After ignoring Zito for weeks, the Yankees suddenly are thinking about the advantages of youth and durability, two of Zito's strengths. Perhaps another new glance at Andy Pettitte's MRI scared them straight.
...One person close to Zito's father said he believes that, just as was true in the case of another former Oakland star Jason Giambi, the father Joe Zito would like his son to play for the Yankees. Joe Zito and George Steinbrenner have several acquaintances in common. Beyond that, Zito told the San Francisco Chronicle he most wants to go to a place that aims to win multiple titles. That sounds like the Yankees, too.
The person who knows Zito's father and family speculated, "If the Yankees want him, they can have him.''
There seems to be some urgency to the Johnson talks, a quick timetable that fits into this headline-grabbing two-step scenario, as well. The Yankees would like to complete a Johnson deal by New Year's Day, presumably to give them ample opportunity to find a replacement. Zito, who's expected to start seriously sorting through his offers after Jan. 1, is the only logical replacement, a left-hander with a Cy Young award on his resume.
As for what the Yankees might get out of the Diamondbacks or another trading partner, it almost doesn't matter...Moving Johnson is an all-win scenario for the Yankees. As Branch Rickey said, it's better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late. By definition, 43 years old is a year too late. If the Yankees can use the deal to fill outstanding needs like reserve catcher or utility infielder, so much the better. The possibilities created by his absence are almost limitless.