itself.

I'd still take him if the Yanks are looking to dump him. And if Cashman shares the sentiment of the Yankee Primates here, maybe the Mets could get him for less than Heilman. A bag of Doritos and cash for RJ.
   211. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 26, 2006 at 07:23 AM (#2268775)
Is the surgery yet to be done? I would think that they'd get this sort of thing out of the way immediately after the season, to allow maximum recovery time, and so by now we'd have some idea of how he was going to recover. But the recovery process is long, so we wouldn't know for sure, I suppose.
   212. Orange & Blue Velvet Posted: December 26, 2006 at 08:40 AM (#2268778)
Is the surgery yet to be done?
It was done on October 26. Players who have this type of operation normally miss about three months.

I expect the surgery to further diminish RJ's stuff. That, coupled with his declining peripherals and overall fragility, makes him a terrible bet for 2007.
   213. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: December 26, 2006 at 08:45 AM (#2268779)
My God, it's Christmas! Have you no decency???

CHRISTMAS IS DEAD! I JUST TOLD YOU!
   214. NTNgod Posted: December 26, 2006 at 09:13 AM (#2268781)
NY Daily News: Yanks taking Randy offers
It seems the first seeds for a trade were planted by Johnson himself. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made a condolence call to Johnson after his brother's recent death. In it, the pitcher emphasized the importance of being close to his family and Cashman took it as a trade request.

San Diego right now appears to be the most likely destination for the five-time Cy Young Award winner, but the Dodgers, Angels and Diamondbacks are all said to be in the mix. One of the officials, familiar with the ongoing discussions, used the phrase "several bona fide offers" to describe what the Yankees are mulling and said the Yankees probably would not have to include any money.
   215. The Original SJ Posted: December 26, 2006 at 03:26 PM (#2268812)
I had no idea Johnson's brother died. My condolences.
   216. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 26, 2006 at 03:46 PM (#2268820)
I expect the surgery to further diminish RJ's stuff.

This is ridiculous. The bulging disk in his back was diminishing his stuff. Repairing that should improve his stuff. Now, of course, the surgery may not do as much good as he and his doctors hope, and/or he may still continue to suffer age-related decline despite the surgery, but if the surgery itself was going to make him worse, he wouldn't have the surgery.

Oh yeah, and 200 posts on this topic on Christmas Day is pretty sad.
   217. Jack Sommers Posted: December 26, 2006 at 04:20 PM (#2268826)
Oh yeah, and 200 posts on this topic on Christmas Day is pretty sad.

As opposed to what, posting from work and costing your employer productivity dollars? ;-)
   218. billyshears Posted: December 26, 2006 at 04:21 PM (#2268827)
Oh yeah, and 200 posts on this topic on Christmas Day is pretty sad.

What else should us Jews to do on Christmas besides go to the movies, eat Chinese food and post on primer?
   219. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: December 26, 2006 at 04:25 PM (#2268829)
What else should us Jews to do on Christmas...

Watch bad football and enjoy a day off without being obligated to visit the in-laws.
   220. PerroX Posted: December 26, 2006 at 05:10 PM (#2268836)
If the Yanks are able to deal Johnson and his salary for legit major-league talent -- and apparently there is more than one team that's willing -- you can count it as another feather in Cashman's cap.

Now that Cashman appears to be in full control, Yankee-haters should be fearful.
   221. "Catching Dianetics" by Dr. L. Ron Karkovice Posted: December 26, 2006 at 05:17 PM (#2268839)
Oh yeah, and 200 posts on this topic on Christmas Day is pretty sad.

Oh give me a break...What the hell am I supposed to do: The only decent Kosher Chineese takeout in Chicago is located INSIDE a grocery store (the Jewel on West Howard) that is closed on Christmas, costing the owner beacoup cash and, even more devestatingly, forcing the West Rogers Parkers to choose between eating at Metsu-yan Kosher Chineese on Devon (not a choice to be envied)or merely feasting on cold leftover cholent, gala-renta, pchaw, kishke, Romanian Sausage and chicken gribnes from Shabbos Channukah while cleaning our my leftover files from 2006 and getting ready for tax season....So posting on BBTF is about the most enjoyable option for Christmas as far as I am concerned.
   222. 5.00, .280/.320/.400, 4th outfielder Posted: December 26, 2006 at 06:27 PM (#2268862)
Mitzuyan isn't terrible, overpriced and slow but not terrible. Besides there's always pizza we've got ten kosher stores.
   223. Swedish Chef Posted: December 26, 2006 at 06:40 PM (#2268866)
   224. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: December 26, 2006 at 06:51 PM (#2268872)
In it, the pitcher emphasized the importance of being close to his family and Cashman took it as a trade request.

Why does the message have to be coded? Why can't Johnson's agent just let Cashman know that his client is open to a trade? Is there some contractual reason that hold carries negative consequences if RJ makes a trade request?
   225. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: December 26, 2006 at 11:46 PM (#2268994)
The San Diego sports shows are reporting the Padres have offered Linebrink so far. If true, I'd prefer that to what the D-Backs have been willing to part with so far, and I think enough teams believe Proctor broke out last year he could front a package that would get an okay 1B.
   226. 1k5v3L Posted: December 27, 2006 at 12:07 AM (#2269001)
LOL, Kyle. How do you know what the Dbacks have been willing to part with so far? You know what they HAVEN'T been willing to part with ... i.e., no Tracy for you ;)
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