Jason Johnson Rumors

Minor Deals: Lamb, Hall, Johnson, Baisley

Today's minor deals include a number of former Major Leaguers…

  • The Nationals re-signed Ron Villone, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). As Eddy points out, the 18-year veteran has been traded for Greg Vaughn and Andy Benes.
  • The Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League signed Mike Lamb, Toby Hall and Jason Johnson, according to Mike Ashmore of the Hunterdon County Democrat (on Twitter). Lamb, 35, was a pinch hitter for the Marlins last year after missing the 2009 season; Hall, a nine-year veteran, hasn't spent time in the majors since 2008 and Johnson, a 37-year-old right-hander with 11 years of MLB experience, has been out of the majors for two years as well.
  • The Dodgers signed right-hander Steven Jackson to a minor league deal, according to Eddy (on Twitter). He appeared in 11 games for the Pirates last year, but got much more exposure in 2009 when he posted a 3.14 ERA in 40 relief appearances despite walking more batters than he struck out.
  • The Reds signed right-hander Tyree Hayes, the son of former MLB third baseman Charlie Hayes, according to Eddy (on Twitter). Hayes, 22, has yet to advance past Class A in five pro seasons.
  • The Twins signed former Royals prospect Joe Dickerson, according to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (on Twitter). The 2005 fourth rounder didn't play last year.
  • The Angels signed former A's prospect Jeff Baisley, according to Goldstein (on Twitter). The 28-year-old played in 14 games for the 2008 A's and posted an .845 OPS in the upper minors of their system last year.

Yankees Sign Jason Johnson, DFA Duncan

According to Sam Borden, the Yankees signed pitcher Jason Johnson to a minor league deal.  He will compete for the fifth starter job.  Johnson, 35, is known for his ability to get groundballs.

Also, the accompanying move to the Mark Teixeira signing: Shelley Duncan was designated for assignment.

Mariners Watching Starters

UPDATE: Hickey writes that the Mariners have also scouted Kyle Lohse, Matt Morris, Jason Johnson (thought he went to Japan), and Octavio Dotel.  However, a deal seems unlikely because none of those players are worth top Mariner prospects.

According to Jim Hickey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Mariners have been scouting all kinds of available and not-so-available starters lately.

  • The Mariners have been scouting the White Sox "religiously" lately.  If they saw Javier Vazquez beat the Tigers on Tuesday, they came away impressed.  (However, Vazquez can and probably would veto a trade to the AL or NL West).  They were on hand to watch Jose Contreras tonight; the Tigers had batting practice with him and his ERA is up to 6.22.  Did you hear that?  That was the sound of Contreras’ remaining ounce of trade value evaporating.
  • As you know, the Ms watched Dontrelle Willis on Monday.  Compared to Contreras, Willis pitched well – four earned runs, nearly seven innings. 
  • The Ms also had a scout on hand to see Livan Hernandez twirl a gem over the Marlins on Tuesday.  Hey, at least he takes the ball every fifth day.  That has to be worth something.
  • Hickey says Seattle has also been monitoring the Astros, perhaps in hope of acquiring Dan Wheeler or Chad Qualls.  He speculates that Wandy Rodriguez would be a coup for the Mariners.  Wand-Rod has thrown up stinkers in his last two outings but tossed a complete game shutout over the Mets in the game prior.  He’s inconsistent like that.  The Astros’ #2 starter for 2008 wouldn’t come cheap.

Jason Johnson Signs With Indians

FoxSports is confirming that Jason Johnson has indeed signed a one-year contract to pitch for the Indians.  By acquiring Johnson and Paul Byrd, the Tribe now has a group of five starters that combined to pitch over 1000 innings in 2005.  That depth makes the departure of Kevin Millwood a foregone conclusion.  Getting a couple of decent starters for one and three years is a much smarter path than committing to five risky years of a pretty good starter in Millwood.

The Indians definitely don’t have a need for starting pitching anymore, so it seems that Coco Crisp will stay put for the time being.  Cleveland is still weak at the corners, so Crisp would only depart in a deal for a powerful 1B or 3B.  Troy Glaus would’ve been nice, but the trade market is looking bare at this point.  Mike Sweeney, Shea Hillenbrand, and Hank Blalock could be had, but all represent only a small upgrade over Aaron Boone or Ben Broussard.

The Cardinals’ main trading chip in a possible Coco Crisp deal was Jason Marquis.  Now, St. Louis will look elsewhere to bring in another outfielder.  Some sources indicate that a Marquis for Kevin Mench swap could go through in spring training.  The Cardinals would like to add a solid power bat to replace Larry Walker, and the acquisitions so far may have to suffice until midseason.  The rumored Miguel Tejada for Mark Mulder and David Eckstein trade appears to be completely false.

Buzz Around The Game

Believe it or not, there’s a ton of stuff going on today that doesn’t involve the words "Prior" or "Tejada."

A tentative Troy Glaus trade has been reached.  The Diamondbacks dumped Glaus and his contract on the Blue Jays for Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista.  Brandon Webb, far and away the most extreme groundball pitcher in baseball, benefits greatly from the addition of Hudson.  Another effect is the breakup of a highly rated defensive infield, at least in the eyes of Dayn Perry.  The Blue Jays now have a logjam of 1B/3B/DH guys, and Rosenthal speculates that Shea Hillenbrand is the most likely to go.  Should Shea stay true to his word, he’ll be a nice pickup.  It’s a homecoming for Miguel Batista; let’s hope the team correctly employs him as a starter.  Even with Glaus gone, the Diamondbacks still haven’t cleared up a corner outfield spot for #1 prospect Carlos Quentin.  The kid’s more than ready; let’s hope GM Josh Byrnes can unload Luis Gonzalez or Shawn Green as his next trick.   

Jason Johnson makes a sweet pickup for the Indians’ rotation.  Like Millwood last year, the Indians found a starting pitcher and only had to commit to one year.  In Paul Byrd, Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, and Johnson, the Tribe has built a deep rotation.  Combined, the five of them threw 1023 innings in 2005.  Seems Mark Shapiro has taken a page from Kenny Williams’s book, especially considering that he also has an excellent bullpen in place.

The Cards snagged Juan Encarnacion and Junior Spivey.  The reaction at Viva El Birdos to the revamped 2006 lineup:

"To be honest and blunt, i don’t see a single position where the Cardinals have meaningfully improved." 

That sentiment includes the bullpen and starting rotation as well.  Which reminds me – how can the Cardinals possibly justify blocking Anthony Reyes with Sidney Ponson?  The Ponson signing means one of three things:

1.  There are concerns about Reyes’s health that have not been revealed to the public.
2.  Jason Marquis will be traded this winter.
3.  Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan are so loathe put a rookie starter out there every fifth day that they’d prefer yet another fixer-upper.  Even if said fixer-upper had a 5.64 ERA over his last 346 innings.

Cardinals fans have got to be hoping for option #2.