Is Kelly Johnson the answer for the Blue Jays 2B Black Hole? (Getty Images VIA Daylife)
Tell me if you heard this one while watching a game at Rogers Centre:
“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”
Every time I see the second base of Rogers, I see nothing but emptiness. A dead pool of drifters and failed promises. The cornfield on the iconic “Boy with omnipotent powers” episode of the Twilight Zone had less lost souls then RC’s 2B.
Teams usually go through transition periods with positions, but I can’t think of one that has gone on in the Major Leagues quite like the second base situation on the Toronto Blue Jays. Usually, they last a few years before something comes up from the system or a trade is made that solves the problem. But, there hasn’t been any sure thing second baseman on the Jays since Roberto Alomar.
Oh, there have been names and faces manning the keystone position. Aaron Hill had a good try at it until he blew a gasket in 2010. Orlando Hudson was a cool arm on the field but wasn’t much to talk about with the bat when he was with Toronto. John McDonald was similar to an extreme. They were serviceable big leaguers or at the very least fringe players, but nothing that really screams “I’m a main contributor to a contending team.” (Probably because they weren’t close to even making a run, but I digress.)
Last season, the Jays shipped off the above mentioned Hill and McDonald to the Arizona Diamondbacks for second baseman Kelly Johnson. Both Hill and Johnson were struggling after the non-waiver trade deadline (trades before July 31st don’t need the players to clear the waiver system before a trade can be made) and were swapped. Hill turned it on in a small sample size, but still had his contract option declined by the D-Backs.
Johnson on the other hand is now a free agent after putting up respectable numbers of his own. However, should the Jays bank on Johnson?
For reference, here is his batting stats for his career.
WHY THEY SHOULD SIGN KELLY JOHNSON
- Coming Off a Down Year (Not Necessarily a Bad Thing)
Despite having a pooptacular year with the Diamondbacks, he’s shown the ability to be a great bat for a second baseman. He’s been the kind of player that has a drop-off year followed by an all-star contention year. His sample with the Jays for the last month showed he was trending upward. He could come cheaper then in a year where he flourished.
- What You’ve Wanted At Your Fingertips
Kelly Johnson was on Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos’ radar for a year and two-thirds prior to getting him. He was very close to being the 2010 Jays starting left fielder before the Diamondbacks offered him a job at his preferred second base. Now, he actually represents a talent that they’ve already researched and worked with prior to going into before free agency. Better to go with the devil you know, right?
- He’s actually pretty good.
Seriously, go check his stats. He slumps, but he also has crazy good years.
WHY THEY SHOULD LET KELLY JOHNSON GO
Here’s the thing: name three F/A second baseman with the same potential as Johnson without looking at this list.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Slim pickings means that Johnson has more room to demand a premium price from teams.
As a type A F/A, any team that signs him will forfeit their first round pick to the Toronto Blue Jays. Anthopoulos loves his draft picks, so he might want to give up Johnson for the pick.
Fizzlebeef Prediction: Blue Jays, 2 years/$9MM with two club options years worth $5MM and $9MM