Setting the Randy Johnson trade record set

Krazy Kyle's suspension for missing Manny reduced to one game
Game 37: He's not a blower

A sentence in a recent Tom Verducci mailbag set a few Yankees a-twitter this week. “Remember,” wrote Verducci, “the Yankees preferred Ross Ohlendorf over Owings in the Big Unit trade, otherwise he’d be their No. 3 starter and DH these days!”

Now while Ross Ohlendorf clearly has a bright future as a Major League reliever ahead of him — his stuff and his recent 6 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K line are testaments to that — Micah Owings is a desirable starter with excellent stuff. Yankee fans would have every right to be a little dismayed if the team truly favored Ohlendorf over Owings. But the problem with Verducci’s claim is that it’s simply not true.

A few weeks earlier, Verducci’s Sports Illustrated colleague and fellow columnist Jon Heyman wrote about Micah Owings’ role in the Randy Johnson trade talk as well. His take, however, was completely different from that of Verducci’s: “The Yankees tried hard for Owings in Randy Johnson trade talks after the 2006 season, even offering to send Arizona a few million more if they’d include him. No go.”

What Heyman wrote jibes with press reports from the time of the trade in December 2006 and January 2007. At the time, New York reporters offered up differing takes. Some said that the Yankees maybe could have landed Owings if they were prepared to shell out more money for the D-Backs and accept fewer players in return. Others said that Owings was considered to be an “untouchable” in Arizona’s farm system.

While Verducci’s analysis seems off the mark, what Heyman offers seems most realistic. The Yanks wanted Owings as any team would, and the Diamondbacks opted to hold on to their prized prospect. With Ohlendorf on the team, a compensation pick from Vizcaino on the way and the Big Unit’s health issues lately, I’d say the Yankees did just fine for themselves in that trade.

Krazy Kyle's suspension for missing Manny reduced to one game
Game 37: He's not a blower
  • Joe

    Thank you, I read the something and thought how fabricated reports can be.

  • iYankees

    It would have been great to Micah Owings. I never remember any stories saying that the Yankees even had a chance to get him though, I just remember reports were that they tried but to no avail. Either way, how can anyone be unhappy about the trade? RJ is doing rather poorly for Arizona although he’ll probably get better as the year goes by (and he missed almost of last year), while we were able to use 2 of the parts in the Johnson trade this year when we really needed them (AG and RO) and both have showed some real talent. Top it off with the Vizcaino comp. pick, and Cashman made out with a really good deal.

  • Jamal G.

    I want to ask you guys, which would you rather prefer out of these following packages? One including Micah Owings and a lesser middle-reliever on Arizona’s 25-man roster at the time or the package we received of Luis Vizcaino, Ross Ohlendorf, Alberto Gonzalez and an upcoming 1st. Round Supplemental pick in the June 2008 draft?

    I know all three of the known players have been big contributors to this season and last but Micah Owings has proven himself to be an average starter thus far in the NL with a career *ERA+ of 108 and a WHIP of 1.25. He also has given up 7 HRs thus far in 43.2 IP and he also gave up 20 last year in over 150 innings so that might translate even worse in the heavy hitting American League, let alone the AL East.

    I can’t really make a decision on it seeing as how I have no idea what potential players would have been included if Owings was the center of the deal. If you tell me that Vizcaino or Gonzalez would have been included then I would go with the Owings deal. Especially Vizcaino because we would have still received the compensation pick after we let him walk. If I had to make a decision, I would go with the deal that actually happened. The fact that we have the contributions of Ohlendorf and Gonzalez over the first two seasons of the deal is a big plus and our farm system will get another 1st Round Supplemental pick.

    • Joseph P.

      I think that’s the entire idea, Jamal. The Yanks didn’t prefer Ohlendorf to Owings. They preferred the Ohlendorf package to the Owings package. Rather than picking up one of the D’Backs top 10 prospects and little else, they opted for quantity of players. And, you pointed out, it was really five players, since we get that compensation pick — and I’m certain that was a consideration at the time.

      So, to sum up. Ohlendorf over Owings? No. Ohlendorf package over Owings package? Yes.

      • Simon B.

        Honestly, I’d probably still have taken Owings over the package we got.

      • Simon B.

        Also, you shouldn’t just dismiss Owings as “league average at best”. He was above league average in his rookie year; that’s pretty good. Also, he has a great name.

        It’s difficult to make out his ceiling, but I’d still take him.

        That said, it’s just a matter of choice. They got value out of Randy Johnson, who was of no value to them so that’s good enough.

  • Joey H

    yeah now you say that. who knows what dorff wud be doing if he wud be a starter

  • Mike A.

    Uh, Micah Owings kinda sucks as a pitcher, league average at best. The fact of the matter is that if he didn’t rock an 1.100 OPS, no one would think twice about him. He’d just be another Kevin Correia or Justin Germano.

    • steve (different one)


      Owings is mostly famous because he is a great hitter for a pitcher.

      in the AL, he’d be…i don’t know, Ross Ohlendorf?

