Time for a Blockbuster
I know the rumors are that Randy Johnson will go to the Yankees or
nowhere, but don't be surprised if the Padres end up with both Steve
Finley and Johnson.
For one, the Padres have several major-league ready players that they
can afford to trade. With the emergence of
firstbaseman/outfielder Jon Knott, the Padres can deal Xavier Nady
without much impact. They also have depth at catcher with Ramon
Hernandez, Humberto Quintero and Miguel Ojeda, and George Kotteras only
a couple of years away. Quintero would be the likely candidate
depending on the make-up of the rest of the deal. Dennis
Tankersley has #2 or #3 starter stuff but really needs a new
organization to get his career going again. Jake Gautreau is
hitting very well in AAA (.323/.366/.527) but is blocked by Sean
Burroughs at the big league level. And with bringing Finley to
the team, the Pads can trade Jay Payton to
another team (Boston? Montreal?) to bring more high level prospects
equation for Arizona.
Secondly, although Johnson's agent has stated the Yankees are the only
team he'll play for, the word is that he would also play for the Padres
because a) they have a good team and with Johnson they would be
overwhelming favorites to win the West and go deep into the postseason,
b) they are located close to his two homes in Southern California and
Arizona, and c) he loves pitching at Petco. According to Mark
Loretta who spoke with Johnson at the All-Star Break, Unit even said he
would waive his no-trade to go to San Diego.
Thirdly, because of financial boon of their new stadium, the Padres no
longer have to be sellers of salaries; they can take on a few,
especially since they have many of their players at below market value.
Lastly, Kevin Towers is unafraid to trade with anyone. Regarded
as one of the best traders in baseball, Towers will listen and counter
just about anything sent his way. And while he hasn't made any to
date, the Padres organization has a history of making blockbuster
trades. Whether it's Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter for Fred
McGriff and Tony Fernandez, or Derek Bell, Doug Brocail, Pedro Martinez
(no, not that Pedro), Phil Plantier and Craig Shipley for Ken Caminiti,
Steve Finely, Roberto Petagine and Brian Williams and Andujar Cedeno,
the Padres have never shied from bold trades. Getting Johnson and
Finley for Nady, Tankersley, Quintero, Gautreau, Payton, etc. would not
surprise me at all. The question is who would make up the "etc."
The latest rumor has Johnson going to the Yanks in a three-way deal
with the Marlins in which the Marlins get Jose Contreras and Brent
Mayne and the D-backs get Dionner Navarro from the Yanks and Jason
Stokes, Abraham Nunez and Bill Murphy from the Marlins, and maybe that
will happen. It looks good from the Yankees and D-backs
side. But if I'm the Marlins, I think I would want more than a
head-case starter and a back-up catcher for three of my organization's
best young players.
Maybe the situation with D-back management has gotten so intractable
that no deal will happen, but you just never know when it comes to the
trade deadline. The biggest surprises come when the setting is
the quietest and everyone thinks they know the situation.
Cleveland Bullpen Follow-up
I wrote last week that Bob Wickman didn't deserve the closing job in
Cleveland over Matt Miller or Bobby Howry. Since then, he has
pitched very well and earned his right to close. At the same
time, Miller has been hit pretty hard and his merit for the job has
fallen. If Wickman continues to pitch this well, he will no doubt
hold on to the job. But if he slips or gets traded, Howry
deserves the nod as he has continued to pitch brilliantly.