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Diamondbacks, Two Randy Johnson Trades Later: Screwed Or Shrewd?

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Almost two years to the day — January 11, 2005 — was the day the Arizona Diamondbacks thought they said farewell to Randy Johnson. They traded the aging hurler to the Yankees with the hopes of getting younger, while New York looked to add to their rotation.

This week Yanks and D'backs are thisclose to finalizing a trade that will send Johnson back to Arizona. All they have to decide is who gets to use the digital MP3 player on the weekends.

It got me thinking about who Arizona received in return for the franchise's most prolific pitcher. How do they compare against the players they will pipeline to the Bronx?

Perhaps this will turn out to be an extremely profitable deal, where Arizona returns a net profit like Navin Johnson as a weight guesser. Or maybe they bought high and sold low, much like the Duke brothers and their frozen concentrated orange juice.

So I'll play the role of Clarence Beeks. Let's examine the trades. (Here's to hoping I don't get ape-raped.)

Initially, Johnson was traded in exchange for pitcher Javier Vazquez, pitcher Brad Halsey, and catcher Dioner Navarro. Oddly enough, none of those players wear the Arizona "A." Or alternatively, the Snake "D."

First, the easy line in the flow chart.

1. Halsey spent the '05 season with Arizona before being traded to the Oakland Athletics straight up for another pitcher, Juan Cruz, before the '06 season. He was once a valued arm in the Chicago Cubs system, which meant he was a deer in the headlights of ultimate failure.

Too easy. Onto the next one.

2. Navarro was promptly dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with two other prospects in exchange for outfielder Shawn Green. So he's, uh, 1/3 of Green. (And this experiment is officially complicated.) Green was then traded last August to the New York Mets for someone named Evan MacLane. That someone is a Triple-A pitcher who could break into the starting rotation next year. Could. But remember, we're only dealing with one-third of a AAA prospect. So I guess it's a Single-A pitcher who throws a 30-mph fastball.

And now onto the big fellas.

3. Like Halsey, Vasquez lasted a year with Arizona before he was traded. He was sent to the then-World Series champions Chicago White Sox and received pitcher Orlando Hernandez, pitcher Luis Vizcaino and outfielder Chris Young. The Snakes still have Vizcaino and Young, but Hernandez? Uh, nope.

If you're keeping score, we're up to 3 1/3 players and some kind of Cuban Duke.

3a. Hernandez was sent midseason to the New York Mets for reliever Jorge Julio, who is still with Arizona after they tendered him a contract last month. Flowchart complete.

So in exchange for Randy Johnson, over two years Arizona received:

Juan Cruz
Chris Young
Luis Vizcaino
Evan MacLane's torso

And to boomerang Randy Johnson back to the desert, they're giving away… oh this is spooky. Luis Vizcaino is one of the players. I paid attention in eighth grade algebra, and in an equation two equal variables cancel each other out. The other three players are: Ross Ohlendorf, Steven Jackson, and Alberto Gonzalez. Why an NFL running back and U.S. attorney general are in the Diamondbacks farm system I have no clue, but hey, what the heck.

Once this trade is finalized, Arizona will have effectively traded Ohlendorf, Jackson, and Gonzalez in exchange for Cruz, Young, and a wee bit of MacLane. Okay, nothing against the dude, but let's just forget about MacLane for a second. Of these six, Chris Young is by far the best prospect. Cruz is probably second, although at 28, he's not exactly a prospect anymore. The three young'uns going to the Yankees all played most of 2006 in Double-A, and all three had okay numbers.

I like the Young-Cruz-MacLane trio better than the Ohlendorf-Jackson-Gonzalez combo, not only because it's fewer letters to type, but also because I've actually heard of two of them. Of course, one of the latter three could certainly blossom in Scranton Wilkes-Barre before making a huge contribution in the big leagues. So we'll see.

Basically I just conjured up 700 words to finish with a "We'll see" conclusion. Hey, this is the kind of research baseball fans without lives conduct in January.

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  • The Haze

    The money numbers of the trade would complete the assessment but,I think they did it to fill the seats.Hey,one decent prospect and a hall of famer plus not too much money spent who knows? Damn Yankees anyway!!(lol)

  • joan gerus

    Randy will be a real asset to Arizona again – all he needs is that number 51 on his back. Can’t wait for the season to begin…….