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Tag:Nick Johnson
Posted on: June 7, 2011 9:10 am
Edited on: June 7, 2011 10:55 am

Pepper: Royals hope to shake Pujols curse

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY -- senior writer Scott Miller, with his belly full of Kansas City barbecue, joins Lauren Shehadi to talk about the Red Sox and Yankees, as well as Dan Haren, Ubaldo Jimenez and more.

HOMETOWN BOY STAYS -- One of the more interesting picks in the first round of the draft last night was the Royals taking Bubba Starling with the fifth pick overall. Conventional wisdom going into the draft was the team would take a college arm to help supplement its incoming wave of talent. However, the team went with Starling, the top athlete in the draft. 

Don't discount the Albert Pujols factor here. Since 2001, Royals fans and others have been asking how the Royals could have missed on Albert Pujols, who went to high school and junior college in Kansas City (don't mind the fact everyone missed on Pujols, who wasn't drafted until the 13th round of the 1999 draft.) With Starling coming out of nearby Gardner, Kan., the Royals won't have to hear that criticism if Starling lives up to his potential.

BRUIN BONANZA -- UCLA baseball coach John Savage said he knew from the day Gerrit Cole stepped on campus that he'd likely be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft. (

Mets MAIN MAN -- Although he's best-known as the stat geek from Moneyball, the Mets' Paul DePodesta (who looks nothing like Jonah Hill), is the key to the Mets' scouting department. (Newark Star-Ledger)

SORIA'S BACK -- If you missed it, Joakim Soria is back as the Royals' closer, even though Aaron Crow never got a chance to close a game in his eight games as the team's designated closer. (

MINDREADER -- In addition to being a columnist, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times is also apparently a mind-reader. The omniscient Cowley says Carlos Zambrano is a liar and really wants out of Chicago (or at least the North side), because Zambrano said he wants to move on from his comments that the way the Cubs are playing is "embarrassing." Even though, to be fair, Zambrano said he wanted to move on before another "embarrassing" loss in Cincinnati.

BLAME GAME -- Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan took credit for Monday's loss, even though he probably doesn't deserve it. (Seattle Times)

MOVING ON UP -- The Indians have promoted former Yankees first baseman Nick Johnson -- to Triple-A. Johnson played two games at Double-A and had one hit in nine plate appearances (with three walks). He's not on Cleveland's 40-man roster, so manager Manny Acta said not to expect him in Cleveland anytime soon. (

A'S SHUFFLE -- A's third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, hitting just .221. was demoted to Triple-A on Monday. Utility man Adam Rosales was activiated from the 60-day disabled list. Kouzmanoff wasn't just struggling at the plate; he also had nine errors, the second-most in the American League. (

ZIMMERMAN UPDATE -- The Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman played seven innings at Class A Potomac on Monday, but manager Jim Riggleman said it's "unlikely" he will return before Sunday, when the team wraps up an 11-game road trip. (Washington Post)

PEAVY AVOIDS DL -- White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy will miss a start, but isn't expected to go on the disabled list after being diagnosed with a mild strain of his right groin. (Chicago Tribune)

FLASH GORDON -- Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon made his debut last night and his father, former pitcher Tom Gordon, was in the stands to see his son enter the game as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning. Gordon scored the Dodgers' only run. While his father was nicknamed "Flash," the name may be more appropriate for the son, because it describes his blazing speed.

CARTER STARTS TREATMENT -- Hall of Famer Gary Carter began his chemotherapy treatment on Saturday and will begin radiation treatment today. (

VENTURA RETURNS -- Former White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura has returned to the organization as a special adviser to player development director Buddy Bell -- that's two pretty good defensive third basemen in the front office. (Chicago Sun-Times)

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 12:30 am

Sorting out Johnson's place on Indians

By Matt Snyder

In case you missed the news yesterday, Nick Johnson is on the verge of signing a minor-league contract with the Indians (Twitter links contained via MLB Trade Rumors ). And if you did miss it, shame on you. How dare you not follow every move of Nick Johnson. This is clearly the most monumental signing of the offseason.

