So Long Johnson
Even Reed Johnson didn’t seem surprised at the news that he has been released. Through 30-some spring training at-bats he and Stewart are putting up similar numbers, and it’s been clear from the start that all else being equal, the Jays management likes Shanny’s tools a lot more (not to mention they save a million bucks or so).
Here’s hoping they know something we don’t either about Reed’s injury or Shannon’s ability to return to his own self and haven’t just been blinded by the way Stewart used to be able to hit, or come to the bizarre Blairsian conclusion that defense doesn’t matter in left field because on throws from there “you’re pitchers are getting racked around.” (sic).
Free agency makes for some confusing situations for fans. In one deft move, the Jays are simultaneously pulling the plug on a career Jay not far removed from an amazing season and welcoming back an classic Jay who was edged out too soon. Is this a happy reunion or a strangely familiar, cold-blooded dump of a longterm Jay to save a few bucks? Well, both! J.P. may have had tears in his eyes to see Reed go, but unless there is some secret and terrible medical diagnosis lurking, these are two very similar players now, although they come from different pedigree.
The Jays got rid of Stewart in the first place by (to his chagrin) trading him because they were not going to be able to afford him. Now, four years later we get him back because he’s managed to convince the rest of the league that he’s no good any more. Meanwhile, a big strike against Johnson (as it was for Catalanotto) is that he’s managed to earn a paycheque too big for a fourth outfielder. The Jays’ left field situation for years now has been much more based on timing than talent.
Interesting article in the Ottawa Sun about the bad habits that Lyle Overbay got into last year as a result of his injury. It’s a real treat for some insight on what hitters think about and what goes wrong when they get a hitch in their swing. He also mentions that him being in a slump in a way was a cause of being hit on the hand in the first place:
“I was flying open and leaving it wide open for that to happen. So it was bad mechanics, that and looking for a curveball.”
I remember when that happened, not knowing there was more to be concerned about, wondering why the heck he was swinging at that pitch in that count against a pitcher who was all over the place. Here’s hoping that his mechanics really have recovered as well as his physical issues from 2007.