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What about Dan Johnson?


If the Cobs don't sign Adam Dunn or trade for Gonzalez this offseason, Dan Johnson might make some sense as a stopgap. As a fan of Oakland, DJ is a player that I've kind of liked for a while now. Unfortunately, he hasn't had a great career in the majors, but I think there are some encouraging signs that may help his case.

 

For one thing, he has crushed the ball in the minor leagues. With the Rays' AAA team, he posted a .307/.424/.556 line for a .425 wOBA in 486 plate appearances during 2008. He spent an unfruitful 2009 in Japan only to return and post a .303/.430/.624 line with a wOBA of .445 in 426 PA this season. At a quick glance the International League seems like a pretty friendly offensive environment, but those are solid numbers even in a league that favors hitters.

 

At the major league level, his career .243/.344/.413 is very underwhelming, but there are still some positive signs. His career BABIP is only .252. Although I don't know where to find xBABIP data, quick and dirty calculations using his LD% suggest that he's been pretty unlucky. His secondary skills are actually quite solid. He's drawn walks in 13.4% of his plate appearances while striking out in only 16.5% of his ABs. He hasn't shown great power in the majors, but he has posted a pretty solid .169 ISO. BR and Fangraphs both consider his defense to be average or slightly above.

 

Despite his mediocre results thus far, I think DJ might actually have the skills to succeed in the Bigs. More importantly, he might be available pretty cheaply. It's tough to know what the Rays think they have in Dan, and they might have him pegged as a cheap starter for 1B or DH. If they don't, he could be a good, inexpensive choice for the Cobs next season.

 

Thoughts or reactions?

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Its a very creative outside the box idea. But it seems like that is the kind of move a middle or small market team does in order to strike gold with their limited resources. Color me unimpressed if we ended up with him instead of a Dunn or AGonz. Not saying it would turn out badly but there is a bunch of risk too of course.
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If the Cobs don't sign Adam Dunn or trade for Gonzalez this offseason, Dan Johnson might make some sense as a stopgap. As a fan of Oakland, DJ is a player that I've kind of liked for a while now. Unfortunately, he hasn't had a great career in the majors, but I think there are some encouraging signs that may help his case.

 

For one thing, he has crushed the ball in the minor leagues. With the Rays' AAA team, he posted a .307/.424/.556 line for a .425 wOBA in 486 plate appearances during 2008. He spent an unfruitful 2009 in Japan only to return and post a .303/.430/.624 line with a wOBA of .445 in 426 PA this season. At a quick glance the International League seems like a pretty friendly offensive environment, but those are solid numbers even in a league that favors hitters.

 

At the major league level, his career .243/.344/.413 is very underwhelming, but there are still some positive signs. His career BABIP is only .252. Although I don't know where to find xBABIP data, quick and dirty calculations using his LD% suggest that he's been pretty unlucky. His secondary skills are actually quite solid. He's drawn walks in 13.4% of his plate appearances while striking out in only 16.5% of his ABs. He hasn't shown great power in the majors, but he has posted a pretty solid .169 ISO. BR and Fangraphs both consider his defense to be average or slightly above.

 

Despite his mediocre results thus far, I think DJ might actually have the skills to succeed in the Bigs. More importantly, he might be available pretty cheaply. It's tough to know what the Rays think they have in Dan, and they might have him pegged as a cheap starter for 1B or DH. If they don't, he could be a good, inexpensive choice for the Cobs next season.

 

Thoughts or reactions?

 

unfortunately with the way this team is built I don't think just succeeding at the major league level is a viable option at first base, a premier power positions. given all the long bad contracts we have and the lack of run producers it really seems to be key that we get a power hitting first baseman. Unless you think Johnson will show Dunn type power I will have to pass.

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I remember he was being touted pretty highly after he won the 2004 PCL MVP award and he raked early on in 2005 before getting called up. He's always had very good power and drew a good amount of walks at each level including the majors. Definitely wouldn't mind taking a flier on him if, as you said, the Cubs can't get a big name guy.
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I used to get hype up by those older "prospects" who murder AAA pitching, but it seems that they just dissapoint every time. Do Micah Hoffpauir and Jake Fox ring a bell? They seem to smoke the ball when they first come up, but then massive holes in their game are exposed by big league pitching. And its not an only the Cubs thing, because other organizations have the same thing, IE Dallas McPherson. If their going to go the AAAA route, they may as well give Brian LaHair a chance before looking outside the organization. If they insist on going after another teams failed top prospect, Id prefer Alex Gordon.
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Johnson would be great to have at Iowa in case of injury, or as a bit of leverage in negotiating for a new 1B. But he'll be 32 next year so there's not a lot of long term upside, and I don't think it's a very good idea to go into the year with the expected 1B production that you'd have from Johnson, or a similar option.
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Rather have Nick Johnson than Dan Johnson.

At this point, Nick Johnson would probably shatter next time he steps onto the field.

 

Which goes to show how much I really don't want an older, less powerful version of Micah Hoffpauir as the team's starting 1B.

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