Return to Sender?

This is the time of year for returns, so the news from ESPN.com that the Yanks are looking to ship the Unit back to Arizona is at least seasonally appropriate. The Yanks are supposedly looking to get back 3 players, don’t want to pay Randy’s salary, and may be getting Scott Linebrink from SD as part of a three-way deal (and note that Kevin Towers has worked with Cash before). For all our complaints, the Unit had a fairly productive 2006, at least according to the numbers, and if he’s healthy after surgery, well…..okay, he’s 43 and not the sweetest guy on the planet. Anyway, we’ll see what happens, right?

56 comments… add one

  • The Yanks are supposedly looking to get back 3 players, don’t want to pay Randy’s salary, and may be getting Scott Linebrink from SD as part of a three-way deal
    These three things are completely incongruous. Either the Yanks get fewer than three players (or the three players are marginal), they pony up cash, or they don’t get Linebrink. A deal that gets the Yankees all of what they want makes no sense at all. They have no leverage with Johnson’s salary. No team should take him without a concession, particularly not the Padres if Linebrink is the return. This is planted posturing, and only a starting point. For heck’s sake, the Padres wouldn’t move Linebrink in a deal for Manny; why would a 43 year old in decline coming off of shoulder surgery making 16M be worth it for minor leaguers, a prime setup guy and no money? This is Yankee information fed to a willing press. Either that or people are giving the Yankees handouts just to frustrate Theo Epstein. I think I know which one it is.

    SF December 25, 2006, 6:22 pm
  • RJ might be more valuable than SF credits. (Heck, he’s better than Josh Beckett!). 17 wins in the AL East = what in the NL West? It’s not hard to imagine RJ for 3 prospects or RJ to Arizona, who send 3 prospects to SD, who send Linebrink to NY. Where the leak comes from is unclear. Cash doesn’t have a lot of incentive to add in the Linebrink name if it’s not realistic—that would be a poor way to manage expectations.

    YF December 25, 2006, 6:33 pm
  • 17 wins in the AL East = what in the NL West?
    RJ is a valuable pitcher, but he also cashed in on the Yanks offense last year. There were a number of games were he got the win or was bailed out from a poor pitching performance.
    Eric Burnes is the current “heavy” on the squad with 26 HR and 79 RBI. There are two others with 79 and 80 RBI’s each. Not exactly the monster smash of offense.
    If this is the case and he goes back to Arizona and has no offense, isn;t that why he wanted out last time (one of the reasons)?

    Rob December 25, 2006, 6:41 pm
  • Eric Byrnes…typo

    Rob December 25, 2006, 6:42 pm
  • Could this move be a move to get to Clemens? You figure if Johnson leaves the rotation looks like:
    Mussina
    Wang
    Pettite
    Hughes (?)
    Pavano (?)
    Not sure if I am missing someone from the rotation.

    Rob December 25, 2006, 6:57 pm
  • YF is correct – Johnson has value, but he’s conveniently forgetting that Johnson had surgery this offseason, that he’s 43, and that he’s also owed $16M despite having had surgery and being 43. These three things make Johnson quite different from Josh Beckett. And they make the wants of the Yankees unrealistic per the terms of the article linked.

    SF December 25, 2006, 7:03 pm
  • Unrealistic according to you. We all know the RJ drawbacks. We’ll see what if anything he brings.

    YF December 25, 2006, 7:09 pm
  • “Unrealistic according to you.”
    No, according to God, who I just got off the phone with.
    OF COURSE according to me.

    SF December 25, 2006, 7:11 pm
  • Well who gives a crap if it’s unrealistic according to you! What are you going to trade with? A complete set of 1987 Topps and a Mike Greenwell bobblehead? The only issue is whether it’s realistic for Arizona. And on that score, we’ll see….

    YF December 25, 2006, 7:14 pm
  • It didn’t sound to me like it was a three way deal, just that the Pads were also interested, with Scott Linebrink possibly part of the deal.
    BTW, in those Manny talks, it sounded like San Diego would give up Linebrink in a Manny deal, but not Jake Peavy.
    After all the false starts in that Melky-Gonzalez deal, I think I’ll believe this one when I see it.

