Thursday, June 20, 2024
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We Can Learn a Lesson From Prospects Like Micah Johnson

Micah Johnson

As we slog through this incredibly boring offseason, I just wanted to make a quick point before I return you to your regularly scheduled hot stove snooze fest and salary arbitration filings. The Dodgers recently were finally back in the news when they flipped second baseman Micah Johnson to the Braves for a player to be named later and or cash.

If you remember Johnson was acquired from the Dodgers as part of the 3-team deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox. This of course means that they traded him to the Braves for potentially nothing. The front office called the Braves because that is now the new location where player’s careers go to die, and this is probably how the conversation went….

Embed from Getty Images

Andrew Friedman “Hey there John, do you want Micah Johnson”?

John H : “Micah who”?

Friedman “Johnson, Micah Johnson. You know former prospect from the White Sox organization, very little power, above average speed, terrible fielding, poor on-base skills…. Etc, etc, etc. I mean we’ll just give him to you.”

John: “I guess if you give him to us for nothing we can find a spot for him on our triple-A roster. In case you haven’t heard we are in a rebuilding phase”.

Friedman: “Yeah I know John, that’s why I am calling you. Look, just take him alright? We need to clear a roster spot. Send us a PTBL and we’ll call it a deal.

John: “Well……Ok, I guess so”.

Hands to god guys that’s probably how the conversation went down between the Dodgers and the Braves. All joking aside, the Dodgers just needed to clear a roster spot to add the newly resigned Kenley Jansen.

The point here I am trying to make other than poking fun of multiple people is that many prospects never pan out or even come close to panning out despite reaching the upper levels of the minor league systems and or receiving high ratings from scouts and writers. Case in point, check out what was written about Johnson when his trade to the Braves was first reported.

Speed and plate discipline have long been Johnson’s calling cards, but there are some worrying developments in both regards of late. He no longer tries to steal quite as much as he did in his breakout 2013 season, and was cut down on 11 of 37 attempts last year. Also, he surged to a 20.4% strikeout rate at Triple-A in 2016, far more than had been his custom.

Doesn’t sound to appealing does it? He goes on to say….

It doesn’t help that Johnson isn’t regarded as a top-quality fielder and doesn’t have much pop.

So let’s see here, he doesn’t run the bases as well as he used to, he can’t get on-base consistently, and struggles to make contact. He has no power and can’t drive in runs, and is a terrible defensive player. So basically he can’t hit, run the bases anymore, or field. What a prospect!

The point here is not to poke fun at Johnson. The point is to understand that most prospects never even make it to the majors. Most prospects become utility players and middle relievers. We all love to applaud the Dodger’s front office for hoarding their prospects like gold, but prospects can also provide value via trade chips. At one point Johnson was a top ranked prospect and could have possibly brought in a major league player, now he is fighting for an MLB roster spot. He’ll probably end up starting the season in the minors.

This is why it is important not to overrate prospects.

Sorry Micah, here’s hoping you make it with the Braves.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

83 thoughts on “We Can Learn a Lesson From Prospects Like Micah Johnson

  1. Back to baseball.

    The Cubs claimed Dylan Floro off waivers. The important thing about this is I never heard of him.

    Micah who? Micah Torrance. The Marshal on Rifleman. He was the law, Lucas was the order in North Fork.

    Player to be named. Any ideas on what might come back? How’s that trade look now?

    1. Right on Scott………boring offseason is right. As for Johnson, well all we have left from that trade now is Thompson. I think they go for cash Badger…..wasn’t there a post a few months ago about the team being short on money. Micah Torrance………who was the actor that played him???? ………John Wayne veteran of more than 20 of the Duke’s films……..Paul Fix. …….aside, I took basic training with Lucas’s son…….Johnny Crawford……Hamilton signed to a minor league deal with the Rangers…….

      1. I got Crawford’s autograph somewhere. Here’s another one, Jerry Mathers used to ride his bike in the same West Valley back roads I did. AND, Curly Howard’s daughter was in my class at Canoga Park Elementary. So was Keith Andes’ kid Mark.

