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Unit Envy
2004-12-24 01:10
by Mike Carminati

And Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” Ahab went home resentful and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, “I will not give you my ancestral inheritance.” He lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat.

—The Bible, Book of Kings 21:2-4 (And that's the other Ahab).

My obsessions used to be my protectors, but now they have taken me prisoner.

—Mason Cooley

So as the Yankees' deal to get Randy Johnson fell through, their best starter last year, at least in the second half, El Duque Hernandez, was scarfed up by the Pale Hose (2 years, $8 M).

And to make matters worse, their dreaded enemy, the Red Sox, scooped up recent Houston émigré Wade Miller (1 yr, $1.5 M) to give the Saux seemingly a six-man rotation for 2005 with holdovers Curt Schilling, Bronson Arroyo, and Tim Wakefield and recent free agent acquisitions Miller, Matt Clement (3 yrs $25.5 M), and ex-Yankee David Wells (2 yrs, $8 M). Not only that, the acquisition of Miller gives Boston a complete set: Mueller/Millar/Miller. I can’t wait to score their first 1-4-3 doubleplay.

The Yankees are left having signed questionable NL expatriates, Jaret Wright (3 yrs, $21 M) and Carl Pavano (4 yrs, $39.95 M). Both were great last season (with ERAs 31 and 37% better than the park-adjusted league average and 18 and 15 wins, respectively), but neither had had a better than average ERA in the previous three seasons (and both had been emergency replacements on my rotisserie team in the late Nineties). Both seem great candidates to channel Eddie Whitson a la Javier Vazquez's second half in 2004. They also seemingly have a six-man rotation with Kevin Brown, Mike Mussina, Vazquez, and Tanyon Sturtz (if he's a starter) returning. And again it leaves the Yanks without a lefty in the rotation, at least until, or rather if, they find another means to acquire Johnson.

So where does that leave the Yankees? There's not a whole lot on the free agent market, unless Debbie Clemens wants the Rocket to return to the Bronx. Besides, the Yankees would then be overstaffed and would have a difficult time moving any of the current starters.

The end result is that the Yanks are probably stuck with Randy Johnson as the best candidate for upgrading their staff. And Johnson might be stuck with the Yanks as his only option if he means to leave Arizona. And with reports of Vazquez's family ruining the three-way deal with LA and the D-Backs considering keeping Johnson, that possibility gets more and more remote.

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