Monday, January 10, 2005

January Deals Being Finalized

Baseball fans in New York will be rewarded with two new superstars hitting their metropolis this week, lefty pitcher Randy Johnson is joining the Yankees while outfielder Carlos Beltran becomes a member of the crosstown Mets. In other news the Dodgers will send outfielder Shawn Green (and $10 million) to the Diamondbacks and will add right-hander Derek Lowe to their rotation that already includes a bevy of 3rd string starters including Jeff Weaver, Kaz Ishii and Odalis Perez.

Quick analysis:

Randy Johnson Deal. Yankees, obviously, get better with Johnson in the short-term. But he remains a health risk at 41 years old with virtually no cartilage in his right knee and a notoriously gimpy back. The two injuries are interrelated and Johnson has been able to manage the knee problem- and by extension, the back problem- via gel injections into his knee. Will Johnson help the Yankees repeat as AL East Champion? Yes, but not appreciably more than Javier Vasquez probably could have. Randy Johnson was purchased for one purpose and one purpose only: Beat Curt Schilling in the playoffs. Of course, if they can pitch Johnson against Johann Santana, Bartolo Colon or any other AL ace on the way, so much the better. But if RJ goes 10 - 14 with a 4.55 ERA (highly unlikely) but still beats Schilling in the ALCS, he will be worth every penny to Steinbrenner and the rest of the Yankee faithful.

Carlos Betran Deal. Statistically the Mets will be better with Betran taking over for Mike Cameron who hit a sparse .231 in 2004 but did club 30 HR's for New York. With Cameron injured until late April or May due to surgury on his left wrist, this deal fills an immediate hole. But the Mets may have to move Cameron and his $7 million annual salary (signed through '06) to free-up some cash and a likely trade partner, according to the Arizona Republic, are the Diamondbacks. After trading Steve Finley last season to the Dodgers, the D-Backs found out how valuable a defensive centerfielder is as Randy Johnson saw game after game slip away due to shoddy defense and poor run support. Cameron would seem to be a good fit for Arizona, particularly if they could sway the Mets into paying a portion of his salary.

But does this deal push the Mets past the Braves? Doesn't this happen virtually every year? Atlanta retools on the cheap and the Mets bring in some high-pricied talent and somehow Bobby Cox wins the division and the Mets are left scratching their collective heads. In my opinion Pedro Martinez + Carlos Beltran looks a whole lot like Chan Ho Park + Alex Rodriguez for the Texas Rangers circa 2000 and that did not turn out so good for Texas. Pedro seemed destined for long stays on the DL while Betran puts up big numbers in a futile bid to carry the franchise on his back. Eventually Martinez will retire and Beltran will be traded, probably to the Yankees.

Shawn Green Deal. For the money, this might be the best deal of the big three. If you consider that Green's disappointing numbers in LA ended around the All-Star Break last season when, according to sources who are suppose to know, Green was finally feeling fully recovered from a shoulder injury. If that is indeed fact and Green puts up his historically gaudy numbers at Bank One (soon to be Chase Manhattan) Ballpark then the D-Backs have added some considerable punch to their line-up with a projected three through five batting order of Troy Glaus, Luis Gonzalez and Shawn Green. All three had significant injuries over the past couple of years but if this MASH unit gels and produces, the D-Backs could be back in the mix in the uber-weak NL West in 2005.

How will all this affect the Angels? Well, it makes going through New York tougher and it is hard to imagine a team that the Big Unit has been harder on than the Halos. During his stint with the Mariners he routinely shut-down the Angels and made an indelible mark in Anaheim/LAoA of fans by winning a one-game playoff for the AL West title in 1995 after the Angels folded down the stretch, blowing a 10 1/2 game lead. Sorry to bring that up, but at least I didn't say the words "Dave Henderson". Whoops. Anyway, this move was not designed to really affect the Angels unless they face the Yankees in the post-season. Then you have to hope Johnson loses his knee gel or Colon becomes the dominant pitcher we glimpsed on occassion last season.

Beltran stays out of the AL so that is a good thing and the Green deal also has no affect unless you have a vivid imagine that pits either the Mets or D-Backs against the Angels in the World Series.


Blogger Rob said...

Martinez -- not sure how Pedro is like the CHP to Texas deal; CHP was a flyball pitcher in a hitter's park with mediocre fielders in Texas, versus a flyball pitcher in a heavy pitcher's park with good outfield defense in LA. His conversion to goat was not unexpected...

Beltran is a mess for the Mets, not right away, but in years 6 and 7 of the contract, negating a lot of prior value... agreed on likely outcome of another Braves division win.

Welcome to the Angels blogosphere, incidentally.

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