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That Jim Johnson trade isn’t working out so hot for the A’s yet

Apr 3, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

Before reading this post it’s probably worth remembering that nothing that happens in the first couple weeks of the season is truly meaningful. Yes, the games count and to the extent they’re won or lost they matter. But you can’t make many broad claims about the quality of players and trades and free agent signings. Just not enough data.

It’s also worth singing this to yourself a few times:

With that out of the way, let us observe that Jim Johnson allowed three runs on three hits and two walks last night, single-handedly handing the nightcap of the doubleheader to the Indians after failing to protect a one-run lead. And that on Monday he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk to lose that game too.

On the bright side: He lowered his ERA from 54.00 to 45.00 with last night’s performance, so he’s trending in the right direction.

  1. unclemosesgreen - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    I pay more attention to relievers blowing up, because they come and go a lot faster than position players. A lot of closers are one or two pitch guys. When you lose effectiveness off of one of those pitches, lots of bad things can happen fast. See, e.g., Papelbon, Jonathan.

    • gigab0t - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:55 AM


      • jcmeyer10 - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        Man, he needs to make a salsa and call it Val Verde Salsa.

  2. renaado - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    54 era and 45 era? Yeah I can see the signs.

  3. renaado - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    54 00era down to 45.00 era? Yeah I can see the signs.

  4. nolanwiffle - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Dan Duquette is a diabolical genius.

  5. ricardorobertasq - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    We like to say the first week of the season doesn’t matter, but how many years have we had only one or two games separating the playoff teams from a non-playoff team. We’ve even had one game playoffs to get in. We hardly ever will look back to the beginning of the season, but what if JJ gets on track and is fantastic the rest of the year, but the A’s miss the playoffs by two games? Will we look back to these games or two several that were lost down the stretch?

    • NatsLady - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:23 PM

      I believe he said the games COUNT. It matters whether the teams win or lose. What he’s saying is that you can’t necessarily judge how a player will perform long-term based on two early games that represent less than 2% of the season.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Also, it’s really easy to point to his issues right now and place future imaginary blame if they A’s miss the playoffs, but over the course of 182 games, if you really looked at it, you could probably point to 40 or so instances that could have changed a season. This is a team sport, and typically there is enough blame to go around if a team narrowly misses the playoffs.

  6. largebill - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Relievers are the most frustrating position to deal with in fantasy baseball. We have our AL only league auction the first Sunday after opening day and it is easy to get fooled by great or awful starts. A few years back Mariano Rivera blew a couple saves in the first week. Can’t remember his salary in our league that year, but I’m sure someone got a bargain just because of a couple games. Unless Johnson is broke he will still rack up saves and someone will get him cheap.

    • NatsLady - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:24 PM


      • Reflex - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:22 PM

        I do

  7. yahmule - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    They have multiple options if Johnson keeps struggling: Gregerson, Doolittle, Cook.

    • southpaw2k - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      I know it’s unfair and crazy to judge someone based on their name alone, but I think the only name that would be worse for a closer in baseball to have than Doolittle would be Balfour.

      • mmeyer3387 - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        That is a good one. However, its probably not very funny for A’s fans.

  8. cmoney4949 - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Weeks didn’t make the O’s roster either. He is making 10 million a year though so I guess its working out for the O’s so far.

    • kyzslew77 - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      Rickie Weeks of the Brewers, who does not play for the Orioles, and does not cost the Orioles anything, makes $10MM. Jemile Weeks of the Orioles, who was involved in the Jim Johnson trade, makes the MLB minimum, which the Orioles are paying. You’re only off by about $9.5 million.

      Nice snark and thanks for playing.

      • dw3dw - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        Jim Johnson, not Jemile Weeks, is making 10 million per year. Ah, indefinite pronouns!

      • kyzslew77 - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        Fair enough. I hang my head in shame.

        Also, Rickie Weeks is making $11MM. Enjoy that, Brewers fans.

      • mmeyer3387 - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        I have always liked Jim Johnson. That being said, it looks like the Orioles trade was a salary dump and they may have made a good decision so far.

  9. Alex K - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    So you’re telling me that Bonafacio isn’t going to get 4 hits every night? I call BS on that one!

  10. riverace19 - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Johnson could be the classic example of a reliever that comes out of nowhere just to go back to nowhere just as fast. I have watched both games and there is some fire lacking in ‘fireman’

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      He’s a sinker ball pitcher with a low strikeout rate. He is most effective when he is pitching around the knees with a sharp break. Otherwise he is very hittable. He relies heavily on the double play, which means he tends to have a lot of people on base anyways. When he is on, he’s the best reliever in the league. When he’s off, he is the best batting practice pitcher in the league.

  11. Eutaw's Finest - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    I’ll try to instill a little optimism in A’s fans: Last year Johnson started the year so-so, fell apart before the All Star Break, then came back into a good rhythm later in the season. Essentially I’m saying it’s not that he sucks altogether, he’s just inconsistent and gets in his own head easily. VERY easily. He cannot get a runner in scoring position or you’re in trouble. He NEEDS to get the first out or you’re in trouble. He typically needs a 2 run lead or more, or you’re in trouble.

    Wow so I did the complete opposite of giving hope there…

  12. rawdog2013 - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    He was awful last night. Put him in the bullpen now, Doolittie or Gregerson to close until Cook is back.
    This crap isn’t flying in Oakland. We got a bunch of guys waiting to take his spot

    • sandwiches4ever - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      As opposed to all the crap that is flowing in Oakland?

  13. robertb655 - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    He wasn’t good at the end of last year either. Just ask an O’s fan. This is NOT a small sample size

    • kevinbnyc - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      He still saved 101 games the past 2 seasons. He may blow a few, but he’s not a complete bum.

      • Eutaw's Finest - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        I look at save percentage because it’s just as easy to say Johnson led the majors in blown saves in 2013. It’s all about sample size!

        JJ had a 84.7 save % in 2013. That puts him 22nd on the list of closers in 2013 with at least 15 saves. His ERA checked in at 2.94, putting him 22nd again, within that same group of closers.

        Any way you spin it, that’s not a good thing there.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      It’s only a small sample size for *this season*. To me, it seems that he has continued with his struggles from last season. Nibbling, hitting batters, walks, etc. Over the past 164 games, he’s blown 11-12 saves, if my memory serves me right. And it may not. You know…bourbon.

      Last season was not a small sample size — he led MLB in blown saves, and had a difficult time with clean saves. There were a lot of baserunners in there. If you add back those 9 blown saves to the O’s W-L record, that puts them at 94 wins.

      Of course, this doesn’t tell the whole story of the O’s season. But man, it sure is easy to look at it and say JJ couldn’t get the final three outs enough times to get them in the playoffs.

  14. clydeserra - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    he was bad in his final spring game in SF.

    The three outs he has gotten over 2 games? two sac flies and one ground out that moved a runner to third.

  15. Jack Marshall - Apr 3, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    Trends start early—they have to start somewhere. You can only tell when they were meaningful in retrospect. I, for example, think the first two Yankee games suggest that all the hype was whistling past the graveyard, and if Tanaka bombs in his first start, the alarms will be deafening in Gotham.

  16. APBA Guy - Apr 3, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    I was in too much pain to comment earlier, having watched every agonizing second of last night’s disaster. One thing for sure, they will keep giving him the ball for now. Gregerson wasn’t exactly en fuego last night either.

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