I kid, I kid.

Still, the move is at least intriguing enough to see where he might fit with the Tribe, should he join the big league club at some point -- and stay healthy for an extended stretch, which is a huge "if."

The reason for this is Matt LaPorta is expected to play first base for the Indians this season while Travis Hafner is slotted as the designated hitter. Johnson can't fit anywhere else.

Now, obviously the Tribe only took a flier on Johnson to see if it would pan out. It's a minor-league contract, after all, so there is no risk or obligation. But let's say all three aforementioned players stay healthy and hit the ball like they're capable.

LaPorta, 26, was the centerpiece of the CC Sabathia trade. Even if his development hasn't come as fast as expected, someone with his potential isn't going anywhere, especially for a team not expected to contend.

Hafner was one of the best hitters in baseball from 2004-2006 -- and still pretty solid in 2007 -- but injuries have derailed that a bit. He had a 131 OPS-plus in 462 plate appearances last season, so we know he can still swing it. He's just averaged 90 games a year over the past three, though, so this could be where Johnson comes into play.

Say what you will about his health, but Johnson sports a career .401 OBP. If he battles all the way the back to 100 percent health, there should be a spot on a major-league roster for him. At 32, he's definitely not too old to be productive.

Again, this was a move with very minimal risk. If Johnson ends up injured and worthless, it doesn't harm the Tribe at all.

If he's healthy and swinging the bat well, he can be the insurance policy for the oft-injured Pronk.

But what if both are healthy and swinging the bat well? This could actually be where Indians management is really looking. Both guys are left-handed, so they are redundant to the roster -- therefore: Trade. Bait.

Travis Hafner is due to make $13 million in 2012, so he might be tough to move. Still, if a team suffers a serious injury and/or needs a big bat in the middle at the trade deadline, it isn't inconceivable to see a move. Let's just say the Yankees deal Jesus Montero in a desperate attempt to nab a top-line starting pitcher and then Jorge Posada suffers a season-ending injury -- it's not out of the question on either front. If that was the case, Pronk in pinstrips for the last two months of 2011 and all of 2012 makes some sense, especially with that short right-field porch. It would be a win-win deal.

And if they couldn't deal Hafner, they could get a something for Johnson. He wouldn't be as attractive as Hafner, but he'd come without the lofty price tag.

Anyway, that's all a long way from now and both Johnson and Hafner would have to be healthy. Just something to think about as we wait for meaningful baseball to be played.

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Posted on: February 26, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 1:06 pm

Pepper: No Millwood for Cards?

Posted by Matt Snyder

Kevin Millwood
WAINWRIGHTED: Let's face it, things are kind of (read: really) slow during the early weeks of spring training. We've got beat writers tweeting play-by-play of intersquad scrimmages, people making fun of people overreacting to Tim Lincecum's outing (though, at this point, I'm not sure anyone takes these early outings seriously) and one of the biggest news stories is a free agent for next season.

So when a star starting pitcher goes down injured, the aftermath is sure to linger. To the point that Kevin Millwood is a wanted man.

And rightfully so.

The Cards appear to be dead-set on Kyle McClellan entering the rotation. Manager Tony La Russa looks at him as a "real weapon" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch ) and notes he's paid his dues. Which he kind of has, but the flipside is that, in the process, McClellan has become one of the better set up options in the majors. He posted a sparkling 2.27 ERA last season in 68 appearances. Removing him from the bullpen in favor of the rotation leaves a gaping hole in the late innings.