        Cash? We don’t need cash, we need another second baseman.

      1. Scott

        I want to know how John even made that deal, because last time I heard, he was placing third, in a golf tournament, in Florida.

  2. I just heard on the MLB show, that the Giants were in on Jay Bruce, but that just sounds like one of those many rumors.

  3. John Morosi said he thinks we’d have to give up Bellinger to get Kinsler. Ha!

    The Tigers began their offseason by making their plans to rebuild and shed payroll abundantly clear. Proving their point, Detroit tangled their top talents, including Kinsler, on the trading block. Reeled in by their need for a second baseman, the Dodgers would give up Cody Bellinger in return for Kinsler, according to Jon Morosi.

        1. Jeez.

          No idea.

          I still think the trade for Dozier is most likely, but Forsythe makes more sense (just would cost a lot more.)

          Maybe something off-radar. The Colorado GM still seems to be a bufoon. Or, least likely, a platoon from Internal Options…

          What do you think?

          1. Bluto

            Probably the inside option, but if we are not hitting lefties better this year, maybe they will pick up a good rightie bat, at the trade deadline.

          2. The problem with the inside option is, as you say, the RH liability. But also roster size. The team likes to go big in bullpen arms. There’s already at least one OF platoon. AGon’s lefty numbers are really getting bad. The more platoons elsewhere the more the need for stability (especially a cost controlled one) at 2nd.

            It’s why Dozier is such a nice fit

    1. Bluto

      Most of our lefties on the team, have trouble against lefties, even Corey.

      I think Agone getting more days off,l will help, and I think these platoon line ups, everytime we face a leftie, have got to go.

      Like Scott says, you need to go with your best guys, in the post season, and those platoon part time players, are not the best players.

      So they need to play the everyday line up, more against lefties, but give some players a day off, when there facing a tough leftie.

      Just don’t give the entire line up, a day off, against every leftie they face, or they will not be ready to hit lefties, in the post season.

      And actually Agone and Corey I believe hit about 249 or 250 against lefties, in average, and they were better then the other lefties on the team, as well as Turner, against lefties.

      Turner might have a little better power numbers against lefties, then Corey and Agone, but not average.

      1. Gonzalez’s slash line against lefties:
        .244/.293/.310 in 2016, well down from his career .272/.334/.424. You can chalk some of that to injuries, but some goes to age and decline. That decline should continue.

        I’m not sure what you mean by “everyday” lineup. If you have platoons, you don’t have an everyday lineup. That’s my point. Don’t change things for the Post-Season! That would be silly.

        Dave Cameron at FanGraphs has a clever column about the Dodgers 2B situation. This is where the Javier Baez “talk” must be coming from. Jeez. I wish people would just cite columns instead of trying to invent illusions of smoke and fire.

        Cameron is more down on Forsythe than I am (he doesn’t believe the Ray merits DeLeon), but it’s an interesting and informative read:

  4. I am interested in all of the Calhoun comments – the subject of the article, the team’s last “savior” at 2B, (Johnson) was traded for nothing. That’s because only 10 – 20% of top prospects actually make it in the Bigs. Johnson was obviously not the answer – a so-so hitter with good speed but a bad glove.

    Calhoun has 2 years of pro ball thus far and even if he was ever going to be a big league 2B, it wouldn’t be now – no way he’s ready. Lest we forget, his defense has been described as “brutal”. The Dodgers do not want “brutal” up the middle in their defense. If he is ever going to make it, he has to learn how to play 2B first.

    So no to a platoon with Calhoun – not in 2017 anyway.

  5. In his defense, his defense has been described as getting better, by me. I defend his defense. I take offense at those who continue to attack his defense…….

    ok, not really. Rick is right, Calhoun has had some …. moments… on defense. But he continues to work at it and his numbers are getting better – from .919 fldg.% with a 3.58 RF at Ogden to .957 and 4.06 at Tulsa. I am encouraged. I look for more improvement at AAA. And what I really look forward to is how he handles advanced pitching. If he continues to hit, and we don’t find an everyday solution at second, we could see him this summer. Also, if he continues to hit, there will be teams interested in taking him off our hands. For what it’s worth, I won’t be surprised to see FAZ blink on the Dozier deal. He’s here two years, Calhoun works in the minors two years, and we lose an additional pitching prospect. Hope I’m wrong about that.

