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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Red Sox’s Ron Roenicke Reveals Factors Behind Brian Johnson’s Release

The left-hander never cracked the big league roster in the abbreviated 2020 Major League Baseball season despite being an option to help out the depleted staff. Ron Roenicke confirmed the release Monday ahead of Boston’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, stating Johnson was seeking an opportunity and felt he wasn’t getting one here.

“Johnson felt like he wanted an opportunity,” the Sox manager told reporters during his pregame Zoom press conference. Sometimes you need to go other places to get that.” Roenicke also noted that Johnson asked for his release. The pitcher also wasn’t on the 40-man roster and out of options.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2020 at 10:19 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brian johnson

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 11, 2020 at 03:06 PM (#5969081)
As a Red Sox fan who watched him through the minors, I feel like he is the kind of pitcher that, had the organization just put him as their number five starter for a season and let him stick through it, would have been a successful major-league starting pitcher. In 2015-2016, the rankings services always had Henry Owens much higher than Johnson, but Johnson was generally so successful in the minors with lesser stuff that you felt like he deserved a little more respect as a prospect than he was even given.

Looking at an organizational ranking set of lists from 2014 just now, you realize how frggin' stacked the propsects list was. At different points in 2014 and/or 2015, the Red Sox had the following players in their minor-league system:

Mookie Betts
Xander Bogaerts
Rafael Devers
Eduardo Rodriguez
Yoan Moncada
Jackie Bradley
Michael Kopech
Matt Barnes
Christian Vazquez
Travis Shaw
Brandon Workman
Andrew Benintendi
Manuel Margot
Sam Travis

And despite all that, on many lists, the following propsects were at or near the top, typically ahead of most or all of the players above:
Anderson Espinoza
Henry Owens
Blake Swihart
Garin Cecchini
Allan Webster

   2. villageidiom Posted: August 11, 2020 at 05:10 PM (#5969109)
Boston wasn't really in the position that they needed Johnson to be in the rotation, throughout most of his career.

2015: Buchholz, Porcello, Miley, Kelly, Rodriguez, with Henry Owens, Steven Wright, and Justin Masterson ahead of Johnson on the depth chart. Oh, and in August they signed some old guy and gave him 4 starts down the stretch... I think his name was Rich Hill or something.

2016: Dropped Miley, Hill, and Masterson, and moved Kelly to the pen, but added David Price and Drew Pomeranz. Wright got most of the injury replacement starts.

2017: Dropped Buchholz, but picked up Chris Sale and Doug Fister. Fister effectively became the injury replacement for Price, with Johnson and Wright getting 5 starts each.

2018: Dropped Fister, with an intended starting five of Sale, Price, Rodriguez, Porcello, and Pomeranz. By the end of May Pomeranz was hurt; Wright was his replacement. Before the end of June Wright was hurt, as was Rodriguez, and in July Sale was hurt. Although Hector Velazquez had ascended to take some starts, and in July they had traded for Eovaldi, finally Johnson had his chance! But by the time they got to September everyone was back, and Johnson shifted to the bullpen as the main starters prepped for the postseason.

2019: They started the season with the same starting five they ended 2018 with: Sale, Price, Rodriguez, Eovaldi, Porcello. Johnson got several starts in August, few of them lasting more than 3 IP, several of those with 3 ER.

Realistically, Brian Johnson was at best their #6 or #7 starter in any given year, and his opportunity to move up depended on how many people got hurt and for how long. But as evidenced in 2018 if that many people went down with injuries, and the team was competitive, they'd go out and trade for someone.

I'm with him, though - if there were any season in which he should have an opportunity on this team, were he ever to have one, 2020 would be the year. Sale and Rodriguez are out; Price, Porcello, Wright, and Velazquez are gone. They picked up a bunch of players, some of whom are likely flotsam, but they're all getting playing time ahead of Johnson. We've entered the era of the "opener", so those odd days where they need a spot start aren't being handled by a traditional starter any more. And among relievers, they can do better than Johnson. Giving him a chance to catch on with someone else who needs a role filled is the right thing to do.
   3. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 11, 2020 at 05:42 PM (#5969114)
Looking up Steven Wright led me to look up Ryan Lavarnway.

Perhaps you know that Ryan Lavarnway's career didn't end when he was waived by the Red Sox. But did you know he has played in the majors for 6 other teams since then, totaling 150 PA? And he has signed free agent contracts with 3 OTHER teams that didn't promote him from AAA? And he's in the majors RIGHT NOW?
   4. Walt Davis Posted: August 11, 2020 at 06:34 PM (#5969125)
Garin Cecchini

There's a name we used to see around here all the time that I'd completely forgotten about.

Anyway, in that list, the only two guys you might want back are Moncada and Kopech. (And Mookie but the Sox got 5 years and obviously weren't gonna front up to keep him anyway.) Oh yeah, Shaw had two very good years before completely falling apart (and they Sox got nothing for him). Lord knows Kimbrel didn't help but they don't miss anybody they gave up in that trade (Margot, Guerra, Asuaje, Allen).
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: August 11, 2020 at 08:58 PM (#5969140)
Gary Zucchini!
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: August 11, 2020 at 09:10 PM (#5969142)
Is Brandon Workman the only relief pitcher to bat in the 9th inning of a tied World Series game?
   7. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: August 11, 2020 at 09:37 PM (#5969145)
Per Stathead;

Eovaldi was 0 for 2 in extra innings in game 3, 2018
Kershaw struck out in the 4th inning of game seven trailing 5-0 in 2017

Overall 295 relievers have batted in a World Series game. 17 of them have done it since the turn of the century. Quickly scanning I don’t see anyone else who quite meets the Workman criteria. The Kershaw move was with two outs and no one on so I guess (and he’s not a bad hitter as I recall). Eovaldi didn’t have a choice, I believe Pomeranz was the only available player left.
   8. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 11, 2020 at 09:43 PM (#5969147)
Is Brandon Workman the only relief pitcher to bat in the 9th inning of a tied World Series game?


