Saturday, January 06, 2007

Big Unit, Small Division

So Randy Johnson is off to Arizona for a 30-something relief pitcher (Luis Vizcaino, formerly of the Brewers, A's, and White Sox) and three prospects, none of whom scouting guru John Sickels rates all that highly. Conventional wisdom says that this is clearing the decks - and $20M in payroll and luxury tax fees - for a run at Roger Clemens. This makes sense if you believe the reports that Johnson and Clemens apparently loathe each other. Coincidentally, it also jibes with Brian Cashman's offseason plan to grab as many prospect-shaped bodies as he can in order to restock a farm system that looks like, well, Arizona. And by Arizona, I mean the bits that aren't irrigated within an inch of their lives, covered with golf courses, or otherwise landscaped into a reasonable facsimile of Middlesex County, New Jersey.

For the Diamondbacks, this deal makes a lot of sense. If there's one thing they've got to deal, it's bodies who excelled in the minors. Meanwhile, they're in a weak division, they've chopped most of the big names and big checks off their payroll, and they get to add a walking, talking marketing campaign to their rotation for the cost of a year and a half of Gil Meche. Reports say that Johnson's back is feeling great, and I'd rate him as more likely to rebound than, say Mark Mulder. If Johnson stays healthy and takes advantage of the weaker opposition (and huge ballparks) he'll be facing, then the Diamondbacks suddenly have what looks like a strong front 4 to their rotation, and a lot of young talent in the lineup that could put them over the top.
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