    1. Badger

      I don’t think they will make a deal for Dozier.

      The Twins are not desperate to trade him, and the Dodgers know he isn’t all that.

      He would be better then we have, but he would probably be a very different hitter, in LA.

  6. FYI: Last year we had a total of 55 players(24 position players and 31 pitchers) who appeared in at least one game).
    Of those 55 players 14 players are no longer with us(25.5%) and that doesn’t include our unsigned FA(Blanton, Utley and Howell). Add them to the total and the 25.5% becomes 31%.
    All teams go through this but it was just a POI. Nothing more.

    1. I think most of the teams are just waiting the players out, to get a better deal.

      And the Dodgers are just doing the same.

      They went out and got Turner and Kenley, and that was the most important thing to do, in the off season.

      And if the Twins would have made the deal that the Dodgers thought was fair, that would have got done.

      But that deal wasn’t as easy as some thought, because the Twins and the Dodgers needs, or not the same.

      The Twins should ask a lot for there best player, because he is the best player in there line up.

      And how will the team draw there fans, without Dozier in there line up?

      The Dodgers are not desperate for a second base man, so they were not going to give the Twins, a bunch of there good players, for a two year rental.

      It will be easier and cheaper, to get Dozier, even at the trade deadline, then right now.

      But he does have that additional year, so the Twins might just hold on to him, until 2018, at the trade deadline.

      I am hoping that Turner, Puig, and Scott, will make a difference against lefties this year, so that isn’t a big problem this year.

  7. I like this young players approach.

    4th round pick. Who found and drafted him?

    Interesting comments there as well. I read that Calhoun is already at Camelback working with Woodward on his defense.

    Last year we used 16 starting pitchers after 15 the year before. Or was it the other way around. Doesn’t matter. What matters is how many we use this year. Some people have called it depth. I call it a problem. I look forward to seeing some young arms brought up in late summer to give our staff some much appreciated time off after the long calescent and irriguous (hot and muggy) July and August schedule, but that wasn’t the reason we’ve used so many starters. I prefer 5 guys who can start 30 games. That’s why starters are paid what they are paid – to pitch and to pitch a quality start every time out. Where do we find these guys? Well, not by looking at waiver wires and Disabled Lists. You find guys that are under 30 taking the ball every 5th day. I actually see only 3 guys I think can give us 30 starts – Kershaw, Maeda, and De Leon. Urias is maybe 24, Hill the same, Kazmir and Wood under 20. Those estimates are maybe too high. Who do we have in mind to cover the remaining 20-25 games? Stripling and Stewart look like good candidates, though projections don’t believe do.

  8. Moderation – again.

    MJ I think FAZ DOES think Dozier is all that. That is why I think they might blink. I agree his numbers would be different. But I think maybe FAZ believes in a better lineup he might be less likely to feel he needs to carry an offense.

    1. Badger

      I think they will only make that deal, if it is good for the Dodgers.

      And I know that is what every team does, but I mean a really good deal.

      I am glad that they tend to hold on to the Dodgers prospects, because I don’t think Dozier, is the difference.

      But I do hope Fernandez is good enough defensively, to play second, because it would be nice to have that type of hitter, in our line up.

      We have a lot of guys in our line up, that can hit one out.

      It won’t hurt to have a player that hits 300, and helps the line up, to be more productive.

  9. In spring they are going to have to see what they got, when it comes to the starting pitching rotation.

    I think this will be an exciting year for Urias, even if he doesn’t pitch more then 150 innings.

    If he adjusts like he always has, he might look like our number two pitcher, by the end of the season.