  • mike

    I remember it being that Cash wanted to send $0 along for the ride with Unit, and that Az would have sent another player ( Owings in particular) and we would have kicked back AG if we ponyed-up additional money.
    I remember it being $3mm or something to that effect, and i thought we should have done it because AG would be blocked at the Major League level- and I remember thinking maybe Cash was going to spin off AG in a package for something else, as the reports were that his bat was poor and he had little speed to be a pinch-runner type backup.
    who knows, I could have been reading the hype…………………

    • Mike P

      I remember reading the exact opposite, that the Yanks offered money to pry Owings but it was a no go. Maybe you read that in the tabloids?

  • chris

    i remember it coming down to otwings olendorf and another one of the dback top 5 pitching prospects. from what i emember, the yanks did not want to pay a substantial portion of johnson’s salary.

    i remembe being upset at the time that they didnt get owings, but that was two years ago. this is the present and with so much money coming off the payoll and the prospect of hosmer falling to them in the draft, i am pretty excited.

    to me,this sason is a wash with this team having little to no chance at, making the playoffs, but with 80 million coin coming off the payroll, there is a lot to be excited about in the future. I just hope that the team concentates on getting young players and an Ace – Sabathia.

    From reading MLB Rumors it seems that LaPorta may be made available by the brewers. Would seem to me that the Yanks would be a pefect trade partner. Two of IPK/Horne/Betances/Mquez/Garcia for LaPorta?

    Its greedy but ‘i have always loved Sheets and would love a rotation next season of Sabathia, Wang, Sheets, Joba, and Hughes.

    As for the offense – use IPK and some othe pospects as tade baits and sign Adam Dunn. his OBP and power fits pefectly with this line-up. Use some of the young pitching prospects to bring in some young bats

  • Mike A.

    to me,this sason is a wash with this team having little to no chance at, making the playoffs,

    Glad to see you learned absolutely nothing from last year.

    • chris

      last year they werent trying to break in three rookie starters. he wasnt great but they had clemens who was at lest decent. do you think asner will do that?

      and in case you havent noticed – the rest of the division, especially the Rays have gotten a lot better.

      can we have one season to develop young guys? if we make the playoffs what happens – anothe first round embarrassent because their pitching is aweful and all those players we were calling old are 1 year older and slower

  • RustyJohn

    I think the fact that someone wanted a guy with a flat slider, a 5 ERA and a fused back at all was good enough- to get the best non-Mo, pre-Joba reliever we had last year, a potential MLB starter (now solid bullpen guy) and what appears to be at least a potential MLB bench guy is a blessing. Am I wrong or did Johnson not pitch at all last year or maybe only make 2 starts? And people are upset with the trade? Would they have rather had him on the team sucking up 20 mil a year?

    Plus, this team, despite rumors to the contrary does not have an unlimited payroll and posted losses last year- to think that “Well Cashman could have just paid 5 million to Arizona…” is a feasible idea is living in fantasy land. This is not Monopoly money and the only reason guys got the big contracts they did last year (ARod, Mo, Jorge) is because the Yanks were desperate and because of the potential for HUGE revenues starting next year.

    • chris

      those financial numbers you speak of did not include the income made from the YES network. the yanks are doing the same thing the braves have done since they went on TBS – hide the TV income made from their own network

  • Mike

    Sorry Cashman but not all GMs are as dumb as you. Maybe if they packaged Kennedy in a trade when he actually had value we might not be in this mess.

    • Trace

      ummm, little off. kennedy has tremendous upside as a big league pitcher. guys like nolan ryan had worse ERAs when their were pitching in their first full years, but then again ryan practically had 5.00 ERA with like 250+ K’s a year for like 20 years. god he was amazing. but anyways, kennedy will be fine, he’s got good stuff, polish, and command of a upcoming big leaguer

  • ChrisS

    Kennedy doesn’t have value?

    Are you high?

    • Micky7 Old Ranger

      Thank you! 27/08.

    • Sam7

      Sorry but I agree with Mike. We should’ve traded Kennedy for Santana when we had the chance. Instead the Muts got him for a bunch of no names. Lets hope Kennedy can regain his “control” from last year. Otherwise he’s just another flash in the pan prospect with average stuff.

      • AndrewYF

        If we could have traded just Kennedy+ for Santana, we would have.

        What is wrong with people? The only deal that was ever really on the table was Hughes, Kennedy and Melky, which was an awful awful awful deal then, and still is now.

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  • Mike P

    This thread is all about non-existing trades that never happened. Arizona wouldn’t take money for Owings. Why would they, seeing as they committed to giving Johnson an extension anyway, suddenly worry about 3-5 million dollars? Kennedy and some for Santana? Never was on the cards. Bash Cashman for his actual mistakes, such as Igawa. Not for trades that he never had a chance of making anyway.

    Cashman didn’t trade Eric Duncan for Josh Beckett way back? What a moron!

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  • Hughes Your Daddy

    It seems that none of you actually remember this trade since everyone is forgetting that we also got Steven Jackson. He’s pitched pretty well for us getting promoted from Trenton to SWB this year. Last night, he pitched 3.1 striking out 3 and only giving up 1 run, stabilizing the team after the poor spot start by Heath Phillips.

  • Hughes Your Daddy

    Owings is in his second season and you’re already calling him a league average pitcher…are you also making decisions about Hughes in his second season? Think about it and it just doesn’t make sense. The Yanks wanted Owings, but Arizona wouldn’t budge, so they got 2 of the 3 pitchers they wanted in Ohlendorf and Jackson…not bad.