    Whatever December 25, 2006, 7:32 pm
  • By the way, if SF is offering a 1987 Topps box set and a Greenwell bobblehead and he’s willing to pick up the full RJ contract….he might just have himself a pitcher!
    Do you have a luxury seating ticket plan at the new place, SF?

    YF December 25, 2006, 7:36 pm
  • Whatever: I thought of this as well. Ideal world: we dump RJ, pick up Linebrink and a prospect, and keep Melky! On the otherhand, if floating the Linebrink name is just a way to lower the bid for Gonzalez….savvy Cash!

    YF December 25, 2006, 7:39 pm
  • Uh, Barry Zito is still out there. Just a thought.

    Whatever December 25, 2006, 7:46 pm
  • Jeez, why can’t I offer an opinion, YF? What is this site if not fan opinions? Should we just let posts go without comment?
    You’re a Scrooge this day, I tell ya!

    SF December 25, 2006, 8:02 pm
  • I do have a mint box set of the first Upper Deck edition ever. I think that was the last full set I ever bought. No idea what it’s worth, but I think it may have a Ken Griffey rookie card in it.

    SF December 25, 2006, 8:04 pm
  • http://baseballcardblog.blogspot.com/2006/06/best-set-countdown-5-1989-upper-deck.html
    Good site, nice summary about that ’89 Upper Deck set.

    SF December 25, 2006, 8:06 pm
  • Well, articles are popping up all over the place on the talks between Arizona and the Yanks. And I thought Christmas Day would be dead with nothing going on.
    And SI’s Jon Heyman thinks the Yanks may get in on the Zito sweepstakes if they can unload RJ. Zito’s asking price would have to come way down for me to want to see that happen.

    Whatever December 25, 2006, 10:47 pm
  • Umm…anyone else smell a “let’s try to keep him happy” situation here, ala Manny Ramirez? If New York unloads his entire $16MM deal, let’s be realistic: It’ll be (at least in part) a dump job. Period. Conor Jackson ain’t walking through that door, and I really don’t think Tracy, who’s dirt cheap through 2009, is heading to NY either. Let’s keep in mind that this is most likely Randy’s last season…any team trading for him is doing so with virtually no hope of inking him to an extension.
    Linebrink for RJ would make some sense if NY really wants to get rid of him…the Pads have a stellar front 3 (Peavy, Young, Maddux) but it get’s a little murky after that. What I wonder is whether an RJ trade would make Zito more than a targer. It’d almost seem to make him a necessity. Given that Zito’s more or less guaranteed a $100MM deal if the Yanks enter the bidding…I don’t know how wise that’d be. Otherwise New York would probably need to get 2 starters out of the Igawa-Pavano-Hughes-Karstens-Clippard-Sanchez crowd…and that’s pretty damn risky.
    Anyway I personally think they’re just taking a page out of Boston’s playbook and putting on a show. I’m not saying RJ is as big as a distraction as Manny or anything, just that they’re handling him the same way. New York needs a 1-year horse until the kids and a better crop of FA’s come up…and RJ fills that hole. (Assuming they think he’ll be healthy, of course)

    desturbd1 December 26, 2006, 4:10 am
  • Cashman always has a next step. So if Unit does get traded I have confidence there is already a next step in place. I don’t think that next step includes Hughes or Sanchez being in the rotation, but rather something else like Clemens, Zito, trade? What a day it would be in Cash could get AZ to include Tracy or Conor Jackson as most sites are reporting!

    Triskaidekaphobia December 26, 2006, 7:29 am
  • Any chance the reports that the Yankees might be interested in Zito could be coming from Scott Boras, trying to get Omar and the Mets to increase their offer, for fear of the Yankees stealing BZ?

