Like the late 1960’s? Nick Johnson to “Get Back” to the Yankees? Mets Sitting at the Dock of the “Bay”?

There are rumors going that the Yanks could be interested in Nick Johnson to fill the DH spot. In fact, LoHud’s Chad Jennings says that the NY Post’s George King states that the signing of Johnson could be announced tomorrow. The NY Post states that industry sources indicate that Damon “isn’t looking to take a paycut from the $13M he made last year,” and that Boras is looking for at least three years.

If that’s the case, goodbye JD.

I hear talk of Johnson, if acquired, being used in the #2 spot. Jennings even discusses that prospect, because of Johnson’s high OBP. I’m not for that. I’m more inclined at the 5 spot. Let me explain.

I’d like Granderson’s speed at #2. (26/27 in 2007, 12/16 in 2008 and 20/26 in 2009 for SB). The way I see it, after A-Rod at 4 does what he is supposed to do, cleanup the bases, the #5 hitter should be someone with power who can also set the table. Granted that Johnson hasn’t been a power guy. But he can re-set that table after Alex has cleaned it up.

Now I know that Swisher batted 2nd at times last year because of his good eye (97 walks, 129 OPS+). But I can see Granderson’s speed at #2 and also…I’d rather see his lack of plate discipline (years of 141, 141 and 174 strikeouts) perhaps being helped by having Teixeira and A-Rod hitting behind him. The way I see it, Johnson’s patient eye doesn’t need the “help.”  Granderson and Johnson are both lefty hitters and would benefit from having Jeter being held on first by the first baseman. I think Granderson would benefit more. He’s more of a pull hitter than Johnson is.  

Johnson has good points and bad points. The good: The guy has a great eye. A career OBP of .402. This past year it was .426. If A-Rod cleans up the bases, Johnson’s OBP suggests that he can start things up again right in front of Posada, Cano and Swisher. Johnson’s 162 game average is .273-19-80 with 102 walks. It’s said his D regressed a bit (we’ll get to the reason(s) why in a minute) but he was a very good defensive 1B…not that he’d play there much because of Teixeira, but should Teix get a DH day, there would not be much of a dropoff.

The bad points. I mentioned Johnson’s 162 game average. The Injury-prone Johnson has been lucky to get 100 games in a season. In 2002, Johnson became a semi-regular with the Yankees. Since that year (129 games) he has played in 96, 73, 131, 147, ZERO, 38, and 133 games. Good? Dh may enable him to stay healthy. Bad? Teix, Johnson and Swisher could all play 1b. Swisher of course, is your starting RF right now. Johnson is basically just a 1b/dh. If you have Swisher, Teix and Jolly Old St. Nick, what becomes of Juan Miranda? He becomes the Shelley Duncan of SWB. Stuck there unless the Yanks find a taker.

Jolly old st. nick
The Yanks could be getting Jolly Old
St. Nick for Christmas…oops, not this one…

Nick Johnson
…This one.

Johnson hit .291-8-62 last year. OPS+ 122 as he walked 99 times. Washington and Florida aren’t exactly great parks for Johnson. You’d hope that Yankee Stadium would help Johnson powerwise. Only once has he hit more than 15. You would hope that if the Yanks sign him, he could go .280-20-80, draw 100 walks and be the type of person that after Jeter/Granderson set the table for Teix/A-Rod, that Johnson’s OBP can serve to re-set the table as I noted earlier.

One thing the Post notes: as a possible replacement for Matsui, Johnson would be like Godzilla in one regard—-the ability to hit lefties. Johnson is actually better against lefties (.292) than righties (.266).

Johnson made $5.5M last year. Granderson is supposed to make what, $8.5 M? So together, $14M…or just over $1M more than Damon or Matsui made alone last year. So you get two players, both younger (Johnson is 31) and together, the two players’ salaries equal what one made between Matsui and Damon. You can take that other $13M and invest it elsewhere (pitcher?) Is Cashman doing some creative juggling of salary to land someone?

Get Back
If NIck Johnson “Gets Back” with
The Yanks, we hope he won’t
“Let Us Down.”
But hey, it’s where he once belonged.

Good news on A-Rod. No more surgery.

It’s looking more and more like Jason Bay is going to be Mets-bound.

Sitting on the dock of the Bay
The Mets could be
playing Jason Bay’s tune.

I don’t know…I have a sneaky gut feeling that Jason Bay might wind up to be another Kevin McReynolds for the Mets. McReynolds wasn’t bad, averaging about .273-23-87 in his five years with the Mets (1987-1991) but he didn’t seem to me to be a fit, even though McReynolds finished 3rd in the 1988 MVP vote (behind Kirk Gibson and Darryl Strawberry). After going to KC, McReynolds returned and finished his career in 1994 with the Amazin’s. He was decent, but it seemed like more was expected. I just have the same feeling about Bay. That so much would be expected (.280-33-107 is his 162 g. average) but Citi Field may knock him down (to the McReynolds average).

