Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Saturday, June 24, 2006

THE TENTH STARTER

Picking up Jason Johnson from the Indians wasn't much of a gamble for the Red Sox -- financially at least. Cleveland will pick up about half of Johnson's remaining $3.5 million salary this season, leaving just a $500,000 buyout on the remaining $4 million due next season. That won't break John Henry's bank.

Theo Epstein took the optimistic view that Johnson’s 2.85 to 1 ground ball to fly ball ratio -- third-best in the American League -- and the Sox number one defense would be a prefect match.

The gamble here is sending Johnson -- and his 55-94 career record -- to the mound every fifth day. It might be best if Johnson faces a lineup consisting solely of right-handed batters. Left-handed hitters are batting .403 against him. If you're not worried yet, Johnson has allowed the fourth most hits (108) and thrown the fifth most wild pitches (6) of any pitcher in the league.

At the least Johnson can eat up innings -- he's pitched at least 189 in four of his last five seasons. Let's hope the middle of the order homers twice... with men on base... every time he pitches.

Right now he's throwing better than David Wells or Lenny DiNardo, and no worse than Matt Clement. But in all fairness to the latter three, each of them is on the DL right now.

Johnson says that since he's never been on a team that had the chance to make the playoffs, he's excited to become a member of the Red Sox and get an opportunity to step up and pitch the way he knows he really can.

That first opportunity, or test (depending on how you see it), will come on Saturday against the Marlins in Florida. Johnson will be the tenth different pitcher to start a game for the Sox this season, joining a rotation that has struggled to find solid candidates for the four and five spots.

Welcome to Boston Mr. Johnson, and best of luck to you.

Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.

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