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January 04, 2007

Comments On The Tentative Johnson Trade

It's now reported that it's Randy Johnson and $2 million for Luis Vizcaino, Ross Ohlendorf, Steven Jackson and Alberto Gonzalez.

Luis Vizcaino is a David Weathers or Braden Looper type of pen-man. He won't kill you, but, he's not going to be one of your "A" or "B" guys in the pen either. He's fine for filling in the gaps for games with big leads without having to tap on a Proctor or Farnsworth.

Ross Ohlendorf, a fourth-round pick in 2004, throws a power sinker. He raised his prospect status last season. He's a smart kid - he went to Princeton. Since his secondary pitches do not match the quality of his sinker, I could see him landing in the bullpen if he makes it to the majors. Think "Bob Wickman."

Here's a recent Baseball America report on Steven Jackson:

A big presence on the mound, Steven Jackson took a bigger step forward in the Diamondbacks system this season, reaffirming his prospect status.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound righthander had a strong showing for Double-A Tennessee, posting a marked improvement in every category except record after making a simple adjustment late in 2005 by lengthening his stride.

Jackson, who won the low Class A Midwest League championship game with his new delivery for South Bend in 2005, was 8-11, 2.65 for the Smokies this season, finishing second in the Southern League in ERA while limiting opponents to a .239 average. He cut his ERA in half and lowered his opponent average by 82 percentage points.

"Everything stayed consistent," said Jackson, a 10th-round draft pick out of Clemson in 2004. "I was able to keep my pitches down consistently. Maybe it was more concentration, maybe just learning how to pitch a little bit."

Jackson, 24, had control of all four of his pitches and found a rhythm with his sinker, split-finger fastball and changeup that kept hitters off balance. He often used his changeup early in the count to set up a two-strike splitter that helped him pile up 125 strikeouts in 150 innings.

"The biggest thing this year was he commanded all four pitches and he was consistent day in and day out. He didn't beat himself," Tennessee pitching coach Dan Carlson said. "He didn't get behind in the count. When he got beat, it was because they just hit good pitches, and that's going to happen to anyone."

Jackson's fastball regularly reached 90-91 mph and topped out at 94. He averaged 2.7 walks per nine innings.

Jackson was struggling in the Arizona Fall League, where he was 0-1, 12.38 for Scottsdale.

John Sickels recently listed the Top 20 current propsects for the D'backs and this is what he said about Ohlendorf (at 20) and Jackson (at 19):

Steven Jackson, RHP, C+ (excellent season in Double-A following mechanical rebuild)

Ross Ohlendorf, RHP, C+ (sleeper who throws strikes)

Alberto Gonzalez, a 23-year-old Venezuelan, reportedly, makes some spectacular plays at SS with plus range to either side. In 2005, managers in the Midwest League named him the best defensive shortstop in that league. He also makes good contact at the plate. But, he needs to prove that he can handle Triple-A pitching before we get too excited about him as a prospect.

All things considered - including Johnson's age and health - I think the Yankees did OK in this trade (if this how it will go down).

They got a decent arm for the pen this year, two "High C" pitching prospects with sleeper potential, and, at the worst, a good infield glove man for the bench in 2008-ish.

Just don't ask me if I would have traded Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera, Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro and $11 million dollars for these four players plus one good year from Randy Johnson and one bad year from Randy Johnson - because, when you look at it that way, it starts to sting, just a tad.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at January 4, 2007 08:24 PM

Comments

Just don't ask me if I would have traded Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera, Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro and $11 million dollars for these four players plus one good year from Randy Johnson and one bad year from Randy Johnson - because, when you look at it that way, it starts to sting, just a tad.
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You can't look at it that way; there's a reason no one gripes about the Steve Kemp for Ken Phelps deal.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2007 09:56 PM

Wasn't that Jay Buhner?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2007 10:48 PM

I look at this deal and just sort of shrug my shoulders. It's not great, and it's not bad. It's just sort of meh. (Luis Vizcaino is an utter waste; he can throw innings, but his numbers in the AL suck and I hope they try to dump him elsewhere.)

Ross Ohlendorf is a long way from getting stuck in the 'pen, and he's supposed to have a very good changeup.

The problem I have with Ohlendorf and Jackson is that though they have pretty good AA numbers, they're both pretty old to be in AA. Hughes and Clippard were 20 and 21 in AA and smoked them numbers-wise. So even in our own system I think it's debatable if these guys even crack the top ten.

The good news is that this deal clears 14 million dollars in salary, which is a lot of money, and it gets rid of Randy Johnson, who I couldn't stand to see anymore.

Gonzalez is also kind of old for AA, but maybe he can be a utility guy. I think the Yankees just have to hope that Ohlendorf and Jackson put up good years in AAA (or possibly AA again) and make themselves nice trade bait for Mark Tex or Santana.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2007 11:22 PM

Wasn't that Jay Buhner?
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Buhner was acquired from Pittsburgh (with a few other players) for Steve Kemp

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2007 11:38 PM

Eh, come to think of it, I could've worded that better...

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2007 11:39 PM

Gonzalez, I read somewhere, is good enough defensively to play any IF position in the majors right now. if we keep him, he should be the Miguel Cairo of 2008 and beyond.

Vizcaino is another decent reliever that SHOULD allow more valuable relievers to stay rested (knowing Joe's pen usage). Look at all the potential set-up men: Proctor, Bruney, Farnsworth, Myers, Vizcaino, Britton, Beam, Veras (not to mention Rivera).

Ohlendorf and Jackson are more 'potential' guys. But the fact that they're 24+ is disconcerting. I think Cash Money still has a deal up his sleeve. It might be before April, or it might be a deadline deal, or it might be next offseason, but I think a big trade will happen.

Posted by: Travis G. [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 5, 2007 01:26 AM

But the Unit looked good in AZ when the Yankees traded for him, so to me it was trading a bunch of unknowns & an oft-injured Nick Johnson (who's recovering from yet another injury) for a multi-Cy Young winner. Plus the Yankees did somehow manage to get 200 innings & 17 wins from Unit each year. I think it was a decent gamble, but sometimes the dice don't come up your way.

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 5, 2007 09:06 AM

Just don't ask me if I would have traded Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera, Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro and $11 million dollars for these four players plus one good year from Randy Johnson and one bad year from Randy Johnson
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Actually, for me, looking at it that way, the whole saga bothers me even less.
Can we honestly say that if the Vazquez trade and the Johnson trade were reversed that the Yankees would have fared any better in the 2004-2006 seasons? The Yankees have lacked big game pitchers in those years; their hitting has been fine and the players that they traded away were hitters for the most part (Halsey is not at all important in my opinion).

All I can think is that, maybe, if they had not acquired Vazquez, they would have re-signed Pettitte in the 2003 off-season. Pettitte in 2005 would have been very useful, but who knows if he would have been enough to allow them to advance further in the play-offs?

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 5, 2007 09:34 AM

As far as production goes, I don't think its fair to accuse Randy Johnson of screwing us over. He was coming from a weak-hitting NL West into the AL East? Did anyone expect him to be lights out pitching as a 41 and 42 year old here? That said, letting him go before year three here is a no-brainer. As Steve has said before, it just does more to open the door for Roger Clemens next season.

Posted by: RichDank [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 5, 2007 01:46 PM