Tag:Josh Johnson
Posted on: July 18, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 7:03 pm
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Marlins may make Vazquez, Nunez available

As the Marlins continue to creep towards .500, their trade plans seem to have become more concrete.

They will consider dealing Javier Vazquez, Leo Nunez and Randy Choate. They won't talk about Ricky Nolasco or Anibal Sanchez, or Josh Johnson.

"We were told 'no way' on Nolasco," said an official of one team that checked in with the Marlins in the last few days. "They want to build around Johnson, Sanchez and Nolasco moving into their new stadium."

Marlins people have suggested that if the team can get to .500 this week (they're three games under, as of Monday morning), they may not sell at all. It seems impossible that the Marlins could get back into the playoff race (they're 10 games behind the wild-card leading Braves), but they may still take a shot.

Vazquez has had a good run recently, with a 1.39 ERA over his last five starts. That includes interleague games against the Angels, A's and Rangers, but it's still hard to see any American League team taking a chance on him.

"I think he gets hives when he even flies over an AL city," one scout said.

Vazquez has a no-trade clause in his contract, and it's not clear how many teams he would approve a trade to. Vazquez wouldn't address the issue Monday.

Nunez and Choate could also be of interest to teams. Left-handed hitters are just 5-for-54 against Choate this year, with one walk, 23 strikeouts and with one double as the only extra-base hit. Nunez is 26-for-29 in save situations.

Posted on: June 19, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Marlins job is the best . . . or the worst

In Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison, the Marlins have some of the best young players in baseball. They have a new stadium set to open next year.

They have a talented and creative front office.

Who wouldn't want to manage this team?

In Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins have an eccentric owner who is always convinced his team should be in the playoffs, but rarely convinced that he should pay for it. In David Samson, they have a club president who, to be blunt, is one of the least-liked people in the game. They have a new ballpark coming, yes, but many people who know the South Florida market are convinced it's in the wrong location and will never solve their attendance problems. And they're in the National League East, quickly becoming one of the best -- and maybe one of the biggest-spending -- divisions in baseball.

Who would want to manage this team?

There are times I think the Marlins job is a great one, so great that I could believe Bobby Valentine would want it, so great that I could believe Ozzie Guillen would leave his "second father," White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, for it.

"The next year or two, they will really be heard from," one baseball person familiar with the Marlins said on Sunday, after Edwin Rodriguez resigned as the team's latest manager. "Those young kids just need to be toughened up."

Those young kids are incredibly talented. Johnson, currently on the disabled list, is mentioned every year as a possible Cy Young winner. Scouts can't stop talking about Stanton, who has as much raw power as any player in baseball. And while Ramirez is in the midst of a hugely disappointing season, he's a 27-year-old three-time All-Star who has already won a batting title.

A month ago, when the Marlins were one game out of first place in the NL East, it was easy to believe that they would stay in the race all year. People were asking how Loria would deal with Rodriguez having all this success, when everyone knew the owner really wanted Ozzie Guillen as his manager.

Then came the collapse, which also tells you something about these Marlins players. One Marlins person complained that players spent too much time "pouting" after Loria ordered hitting coach John Mallee fired last week.

Maybe they do need to be toughened up. Maybe the right manager will turn this team into the playoff contender that Loria has always claimed they should be.

But remember the obstacles. Loria is a George Steinbrenner, but without the big spending. The NL East features the great Phillies and the outstanding (and young) Braves, along with the Nationals (Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann and a willingness to spend big) and the Mets (big problems now, but with the New York market to draw on, big potential ahead).

This is either the best job in baseball, or the worst. I'll let you know when I figure out which one it is.


Posted on: May 15, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 11:15 pm
 

3 to Watch: The wild wild card edition

The last time the Yankees and Rays met at Tropicana Field, the games were great.

And basically meaningless.

It was last September, and both teams were headed to the playoffs. One would be the American League East champion, the other would be the wild card. Either route would be acceptable, and you even could have argued that the wild card was preferable (sure enough, the wild-card Yankees won a playoff series while the division champ Rays didn't).

Expanding the playoffs (and punishing the wild card) could take care of the problem, as soon as next year.

But there may not be a problem in the AL this year, if early-season results hold at all. The way things look, there's a real chance that the race for the wild-card spot could be a multi-team free-for-all deep into the season, which would mean no easy fall-back position for the AL East runner-up.

As of Sunday morning, eight of the 11 teams that didn't lead their divisions were within three games of the wild-card lead, with the Tigers in front. Obviously, not all those teams are going to stay in the race through the summer.