    SF December 26, 2006, 8:31 am
  • My guess is Conor Jackson is off the table. RJ has 280 wins. Barring a 20 win season, and if his body can handle it, he might want to go 2 years. If the yanks deal him, get ready for the “Rocket Returms?” tabloid extravaganza. Could sell papers for months.

    YF December 26, 2006, 9:27 am
  • If this happens, Clemens is more than a possibility. All signs point to it.

    Andrew December 26, 2006, 10:44 am
  • I like the fact that, according to the NY Times, the Dodgers are also talking about RJ. So you have three teams in the NL West possibly bidding against each other for Johnson. Could drive the price up.
    The Angels reportedly are also interested. If Cashman would agree to pay part of RJ’s salary and sweeten the pot with somebody else, there’s no reason the Yanks couldn’t come up with a nice player or two in return.

    Whatever December 26, 2006, 11:14 am
  • I’m not sure what the Yankees would want with Chad Tracy of the Diamondbacks, a 3rd baseman. If they got him, the ARod rumors would start flyin’ again.
    Conor Jackson would be great, just what the Yanks need, right now and for the future. But I agree with YF and desturbd1, Casnman would need a crowbar to pry that guy away for just RJ. The deal would have to be expanded.

    Whatever December 26, 2006, 11:34 am
  • “any team trading for him is doing so with virtually no hope of inking him to an extension.”
    Actually, according to ESPN, and others, in talks with NY this week, Arizona wanted a 72 hour window to negotiate an extension with Johnson.
    RJ is going to want an extension. No way he’ll retire without getting to 300 wins, and since he’s 20 wins short, he will probably need two years to do it.

    Whatever December 26, 2006, 11:50 am
  • Wouldn’t they just move Tracy to first?

    SF December 26, 2006, 11:50 am
  • I think Tracy can play first base as well.

    Nick-YF December 26, 2006, 11:51 am
  • Pete at Lohud thinks this is going to get done based on the way things are taking shape. Will Carroll wrote on the BP blog that 3 big names are involved. Nate Silver thinks Yanks fans are unerrating Johnson, whose peripherals are still very good, and might have been the victim of bad luck last year.

    Nick-YF December 26, 2006, 11:53 am
  • “and might have been the victim of bad luck last year”
    Nate apparently doesn’t watch much Yankee baseball.

    SF December 26, 2006, 11:59 am
  • I think he was thinking outside of the win loss category. At this point, wouldn’t you assume that all major league front offices understand the value of win-loss?
    Anyway, these projection systems all seem to view Johnson favorably next year.

    Nick-YF December 26, 2006, 12:18 pm
  • Well, Nick, I don’t think that this is a trade about RJ’s performance, necessarily. I think Cash has been all about lowering the payroll and making the team younger and/or giving himself financial flexibility. RJ is 43 and on the hook for 16m (which in Yankees luxury tax-dom works out to 22m+). Trading him away and banking instead on Pavano/Rasner/Karstens to fill the gap until Hughes/Sanchez are ready makes sense. Plus, it may not be a coincidence that the two big players he traded away, Sheff and Unit, while both could have been still useful for the Yanks in ’07, are also both known for being difficult personalities and not the best people in the clubhouse.

    Sam December 26, 2006, 12:59 pm
  • PS – as Peter Abraham points out, this also rids the Yanks of the three most recent “Tampa favorites” – Wright, Sheff and Unit. That can also only be a good thing.
    Bye bye, RJ. I, for one, won’t miss you.

    Sam December 26, 2006, 1:12 pm
  • Hard to see how 17 wins with a 5 ERA in the AL East is a result of BAD luck.

    Paul SF December 26, 2006, 1:15 pm
  • Sam, no doubt that Cashman is about shedding salary and increasing financial and roster flexibility. My only point was that Johnson might have more value than some think he currently has. Thus, the interest from multiple teams. Count me as someone who is less than excited about trading him away just to trade him away. I don’t have nearly the same anger toward Johnson as a lot of Yanks fans. He pitched through pain, logged a lot of innings. It’s not his fault that, at the age of 43, his body started breaking down.

