It’s known around the league by now that the Oakland A’s have removed their new closer from the closer role. The A’s acquired Jim Johnson from the Baltimore Orioles during the off-season in a trade for infielder Jemile Weeks and catcher David Freitas. They also took on Johnson’s contract guaranteeing that they would pay the final year of the right-handers’ contract in which he is making $10 million dollars. What looked like a salary dump by Baltimore, they really didn’t receive much in trade, might have been a strategic move by general manager Dan Duquette and company.
On the surface and at times Johnson appears to be dominating. You can’t deny he did amass 101 saves in the past two years yet he also blew nine saves in 2013. That is a lot of lost games in any division except maybe if you’re just hoping for a Wild Card spot in the NL West. He has already lost two games (almost three if not for extra innings heroics from catcher Derek Norris) for the A’s, despite getting one save and then four strikeouts Friday night in a non save situation, that’s it. The A’s don’t have the luxury to lose games that should have been easily won, not if they want to win their third consecutive American League Western Division Title and more. So Johnson is out of a job at least for now and manager Bob Melvin is starting out using the “closer by committee” option but eventually one of the four pitchers I am about to mention will emerge as closer material. Also predicted will be their role if it is not the closer role. They are LHP Sean Doolittle, RHP Ryan Cook, RHP Luke Gregerson and RHP Dan Otero.