Friday, January 05, 2007

Yankees Acquire Princeton Grad in Johnson Deal

The Diamondbacks drew the line when Yankees GM Brian Cashman asked for prized pitching prospects Dustin Nippert and Micah Owens in exchange for aging ace Randy Johnson. But Cashman was mollified to acquire as part of the deal 6-foot-4, 230-pound Ross Ohlendorf, a brainy, right-handed, 24-year-old Princeton grad with a mid-90s fastball who strikes out a batter an inning. Ohlendorf went 10-8 with a 3.25 ERA at AA Tennessee last season and is the setpiece of the deal.

Cashman also dumped $14 million of Johnson's annual pay, helping clear the budget to sign free agent Roger Clemens, whom Ohlendorf theoretically could replace in the rotation if and when Clemens retires after 2007.

Johnson, meanwhile, at 43 is coming off back surgery in October and may not be ready to pitch by spring. Grieved by the death of his brother last month, Johnson was in a state of mind that placed a premium on increased family time. He pushed Cashman for a return to Phoenix, where he resides just eight miles from the ballpark.