There’s no formal news, but after so much talk, so many leaks, no serious denials, and everyone back to work after the holidays, it looks like a deal to send the Big Unit back to Arizona will be completed in the near to immediate future. The Yanks, it appears, will get several prospects in return, probably to include Micah Owings, who was 10-0 in AAA last season (the peripherals are good, but not spectacular), further stocking a system that has, all of a sudden, filled with high-powered talent. The issues to be resolved now are financial.
With his departure an essential fait accompli, we can begin to rate Johnson’s tenure in the Bronx. By any serious measure, it was a failure. Randy managed to alienate the media, his teammates (in particular Jorge Posada), and fans with his surly demeanor; on the field he was erratic. When the Yanks needed him most, he was not the Johnson of old. Fair? Perhaps not. But expectations aren’t always fair, especially for professional athletes who make $16 million a year. Everyone, Randy included, can walk away disappointed that New York fans never really got to see the magical, dominating Johnson who will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Still, Johnson’s departure leaves a major hole in the Yankee rotation. He did win 17 games last year, and was often quite effective—some Sabermetricians claim he was far more effective than his numbers (or eyewitnesses) suggest. Whatever the case, the spot will have to be filled, and doing so will not be easy. The best option is probably Roger Clemens, and the Yanks are said to be in hot pursuit. But he is no spring chicken, did not pitch a full season last year, and has been putting up his numbers in the NL. To expect more from him than what the Unit provided last year—well, 17 wins is a lot of wins. The very good news is the Yanks have a surplus of very high quality young arms, not to mention the willdcard of Carl Pavano. Things could be a whole lot worse. And they’re poised to get a whole lot better.