Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Another Year For Randy? 

The general consensus amongst D-Back bloggers has been that if the D-Backs don't re-sign Richie Sexson, we should "blow the team up." By "blow the team up," they mean "trade Randy Johnson."

Now, I've said this myself, so perhaps I should say "we" instead of "they." But over the past couple weeks, I've pondered the wisdom of another year for Randy.

Not 2005.


Look, the general argument is, this team can't compete until 2006. I suppose the implication is, until Randy's contract comes off the books in 2006 and we can get some better players. But as I think through this, I'm wondering if we can realistically expect to do better than Randy. Even for cheaper.

I know, I know, Randy is 41. But even if he doesn't win the Cy Young, he's had a really good year. And if (when) he loses the Cy Young this year, it might very well be to a 43-year-old Roger Clemens. Schilling's injured performance last night notwithstanding, it seems that, all else being equal, it's better to have a dominant $16 M pitcher than 2 pretty good $8 M pitchers.

Here are the upsides of signing Randy to a one-year extension if we don't re-sign Richie Sexson:
1) It's a sign to free agents that we're not throwing in the towel in 2005 and 2006, thereby increasing the D-Backs' attractiveness.
2) Another year of mentoring a young pitching staff.
3) Possible additional trade value if the team isn't improving significantly in 2005.
4) Hey, it's Randy Johnson -- most Win Shares of any NL pitcher, I believe (or maybe it's all pitchers).

The downsides, of course, include:
1) Another $15 - $17 M/year for a 43-year-old pitcher
2) It's not enough of a sign to free agents that we're not throwing in the towel.

If we do re-sign Randy, I guess the worst that could happen is that we delay the blowing up of the team to 2007 (when both Randy and Gonzo would likely not be re-signed, or at least, not for $23 - $25 M combined). The wild card is whether or not Randy would want to extend his contract with the D-Backs. Without Richie the option might be less attractive to him, though it would depend on what other players the D-Backs acquired through trade or free agency, and whether or not Randy's really looking to pitch through 2007 in a push to reach 300 wins. And therein lies the chicken-and-egg rub -- what players would come here on faith that Randy's here through 2006, but would Randy re-sign through 2006 without knowing what players are coming here?

I'm not convinced myself that Randy through 2006 is the answer. But I'm now willing to consider the question.

It's an interesting thought, however, can't say I'd favour it, for a couple of reasons.

To get him for 2006, we'd have (almost certainly) to keep him in 2005, which will effectively be tossing $15m down the drain; I'd rather hold that back for when we really need it.

I'm unsure how much "mentoring" he does; looking at the rest of the starting rotation (which posted an 18-66 record this season), it doesn't seem as if much of the Big Unit's magic rubbed off.

Also question the notion that a $16m pitcher is better than two $8m ones. If you were talking about any other position, you might have more of a point - you can only have one short-stop, after all. But as we saw last season, the best starter in the major leagues is no help whatsoever in the 127 other games. And even if you reach the playoffs, one ace isn't good enough: ask the Twins for details.

Thirdly, again as we've seen, the best pitcher struggles to reach a .500 record when the offense scores less than 3.8 runs/game. $15 million would fill at least two of the gaping holes in our line-up with top-caliber players who would help both score more runs and prevent conceding them.

But It's a DRY Heat...
To begin... I dislike this Blogger commenting system because I can't see the previous comments. But that's neither here nor there.

I understand all 3 points you make.


1) I'm not necessarily sure that 2005 is a lost cause. There's nobody in the NL West that I see as lock.

2) Signing Randy for 2006 has little effect on the 2005 budget, meaning, if we can sign somebody for 2005, we can probably continue to afford them in 2006, even if Randy's around.

3) I still would rather have 1 Randy than 2 middling pitchers. Maybe we'd get lucky and get two aces, but it's the devil you know...

Again, I'm not arguing in favor of re-signing Randy, but don't think we should be so quick to toss him off, either.
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