But do you want to bet right now that two or three of them don't?

So as the first-place Rays get ready to host the second-place Yankees for the first time this season, here's a suggestion: Win the division, and you don't need to worry about the wild card.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Josh Johnson has faced the Mets 13 times in his career. He has lost just once, and in five of the 13 starts he allowed either two or three hits. So when Johnson goes against the Mets, as he will in Marlins at Mets, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field, it's worth paying attention. In his first start against the Mets this year, on opening night in Florida, Johnson took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

2. The other day, I asked two scouts who had just seen the Rays what they liked about them, other than the starting rotation. The answer: "The starting rotation," both said. And if you want to know why that rotation looks even better than it did last year, look no farther than James Shields, who takes a 4-1 record and 2.08 ERA into Yankees at Rays, Tuesday night (6:40 ET) at Tropicana Field. Scouts say the big difference in Shields is that he is spotting his fastball better, and thus avoiding an over-reliance on his very good changeup.

3. Sunday's rainout in Detroit set up the pitching matchup of the week, with Justin Verlander going against Josh Beckett in Tigers at Red Sox, Thursday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. Verlander is 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his last three starts in Boston. It's an interesting two-game series, with the hot Tigers against the recovering Red Sox, and with Victor Martinez returning to Fenway. As bad as the Red Sox catching has been, you think anyone in New England will suggest that they should have kept Victor?




Posted on: May 8, 2011 8:27 pm
 

3 to watch: The perfect matchup edition


Twice last year, Roy Halladay pitched against Josh Johnson.

Their combined numbers in those two games: 32 innings, 16 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 3 walks, 30 strikeouts and a 0.28 ERA.

And one perfect game.

One game ended 1-0, in Halladay's favor (that was the perfect game, and the one run was unearned). The other game ended 2-0, in Johnson's favor.

The second game, in which Halladay allowed one run on six hits in eight innings, is his only loss in 19 starts against National League East opponents in his year-plus with the Phillies. He's an incredible 18-1 with a 1.56 ERA in those 19 games.

Which brings us to Tuesday night, when Halladay and Johnson meet up for the first time this season.

It's far too early to call this a Cy Young showdown (and Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals, who is 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA and two shutouts, might be just as good an early candidate). And since this is just the second of six series between the Phillies and Marlins, there's every chance that Halladay and Johnson could meet up again.

That's fine. Anytime they meet, they're the featured game on 3 to watch. Anytime they meet, I'm paying attention, and I'm betting you will, too.

On to 3 to watch:

1. By this point in his Cy Young season, Zack Greinke was 6-0 with a 0.40 ERA. This year, because he played basketball and broke a rib, he's just now making his first home start, in Padres at Brewers, Monday night (8:10 ET) at Miller Park . Brewers fans are no doubt excited to see Greinke, but you have to wonder how much the Brewers' recent slide (eight losses in the last nine games) has hurt their enthusiasm.

2. Coming out of spring training, the Braves were the popular pick as the NL East team with a chance to take the division title away from the Phillies. But it's the Marlins who have spent most of the first five weeks of the season in second place, often just half a game behind the Phils. The Marlins split two games in Philadelphia last month (a third game was rained out), and they get their next chance at home this week. The highlight matchup, of course, is Halladay vs. Johnson, in Phillies at Marlins, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Sun Life Stadium.

3. If Halladay vs. Johnson might help decide the NL Cy Young race, then Michael Pineda vs. Zach Britton might have helped decide the American League rookie of the year race. Too bad that Pineda is facing Jake Arrieta (a fine young pitcher, but not a rookie) in Mariners at Orioles, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Camden Yards . Pineda, 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings, is the early leader. Britton, 5-2 with a 2.93 ERA, faces the Mariners on Thursday night.

Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:50 am
 

3 to watch: The How do you know? edition

Already this year, Josh Johnson has carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning. And another into the seventh. And another into the sixth. And another into the fifth.

In five starts, he's never given up a hit before the fourth inning.

The easiest thing to do would be to predict that Johnson is going to throw a no-hitter this year.

And I'm not going to do it.

Not after talking to Edwin Jackson, I'm not.

Jackson threw a no-hitter last year, when he was pitching for the Diamondbacks. But when I asked him to guess who will throw this year's first no-no, he politely refused.

"How do you ever know?" asked Jackson, who now pitches for the White Sox. "Because if you'd have asked me if I was going to throw one, I'd have said, 'Never.' I'd have bet my paycheck that I'd never throw one."

How do you know?

