Question: If someone walked on the field and put a bullet in Rob Johnson’s head, would anyone stop them?
Answer: It wouldn’t matter. The bullet would just get past him anyways.
This question was posed to me via text message yesterday by my friend Pete, right after Johnson had allowed yet another passed ball. He currently leads the majors with six of those, more than double his closest competition (three players tied with three PBs, including his teammate, Adam Moore).
Worse yet, Johnson has been on the receiving end of 11 wild pitches, as opposed to just four for the entire 2009 season. Technically, blame for that statistic lies on the pitchers. But with such a huge gap between last year’s numbers and this year’s numbers, it’s hard not to point the finger at Johnson.
Like some divine gift sent down from the heavens on an otherwise grey and cloudy Seattle morning, Kenji Johjima has decided to opt out of the final two years remaining on his ungodly, ill-advised three-year contract and return home to Japan where he will likely finish his playing career. Release the doves!
By opting out of the deal, the Mariners will be spared on dual accounts.
One, they won’t be forced to release Johjima and sacrifice millions of dollars owed to him.
Two, they won’t have to waste a roster spot on Johjima while he festers on the team’s bench. Between Rob Johnson and Adam Moore, the team was committed to two young catchers and one unproductive veteran. With the vet out of the equation, Johnson and Moore can now compete for the starting backstop role.
This is arguably the biggest move of the offseason, no matter who the M’s sign, no matter who they trade for, no matter what young players they develop. By clearing Johjima’s contract off the books, the team retains $16 million that they were to scheduled to pay the 33-year-old over the next two seasons.