Randy Johnson Replaces Barry Bonds

Two seasons after Bonds chased home run #756, the Randy Johnson will chase home run #300 and strikeout # 5,000 in a Giants uniform. Either milestone could come against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who play the Giants 18 times in 2009.

The Big Bopper (Barry Bonds) is being replaced by the Big Unit (Randy Johnson). Two seasons removed from Bonds' finale as a Giant, the team is beginning another countdown.

For Bonds, it was home runs. For Johnson, it'll be wins and strikeouts.

Johnson is five victories shy of winning his 300th career game and 211 whiffs short of 5,000 strikeouts. The certain first-ballot Hall of Famer signed a one-year contract with the Giants for $8 million, and he could pocket another $2.5 million in incentives.

The Giants' marketing department figures to work in high gear taking advantage of Johnson's path to 300 and 5,000, just as it did when Bonds was approaching his home run records and milestones.

The baseball department looks at Johnson differently -- as a final link to a rotation that's currently the deepest in the NL West. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Barry Zito are the other starters, and all but Cain and Sanchez have won Cy Young Awards. Indeed, Johnson's signing gives the Giants the first rotation with three Cy Young Award winners since the 2002 Braves had Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. RHP Tim Lincecum and LHP Barry Zito have one each, and Johnson won the award five times.

GM Brian Sabean called Johnson "one of the most intimidating and competitive pitchers in baseball today," and his 2008 numbers back up that claim. Johnson, 45, went 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 30 starts last season and posted a 2.41 ERA following the All-Star break. He was third in the National League with a 3.93 strikeout-to-walk ratio and sixth with 8.46 strikeouts per nine innings.

In his career, he's second to Nolan Ryan in career strikeouts, has won five Cy Young Awards, and is a 10-time All-Star.
 


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