Funny opposites. Jerry Crasnick writes about Mo being the best of the last 10 years and do you know who he has as the worst? El Sid. Yup, Ponson.

Interesting stuff by Chad Jennings at LoHud. First, this quote from Hal Steinbrenner. Read between the lines all you want regarding JD’s situation:

“He was a big part of the reason we won that championship,” Steinbrenner said. “But I think right now there’s just a difference of opinion of what the pay is, quite frankly.”

Granderson will wear #14. Girardi will once again have the target (and goal) on his back as he switches from 27 to 28. I have no problem with that as long as Girardi has a problem several years from now when he desires Ellie Howard’s 32.

Silly debate on numbers elsewhere. I can think of lots of great Yankees whose numbers are not retired (Reynolds’ 22, Gomez 11) and can think of a couple retired ones whose numbers perhaps shouldn’t be. 

No surprise here:

Phil Hughes will have an innings limitation next season, according to Cashman, while Joba Chamberlain will not.

Joba had 157.1 IP last year. If the goal is to increase youngsters by 30, then if Joba starts, 187-190 is the goal. Heck, Pettitte went 194.2 last year (regular season only). Hughes, though, had 86 in the majors, 19 minors. 105 IP. So figure 135? Hence the Joba rules become the Hughes Rules in 2010. 

Girardi did say

that does not mean Hughes is the more likely young pitcher to find himself in the bullpen.

Goodbye Molina? Jennings reports that Girardi said that Cervelli is the backup catcher.

Jennings reports on more (great job by him and Sam Borden, btw). Bold emphasis is mine.

Steinbrenner said he would not “slam the door” if Cashman showed a need to stretch the budget they set last month. Cashman wouldn’t declare the club out of talks for marquee free agents (read: Matt Holliday, Jason Bay), but it sure sounded like it. “I’m not saying yay or nay, but I’m saying we’re operating at this number and that’s that.”
• Why? Because this market dictates caution, unlike last winter’s. “We were very aggressive in last year’s free agent market and it turned out for good reason. There were terrific players available. This market’s a lot different. We played in the better market last year; we’ll be less aggressive in this market.” The Yankees have key free agents to deal with ahead, like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Plus, Cashman called next year’s market is “incredibly more impressive than this one.”

Ok, here is what my lineup would be:

Jeter .334-18-66-30 OPS+ 132 OBP .406 SA .465
Granderson .249-30-71-20  100  .327  .453 (I would hope the average goes up, and that having Teix and Alex behind him helps him. I also don’t want to lose his speed by having him further down in the lineup).
Teixeira .292-39-122   149    .383    .565
Alex .286-30-100-14  147   .402     .532 (and Alex missed 30 games)
Johnson .291-8-62      122   .426     .405 (you hope the SA of .405 goes up; I don’t mind the dropoff in SA here as long as the OBP stays high in front of the SA’s following)
Posada   .285-22-81    133   .363    .522
Cano      .320-25-85    129   .352     .520   
Swisher .249-29-82     129   .371     .498
Melky    .274-13-68-10  99   .336    .416

As you can see, I’d like a high OBP in the middle of the lineup to re-start things.

I don’t know if I want all those K’s by Granderson (years of 141, 141 and 174) in the middle of the lineup. Give me a contact hitter who can use the whole field (Matsui could do that) who is a professional hitter (Matsui was, as is Johnson) with a good eye at #5. Johnson won’t have the 28 HR that Godzilla had, but …

Hey, Lou Piniella batted 5th a lot. He never hit more than 12 in a year. But professional hitter despite not walking often. Check out Piniella’s stats. He had more AB batting 5th in the lineup than anywhere else.

In 1977, Chambliss batted 5th once Reggie was (finally?) moved into the #4 spot. Chambliss hit 20 twice, but only after he went to the launching pad in Atlanta. Chris had 17 HR in 1977 (90 RBI). He hit cleanup in 1976 (17/96). Where did Chambliss hit for the 1978 WS Champs? Mostly 5th. He had 12 HR that year. But a professional hitter who knocked in 90.  

Dodgers interested in Aaron Harang? From

Harang landed a $36.5 million deal off back-to-back 16-win seasons in 2006-07 but has regressed since, going 12-31 the past two years with ERAs of 4.78 and 4.21. His ’09 season was cut short by an appendectomy.





4 responses to “Like the late 1960’s? Nick Johnson to “Get Back” to the Yankees? Mets Sitting at the Dock of the “Bay”?