That is why plugging in a veteran like Millwood -- who Dave Duncan could surely make work -- seems like a logical move. Post-Dispatch writer Bernie Miklasz makes a really good case for Millwood. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch )

In other Cardinals' rotation news, it appears Chris Carpenter -- the remaining ace of the former pair of bullets -- could be traded and wouldn't necessarily block a deal. Obviously the Yankees would be in on it, but a nugget from this post is that the Yanks have "told their scouts to bear down on several teams they think could have starters available" before the trade deadline, including the Cards, Braves, A's, Angels and White Sox. (NY Post )

SETTLE DOWN, HE'S FINE: Another effect of the early preseason is the reactions to injuries. Brian Roberts has missed several workouts with neck stiffness. Since there's nothing else going on, it's big news for Orioles camp -- I mean, really, how much could you be following the Felix Pie vs. Nolan Reimold battle for a roster spot? -- but Roberts is actually OK. In fact, he said if it was the regular season he'd be playing. ( )

THE ON-BASE MACHINE: reports that Nick Johnson is working out and expecting a call anyday now, because several teams are "monitoring" the oft-injured 32 year old. He has a career OBP of over .400, so he could help someone's lineup.

FEELIN' CHIPPER: Chipper Jones has been having issues with his surgically repaired knee this spring. He even needed fluid drained after inflammation as recently as Thursday, but Friday was a good day. In fact, he may play in a Grapefruit League game Sunday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution )

TO-MORROW: Brandon Morrow is as talented as almost any pitcher in the league. We've seen evidence on the diamond, like when he shutout the Rays August 8 with 17 strikeouts and only allowed one hit. Or his 12 strikeouts in six innings against the Yankees. This season, he's looking to achieve "new heights." If he does, watch out, AL East. (Toronto Star )

NOT SATISFIED: With an OPS-plus of 130, Nick Swisher had arguably the best season of his career last season. His .288 batting average and .511 slugging percentage were both career highs for the 30-year-old veteran. Still, it wasn't enough for Swish. He wants more. (NY Daily News )

CHICKS DIG THE LONG BALL: Mike Stanton is strong. We know that. He hit 22 home runs last season in 359 at-bats. In 324 minor-league games, he hit 89 bombs. The potential is there for an elite power hitter. And Friday, he put on a "show" in batting practice. (Palm Beach Post )

CHICKS DIG DEFENSE? Designated hitter Jack Cust is most certainly not known for his fielding prowess, having played only 16 games in the field in 2010. But he flashed the leather this week in practice, to the point that teammates were impressed. ( )

DURBIN SIGNS: As expected, Chad Durbin has signed with the Indians. The Tribe's rotation is far from set, so one would figure he's going to be prominently in the mix. The righty hasn't started a game since 2007 for the Tigers. (Jerry Crasnick via Twitter )

BEATING WITH THE BRAIN: Are the Cubs smarter in 2011? They think so. (Chicago Sun Times )

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Posted on: December 18, 2010 4:46 pm

O's have offered LaRoche 3 years

Adam LaRoche The Orioles may be closing in on a deal with first baseman Adam LaRoche, offering the former Diamondback a three-year deal worth "at least $15M and could be between $16-$18M or more," writes MASN's Jen Royle .

The Orioles haven't exactly hidden their desire for a first baseman and willingness to spend some money.

LaRoche, 31, hit .261/.320/.468 with 25 homers and 100 RBI in 2010. He's hit at least 20 home runs in each of his six full seasons in the majors, including 25 in each of the last three seasons.

LaRoche, who signed a one-year deal worth $4.5 million last January, had reportedly been looking for a three-year deal. If he's got one on the table from the Orioles for anywhere from $5 million to $6 million, it may be his best option.

The Rays, Nationals, Padres, Diamondbacks and Mariners are all still in the market for first basemen, with LaRoche and Derrek Lee the top of a depleted first base market left. Jorge Cantu, Troy Glaus, Casey Kotchman, Nick Johnson and Jason Giambi are also available.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 4, 2010 3:51 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2010 4:46 pm

Hendry could go after Nick Johnson for first

Johnson Everyone and his mother has been predicting that Adam Dunn will end up as the Cubs first baseman in 2011.

GM Jim Hendry is here to tell you "not so much."

As the Chicago Sun-Times writes, GM Jim Hendry is handicapped by a budget that doesn't allow for big free agents. That means no Adam Dunn, or even no Derrek Lee return.

