The A’s have been looking to trade former closer Jim Johnson, now the man at the end of the A’s bullpen.
There are 11 days before the trade deadline, and one of the top jobs for the A’s brass is to find a new home for reliever Jim Johnson.
Actually, it’s been something the A’s have wanted to do for a while now, but the A’s don’t want to eat the remainder of Johnson’s $10 million contract and Johnson has done little to entice other teams to go after him.
“They would prefer to move him before the trade deadline,’’ a source said of the A’s. “They’ve been trying. So far, nothing’s happening.’’
Johnson came to the A’s after back-to-back 50-save seasons with the Orioles, but instead of being the closer to replace Grant Balfour, he hasn’t been able to get any level of his former consistency.
Jim Johnson helped get the A’s a win in 14 innings, even if he couldn’t finish.
There is no question that Jim Johnson hasn’t gotten much love in his first three months with the A’s.
Except from his teammates. They know what it’s like to struggle. They’ve all been there, and there hasn’t been any thought that Johnson hasn’t been doing everything he can to fight his way out of his struggles.
And the 2.1 innings of scoreless relief he threw Saturday was especially well thought of by the A’s.
Jim Johnson had another tough day coming out of the A’s bullpen Saturday.
On Friday, Eric O’Flaherty threw an inning of scoreless baseball for Stockton in the California League.
On Saturday, Jim Johnson came in with a man on for Oakland in Baltimore and gave up a two-run homer on his second pitch.
What do those two events have in common?
The A’s are willing to give up on Johnson, who has not come close to being the pitcher he was with the Orioles when he had back-to-back 50-save seasons. It’s not like that was eons ago, either, it was in 2012 and 2013. It’s just 2014 (3-2 with a 6.46 ERA) that has been a problem.
Josh Donaldson didn’t like hearing boos directed at teammate Jim Johnson Thursday.
Before the game Friday, A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson said it had been tough to hear A’s fans boo reliever Jim Johnson Thursday when the right-hander gave up two runs to the Tigers in the seventh inning.
The booing first struck on opening night when Johnson pitched the ninth inning of a 0-0 game, gave up two runs and took a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Indians. It’s gone on at varying levels since then, all the more so because Johnson’s numbers are so much worse at home (0-2, 14.04 ERA) than on the road (3-0, 1.98).
Donaldson said he was disappointed, telling mlb.com it seemed like booing was “almost like the cool thing to do.’’
Jim Johnson hasn’t had close to the results he’d hoped for in coming to Oakland.
The A’s are one-third of the way through the 162-game season, and after 54 games, they have no idea what’s up with Jim Johnson.
The right-hander, a 50-saves man the last two seasons with the Orioles, has not found it in Oakland. His sinker isn’t sinking, and the flurry of ground balls that used to get him out of trouble are finding their way to the outfield in unprecedented numbers.
The A’s bullpen was supposed to be the bedrock of the club. Instead it has been the Achilles’ heel. Johnson (3-2, 6.55) is the most glaring problem, but he’s not the only issue. Luke Gregerson has good overall numbers (1-1, 2.70) but eight of the 13 base runners he’s inherited have scored.
Sean Doolittle is back on a roll for A’s.
It would have been easy for Sean Doolittle to figure he wasn’t going to get into Monday’s game.
Through eight innings, A’s starter Jesse Chavez had a 5-1 lead over the Chicago White Sox and he was going to get a chance for his first career complete game.
And if he wasn’t going to get the complete game, Chavez’s replacements were lined up to be Fernando Abad and Jim Johnson.
Doolittle said he never thought about not going through his whole preparation cycle starting in the sixth inning.
Jim Johnson is the likely closer for the A’s Sunday should one be needed.
For a team that came into the season with the consensus best bullpen in the big leagues, the A’s have had more than their share of rocky moments in the first three weeks of the season.
Overall the base number isn’t bad, a cumulative 2.67 ERA, which ranks first among the American League bullpens. Nothing to complain about there.
But relievers have taken six of the club’s nine losses. The bullpen has more blown saves (six) than saves (five). And the man who had opened as the closer, Jim Johnson, is now in a closer-by-committee setup with Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle.
Two years ago, Fernando Abad was a little-known 28-year-old left-handed relief pitcher from the Dominican Republic trying to hang on in the big leagues.
He had a 1-11 record, a career 5.10 ERA and not particular prospects. He threw hard, but that wasn’t enough.
Then he and Rafael Soriano landed in the bullpen of the Washington Nationals at the same time in 2013. Soriano, who had closed for the Braves, the Rays and Tampa before landing in D.C., showed the then-28-year-old a few things.
“Soriano showed me how to throw the sinker,’’ Abad said. “I’m a 100 percent different pitcher now from two years ago because of that.’’
Jim Johnson was in position to get the save Friday, only the A’s scored too many runs.
In case you were wondering, yes, Jim Johnson was going to get the save opportunity in the ninth inning Friday.
For that to happen, Oakland would have had to score one, two or three runs. Instead they scored seven runs and Johnson wound up not pitching at all.
But the one-time closer would have gotten the call, manager Bob Melvin said.
“It was set up for Johnson tonight,’’ Melvin said. “It was his game to close.’’