  1. You’re right in saying that Johnson has good and bad, Mike. What I don’t like with that possible move is that they could have had Matsui for about that money–a million or so more–instead of Johnson. Should Teixeira (God forbid) go down, Johnson is a good glove. But signing him, and possibly JD or someone else for LF/DH, may well mean getting rid of Melky if they keep Hoffmann, sending down or trading Gardner–that is, some bench move since they need a backup catcher and a utility infielder. It could well make them slower on the base paths as a team, depending on whom they sign and let go to free up spots. Personally, I would have preferred Matsui. The guy has a money bat and more power than Johnson. Not keen on that.

    Mariano is Sporting News’s Sportsman of the Year, and was voted pitcher of the decade at ESPN. The guy can’t win a Cy Young to save his life, but (rightly) gets other grand acknowledgments. There is Mariano, and there is everyone else. No one compares.

  2. I don’t think they are going to get a backup C. As of now, it’s Cervelli, and apparently they are looking at Montero or Romine for 2011? (No, I don’t think Mauer goes to yanks, even though he is a Free Agent after 2010). But I think they are dead set with going with Cervelli in 2010.

    Hmm. There is a list through MLBTR of 2011 free agents. Can I see Carl Crawford teaming with Granderson in a 2011 OF? What about if Pettitte retires after 2010 and to replace him, the Yanks bring in… Cliff Lee.

    Of course the Yanks have to figure out what Jeter and Rivera want after 2010 first.

    Maybe this is an off-year, with next postseason being another big push offseason like last year was.

    A lot will depend on Jeter and Mo.

    Yeah, I wish for Matsui rather than Johnson. But who knows. Maybe the Yanks know or suspect more about those knees than we know. Maybe the fragility is more than we think.

    MLBTR says they have DeRosa interest, but that DeRosa’s price is too high.

    Maybe DH keeps Johnson healthy. Good point about the speed, I want Gardner on the team if only as a backup/def. replacement/PR. The speed is also one reason why I DO NOT WANT JOHNSON HITTING SECOND. Granderson #2 (with the protection behind him). I’m not sold on a 38 year old Posada 5th. Johnson 5 with his OBP before Posada, Cano and Swisher works for me.

  3. I understand Chad Jennings’ comments at LoHud regarding Johnson. I just don’t agree with them.

    Jeter makes out, man on 1st, Teix hits a double to the gap.

    To me, I want Granderson scoring…not Johnson being held at third.

    No offense to A-Rod (who may/may not be walked if 2nd and 3rd with first base open?)

    but just my opinion.

  4. Should add one more thing. Johnson’s career highs are 23 HR and 77 RBI, true, and that is why a lot don’t want him mid-lineup. As you’ve seen, I think he ‘d be ok.

    People have forgotten that Johnson has played his whole career in ballparks (except for his previous tenure with the Yankees, when he was 22-24 years old) not suited for him. Montreal’s Olympic Stadium was abysmal. RFK wasn’t a hitter’s park and was on its last legs. I can’t speak for the new Nationals park, but Florida doesn’t seem like a good HR ballpark either.

    Not only that, but the teams Johnson played on weren’t exactly powerhouses.

    What I do see is this. Despite the lack of power, We see a .273 average. OPS+ since 2005 of 137, 149, 124 (missed all of 2007 and the 124 is in just 38 games), 122. That’s damned good. The averages since then? .289, .290, .220 (just those 38 games after missing all of the previous year) and .291.

    So hopefully the .290 stays. Hopefully Yankee Stadium helps his power since he really hasn’t had that friendly a stadium to him while he hit his prime. There will be much more RBI opportunities for him as a Yankee than he ever had with Montreal/Wash.

    Check those OPS+ numbers. I love Matsui and will miss him. Since 2005, Matsui’s OPS+ numbers were 130, 128 (the 51 game season), 123, 108, 131. I don’t expect Johnson to match the 23,25, 28 HR that Matsui put up. Matsui did put up four 100 RBI seasons with the Yanks and Johnson hasn’t topped 77.

    But Matsui has had opportunities with the Yanks that Johnson didn’t. I don’t know what Johnson could do in the middle of a strong lineup. He never had the opportunity.

    Could he drive in 90? Maybe he could batting 5th. But instead of the .274-28-90 of Matsui, (64 walks), maybe it would be .280-15-90 with 99 walks. Maybe Johnson’s numbers would be more Chambliss-like (1976-1978; 17/96, 17/90 and 12/90). Just saying.

    Anyway, there is a phrase. Horses for Courses. Just wanted to point out the 1) ballpark factor and 2) the lineup factor. Johnson didn’t get much help either way.

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