Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Who Needs Randy? 

Many teams are rumored to be interested in obtaining Randy Johnson's services (at roughly $100,000 per game or $500,000 per start) for the next 220 games / 44 starts (Randy Johnson... Now With Free Playoff Starts!). This interest is due to egos, fantasy, and perhaps some actual scouting and analysis.

I've compiled a list of 7 teams who could consider Randy, a list compiled of published reports, wild rumors, and my own wishful thinking. The list below is read as follows:

Team: Pitching Win Shares (3rd starter?: Win Shares) -- as of All-Star Break
Angels: 44 (Sele: 5)
Yankees: 47 (Lieber: 3)
Cardinals: 47 (Carpenter: 8)
Red Sox: 50 (Wakefield: 5)
Cubs: 50 (no idea...)
Rangers: 51 (Rodriguez: 0)
Twins: 56 (Lohse: 3)

Now, it's hard enough to figure out rotations from MLB websites. Bartolo Colon, for example, is listed as the #1 starter for the Angels, which I'm not sure is for real (he'd fit in well as the D-Backs' fifth starter this year).
The team Win Shares total gives you an indication of the overall strength of the pitching staff. Clearly the Angels have the biggest problems, while there's some statistical proof to the Twins' fans who argue that they don't need Randy, they need some offense.
Still, Win Shares are Win Shares, regardless of whether they come from pitching, offense, or defense. By adding Randy to your staff you are in essence voting your worst pitcher off the island, which in most cases is some rarely-used reliever with 0 or 1 Win Shares. Since Randy has 12 Win Shares (14 in the AL since he won't have to hit), he'll add roughly 10-11 Win Shares to your team in the rest of the '04 season (by replacing your worst pitcher), or anywhere from 3 to 4 wins. That's not an inconsequential figure, obviously.

The other thing is, you're not only getting Randy to get to the playoffs, you're getting Randy to get through the playoffs. That's why I've listed the 3rd starters for each team, because they're the starters that would lose at least 1 start per series if Randy joined their team. Injuries make this analysis harder, because who knows who the Cubs' 3rd starter would be. And Rodriguez for the Rangers has only started 3 or 4 games.
What this table tells me is that I think the Angels and Yankees need Johnson the most, with compelling arguments for the other 5 teams. Whether or not those teams think Johnson is worth half a million dollars every time he takes the mound (no wonder the man is a little focused on game days), or whether they have anything worthwhile to offer the Diamondbacks is another question entirely.

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