Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Unit Heading to the Yanks

Major League Baseball : News

Already thought by many to be a foregone conclusion, it looks like Randy Johnson will indeed anchor the Yankees rotation for the next three years. The Diamondbacks will essentially "rent" Javiar Vasquez who has no interest in remaining on the west coast (note to Javiar - not much 'coast' in Phoenix but your point is well taken). So it really is a trade for some (or at least one) "high level prospect", likely some not-so-high level prospects and a boat-load of cash. Perhaps this was how the D-Backs were planning to pay for Troy Glaus, Russ Ortiz & Royce Clayton?

How does this affect the Angels? Well, for one thing it puts Johnson back in the AL which more than offsets any benefit of Pedro leaving. The balance of pitching power tilted significantly east in the AL with the A's jettisoning Mark Mulder & Tim Hudson and the only notable addition in the entire AL West being Paul Byrd for the Angels who sent Ramon Ortiz to the NL in the process. The Al East on the other-hand improved significantly with (presumably) Johnson, Carl Pavano & Jaret Wright all bolting their NL teams for the Evil Empire. The BoSox dumped Pedro & Derek Lowe (still unsigned) but added Matt Clement & David Wells, two more NL refugees. Those east-coast road trips just got a little longer and I suspect NL scores will be rising in '05.

As a Phoenix resident and luke-warm D-Backs fan, I had learned to root for the Unit. But it felt....unnatural. I had spent so many years despising the Mad Mullet from Seattle as he regularly punished Angel hitters that it was hard to accept him in a hero's role. But with Johnson on the Yankees, it should be easy for Angel fans to, as Darth Vader once said, 'release your hate'. Though I suspect most Angel fans still detested RJ even as a member of the Diamondbacks.

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