RJ: ‘I may never pitch again’

Yanks sleepwalk over Royals
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Yankee fans will long hold Randy Johnson close to their hearts. His time in New York was filled with loving tenderness and great success. So as Luis Vizcaino puts up a sub-1.00 ERA over two months solidifying a shaky bullpen, Randy Johnson admits that he may never pitch again. That sure was a good trade.

Yanks sleepwalk over Royals
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  • C-Note

    suddenly cash isn’t the village idiot a lot of circles were making him out to be(well, lets forget about K Igawa for a momnet, but…) I remember a nationally syndicated columist(forgive me for not remembering who- one the the ESPN subnormals I believe) wrote about 6 weeks ago that even though RJ was injured on and off that he had more “quality starts” then some guys on the Yanks and was still a viable weapon in the post season and the yanks got absolutely robbed…

    are these people smoking crack? Did he actually watch the Small Units two post season starts in pinstripes and how they KILLED us both years?

    Now that the Yankee killer is done for good(he killed us when he pitched against us, he killed us pitching for us) & Viz is as much of a reason as any for us making playoffs if he is able to hold down the 8th, this may turn out to be one of Cash’s finest hours… and that’s even if we get ZERO from the kids in the trade

  • James

    Cash isn’t an idiot because he got four scrubs in return? Vizcaino has a 103 ERA+ in his career. He’ll revert soon enough. Bruney had a great summer (for free), and reverted. Tanyon Sturtze would have good runs and revert. It happens with relievers, most especially average ones.

    Meanwhile, the other three “prospects” have promptly fallen behind the Steven Whites and Brett Smiths of the system while A-Gon was demoted in favor of Andy Cannizaro.

    Next time they trade a rapidly aging pitcher (e.g., Moose) can’t it be for one decent prospect rather three crappy ones and an average relief pitcher?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

    James, I think you hit upon something there. As you noted, Cashman traded a “rapidly aging pitcher” the Diamondbacks and got something in return. While Vizcaino may be nothing more than a league average reliever, what would you expect to get for a 40 pitcher with a history of injuries and back problems?

    The Yankees aren’t trading with partners who are idiots. The Diamondbacks knew full well that RJ was old and could break down at any moment. The fact that the Yanks got anything back in return is, in my opinion, somewhat remarkable.

    Meanwhile, when/if the Yanks ship out Mussina, they’d probably get even less. Why would you trade a decent prospect for someone who pitches just over 5 innings per start to the tune of an ERA of 86 and a VORP of 7.3? I could find you a better pitcher in most team’s farm systems.

  • John L.

    I laughed when I saw this news. I wish RJ no ill will, but the fact of the matter is that this surprises no one. I think there’s no question that if RJ never pitches again, then the Yanks and Cashman won this deal. Whether or not they won it by enough is a different question, but I have a hard time believing that Cashman could have gotten more than he did for RJ.

  • C-Note

    No JAMES, he’s not an idiot becuase for an INJURED 40 something pitcher who didn’t wanna be here he now has an 8th inning guy with a sub-2.00 ERA since memorial day… maybe he’ll revert back to what he was- but VIZ has never had Mariano as a mentor before, and a sample size of two months is significant… what exactly was he going to get in return- Brandon Webb????? Getting RJ and his shitty attitude for a bag of baseballs would’ve been addition by subtraction

    and Ben K is correct, when/if Moose is given the boot the Yanks will get even less… if you were a competing GM what would you give for Mussina at this point? Why would anyone give up a decent prospect for a guy on his last legs?

  • James

    C-Note: Randy three 400 league average innings over the last few years. That’s very valuable, esp to the D’backs who had very little proven pitching for the season.

    Ben – rather than three crappy prospects and one average reliever (which they already had in Proctor, Bruney, Farns, and even Britton), I would have preferred one, just one, B-level prospect. Chris Carter has me drooling these days – 24 yo 1B in AAA but stuck behind Conor Jackson.

    As for aging pitchers – Two months of Wells brought Boston a young C in George Kottaras. Maddux (and his 100 ERA+) brought Chicago Cesar Izturis (who’s better than Cairo but then who isn’t?). The point is: If the Yanks could get three grade C prospects AND an average reliever, why couldn’t they get one Grade B prospect?

