BIG UNIT N.Y.-BOUND?
If Arizona ace Randy Johnson (left) is going to be traded, it
most likely will be to the Yankees. Johnson told the Diamondbacks
last week that he would only approve a trade to a team with a
lock on a playoff spot, not one that is just hoping to play in
October and regards him as the missing piece. A source says only
the Cardinals and Yankees currently fit the description in
Johnson's thinking, but St. Louis is unlikely to take on the $22
million owed the lefthander this year and next.
Now comes the hard part for the Yankees: satisfying an Arizona
front office already skittish about trades involving Curt
Schilling (to Boston) and Richie Sexson (from Milwaukee) that
bombed. Though the Diamondbacks have been scouting Yankees
prospects from as low as Class A, New York is thin on
major-league-ready prospects who figure to be an essential part
of a deal. The Yankees may have to involve a third team.
Arizona, which had the worst record in the majors at week's end,
has budgeted a payroll of about $60 million for next season.
Johnson ($16 million) and leftfielder Luis Gonzalez ($10 million)
would eat up 43% of that, leaving little room to upgrade the team
to a contender.
NO BOX-OFFICE BOOST
Should Arizona hang on to Johnson because he is the face of the
franchise? Judging by the Diamondbacks' home attendance figures
this year, the answer is no.
With Johnson starting: 32,148
Without Johnson starting: 32,781
Of the 35 players who entered the All-Star break with an on-base
plus slugging percentage better than .900, only two had more than
seven stolen bases: Phillies rightfielder Bobby Abreu (right),
who had swiped 19 in 20 tries, and Astros centerfielder Carlos
Beltran. Despite his power, speed and career .306 average, Abreu,
30, had been the best player never selected to an All-Star Game.
He finally shed that title--barely--when the fans picked him for
the final National League spot.
So who inherits the dreaded best-player-never-to-be-selected
designation? The Twins' Shannon Stewart, 30, a career .303
Righthanders Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs and Victor Zambrano (far
left) of the Devil Rays are not related, except when it comes to
their statistics this season. Victor, with a major-league-high 90
walks through Sunday (43 more than Carlos), is the one with
control issues. Otherwise, their numbers have a familial
Pitcher GS W-L IP H SO
Carlos 17 9-4 114 92 104
Victor 20 9-5 117 1/3 97 100
1. No player in 68 years has hit 60 doubles in a season, but the
Brewers' Lyle Overbay, who had 37 at week's end, not only could
do it but could also challenge the record of 67 by Earl Webb of
the Red Sox, which has stood since 1931.
2. The Dodgers would be the favorites to win the NL West if they
could acquire Carlos Delgado from Toronto, but the first baseman,
like Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro during their long stints
in Texas, does not want to leave the comfort of a familiar,
albeit losing, situation.
3. Muhammad Ali's appearance at the All-Star Game was a
promotional stunt that fell flat. Given the 500 Home Run Club
celebration the previous night, Hank Aaron would have been the
more befitting guest for the opening ceremony.