Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t


Kenji Johjima and Rob Johnson have been a huge argument over the course of this season. Who should be starting, who isn’t starting, how does is it affecting the pitching staff and how do they all get along? Everyone (and their brother and sister) have written articles on this very subject, I’m not going to add to the debate but just point out a few subtle things that have been happening the last three weeks.

The argument between Rob and Kenji is going to become moot very quickly with the emergence of Adam Moore making his pro debut and no doubt will get a long look during spring straining. While, he may not be the starting catcher next year, I would like to think he will get more playing time as times goes along.

Before last month there was a lot of speculation of course that Kenji would either be traded or cut lose to go back to Japan. But the real problem was really that he had no real value and that more than anything they were going to have to eat his paycheck. However, in writing up the previews for the upcoming games from mid-week to week I’ve notice there has been changes occurring with Kenji. Take look starting in 1 September

Sept 1 – 0-2, 1BB, 12 Pitches seen during PA (Mariner’s Win)

Sept 3 – 2-3, 1BB, HR, 2 RBIs, 15 Pit (W)

Sept 4 – 1-1, 2BB, 17 Pit (W)

Sept 6 – 1-4, 18 Pit (L)

Sept 9 – 2-4, SOLO HR, 9 Pit (L)

Sept 10 – 1-3, 10 Pit (L)

Sept 13 – 0-4, 13 Pit (L)

Sept 15 – 2-4, 12 Pit (L)

Sept 16 – 2-4, 18 Pit (W)

Sept 17 – 0-0, HBP, 2 Pit (W)

Sept 19 – 0-4, 14 Pit (L)

Maybe and roll with me here, but maybe he does have some trade value and/or maybe he could or should be kept around to help Adam Moore transition to the starting job. I know he hasn’t been great this year. But, he is putting forth the effort to be a better player. His BABIP took a year off but is finally starting to float back to league average after spending two years as practically the definition of league average and with his improvement in taking walks and working counts he is becoming a better hitter.

Small sample sizes like this make me think that a team such as Boston as an example would take a flyer on him. They have a few Japanese pitchers and their smart front office with deep pockets.

However, Rob Johnson is still real young and there is perception around the league that he is a good defensive (cheap) backstop that takes good care of his pitchers. He has started to develop as a hitter and as gone through a couple great hitting streaks. Should we want to keep Kenji wouldn’t he be a little bit easier to sell down the road?