Well, maybe not quite that drastic, but having apparent World Series-rival Oakland footing most of the bill is pretty sweet.
Yesterday Jim Johnson signed a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers, as Dave Dombrowski again keeps an eye on the end of the season, or rather, on Johnson’s next few appareances to deduce whether or not he can actually help at the end of the season. From Mlive’s Chris Iott:
"But there are less than two months remaining in the season. The Tigers will need to learn quickly whether Johnson can help them.“We’re not doing it for the long term,” Dombrowski said. “We have a very little bit of time left in the season, so I think it’s more, we’re looking at a couple outings and then we’ll go from there.“But we’re not signing to have him go to Triple-A. We’re hopeful that he’ll be able to help us here at some point.”"
One would have to assume that Johnson realizes this might be one of his last shots and gets his stuff together before entering into free agency, and dually hope that the Tigers staff can iron out whatever ails him, because when he’s on he’s a groundballing machine: From 2011-13 his groundball percentage was over or around 60%, which is absurd, and he was generally worth around or above 1 WAR per season.
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Do I hope he’ll reemerge as a closer for the Tigers? Well….no. His ERA was always lower than his xFIP, and, as we’ve seen with Rick Porcello‘s growing pains, when a groundballer doesn’t get the right amount of sink consistently it can lead to heaps of trouble. Keeping him around the 7th or 8th innings would be ideal, or for a situational appearance, considering
I do appreciate the fact that Dombrowski has been investing in relievers that simply need a shot to prove themselves, snatching up Johnson, Joel Hanrahan, Joba Chamberlain, and acquiring Joakim Soria, and I hope that this sea change in reliever philosophy goes noticed by RPs next year who are in need of a chance. Heck, I hope all those aforementioned guys can get their groove back in Detroit, because having a stacked bullpen full of hungry vets makes for a nice change from the erratic days of young dumb slingers of the past (Brayan Villereal, anyone?).