    Nick-YF December 26, 2006, 1:22 pm
  • It’s not his fault that, at the age of 43, his body started breaking down.
    Who’s fault is it? Jaret Wright’s?

    SF December 26, 2006, 1:37 pm
  • Incidentally, Peter Abraham is telling YFs to tamp down their expectations on the return for Johnson, noting that he is, um, 43, coming off back surgery and due to make $16M next year. Gee, that sounds familiar. He takes Conor Jackson off the table, as well as 2 other prospects I haven’t heard of but are apparently very good. He said expect one top prospect and two throw-ins, like in the Sheffield deal.
    Frankly, I think that’s even overestimating it — in my opinion, Johnson is not likely to be as valuable as Sheffield next season, even being a pitcher. It will be sad to me if the Yanks dump him because I was looking forward to witnessing Johnson’s continuing decline.

    Paul SF December 26, 2006, 1:42 pm
  • Tracy can play 1st base, 3rd base and Corner OF. He can also hit pretty well.
    As for the Angels, that would be ideal. I would love to see them include Casey Kotchman (Had some bad luck, but pretty decent ceiling) and a young arm.
    I would have to agree with not missing him one bit.

    Triskaidekaphobia December 26, 2006, 2:21 pm
  • If we can get Linebrink somehow, it would be sweet though (and also gives the Yanks a killer pen, with Mike Gon coming..)
    But if the Yanks need to eat most of that salary for it to work, it might not make sense..

    Lar December 26, 2006, 2:54 pm
  • haven’t seen it mentioned yet but…..i believe arizona is the current home of the daughter RJ refuses to acknowledge. if memory serves me right, mother and daughter moved there to ease paternity litigation before RJ was traded. can’t see deadbeat dad returning to the scene of the crime.

    sf rod December 26, 2006, 3:12 pm
  • Those Mike Gonzalez talks seem to be a bunch of silliness — seems like the Braves and Pirates will just do a LaRoche for Gonzalez without the Yanks. And I can’t see the Pads taking on RJ after already signing Maddux without getting New York to eat some serious salary bucks.

    Paul SF December 26, 2006, 3:59 pm
  • Paul, I wouldn’t call the two other players the Yanks got besides Sanchez in the Sheff trade “throwins”.
    Actually, Pete Abraham called them secondary players, but the thing is, Kevin Whelan, according to Rotoworld, was one of the Tigers best prospects and considered their closer of the future until Zumaya was moved to the pen, and Anthony Claggett, while not as highly regarded as Whelan, was still considered a pretty good relief prospect.
    If the Yankees can get anything close to what they got from Detroit and rid themselves of most or all of RJ’s salary, I for one, will be very happy.

    Whatever December 26, 2006, 4:22 pm
  • Shea Hillenbrand signs one year deal with Angels. Phew!
    Didn’t want to see him in pinstripes.

    Whatever December 26, 2006, 4:44 pm
  • …not sure i like the idea of trading away pitching, even given the less than the spectacular year rj had, and the questions about coming back after surgery, but i do have to admit i rather enjoy seeing sox fans squirming and rationalizing [negatively] potential yankee moves…

    dc December 26, 2006, 4:52 pm
  • That’s surprising. Does that seal Andy Phillips’ role in NY or did I miss another signing in there?

    Paul SF December 26, 2006, 4:52 pm
  • odd. shea wanted a two year deal minimum from the yanks. wonder why the angels got him to sign up on a one year.

    sf rod December 26, 2006, 5:28 pm
  • There still could possibly be a M. Loretta signing in NY. If not him the options come down to Minky, Phillips, or trying out the Cuban Juan Miranda.

    bloodyank78 December 26, 2006, 5:31 pm
  • i like this quiet (by Yankee standards) winter, it has made for a lot less stress in my little world

    ansky December 26, 2006, 5:55 pm
  • Chad Tracy:
    2005: 145g, 27hr, 78k
    2006: 154g, 20hr, 129k
    Diminishing returns, at 26. Not crazy about the prospect of that coming into the AL. At least he’s a lefty.