    1. I’ve got a post that looks like it’s awaiting moderation that addresses the starting pitching. Did it come through? I got Urias and De Leon both capable of 150 innings if the team commits to them. Will they? I think Urias is in the rotation, but it feels like De Leon may be gone.

      1. Badger

        I think Mark had a good idea about JDL, to make him a set up guy..

        It looks like JDL might have a problem, of being durable.

        If he is a set up pitcher, he won’t have to pitch so many innings, and his stuff will be even better, only pitching, one or two innings.

        But are people saying he is undurable, over one year, or has he had a problem longer, then last year?

        1. I worry about JDL about of the pen. Most of his past issues have been in inning one. I think Stewart could thrive in the pen.

      1. About Martinez, is that even though he wasn’t big, he had really long fingers, that allowed him to pitch better, then a lot of pitchers.

        But I don’t know how that relates to his durability.

        But that is why we can’t label or make rush judgements, against players or pitchers, that don’t fit the cookie cut sizes of a player, or pitcher, that baseball people think make a better size, for a pitcher or player.

  10. It seems that the experts have given #4 to Urias. I say our healthy veterans should be #4-5. Spring training will determine that. Only if Wood, McCarthy, Kazmir flame out in the spring would I give 4 or 5 to Urias. He should pitch out of the bullpen and spot start. His time will come. My mind will be changed if he has a dominant spring. I hope he does. Stripling should pitch out of the pen too. Since he’s older than Urias, maybe he gets the shot at 4 or 5 before Urias. I think our bullpen might be our training ground for some decent starting pitchers instead of a graveyard for has beens. For me, that is what bullpens should do. Hold leads and give experience to future starters.

    1. Bobbie 17

      I do agree with you, that putting a young pitcher in the bullpen, is a good way to get there feet wet,
      at the major league level.

      But I think it is best for Urias to get consistent starts, to give him stability, and to give him a chance, to improve from start to start.

      And he is a much better option, then Kazmir and McCarthy, by far.

      This will help Urias to learn how to keep his pitch count down, especially in the first inning, when he try’s to be overly careful, and doesn’t find the strike zone, right away.

      And we can’t depend on either McCarthy, or Kazmir.

  11. we should kick all the big money player out of baseball ..then already have enough money to retire.. then start over with smaller salarys,, then the fan,s could come back to baseball …soccer is taking over for baseball because the dodgers do let the city watch them any more..

  12. Why not just pull the trigger on the Braun deal and let Taylor play second? Still time to pick up a second baseman at the deadline when some of these teams are 20 games out.

    I read Thompson may not be back in time for opening day–the Peraza trade is looking worse and worse.

      1. And Hill did what? He won 3 games, was on the DL for 6 weeks and cost us 48 million to resign. How does anyone see that as a good deal. Peraza hit over 300 for the Reds.

        1. The Reds got two Major League players and 1 AA player out of that deal. What did we get? And Montas was only a part of the Hill deal. It took 2 top pitchers along with him to get what we did. And I agree with Michael, getting Hill didn’t mean much last year. I just don’t understand Friedman’s infatuation with the infirmed.

          1. Schleber and Peraza are backups on a rebuilding talent-less Reds team. If you want to consider them a bounty for a piece that brought back a 4 WAR pitcher, be my guest.

          2. I’m sorry, we got 4 WAR out of 34 innings?

            Damn. I think I must have missed that.

            That brings up an interesting point. Hill pitched only 34 innings, 6 starts, in 2 months, averaging 5.2 IP per start, won half those games, and yet somehow that added up to 1.3 WAR. How can a pitcher pitch only 6 games and 34 innings in 2 months and put up more WAR than an every day player who hits 35 home runs and knocks in over 100? The more I look into this WAR business the more questions I have about it.

            By the way, you use the term backup like its a bad thing. With platooning being the wave of the now AND the future, backups are the name of the game. Peraza played 4 different positions and DH’d for the Reds. And here’s a very interesting stat – his slash line against RHP was .328/.352/.402. Know any team that could use that?