    And Moose, I think, could bring that esp if it were a NL team dealing.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

    I think you may be writing off Ohlendorf too soon. While his numbers may not be impressive, most talent evaluators who see him believe he would be a very useful Major League pitcher whether as a starter or reliever. He not yet 25 with only two full seasons of pro experience under his belt. Give him more than 60 injury plagued innings before calling him a bust.

    Anyway, Ohlendorf is your very definition of a B level prospect. And they managed to get more than one B level prospect for Randy. There’s no way they would get that much for Moose.

  • C-Note

    JAMES- EVERYONE knew RANDY had a bad Back that was getting worse and needed sugery where he wouldn’t even be able to start the season-
    the Yanks wanted him OUT and the only place he was willing to go was Zona, not much leverage there

    whatever Viz has been in the past he’s the 2nd best option out of the pen right now, that’s not saying much, it is what it is, but he’s doing well & we got him for a guy who less than 7 months after the trade is DONE

  • C-Note

    At the time of the trade “baseball people” loved that the Yanks got Ohlendorf in the trade, I agree with Ben, I’m not willing to call him a bust becasue he’s been hurt—– BUT MY MAIN POINT IS that we NOW HAVE an effective 8th inning pitcher for a guy who is NOW TOAST

    You’re right, time will tell… we’ll all just have to wait and see, but Viz’s “103” ERA for his career happens to be 1.20 the last month and 0.00 his last 12 appearances

  • James

    Ben – I see nothing in Ohlendorf’s record to suggest he’s any better than a Steve White, or Brett Smith, or Jason Jones. And they’re not B prospects.

    C-Note – how long do you really think Vizcaino will be decent? Brian Bruney was very good for two months too. And they Yanks didn’t have to trade anyone for him. Relievers are a fickle bunch and the Yanks could have gotten more from the D-Backs, esp since they needed him so much they gave up four guys and 8 million just to get him.

    Problem was: He wasn’t Cashman’s guy, so it was too easy for him to cut bait. Unlike Pavano. And Farnsworth. And Damon. And Moose.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

    I think we’re working with different definitions here. Who/who do you consider to be a B prospect?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

    Also, when evaluating prospects – especially pitchers – you have to look beyond the numbers to the talent evaluation. On numbers alone, Joba and Kennedy look like even matches, but based on their stuff, we know that Joba’s a better prospect. The same can be said of Ohlendorf.

  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    This is my view of the RJ deal: Cash got 4 servicable players for a 40 yr old grump with a bad back. Think about that; it’s a minor miracle. You can’t say it was a bad deal because Jackson, Ohlendorf & Gonzalez have had a poor 4 months to start their Yankee careers. These guys all have a good deal of talent, and as Ben said, Ollie is the definition of a B prospect (as in Gonzalez in my opinion).

    There’s more to this deal than just the players involved too. The Yanks saved a boatload of money (paying only $2M of the $26M left on RJ’s deal), and they also have a chance to get 2 middle relievers and a utility guy (I still think Ollie has a chance to start though) at near MLB minimum salary for the next 6 yrs, as opposed to signing old guys to 7-figure deals for similar levels of production.

    Also, you gotta remember what RJ means to the D-Backs. He’s the best player in the history of the franchise, he’ll be the first D-Back in the HOF, and he gives them a big marquee name with star power (sorry Brandon Webb, but you aren’t cutting it). Josh Byrnes new the risks of trading for him, but he took the risk and it doesn’t look like it’ll pay off. It happens.

    Come on people, up your eyes and see the reality of the situation. It was a damn good deal.

    Oh, and for the record, George Kottaras sucks ass, just like Cesar Izturis.

