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All I want for Christmas is...

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A grumpy, 6'10" former Cy Young winner? While we might not quite be able to unwrap Randy Johnson this morning, it seems like the topic is at least being talked about. The story takes a long time to get to any actual facts, spending most of its column-inches printing denials from various parties. But the last couple of paragraphs contain some actual meat:

While the baseball official said Johnson had made overtures to the Yankees about a return to the Diamondbacks, a person close to Johnson -- who asked not to be identified because he could not confirm the trade talks -- said Johnson did not request a trade. The baseball official said the Yankees do not want to pay any of Johnson's salary as part of a deal. The Diamondbacks are considered to have one of the deeper farm systems, so the Yankees could continue their trend that started when they moved Gary Sheffield and Jaret Wright for players to restock their system.

Yeah, I'm sure the Yankees don't want to pay any of RJ's salary. But it's going to have to happen, because a) we don't have $16m left in the kitty, and b) let's be honest, Johnson isn't worth $16m, even in this high-flying market. The obvious touchstone is Andy Pettitte, to whom the Yankees are also scheduled to pay $16m next season. Let's compare and contrast the two mens' performance in 2006:

             IP  SO  WHIP  ERA+
Pettitte  214.1 178 1.437   108
Johnson   205.0 172 1.239    88

Actually, that was a lot closer than I expected, in every area except ERA+. Johnson seems to have been victimized by the long-ball since going to New York: he's allowed them at a rate of 1.25/nine IP, compared to 0.85 in his time with Arizona (or 0.86 career). And last year, the pitching park factor was Yankee Stadium was only 96, compared to Chase Field's 106. His strikeouts are down sharply too: 8.00/nine IP, which may sound a lot, but his career stat there is 10.77. I've a nasty feeling that the results, if he came back here, might not be pretty - and certainly are not worth $16m.

There's also the question of his health. At the end of October, Johnson had back surgery to repair a herniated disc. According to the surgeon, Dr. Robert Watkins, Johnson is expected to be ready by Spring Training, but a big questionmark must remain over his health. If it's not his back, then his knee, which has more missing parts than an Escalade left overnight in Tijuana. And let's face it: he's 43. Given the struggle I had getting up this morning - and I've still got a couple of years on RJ - I feel I can offer a personal insight here. And I didn't have surgery on a balky back two months ago...

On the other hand, there's no denying the appeal of a last hurrah for Johnson, back with the team for whom he achieved his greatest triumphs. In particular, he's now at 299 career victories - including his nineteen in the post-season. Even if you discount those, good health willing, he has an outside chance at reaching 300 wins this year, or almost certainly next. It'd be great to see him do that it AZ, especially since he could be the final pitcher to reach the mark for a long time. The next currently in line is Mike Mussina (239 victories at age 38), though Pedro Martinez (206, just turned 35) might have a better shot. Neither are guaranteed though.

Hope you are, in the words of the great philosopher Paul McCartney, "simply having a wonderful Christmas time." Mine has not been too bad, though having to get up at 7am, and drive to work as the temperature read 34F, was no fun. However, it has been very quiet here: in just over five hours, I have taken exactly four calls. I've spent more time trying to locate Area 51 on Yahoo Maps than actually providing customer service. I do note that large parts of the Nellis Air Force Range don't appear above a certain resolution instead being entirely - and possibly scarily appropriate - grey...

The good news is, we now have Tivo in SnakePit Towers! I got my Christmas present a couple of days early, and that should now take care of issues like the whole Sleeper Cell marathon. And perhaps also allow me to watch Diamondbacks' games, even if I have to work. In fact, it'll be more time-efficient that way, since I'll be able to whisk through all those pesky adverts, pitching changes, etc. Now, let's just see if I can do a Jedi mind-trick on my supe and talk him into letting me go early so I can play with my new toy...