          3. Rich Hill’s total WAR over his 12 year career is 9.5. Thats less than 1 WAR per year.
            And that includes 4.1 WAR last year. Again, why do you think at the age of 36 he put up a 4.1 WAR? The prior 11 years, spanning 7 other teams he totalled 5.4. Can you say snookered?

          4. I’m pretty sure if Peraza can’t start for the Reds, he wouldn’t be a starter here.
            But let’s please not argue counterfactuals.
            Did Peraza platoon with Cosart? I think they are both RH, no?
            For the Hill’s career argument it’s kind of a tired and misguided one. I would point out that Hill in 2014 (Maybe 2015) he earned a whopping ONE WAR in only 30 innings.

  13. Think that Raines, Bagwell and Ivan make it into the hall tonight. Bonds, not this year. Vlad and Hoffman very close…

    1. Without looking at Raines career numbers he doesn’t pass the eye test with me. I’m not sure he ever gets in. Bagwell? Since Piazza got in, I think he will too. Ivan is the one sure thing IMO.

      1. Raines made it. Eye test aside, Tim was a dynamic leadoff guy and stole a lot of bases. Pretty handy with the stick too. .294 career hitter. 808 bags. Guy played 23 years so his numbers dipped at the end there. He will probably go in as an Expo. Played 13 years there.

        1. Am familiar with Raines longevity BUT this was his 10th and final time on the ballot. He was obviously far from a given to make it. Even with playing 23 years, only ended with 2,605 hits. Not known for his defensive skills, hence the career dWAR of -9.5. Not quite HOF in my book. Oh well.

          1. Hey Chili,

            I’m Canadian by birth, so I’m partial. Here’s the reasoning behind the Raines push. I realize it may not jibe with some here.

            The idea of just using hits for a key HOF metric, is akin to my problem with using BA for a key kitting metric. You are only using hits. Change the currency from hits to times on base, and the conversation changes. Raines reached base 3,977 times in his career. That’s more than Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn, Lou Brock, Roberto Clemente, Mike Schmidt, Roberto Alomar, Eddie Mathews, Brooks Robinson and Harmon Killebrew.

            Then the base paths, there are only five players who have ever stolen 800 or more bases. The first four — Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock, 19th-century star Billy Hamilton and Ty Cobb — are all in the Hall. Raines is the only one who isn’t. He was also efficient on the basepath; he stole 808 bases in his career, and was caught just 146 times. That’s an 84.7 percent success rate, the highest mark in baseball history for anyone with 400 or more tries.

            Then let’s just talk about overall skill from 1983 through 1987, the best player in the National League by WAR wasn’t Mike Schmidt, Dale Murphy, Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Tony Gwynn, Ozzie Smith or Ryne Sandberg. It was Tim Raines.

            We don’t have to stop at those five years though For the whole decade (the first 10 full seasons of Raines’ career,) the best player in the National League by Wins Above Replacement was … Tim Raines.

            I cribbed (stole, pun) a lot of this from Jonah Keri.

          2. Will look at the numbers of others from those years you mentioned…. but I did quickly notice that during his peak years that you mentioned his team never made it to the post season. His highest MVP finish is 5th, therefore the ‘eye test’/league didn’t quite view him as the most dominant player at any time. His post season BA is a pedestrian .270 and in the post season his SB success rate is a paltry 50%…..3 SB’s, 3 CS.

            In comparison, Lou Brocks post season numbers are .391 BA. 14 for 16 in stolen bases with his team winning 2 of 3 WS. That my friend is getting it done when the stakes are the highest.

          3. Ah, but now you’re inserting new criteria. Getting to the World Series is a team accomplishment, not an individual one.

            I don’t think I’m out on a limb by saying Raines was never going to sniff an MVP playing in Montreal on a perennially poor team.

            Personally, I think BA is about the equal of crediting a pitcher for wins. But I’m not alone in that belief on THIS forum.

          4. I’m not anti-Tim Raines. He was a very good player and had a very good career. Just not sure he was HOF material. IMO, the Baseball HOF (actually most all of them) is becoming much diluted with marginal guys. The fact that he made it in on the last try kind of reinforces him being a very marginal guy.

