Thursday, December 04, 2003


Well, you knew it was coming. After the Red Sox nabbed Curt Schilling from the D-Backs, the Yankees had to reply, not just for the sake of remaining competitive in the division, but for the sake of one-ups-manship in this epic clash of male egos. And today the Yankees pulled their Johnson out. The principles in this deal include Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera, and Randy Choate going to the Montreal/San Juan Expos for Javier Vazquez.

What the Yankees get is a guy who can be their no.1 for years to come and what the Expos get is a potential superstar in Nick Johnson to help fill Vlad's impending void and the vacancy the Expos have had at 1st ever since the Big Cat left town. I'm no fan of Omar Minaya, I think he's hurt the Expos farm system in his lusty quest to add big names to their major league roster, but I don't think he screwed this one up. If you have to give up a pitcher of Vazquez's caliber make sure you get something great in return. Nick Johnson is well on his way to being great. If he stays healthy I think he can help fill a lot of the offensive void left by Vlad's departure and can provide a solid base for this club (wherever it ends up) for years to come and the best part is he fits the Expo's budget or lack thereof.

I'm a little surprised that Omar settled on a player in Nick Johnson who has all the upside in the world but hasn't carved out a 'name' for himself yet. Omar's track-record would suggest that he would have been more interested in getting Alfonso Soriano, and if I was the Yankees I'd rather give up Soriano than Johnson. But maybe, just maybe, somebody talked some sense into Minaya and explained to him why Johnson is going to be the better player than Soriano. Whatever the case, I respect Minaya as a GM a little more today than I did yesterday.

The Expos also get Juan Rivera, who seems like a good defender and okay hitter, who out of necessity is going to have start for the Expos somewhere in the OF next year. (I'm guessing RF.) His numbers in the minors suggest that maybe this kid just needs some at-bats in the bigs to realize his full potential and with the Expos he'll certainly get a chance to do that. In addition, the Expos get a pitcher I've never heard of named Randy Choate who doesn't, just from looking at his stats, seem to be anything special. Not sure why he's in the deal, this part of the trade does sound Minaya-esque. (Jeff Liefer anyone?)

By moving Johnson, the Yankees now clear the DH spot for Bernie Williams allowing the Yankees to now go out and sign a good CF to dramatically improve their OF defense. Obviously everyone knows how good Mike Cameron is for any pitching staff's moral but even a CF not of Cameron's caliber, or even moving Matsui to CF and adding a good LF, would be a serious upgrade over Williams.

Oh yeah, the Yankees also fortified their bullpen by signing Tom Gordon and Paul Quantrill this week. Hats off to Quantrill who declined his 3 million dollar option with L.A. to pursue free-agency. He gambled that the Yankees would be willing to pay top dollar for a good reliever even when the market for free-agents appears weak and he won. Hmmm... oh right, the Yankees also came to terms with one of the best hitters in the game, Gary Sheffield, on a 3 year deal.

By my count that put the Yanks up at least 2-1 this offseason. Boston it's your turn to respond. Now ya don't want to look like a sissy-boy now do ya... Theo?

UPDATE: Boston strikes back?

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