  • Zack

    Nevermind that Izturis is the definition of a backup IF and Kottaras has been just awful in AAA for the 2nd year in a row…

  • C-Note

    JAMES- you’re correct, relief pitchers are streaky– Vizcaino has never had the best reliever of ALL TIME as a mentor before- he’s been hot for two months, it may end tonight, it may go through October

    THE fact is they got their 8th inning guy who has been lights out for a good chunk of the season—- that is a tangible result— prospects are swell but most of them are just that, Prospects– the Yanks can get to the playoffs and win the series THIS year, and Vizcaino RIGHT NOW, as of this moment is a big part of them getting back into it

    Bruney was never the 8th inning guy last year, and the Yanks didn’t play a pressure game after the Boston Massacre until the playoffs

    It seems your argument is the Yanks coulda, shoulda got more for RJ… what I am trying to say is that when RJ was pitching well enough in Zona and Vizcaino’s era was 7 CASH was getting murdered for the trade

    That RJ looks to be calling it a career right when Vizcaino is becoming a huge part of the bullpen improves how this trade looks immeasurably— I believe that was the original point of Ben K’s article

    I can not say that Vizcaino will pitch like this all year, even the best case senerio there will be bumps in the road— But I also don’t think It can be assumed that he will fall apart either, he has some talent and I hate to keep beating a dead horse but do not under estimate the value of Mo as a teacher– it’s not only Mariano’s physical gifts that have made him what he is- the guy is an IRON willied Genius who has had failures that have broken other men(Alomar in 97′, 2001 series, 04′ sox) but he has kept going— Mo has been teaching him the MENTAL side of the game

    we’re Yankee fans and we’ll agree to disagree- you make some valid points JAMES on what teams recieved for WELLES & Maddux – but if Vizcaino can keep on keeping, even just for this year, it will have been a good trade

  • Kyle

    Zack is right…Alberto Gonzalez alone is about equal value to Kottoras and Izturis. Gonzalez should be able to be Miguel Cairo at worst, Kottoras will probably never see the majors.

  • James

    It’s a good question, Ben.

    I’d call a B prospect one who performs well for his league and age and taking into a account their previous results. That seems like a Kennedy to me. Chamberlain is a year younger performing just as well – so an A. Horne is somewhere between B and C. Smith and Jones are solid C’s. Based on that scale, Ohlendorf is a solid C as well including the results of this year.

    Last year was Ohlendorf’s only decent year. As such, I probably would have graded him in the C range, given his age, with the hope that another decent year would bump him to B.

    As for stuff and talent, I have a very hard time with that and why I detest the BaseballAmerica’s prospect list. Stuff and talent is more likely to lead to hype and reputation versus cold hard numbers. And the littered remains of that list (and the guys left off) testify to its predictive utility. For instance, compare Ellsbury and Gardner – same numbers, leagues, and age – yet one is highly rated while there other isn’t.

    Honestly, I care much more about results than stuff. And Chamberlain at his age is performing as well as Kennedy. That alone leads to a higher grade.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    In the minors, though, James, it’s sometimes more about process than results.

  • James

    Kottaras is 24 years old and a switch hitting catcher. He has plenty of time for his bat to show up. He’s just a bit over his head now.

    At AA last year: .276 .394 .451 (257 AB)

    And the Sox got that for Wells. I would have loved for the Yanks to get THAT for Unit.

  • James

    Joseph – Process is an easy word when the results aren’t there. No one talks about process when the kid is performing.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

    You’re too focused on numbers at the Minor League level. They don’t tell the whole story. You need to be able to see why two pitchers with similar numbers aren’t rated the same. And to dismiss BA’s prospect lists because they rely on stuff and talent in addition to results seems a little short-sighted.

    Ohlendorf’s a B level prospect. He’s better than Kottaras who has been terrible for nearly 400 at bats in AAA. Few will disagree with that.

  • James

    Ben – Matt Drews and Drew Henson were both top prospects according to BA. That list is almost worthless – especially when Ellsbury is a top prospect but Gardner is not. And for all the evaluation of talent and stuff – Ruben Rivera was twice rated ahead of Derek Jeter.

    Kottaras is younger at AAA than Ohlendorf (so many things wrong with that comparison). I would not be shocked to see Kottaras have a few decent years aged 26 to 32 with the Red Sox.

    Meanwhile, I’ll be shocked if Ohlendorf ever appears in the Bronx. He’s running backwards. Jackson and A-Gon too.

    Kennedy and Chamberlain – their ages make all the difference. The latter may have the higher ceiling, but coming into this year, the former was more likely to be a MLB pitcher.

    Sorry, I’ll take cold hard numbers over “stuff” and “talent”.

    Teaser: Do you take Tabata or Jackson going forward?