Charley (Sea Lion) Hall, 1912 Red Sox, Game 2. He fouled out to 3B.
   9. asinwreck Posted: August 11, 2020 at 10:13 PM (#5969158)
Bon Scott was better anyway.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: August 11, 2020 at 10:55 PM (#5969161)
Charley (Sea Lion) Hall, 1912 Red Sox, Game 2. He fouled out to 3B.
wow thanks. I see he also batted 4 times in a game later in the series.
   11. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: August 12, 2020 at 08:24 AM (#5969191)
This is probably the last chance I'll get to use this so one last time with feeling;

Brian Johnson is the son/nephew of a pair of Doublemint twins.
   12. villageidiom Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:15 AM (#5969195)
And he's in the majors RIGHT NOW?
I knew that! I saw that he got called up by the Marlins a week or so ago.
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:26 AM (#5969200)
Looking up Steven Wright led me to look up Ryan Lavarnway.

Perhaps you know that Ryan Lavarnway's career didn't end when he was waived by the Red Sox. But did you know he has played in the majors for 6 other teams since then, totaling 150 PA? And he has signed free agent contracts with 3 OTHER teams that didn't promote him from AAA? And he's in the majors RIGHT NOW?
And yet he still wasn't included in the list of nineteen notable Sox minor leaguers from 2014-2015 in post #1. No respect.
   14. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:30 AM (#5969201)
Daniel Bard earned the save in last night's Rockies game.
   15. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:50 AM (#5969215)
And yet he still wasn't included in the list of nineteen notable Sox minor leaguers from 2014-2015 in post #1. No respect.


Nor was Lars Anderson! Hit #17 on the pre-2009 prospect lists.
   16. Nasty Nate Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:03 AM (#5969220)
If that's a joke or a reference, it went right over my head
   17. Boxkutter Posted: August 12, 2020 at 10:18 AM (#5969230)
Bon Scott was better anyway.

By a country mile.
   18. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 12:29 PM (#5969258)
#16 - no joke, I just missed the 2014 timeframe.
   19. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 12, 2020 at 01:22 PM (#5969273)
I feel like the Red Sox generally did a good job of keeping the prospects that ended up being productive, and trading the correct "other" prospects. Moncada is looking very good, of course, but they gave quality to get quality in that trade for Sale.

BTW, in 2014, SoxProspects.com had three prospects ratings during the year. Over the course of those three versions of Top 20 rankings, the following players were part of the farm system that year:

Mookie Betts
Rafael Devers
Xander Bogaerts
Jackie Bradley
Eduardo Rodriguez
Christian Vazquez
Brandon Workman
Matt Barnes
Travis Shaw
Michael Kopech

That is a ridiculous farm system, and that's not even counting Henry Owens and Blake Swihart, who were generally considered two of the 50 best prospects in baseball at that time.

Red Sox fans are quick to note that Boston's farm system is pretty awful right now - and it is pretty poor. But I also think our fan base, over much of the past 15 years, got used to an extreme level of depth and quality in the farm system. I mean, how many teams will even get three guys as good as Betts, Devers, and Bogaerts in, say, a 10 year period, much less at the same time?
   20. Nasty Nate Posted: August 12, 2020 at 02:39 PM (#5969286)
I mean, how many teams will even get three guys as good as Betts, Devers, and Bogaerts in, say, a 10 year period, much less at the same time?
It's rare to have a guy as good as Betts at all. One the other hand, if you extend the period to 10 years, it's probably not super rare to have 3 excellent players come through the system.

E.G.
Kershaw-Bellinger-Buehler
Yelich-Stanton-Fernandez
Cole-McCutchen-Bautista
Harper-Strasburg-Rendon
Lindor-Ramirez-(Bieber? Victor Martinez? Sizemore?)
   21. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2020 at 06:08 PM (#5969329)
Come now, VMart was signed by the Indians in 1996. He was in the majors in 2002 when Lindor was 8 years old. :-)

I agree with your point but ... Sizemore came out of the Expos system originally ... I assume that's Jose Bautista who the Pirates let go in the rule 5 draft, got him back, let him go again and finally at 29 somehow became a star. I don't know what to call that but it's not a "prospect" or even a "development success" and no real evidence it had anything to do with the Pirates. But Starling Marte fits very well in a Pirates trio and Bieber works fine. Alas time is running out for Schwarber to join Bryant and Baez in a Cubs trio but maybe Happ has figured it out (off to a very hot start so I can hope).
   22. Nasty Nate Posted: August 12, 2020 at 07:47 PM (#5969341)
Yeah i know. Bautista and Martinez only fit technically, not in the spirit. Although all of Bautista's minor league experience before being a starter was in the Pirates system.

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