johnsondarkthrow

Today in completely unsurprising news, Josh Johnson, hoping for the kind of payday he was unable to score after his disastrous 2013, is looking to pitch in a sliiiiiiiightly more favourable environment than the Rogers Centre.

But don’t take my word for it, take it from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Again: makes total sense. And at this point, really, I think it’s only barely a Jays-related news story, but still, it will be interesting to see how much he ultimately signs for. Given that he seems to be limiting his market here– beyond, y’know, the market-limiting numbers and injuries we watched him suffer through this season– it’s probably not going to hit the upper reaches of the $10- to $15-million that Johnson’s agent, Matt Sosnick, was suggesting his client would be in line for back in September.

I mean, 38-year-old Tim Hudson just signed a two-year, $23-million deal with the Giants, and even though he’s coming off an ankle injury– which limited his value– he’s certainly been a more reliable option than Johnson over the last four years. And now, of course, one of Johnson’s first two choices has that much less of a need for him– if they even want him in the first place.

As I’ve maintained all along, I can’t see why a team wouldn’t, assuming that the price is right.

Interestingly, Jason Collette took a deep look at Johnson’s divergent numbers when pitching from the windup and from the stretch in a piece today at FanGraphs.

“When Johnson had to pitch from the stretch, he was unable to get on top of the baseball to generate the high rate of ground balls that he typically has done throughout his career and batters made frequent contact with his pitches, regardless of location,” he explained, following his citation of several pieces from our local media throughout the season that noted the same discrepancy, as well as some tables of data.

He goes on:

His fastball found the zone with less frequency from the stretch, but when it did find the zone, batters had little trouble making contact with the pitch and hitting the ball into play safely. While batters also were able square up Johnson’s breaking balls in the zone for hits at an alarming rate, most of his indicators held true except for the decreased ground ball rate.

Those types of issues tend to appear when a pitcher is struggling with the command of his pitches, as well as falling into predictable patterns of pitch selection. When Johnson worked out of the stretch in 2013 and was behind in the count, he threw fastballs 71% of the time, compared to just 46% when he was ahead in the count. The fact Johnson had to use a pitch that he couldn’t command so frequently throughout the season helped lead to the forgettable final numbers he posted.

The “predictable patterns of pitch selection” bit might sound like more of an indictment of J.P. Arencibia’s work behind the plate than it probably is– Johnson threw less than a third of his breaking pitches for strikes regardless of whether he was from the windup or the stretch, so… he didn’t have much choice but to be predictable with the fastball when he was behind, and he wasn’t doing a great job of throwing those for strikes either (50.6% from the windup, 47.7% from the stretch)– but still, there is some interesting discussion in the comments on the piece that bring Arencibia’s name into it.

I’m hesitant to try to read too try to read anything into related to game calling, planning, or confidence-inspiring from behind the plate– when asked in reference to the MVP debate during last Thursday’s chat at ESPN.com about not giving Yadier Molina credit for such unquantifiable things, Keith Law explained, rightly, that “we shouldn’t just make up a value for those things that fits our preconceived notions about Molina as a player”– but that doesn’t mean I’m not still very interested to see where Johnson lands and to follow what he does next year with a new organization and a new battery-mate.

I mean, obviously Arencibia’s supposed shortcomings didn’t impact the lights-out bullpen in the first half, or the great second halves put in by R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, or the excellent past seasons from Brandon Morrow or Ricky Romero, but why should that stop a silly narrative, amiright???

And apparently we may be getting close to finding out who Johnson will be throwing to next!

So… there’s that.

Comments (63)

  1. How come the Jays seem to do so little ? I know the big splash last season was different but where are the depth moves ? Why are the pages of MLBTR littered with teams shaking things up in the majors and the lower levels ? Am I wrong ? Throw us a bone AA.

    • Huh? Hardly anybody is doing anything yet.

      • i did ask “am i wrong? just feels like we are less “proactive”
        Dying for something positive

      • GMs are talking but theres been littles movement… and Remember AA is known for keeping things on the down low when it comes to moves and i have complete faith in the man to fill holes that need filling… im really hoping Romero makes the team out of spring training this year as we all know he has the stuff to be the Ace of this team, he just needs to find it again… If im not mistakin, Halladay was sent down for similar reasons and he came back for a hall of fame career here in Toronto

    • We signed Dan Johnson? Is that what you are looking for?

