What About Jim Johnson?

July 31, 2012 | WNST Staff

The trade deadline will pass and the Orioles will have only made a select few minor trades.  They have already brought in veteran depth with Jim Thome and Omar Quintanilla; never looks to be more than bench help for 2012.  These trades will definitely help the team for the rest of the season but nothing to change the course of the future.   Dan Duquette has stood strong, with his feet deeply planted in the ground about Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are untouchable.  Adam Jones joined them in that non-movable class, with his mega contract.

Talks circle around Joe Blanton heading to Baltimore, but his contract is up after the season and he is nothing more than a veteran, back of the rotation, innings eater.  His impact will help a team like the O’s, because of their lack of experience and consistency but is not the star the fans in Baltimore have been clamoring for. 

But what’s the rush?  The Orioles are going to finish with their best season since their back to back playoff appearances in the 90’s.  If they finish out the season playing 500 ball, they will have their first winning record for everyone that has come up through the organization.  They also remain in a playoff hunt; trying to catch the A’s, who probably have even less talent than our Orioles.

So in the offseason, the front office will have plenty to work with.  They will have a winning team in a great season to sell to free agents and added revenue, if the fans continue to increase ticket sales for the next couple months and plenty of parts to consider moving.

If you have paid attention to my past articles, you will know my stance on Matt Wieters and why he should be moved.  He could bring back a mix of young talent and major league ready pitchers from teams like the Angels, Pirates or Dodgers.  But that isn’t the only All-Star the Orioles should move on from during the offseason.

What about Jim Johnson?  He is clearly having a career year, is one of the league leaders in saves and been the anchor to one of the best bullpen’s in the league.  But he has really struggled lately, giving up a couple hits last night versus the Yankees, enough to tug out our heart strings before eventually finishing the game off.   He had his worst appearance last Friday, allowing 6 runs to blow the save after a thrilling comeback by the O’s.  Did anyone really believe Johnson would perform this well this season?  Does anyone really believe he will consistently be dominant closer for the rest of his career?

Now it is probably to move Johnson before the deadline and he will not clear waivers to trade him in August but a move in the offseason should be possible.  Plenty of teams overpay for closers (just look at what Philadelphia gave Jonathon Papelbon last year), and Johnson now has an All-Star appearance to add to his resume.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Johnson is a good relief pitcher that would definitely help the team in the immediate future.  But I think the haul of players Baltimore would receive back for him will outperform anything Johnson can provide.

The other piece to the equation is Pedro Strop and his dominance in the “Set Up” role this year.  After a full year in the bigs, he could be ready to take over as the closer next season.  His stuff is definitely more similar to the average MLB closer than Johnson, and has the fiery mentality you also look for.  To a have a replacement like Strop, I think the Orioles could be satisfied in moving on from the Jim Johnson era in the back end of the bullpen; even if it only lasted one season