    YF December 26, 2006, 9:47 pm
  • Short sample to call them “diminishing returns”, in my opinion. Wouldn’t the AL be a boon, particularly after the BOB?

    SF December 27, 2006, 7:38 am
  • Isn’t the BOB a hitter’s park?

    Nick-YF December 27, 2006, 8:23 am
  • I don’t know, actually. I made a stupid assumption that it wasn’t.
    Regardless, I don’t know why a lesser sophomore year would indicate any pattern of “diminishing returns”. Randy Johnson’s career is a better example of “diminishing returns”, ironically.

    SF December 27, 2006, 8:49 am
  • Yes, you are right, Nick. The BOB is one of the top four hitters’ parks in the NL, according to very quick cursory Google research. I should have done my due diligence before posting that. But my comment about patterns of return stands, regardless. Two years, particularly the first two years of one’s career, isn’t enought to claim “diminishing returns”. Now if he gets traded to the Yanks and stinks I’ll be thrilled to call them that.

    SF December 27, 2006, 8:53 am
  • I have been reading about RJ interest from a few different teams & I’m a bit confused! Why would any team want him ????? & more importantly, why would any team give up young talent for 1 year from RJ ?
    As a Red Sox fan, I was hoping the NYY would be stuck with this miserable guy. Even if his back surgery was a success, he is 43 & has bad knee’s, a bad back & is not reliable. I hope he stays in NY & finds a comfy spot next to his buddy Pavano.

    lee-visor December 27, 2006, 10:09 am
  • lee-visor,
    Why would anyone want RJ?
    Well, it looks like you pretty well summed up the downside of Johnson. As for the upside, well, since his surgery on the herniated disc, Randy has been telling friends he hasn’t felt this good in years, and expects to be ready opening day, but of course that’s not a given.
    Even though Johnson struggled last year, he still won 17 and logged another 200+ innings. He may improve this year if he’s able to perform better because of an improved back. A big “IF”.
    However, ZIPS and PECOTA projections have him doing pretty well next year, with a mid 3′s ERA. They feel he had a lot of bad luck last year. The thing with RJ, if you look at the numbers, with nobody on he’s very tough. With runners on, out of the stretch, look out.
    Arizona is interested, having made an offer, and requesting a 72 hour window to negotiate an extension. One factor with Arizona is, they still owe RJ 40 million for his 6 years in Arizona. They may want to restructure that money if RJ agreed to go back, and of course, if the Yanks accepted their offer. At this point, nobody knows what their offer is, and how much of RJ’s contract they would be willing to pay, etc. RJ was a big favorite in Arizona, having won 4 straight Cys and a World Series there. It would drum up interest there if he were to go back.
    Yankee GM Cashman may be trying to play Arizona and division rival San Diego, who are also interested, up against each other to drive up the price. And then the Dodgers, Angels, Giants, and the Mariners may also have some interest, although at this point, don’t seem as serious as the D-Backs and Pad’s.
    Anyway, there is serious interest out there, but how much teams will give up, and how much of his contract they’ll be willing to pay, remains to be seen.

    Whatever December 27, 2006, 11:36 am
  • Of course there’s serious interest in a pitcher who will give you 200+ innings and who you’re not tied down to for long-term.
    I would bet any pitcher on the top of the Yankees rotation would have rather good value on the market, if they decided to trade them.

    Andrew December 27, 2006, 11:58 am
  • Whatever,
    Thanx for your input on RJ. 200+innings is a big plus & the market for pitching is crazy, but trading away young talent for an aged pitcher (just coming off surgery) sounds like a risky move. 17 wins is with the Yankee’s…….his ERA is over 5.
    Of course he is telling his friends he has “never felt this good in years”. You think he is going to come out and say, I’m done…..I feel horrible. Anyway, I hope the Yanks are stuck with this guy for 2007.

    lee-visor December 27, 2006, 11:27 pm

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