      One of the best true quad A players I can think of over the last 5-10 years? Should be good for two dingers in closing day ’14…..

  2. Thanks for nothing, JJ

  3. There’s a part of me that has a sinking feeling that even if we had qualified Johnson, he’d have declined it anyways in hopes of landing in a pitching-friendly environment, and that he’d have taken a very cheap one year contract over the qualifying offer in hopes of making more money in the long run with the better pitching environment.

  4. You disappointing fuck, Josh Johnson. I’m sure he’ll light it up in the NL West or wherever the fuck he ends up. Still though, disappointing he was so bad.

  5. You just watch, he will win 15 games in San Fran.

  6. Can you really use the 2nd half success of Dickey to absolve Arencibia of any pitch calling incompetence when he didn’t catch him? Minor point because the other pitchers still stand.

  7. With the choice to pitch anywhere (assuming feeling is mutual) it was no doubt he would pick a place like SD or San Fran on a 1 year deal … Seems like this was a bad call by the jays .. It was more or less their choice if he stayed or not and the jays chose NO. I def wish they took the cost certainty (even though it’s on the high side) vs playing the field and hoping they outbid all other teams for FA’s or losing pieces via trade.

    What happened to no such thing as a bad 1 yr deal .. Obv it all depends on what happens the next few months but I think AA should have taken the JJ plunge!

    • +1

    • It is cost certainty, but that’s the only certainty they would get. Nobody has any idea what they are getting in Johnson. That is a lot of money to commit to a big question mark. You don’t know, the guy might never return to much of value. It is a gamble that might make sense if the jays didn’t also need a catcher, 2b, and another SP

    • Agreed.

    • Pay 15M and see him maybe do well and leave or else suck it up again? Why not pay 20M and get someone better and healthier?

      Plus maybe the Jays have more data on his injuries and are rightfully staying away.

      I do share the angst at the offseason so far though.

      • But who are you going to get? Arguably the best pitcher on the market is Ubaldo…and other than consistently healthy, from a performance standpoint he is far from a certainty either. Of everyone out there, Johnson probably has the highest ceiling when healthy and Dr. Andrews did say his elbow was good to go after the surgery…

        • There is more value in durability than you’re giving credit for. And Ubaldo’s ceiling may be as high.

    • Nailed it Beeds.

      Dumb that they didnt QO him.

      • ???

        Dumb that they didn’t piss 5-6 Mil into the wind?

        What kind of thinking is this?

  8. San Diego is such a pitchers paradise he should pay them to pitch for the Padres for a year…..

    • Didn’t help Edison Volquez much. He went there , put up an ERA of 5+ and was DFA”d.
      I think JJ is done and the money can be put into something less volatile. He was like owning shares of BRE-X. Worth a lot at one time but now worth less

      • Volquez is a total fukstik for not being able to just hoof it over the plate. Volquez experience not withstanding, I agree, they should make Johnson play for league minimum given his agent had already said he’s gonna cherry pick the home park to reestablish some value.

  9. This probably has no basis but for whatever reason the fact you rarely if ever hear pitchers taking about what a shit pitch caller so and so is makes me think it’s not much of a thing. Molina is amazing though. I always feel like he’s actually doing something when he signals to the pitcher to keep the ball down or walks to the mound to tell him how to make the batter his bitch. What I’ve never understood is why don’t all catchers communicate to pitchers whatever it is Molina is communicating?

    • It probably has nothing to do with Molina’s pitchers correctly delivering the suggested pitch right?

    • It’s most definitely a skill. I’ve shared my belief on it a few times on here so I won’t repeat the long winded version.
      Besides, it gets Stoetens shit in a knot when I do. The word narrative get’s used a lot.

      There’s an art to out thinking hitters. Having the guts to double up on a changeup or to go against a scouting report based on a hitters in game adjustments. A smart catcher gets a feel for what pitches are working and uses that WITH scouting reports. It’s a constantly changing plan. People get the idea that it’s all drawn up pregame, “let’s throw sliders to Ortiz, fastballs up and in to Pedroia”.
      It’s constantly changing, it’s deception, it’s chess.

