What with the talk of the 2017 Astros currently playing like the best Astros team of all-time, it's easy to get nostalgic, especially with the 1998 Astros. It's that 1998 team that the 2017 Astros are chasing, at least in terms of franchise greatness. But Randy Johnson isn't available in 2017. No one like Randy Johnson is available in 2017.
When the Astros acquired Randy Johnson (and if you want to read a way-too-long retelling of how that trade went down, you can click here) he had made 23 starts, throwing 160IP, 146H/77ER, 213K:60BB - a 4.33 ERA - but everyone knew how unhappy he was in Seattle. The Astros traded for him and you know the rest. In eleven starts he went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA, striking out 116 batters in 84.1IP. He failed to get 21 outs just once in those eleven starts, when he allowed 6H/3ER, 3K:4BB against Philadelphia on August 17.
That guy is not out there. He was until December 6, 2016, when the Red Sox traded Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech for him.
We have been thinking about 2017 and measuring it against great teams of Astros past: 2004, 1998, 1986. Which is fine, it's a perfectly normal thing to do (I was a history major and I teach history, this is something I do on a regular basis). But I have to try to keep myself from falling into the trap of thinking that, because the 1998 Astros traded for Randy Johnson and everything was awesome (until the SDMF Padres came along), the Astros have to follow the same course of action.
You want the Astros to do what they did in 1998? It'll be tough to convince the Dodgers to trade Kershaw when they're the best team in the National League and trying to break a 29-year World Series drought of their own. Is Sonny Gray the answer? Maybe, maybe not. The Rays aren't trading Chris Archer in the next eleven days. Toronto isn't trading Marcus Stroman. There isn't an elite starting pitcher out there who has sufficiently pissed off ownership and management enough to the point where they're willing to trade him. Randy Johnson isn't walking through that door. And we (I) should adjust our (my) expectations immediately.