Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

December 26, 2006

Trading RJ
by SG

According to multiple stories, the Yankees are actively discussing trading Randy Johnson to a team in the West, with the Padres, Giants, and Diamondbacks the major teams in the discussions.

I'd be lying if I said I was a fan of Randy Johnson. I didn't like the trade that brought him here at the time, even with the subsequent disappointing performance of Javier Vazquez. The Yankees for whatever reason traded for the 41 year old Randy Johnson while expecting the 35 year old version, and it ended up costing them a chance to sign Carlos Beltran and Jorge Posada's possible replacement in Dioner Navarro, while not helping in their quest for another World Series. Thankfully Arizona didn't want Chien-Ming Wang or Robinson Cano when they were offered, or we'd really be cursing that trade.

With all that being said, Johnson still projects to be valuable in 2007 if he's healthy. Since he'd have to pass a physical to be traded, we can assume that will be the case to at least start the season.

Johnson had an odd year last year. His component ERA was in the 3.7 range, although his actual ERA was 5.00. This can be tied directly to his splits with runners on base versus runners not on base.

With no one on, batters hit .206/.271/.324 against Johnson, good for an OPS against of .595. However, once someone was on base, .321/.363/.564 for an OPS against of .927. That's basically the difference between Tony Womack and Albert Pujols.

Johnson exhibited similar splits in 2004 and 2005.

None on: .175/.215/.284 OPS .499
Runners on: .243/.294/.380 OPS .674

None on: .228/.282/.371 OPS .653
Runners on: .268/.304/.466 OPS .770

It's clear Johnson's effectiveness suffers from the stretch, although never to the extend that it did in 2006.

It's not as simple as saying Johnson was "unlucky" in 2006 and that he should improve in this area in 2007, because it's very possible that the physical limitations he dealt with (back and knee issues) are the reason for the struggles. Therefore, it's fair to question the likelihood of a rebound for Johnson based on his decent peripherals. That being said, here are some of the projections for Johnson heading into 2007, using Tango Tiger's Marcels, Sean Smith's CHONE, and Dan Szymborski's ZiPS.

The AL Average starter last year put up an ERA of 4.74, so the average of the three projections would make Johnson worth 16 runs above average. No, he's not an ace any more, but he is fine as a second or third starter, especially for a team like the Yankees who project pretty comfortably to be a 900+ run offense.

Trading Johnson puts the team in the position of having to rely on at least one of Carl Pavano(snicker), Darrell Rasner, or Jeff Karstens every fifth day, at least until one of the Phil Hughes/Humberto Sanchez duo is deemed ready to pitch in the bigs. That's potentially a two win downgrade over a full season.

If the Yankees can get something that strengthens them in another area, or that builds up their minor league depth while giving them salary relief, it still probably makes sense to move Johnson. That being said, he shouldn't just be given away, because he still has some value to the Yankees.

And ignore the nonsense about Barry Zito being in play if the Yankees move Johnson. It seems to be idle speculation made out of thin air with no basis in fact. However, it could mean a Roger Clemens return for the stretch run, which would seem to fit the Yankees' new MO with short-term contracts, much moreso than a six year deal to Barry Zito would.