What does it mean? The unexciting Nick Johnson, for one.

Johnson, who has been injured seemingly every year, hit for a poor .167/.388/.306 line in 98 plate appearances for the Yankees before succumbing to injury. The year before was split with the Nationals and Marlins, amassing 574 PA of a .291/.426/.405 line. He would give the Cubs someone who knows how to work a walk, but doesn't do much else and is injured all the time to boot.

Hardly an inspired choice. Bringing in Johnson is not a bad idea, but not pairing him with a viable backup is another thing entirely. But again, Hendry only has so much money to work with. The payroll of 2010 landed at $144 million, per Cot's Contracts, and falls to $102.5 million guaranteed for 2011, which includes Aramis Ramirez's $14.5 million player option he exercised Thursday.

Ah, but there's arbitration to worry about, so the Cubs could easily be at $115 million when all that is said and done. Add in that owner Tom Ricketts has said payroll will drop, and there's not much flexibility for Hendry.

The Cubs plan to add a first baseman, starting pitcher and right-handed reliever, so unlike recent years, it sounds like the North Siders will be playing it quiet.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: October 27, 2010 3:55 pm

Yankees set Wood, Berkman, Johnson free

The Yankees have set three players free by declining their options in Lance Berkman, Nick Johnson and Kerry Wood but have opted to pick up the option of Andrew Brackman as the New Jersey Star-Ledger 's Marc Carig notes on Twitter.

Wood Declining the three options is no surprise. While Wood (pictured) dazzled after coming over from the Indians and posting a 0.69 ERA, the 33-year-old had an $11 million option that certainly had no shot of being picked up. While Wood could yet return to town as a setup man, he could make more money elsewhere by being a closer and his play in New York virtually assures him of landing somewhere where he can close.

Berkman, meanwhile, was strictly a rental as a right-handed platoon DH (a role likely going to Jorge Posada next season). Even if Berkman moves back to the NL, he won't sniff the $15 million he would have made in 2011 otherwise.

Lastly, Nick Johnson opened the year as the Yankees' DH and while he walked like nobody's business to the tune of a .167/.388/.306 line in 98 plate appearances, he also predictably got hurt and was knocked out for the year. No need for the $5.5 million option to be picked up, and Johnson is doubtful to return to town.

As for Brackman, you would be forgiven for not ever hearing the name before. Brackman was drafted with the 30th pick of the first round in 2007 and signed a major-league contract. Injuries held him back to making his professional debut in 2009 after signing a big-league deal of four years, but has since started climbing up the ladder as a starter and reached Double-A in 2010. Brackman's club options extend through 2013 and while terms aren't known, clearly were not prohibitive enough to prevent the 2011 option from being picked up.

 -- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: August 25, 2010 9:00 pm

Nick Johnson undergoing second wrist surgery

Nick Johnson Nick Johnson's season is over, as the first baseman will require a second surgery on his right wrist, reports Jack Curry of the YES network .

Johnson, tabbed to replace World Series MVP Hideki Matsui at DH, struggled to a .167/.388/.306 mark in 24 games before hitting the disabled list -- although anyone could have predicted that occurrence. The nine-year veteran has just one season with over 500 plate appearances, which perhaps not coincidentally, came in 2009.

As ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews pointed out , "So disinterested did Girardi appear about the news -- and really, who could blame him? -- that he did not even know when, where or precisely what was being done to Johnson."

It's quite a fall of grace for someone who has displayed an uncanny ability to command the strike zone and work walks like it's his job... and really, it is. But Johnson's disappearing power and injury woes have turned him into an afterthought in his second tour of duty iin New York. Johnson came up with the Yankees before being shipped out after the 2003 season for Javier Vazquez, who is now his teammate, going through his own second tour of duty.

A free agent after the year, Johnson is virtually certain not to return to the Yankees and will struggle to find a guaranteed job elsewhere, and the Yankees will have to go find a new designated hitter.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
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