The Yankees have traded Randy Johnson. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Mr. Johnson. I didn’t want him here and each time he pitched I hoped that he would go about 7 innings and give up 7 runs while the Yankees scored 10. He didn’t quite do that, though it seems he certainly tried to in 2006. Johnson wasn’t as spectacular as the Yankees probably felt he would be in dealing for him, nor was he as terrible as I wanted him to be. Instead, he was somewhere in the middle. His first year was pretty good and his second pretty poor, but no matter he was usually good for 6+ innings. As Barry Zito has proven this offseason, innings are important.
I am in no way saying that Randy Johnson is as dependable as Zito. He’s not as healthy and he’s not nearly as young. However, compared to the rest of the Yankee rotation, he might as well have been Zito. Wang will be coming off a season where he pitched about 70 more innings than he ever has in his life, Mike Mussina usually expires after 100 pitches, Kei Igawa is an unknown, Andy Pettitte is a wildcard. So, Randy Johnson with all his injury/age/health issues was probably still one of the more dependable Yankee starters going forward health-wise. As much as I don’t like him, it is tough to lose that.
As for what the Yankees got back, they can best be summarized as a bunch of C+ prospects and a replacement Scott Proctor. Vizcaino might be coming off a solid year in relief, but his performance record and/or stuff is not that of a reliever that you can be fairly certain will shut down the late innings for you. Steven Jackson seems to be of the Darrell Rasner/Jeff Karstens mold of guys you definitely trade if someone comes knocking with something useful. Alberto Gonzalez looks like he has a future as a utility infielder ahead of him. Ross Ohlendorf…is interesting.
Given the logjam of RHP in the organization, the Yankees may consider moving Ohlendorf to the bullpen. It would certainly be tempting to magically have a bullpen arm that can be counted on for 95+ fastballs on a regular basis. However, if left as a starter, Ohlendorf may still prove very valuable. At the moment, his secondary pitches are fringy. Of those offerings, his slider seems to show the most potential, as at times it has been a strikeout pitch. So, how is it that a starting pitcher with only one reliable pitch, in the upper minors, was able to author 182.2 innings of 3.25 ERA ball? Well, his first step was to not walk anyone, 1.4 per 9. His second step was to limit the long ball, .6 per 9. So while he didn’t strike out too many, 6.4 per 9, and allowed a less than ideal amount of hits, 9.2 per 9, he was ok. The pitch he accomplished all this with was a power sinker in the low 90s.
It remains to be seen how effective Chien-Ming Wang will be going forward. However, to this point he has been very effective for the Yankees. I have no doubt that the Yankees saw some of him in Ohlendorf, and they have every right to have made that connection. While the questionable secondary offerings and lack of huge strikeout numbers will keep him from ever having top pitching prospect billing, there is reason to believe that Ohlendorf may be more than meets the eye. Because of this, I feel the trade hinges on him. I will not rank him or anyone from the RJ trade in the current version of the top 25, but after I finish counting down, I will go back and attempt to place them.