  • RobinCT

    The Yankees had nearly no leverage with the RJ trade. They were trading an old, injured pitcher to the one team he clearly wanted to go back to. The only good part (from the Yankees perspective) is that RJ is a “name” and hopefully AZ would overpay to get him back, hoping to get his 300th win down there and generate some buzz.

    I think Cashman did ok.

    If you’re going to pick at a trade, pick at the Sheff trade. I thought it was a good idea to trade Sheff, but the results so far sure have been bad. Sheff’s on FIRE with Detroit and the main prospect the Yanks got back blew out his elbow.

  • C-Note

    Horne started his career late and injured, he has A type stuff and numbers—- but might be a ‘B’ casue of his age, but at the very least a ‘B’, certainly not a C

    JAMES- don’t know if you’re looking to argue just for it’s own sake, I can’t believe this list is up to 25 entries… I got other shit to do today

    RJ is f*cking DONE

    the Yanks got Vizcaino who’s doing well and prospects we have to wait and see –

    CASH did OK

    I’m done and out on this one


    trading rj correctted the original mistake of getting him
    vizciano has been a good relief pitcher for the last few years look at his record he started out lights out was abused by “panic” joe torre and now his pitching to his baseball card as long as joe doesnt over use him alberto gonzoles would have been a better option then cario he is a better defender has more speed and power then cario jackson and oldenhorf are valuable b type prospects that adds depth and quality to a system going on scouting reports and performance coming into the year oldenhof was favorably comparedto wang the kid has a heavy sinker 92 to 95mph comes from princeton and remember arizona wanted the yanks to take micah owings instead cash held out for oldenhof this year has not been good why? i would like to think that coming to a neww org with the possibilty of being the first call-up he might have over thrown and then his mechanics got messed up and that caused his back to go
    all in all even if rj comes back and pitches well this trade will pay divedends for years to come

  • Marsha

    I totally agree with ANTHONY FROM THE BRONX’s first sentence. We never needed RJ; he didn’t do much while he was here; and I glad he was sent back to where he belonged. I might agree with some of these other comments too but there are just too many to read.

  • the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusiness

    I think Cashman did well here. Vizcaino is not as bad as he was for a month and a half and not as good as he’s been for 2 months. He is a solid reliever. Starting with 2002 he’s posted the following line:
    402.6 IP, 4.02 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 7.96 K/9, 2.12 K/BB, 1.18 HR/9
    If you remove his horrendous 2003 season of 6.39 ERA, 1.435 WHIP, and 16 HR allowed in 62 innings you get this:
    340.6 IP, 3.59 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 7.79 K/9, 2.06 K/BB, .98 HR/9
    His ERA ‘s since 2002 have been 134, 68, 110, 119, 133, and 103 this season, with a career mark (including the 59.3 innings he pitched over 3 seasons with Oakland) of 103. This also shows why ERA and ERA are not good measures of a relievers effectiveness. In 2005, Vizcaino had an ERA of 3.73 and an ERA of 119 despite a WHIP of 1.47, 43 K’s and 29 BB’s in 70 innings. When relievers fail to do their job and allow inherited runners to score, their ERA is not affected. They can also be bailed out when the next guy comes in and strands the baserunners the first reliever allowed. Vizcaino is pretty strong in the categories that are important for relievers and has been durable. His Baseball Reference closest comparison for his age 29, 30, and 31 (the 3 before 2007) seasons was Justin Speier for all three seasons. I believe Justin Speier signed a 3 year 15 million dollar deal in the offseason. Luis Vizcaino is a valuable player.
    As for the prospects, I don’t have a very high opinion of Steven Jackson and it’s hard for me to get excited about a guy whose ceiling is utility infielder but they were basically throw in’s with Vizcaino and Ohlendorf. My only problem with this trade is that I would have preferred Micah Owings. I’m not sure if his inclusion would have altered anything else, but if they could have had the same deal except Owings instead of Ohlendorf I would have been happier. Chien-Ming Wang’s sinker is as rare (obviously not as devastating) as Mariano’s cutter. I have a hard time with the comparison although I can’t say that I’ve ever seen Ohlendorf pitch. In any case, Randy Johnson was an overpriced, injury prone ornery pr*ck. I’ve never had a harder time rooting for a Yankee.