      • It’s also why I think Yaddy Molina should have garnered more favor in the MVP voting.
        He had a good season with the bat and a great season defensively but many of the skills that his teammates, managers, and fellow ML players laud him for (game calling, giving young pitchers confidence, baseball intelligence, leadership) can’t be quantified. It was the subject of great debate on ESPN, people in the game much smarter then I, arguing over not WHETHER these skills exist but what their overall value is. Since it can’t be measured it will be one of those endless baseball debates (like the validity of the DH) that will never have an answer.
        Interesting none the less.

        • You can’t take his teammates seriously on these sort of things, though. Zero objectivity.

  10. Great first line Stoeten. Agent says he’s going somewhere pitcher friendly, and boy was he serious. Like fuck, San Diego, cause it’s closer to home? Don’t GMs see through that kind of shit?

  11. It’s sad to see Johnson go for nothing. His year in Toronto was miserable, but I hope AA can use the 14-15 million he saves on Josh Johnson wisely on other holes in the lineup.

    Unfortunately, based on the contract that Ruiz got in Philly, it will be very expensive to fill any holes through free agency in 2014.

    The good news for AA is dumping Buerhle’s contract won’t be as hard if the Jays flop in 2014.

  12. I agree-the money is better spent elsewhere. I don’t think AA can afford to double down on Johnson. It could cost him his job if Johnson shits the bed again next year. Its far safer for him to sign just about any other FA starter.

    • @roy.

      Agreed. I think AA is better off getting a more durable starter that may not have Josh Johnson’s upside, but can go out and give you 5-6 innings of 4.50 ERA.

      • Maybe if we are aiming for 82-85 wins a 4.50 innings eating pitcher would be fine, but if you look at playoff caliber teams (Detroit, Boston, St. Louis) they all have multiple guys who are much better than a 4.50 ERA. Looking that the Jays current staff, all of Dicky, Buhrle, Rogers/Happ are likely to have ERAs over 4 with only Morrow (if healthy) with a good chance of being down in the mid 3s. If the Jays are going to have a better than outside chance of competing they need another 1-2 pitcher, if not what is the point?

  13. I’ve been following this article about the new company Trackman.
    Pretty fascinating, will gives teams a lot more information.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/perfect-game-and-trackman-partner-to-bring-cutting-edge-technology-to-showcases/

    • And here’s the first example of it in action:

      http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/afl-trackman-leaderboards/

      I found the “fastball extension” data interesting. The guys who extended the furthest tended to be the softer throwers in the league. Kind of goes against Klaws critique of Sanchez and his upright short delivery.

      Anyways, our boys are peppered throughout the leaderboards.

      • No, it doesn’t.

        It actually says right above the table: “Greater fastball extension correlates positively with swing strike rate and strikeout rate. From 2010-2012, fastball extensions of 5 feet, 6 inches and below struck out 6.3 hitter per-nine, while extensions of 6 feet, 6 inches and greater were 17 percent better at 7.4 hitters per-nine.”

        Sure, softer tossers are using extension to increase their “effective velocity,” but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about a harder thrower using it less. However, I’d also quibble with your suggestion that those are all “soft tossers” in the first place– five of the ten averaged 91.9 on their fastballs or above. Not elite heat, obviously, but hardly shitballers either.

  14. Probably the right move for him.

    At least it won’t seem so bad if he bounces back on the west coast, as opposed to anywhere in the AL.

  15. The JPA effect on pitchers seemed to me to be more based on trust factors than pitch selection and it settled down a little after the first couple of months.

  16. So to recap:

    A year later we are left with Dickey, Thole, Nickeas, Reyes and Buerhle in exchange for D’Arnaud, Syndergaard, Nicolino, Buck, Escobar, Hech, Alvarez, Marisnick, DeScalfani and Mathis.

  17. Shocker. Run off back to the little boy’s league you tall piece of shit.

  18. [...] Stoeten of The Score in Toronto, believes the righty is looking for a more favourable pitching environment in 2014 before signing a [...]

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