Another thing I’ve enjoyed about the Randy Johnson saga is the meme that he’s a bum now, so why the hell would the Diamondbacks want him?
Randy Johnson was the 23rd best starting pitcher in the American League last year. That doesn’t sound impressive. It certainly isn’t worth the $30 or so teams probably plunked down for him last year. But it is worth noting.
Major league teams need innings even more than Roto teams do. In a league with a 1050 IP requirement per team, that works out to 12,600 innings for each league at a minimum. Of course, not every team will simply make the minimum, but we also will leave a lot of bad innings in the free agent pool to die. Very few owners owned J.C. Romero and his ($10) of earnings last year, but those who did probably only last ($4) at the most…it’s not hard to pull the plug on J.C. Romero.
However, major league teams can’t pull the plug on J.C. Romero. They either paid too much for him and are stuck watching him die on the mound or they have no better alternatives.
Still, we can’t pull the plug on Randy Johnson if we paid $30 and he only earns $13. Not when there are only 22 better starters out there.
More importantly, I’m not convinced that Johnson is finished. I looked at his 5 ERA in 2006 and assumed that he must have given up a ton of HR. Yet his HR rate of 1.23/9 was marginally better than his 2005 rate of 1.28/9, when his ERA was over a full point lower, at 3.8. His age and his back make him an obvious risk. But that doesn’t mean that he’s toast.
So that’s why the Diamondbacks want him. He could bounce back. He might not. Unlike some of the suspects getting big money, though, he’s been an ace before. And he’ll cost the Diamondbacks less money than some of these suspects will when all is said and done.