Well, that didn't exactly pan out as planned.
The Randy Johnson Era has all but come to an official close in the Bronx, and it was about as successful as the Ron Blomberg era. OK, so the Yanks actually played in October in each of the Big Unit's two seasons in pinstripes. But they didn't win anything.
|Randy Johnson won 34 games for the Yanks, but none in the postseason. (Getty Images)|
In the end, history will record the Johnson-Yankees union as all sound and no fury. Well, check that. There was fury in the beginning, when the Big Unit introduced himself to the Big Apple by decking a television cameraman on the streets of Manhattan.
Little did anybody realize at the time that that would be the overriding, lasting memory before the Yankees and Johnson each came to the conclusion that it would be best for all concerned if he simply took his quest to win 300 games back to the Diamondbacks and played out the string.
In fairness, Johnson did win 34 games during his two seasons in New York, but you and I know that in George Steinbrenner's universe, a pitcher could win 100 games over two seasons -- and it still would be a complete flop if none of those victories came during actual World Series play.
In the end, here is what really mattered during Johnson's time in New York: zero postseason wins, and a 6.92 postseason ERA that muted most of the glory of those consecutive 17-victory seasons.
He well could be replaced by another 40-something future Hall of Famer if New York does strike to sign Roger Clemens to a half-season contract, or partial-season contract, or Tuesdays-Thursdays-and-Saturdays contract, whatever the Rocket Man wants.
But what is most telling about this Yankees winter is the club's subtle shift away from the high-stakes free agents toward pieces that actually make sense. As Steinbrenner fades away, general manager Brian Cashman appears to be operating with more autonomy. Given Cashman's intelligence, instincts and baseball sense, that's a very good thing for those who root for the Yankees (and, of course, it's horrible news for those who spend their time wishing for bad things to happen to the Yankees).
At the beginning of the winter, the most noticeable thing regarding this franchise was that it wasn't throwing blank checks at the Alfonso Sorianos and Barry Zitos of the market.
Here toward the end of the winter, the most noticeable thing is that Cashman seems intent on stockpiling as much bullpen help and as many young starters as he can collect.
He acquired three minor-league pitchers from Detroit in the Gary Sheffield trade, including a highly prized prospect named Humberto Sanchez who started in last summer's Futures Game.
From Arizona for Johnson, he obtains highly touted pitching prospect Ross Ohlendorf, along with setup man Luis Vizcaino, shortstop prospect Alberto Gonzalez and, according to New York radio station WFAN, minor league pitcher Steven Jackson.