"I always said I'd never throw one," said Mark Buehrle, Jackson's White Sox teammate. "And I've got two."

Buehrle was willing to guess, though.

"Somebody like [Justin] Verlander or Josh Johnson," he said.

Verlander has thrown a no-hitter, in 2007 against the Brewers. Johnson hasn't -- yet.

Johnson gets another chance Saturday in Cincinnati.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Since the start of 2009, Tim Lincecum has at least one win over every National League opponent, with one exception. Would you guess it's the Nationals? Lincecum lost his only start against the Nationals last year, and a Bob Howry blown save cost him a potential win in 2009. He gets another chance in Giants at Nationals, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Nationals Park.

2. Back in spring training, we asked when Alex White would make his debut with the Indians. We didn't guess it would be in April, and we didn't guess he'd be joining a first-place team. It is, and he is. The Indians' 2009 first-round pick is only getting a chance this soon because of two injuries to starting pitchers, but he will get a chance in Tigers at Indians, Saturday night (6:05 ET) at Progressive Field. One oddity, though: White is actually four months older than Rick Porcello, the Tigers' Saturday night starter. Porcello will be making his 63rd big-league start.

3. You wouldn't think Johnson would no-hit the Reds. The Reds haven't been no-hit since 1971 (Rick Wise) . . . unless you count that Roy Halladay no-hitter in the playoffs last year. Then again, Johnson's first major-league win came in Cincinnati, and in that game he allowed no hits . . . in three innings of relief. But no, I'm not predicting he throws a no-hitter in Marlins at Reds, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at Great American Ballpark. How do you know?

Posted on: May 28, 2010 10:42 am
Edited on: May 28, 2010 1:30 pm
 

3 to watch: The What now? edition

A month ago today, we told you that the Mets were a mess to figure out.

Well, guess what? A month later, the Mets are a mess to figure out.

One week, they're changing three-fifths of the starting rotation, and everyone thinks they might change the manager, too. There's a mess with John Maine, a mess with Darryl Strawberry and a mess with Francisco Rodriguez.

Then the Mets win a series from the Yankees, and sweep a series from the Phillies -- on three straight shutouts . Anyone need reminding that the Yankees and Phillies are the defending league champions?

So now the Mets are rolling again, just two games behind the Phillies in the National League East. Now we see all the Mets' potential, with two ace-like starting pitchers atop the rotation (Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey), with grit that they haven't shown in years, with Jose Reyes looking like himself atop the lineup, with Carlos Beltran coming back sometime (although not soon), with a rebuilt rotation, and with a team that sure does seem to respond for Jerry Manuel.

And a team that still owns the worst road record in the entire National League. A team that plays in a ballpark where it sometimes seems impossible to hit a home run, and still features a key middle-of-the-order hitter (Jason Bay) who has homered only at home.

Oh, and a team that's about to open a road series against the team with the worst home record in baseball.

Sounds like a perfect place to begin this weekend's 3 to watch:

1. At this point, we'll have to assume that Manuel's job is safe for another . . . no, we're not going to say it, because with the Mets, there's always another crisis around the corner. But what about Ken Macha? A week ago, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel , "I can tell you unequivocally, we are not making a manager change on Monday." That was last Monday he was talking about, and the Brewers unequivocally did not change managers that day. Macha was still the manager when the Brewers finally won a home series (against the awful Astros), and we're going to have to assume he'll be there when Santana faces Yovani Gallardo in Mets at Brewers, Friday night (8:10 EDT) at Miller Park .

2. There's still a lot of doubt that Roy Oswalt will actually get traded, given the limited list of teams he's said to be interested in going to, and Astros owner Drayton McLane's limited (or non-existent) history of trading away his favorite players. But one popular destination, at least when baseball people talk about Oswalt, is the Angels, who have been searching for an ace for more than a year now. The Astros aren't on the Angels' interleague schedule, so they won't get to see Oswalt in person. They will, however, get a close look at another even more likely-to-be-available ace, Cliff Lee, in Mariners at Angels, Friday night (10:05 EDT) at Angel Stadium . Lee starts Friday, Felix Hernandez starts Sunday, and Chone Figgins will be back in Anaheim for the first time in a Mariner uniform.

3. Josh Johnson hasn't allowed a run in more than two weeks. The Phillies haven't scored a run off a starting pitcher in a week. Josh Johnson is the scheduled starter, against Roy Halladay, in Phillies at Marlins, Saturday night (7:10 EDT) at Sun Life Stadium . Sounds like maybe the Phillies ought to think about scoring a run Friday night against Chris Volstad.

 
 
 
 
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