Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Marlins Not Interested in Trading Johnson

This is just the first rumor of many.  In the wake of losing the Cliff Lee sweepstakes to the Phillies, the Yankees have started their search for a viable Plan B option.  Josh Johnson is one of the first names to be floated as possible alternatives.  Johnson, only 26 years old, is one of the few true ace pitchers in the league.  After dominating hitters to the tune of a 2.30 ERA, 2.41 FIP, 9.11 K/9, 3.88 K/BB, and 6.3 WAR, it's not surprise the Yankees might be interested.  Rather than allow speculation to percolate, the Marlins have indicated they have no intention of trading the ace they signed to a 4 year $39M extension last January. 

This is probably for the best anyway.  As talented as Johnson is, he seems to have trouble avoiding injuries.  Johnson missed extended periods in 2007 and 2008 due to a major elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.  In 2010, missed nearly all of September with shoulder and back issues.  While these might be isolated injuries, it's possible it's due to his pitching mechanics.  Johnson employs the dreaded Inverted W.  The Inverted W not only allows for a greater degree of pitch deception, but also has a strong correlation to elbow and shoulder injuries (see John Smoltz, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Stephen Strasburg).  If the injuries are due to a flaw in his pitching mechanics, it's likely he'll be more susceptible to pitching related injuries throughout the rest of his career.  I don't mean to say he's a major injury waiting to happen.  That said, I would advise the Yankees (or any other team) of the potential risks involved in trading for a pitcher that's exceeded 200 innings pitched only once in his five year career.

Expect many more rumors for ace quality pitchers being linked to the Yankees over the next few weeks.  Felix Hernandez's name is already being floated, and it's only a matter of time before Tim Lincecum gets mentioned.  The free agent market may be slowing down, I have a feeling the trade market is just about to pick up.

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