Sunday, January 7, 2007

Minnesota Master Plan?

The Randy Johnson trade hinges on the ability of the Arizona Diamondbacks to get a deal done before today's 5pm deadline. I believe this deal should not cause too much commotion as they are simply ironing out details. The extension will probably command between $10million and $12million for the 2008 season.

A farewell gift to the Big Unit. Here is a disturbingly on-target summation from Bob Klapisch, of the Bergen Record:
The Unit, cold and aloof from the first day, never fit in with the Yankees, spending most of his time at his locker with his back to his teammates. There was no emotional investment on either side; even the fans sensed Johnson was just passing through on his way to Cooperstown. Maybe it was Johnson's way of acting tough in a big market, or maybe it was his frustration at the stunning number of fastballs he threw over the middle of the plate, and the sliders that were usually flat.

Whatever the reason, Johnson was unhappy enough to look daggers at Johnny Damon last August when the outfielder tried to rally the slumping Yankees. In the middle of the clubhouse, Damon shouted to the whole team, "Come on, you [expletive]. Wake up!" From across the room, Johnson stared coldly, so unnerving Damon that he later asked a club official, "Did I do something wrong?"

What a competitor. Passing through on his way to Cooperstown perfectly describes Johnson's tour of the Bronx.


On a more salivating note, Klapisch gives his take on Brian Cashman's new mission statement of younger, cheaper, flexible. ((Yes, this does sound like the advertisements for an Amsterdam brothel)) The article shows concern for the loss of Randy Johnson for the same reasons I stated in an earlier post: where will last year's 205 innings come from?

Klapisch brings up Carl Pavano, explaining that he has been doing 4-hour-a-day workouts in Arizona which has enabled him to be given a 100% healthy seal of approval. When several teams asked about Pavano's availability and consequently that the Yankees eat most of his remaining money, Cashman shot back.
To each of them, Cashman has said, no chance.

"GMs have asked me, 'Would you consider moving [Pavano]? If so, you'd have to pick up X number of dollars,'" Cashman said. "I've told them, 'Uh-uh.' I happen to believe Carl is going to be an effective and contributing member of this club."
Essentially, the organization has placed Pavano in a boot camp for redemption. Allowing him to work harder than he ever has in his life so that he is able to pitch well enough to earn a trade out of New York. To be blunt, Cashman has made Pavano his b*tch and a trade is like the piece of cheese at the end of a difficult maze.

The most important contribution of the article however, concerns a slightly well-known lefty who spends time in Minneapolis & St.Paul. The sheer mention of Johan Santana is enough to make a pitcher-hungry organization like the Yankees quiver. Klapisch discusses the real possibility of landing such a dominant arm:

Of course, it's possible the Yankees' sudden accumulation of young, cheap talent that would be acquired in both the Johnson and Gary Sheffield deals is leading to a mega-swap with the Twins, who've undoubtedly calculated (and fainted at) the cost of keeping Johan Santana after he becomes a free agent in two years. Cashman's army of youngsters might be the escape the Twins would need, given that Barry Zito is now earning $18 million per year.

Short of a deal of that proportion, however, the Yankees will keep their fingers crossed and stick to Cashman's business plan. So far, the GM has resisted the urge to empty the Yankees' coffers, safely underbidding for Daisuke Matsuzaka and refusing to go anywhere near Zito's free agency. Little by little, Cashman has restored a sense of order to the Bombers' operation, as the Yankees have gotten younger and cheaper. But when it comes to Pavano, Cashman admits he's abandoning logic in place of blind faith.
Obviously there are no hard facts to the above excerpt, but the idea is certainly feasible. When a team knows they are unable to retain a superstar who's on the brink of free agency, the idea of trading him becomes inevitable. Why would the Twins not attempt to draw a bundle of high-end prospects (the Yankees have) for Santana? Otherwise Minnesota would get zero compensation for his services and then watch him go to the highest bidder.

If Cashman is able to flip some of the prospects he has in the bank for a Santana or Zambrano, Johnson's 205 innings will be accounted for, as will New York's quest for a true ace. These are questions to be answered far down the road, but the fact that they are not based in pure insanity is exciting in itself.

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