Little did we know that the signing of Scott Kazmir was just the beginning of the dealings involving the Oakland Athletics this week. Fresh on the heels of bringing in the once-again hard throwing lefty, the A’s shored up the closer spot by acquiring Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson in exchange for the embattled second baseman Jemile Weeks. The two moves of Monday all but ensure that both Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour will not be back, incase there was any hope left for either one.
Jim Johnson has 101 saves over the last two seasons, more than anyone else in baseball. He did blow 9 saves though in 2013 en route to 50 though. He posted a solid 2.94 ERA in 2013, which was good but not great. He suffered rough patches in May and August that ballooned his ERA, and he essentially spent the rest of the season trying to work his ERA back down from those implosions. If he doesn’t suffer those same slumps, the A’s will have a very reliable closer for 2014. Johnson will be a free agent after next season.
Jemile Weeks simply never could replicate his excellent rookie campaign of 2011, and the A’s lost all faith in his ability to rebound. After a long home run drought, he finally hit his first late in his rookie year, and added a couple in early 2012, and that seemed to affect his stroke. Weeks developed an uppercut in his swing that derailed his entire career. The speed and contact hitter that everyone in Oakland fell in love with had disappeared, and now so has Weeks.
I think the A’s win this deal hands down, Johnson is a proven commodity and will make the loss of Balfour moot. Weeks may struggle again to simply stick in the big leagues from this point on. Billy Beane never likes to commit to closers, so Johnson’s stay in Oakland will probably be just for this year, and I’m sure Beane will have another trick up his sleeve when the time comes.