            I still wonder how a player does not receive 75% of the vote at any time over the previous 9 years and then all of a sudden receive 86%. In fact on his 2nd ballot, Tim Raines was on less than 25% of the ballots. What did he do this past year that caused him to receive that much of a bump in the voting? Was money paid out? That seems to be the way to get things done these days. Just pay off folks.

            And btw, I also do not think Jeff Bagwell should be in the HOF either. For a first baseman, I do not feel his career numbers are good enough. 2,300 hits… that now the barometer for first basemen? Was only an All-Star 4 times. 4 times! Gold Glove winner 1 time! He hit 40% of his career homers in the last 5 seasons while playing in a band box.

            The only one that I would have voted in would have been Ivan Rodriguez. A great defensive catcher with 2,800+ hits. A 14 time All-Star. A 13 time Gold Glove award winner. A league MVP in 1999. That is a HOF career.

    2. Came across the article predicting who gets in based on the precounts. If the guy is right about Raines than its baffling how the first 9 years he was eligible never receiving 75% of the vote but now predicting he gets almost 90%.

      The more intriguing issue is Bud Selig getting in. So the Commissioner of the steroid era gets in but the players that did the steroids and brought people back to baseball don’t get in…..hmmm.

      1. Who benefited more from Steroids than Tony Larussa? As for Bud, I think Donald Fehr had more to do with protecting steroid list than Bud. Bud also took a different path in than the players.

        1. Maybe Joe Torre with Clemens, Pettitte, ARod, Giambi….am I missing any others.

          Maybe Dusty Baker with Barry Bonds and then Sammy Sosa.

    3. 2 juicers got in. Bagwell hit 6 HR’s in 800+ AB’s in the minors. There were always whispers about him. I have a bigger problem with Rodriquez especially 1st ballot. If Piazza didn’t get in 1st ballot because of rumors and whispers about his steroid use than Rodriquez shouldn’t have either especially considering there was a lot more evidence around Rodriquez. He was named in Canseco’s book and as soon as they started testing he showed up to spring training 30 lbs lighter.

      1. Hawkeye

        What is funny Rodriquez’s offensive numbers, are not as good as the other catchers in the Hall, even with the steroids.

    4. The only reason Peraza is a back up, is because Brandon Phillips, keeps turning down trades.

      He turned down a trade to the Nationals last year, and he turned down a trade, to the Braves this year.

      And his home is in Atlanta.

      But I think this year, the Reds might bench Phillips, and let Peraza play, especially after they tried to please Phillips, and trade him, to where his home is.

        1. Bluto

          The Reds actually got him to play second, but maybe this last year, was the Reds shortstop’s last year, with the Reds.

          Because I think I read, that he is a free agent
          this year.

          But the Reds original got Peraza, to play second, but Phillips has a no trade clause, and he has turned down two trades since, the Reds got Peraza.

          But I do think you are right, that he was a shortstop, so maybe he will be playing short, this year.

        2. Like I said, he played all over:

          10 games at 2b, 30 at SS, 8 in LF, and 12 in CF. He also DH’d in 1 game. Versatile dude. He did all that as a 22 year old. He’s the same age as Buehler and Calhoun.

    1. Tried to post the same data FOUR times yesterday and it was rejected each time. SOMEONE was reading and rejecting. Guess you’re not on any craplist…

    2. Good for him. I have no desire to check it out. And considering he gets to decide who gets to comment, he can now be the dictator he always wanted to be.

    1. Watford

      Thanks I saw that.

      Bum is the big Joc guy here, so he will probably enjoy that.

      I was just trying to compare Joc’s numbers in the minors, compared to Bellinger’s.

      I think Joc plays center really well, and I actually think he can hit better too, but he just has to be a smarter hitter.

      And he will learn that hopefully.

    1. Watford

      I get frustrated with Joc like you do, so I do understand your concerns, and I feel that way, at times too.

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