Time To Replace Jim Johnson With Francisco Rodriguez

It’s time for baseball’s save’s leader, Jim Johnson with 39, to be removed from the closer’s role in Baltimore. Johnson, who converted 51 saves last season has blown nine in 2013. The O’s fell to 14-21 in games decided by one-run and dropped their third straight game when leading in the seventh inning or later.

That simply can’t happen. Not if Baltimore plans to return to the postseason.

Last year the Orioles were 75-1 when leading after eight innings. This season they are an AL worst 56-9 after dropping two heartbreakers in Arizona against the Diamondbacks.

Jim Johnson scuffled earlier this season, but the Orioles didn’t have a real solution for his replacement. Many thought Tommy Hunter could close or that Buck Showalter would go with a closer by committee. This isn’t a problem anymore.

Time for Francisco Rodriguez, K-Rod to replace Jim Johnson as Orioles closerAt the trade deadline, Dan Duquette sent Nick Delmonico to Milwaukee for a reliever with one of the longest resumes in the game. Francisco Rodriguez is the single-season saves leader, a guy with a proven track record and the current O’s pitcher on the hottest streak. Replacing Johnson with K-Rod wouldn’t be nearly as difficult in the Orioles’ locker room as swapping him out with Hunter. It’s time for Showalter to make the move.

The Orioles could have added any other bullpen help at the deadline. The Braves acquired Scott Downs from the Angels for minor leaguer Cory Rasmus, he could have easily landed in Baltimore. But it was Duquette who added one of the game’s best closers to the Orioles roster. That wasn’t by coincidence.

Rodriguez has thrown five scoreless innings allowing just two hits and striking out nine batters in his last five appearances. After the off day on Thursday, K-Rod should be given the ball in the Orioles next save situation.

I respect Showalter’s loyalty to Johnson, but the O’s can’t afford to continue losing winnable games. They’re six games back of the Red Sox for the lead in the AL East and 2.5 back in the Wild Card hunt. Just imagine if they had a closer who only blew four games instead of nine, it would be a totally different team.

It’s unacceptable to see Johnson back in the ninth with the game on the line.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. He's a loyal Orioles, Ravens and Capitals fan who is obsessed with baseball, loves traveling, In-N-Out Burger and Walt Disney World.

7 Comments

  1. 9inchnails

    August 15, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Now it is 9 blown saves! Time to go to plan B. If plan B does not work the we go to plan C. Johnson is not above reproach. You dance with who brought ya but enough is enough. We are trying to win a pennant not molly coddle a guy making $8 million a year. If he has hurt fellings, F-him.

  2. Myla Whey

    August 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

    This one is as plain as the nose on the collective faces of all bird watchers everywhere. The problems is that Buck’s a pretty conventional manager, so he’s bought hook, line and sinker the erroneous notion of “saving” a game. Not too long ago there was no such thing as a closer but then the Sabermatricans concocted the bogus stat called the save. So everyone chased saves instead of just bringing in the right guy to make sure the team won.

    Yesterday was the perfect example of everything that’s wrong with “Saving” a game. A guy who’s tired/over/his head/whatever (Jim J) blows the lead and is eventually replaced by a guy Tom H who goes three inning, absolutely dominating a team that could not complete in the America league. So if Tommie was okay to pitch three innings and dominate why can’t he do that in the 7th or 8th inning and make sure the Birds win? Same for Jim Johnson, that was his “role” when Kevin Gregg was here, but now he looks like the spitting image of Kevin Gregg!
    If Johnson had more multiple inning appearances rather than more frequent short stints, we’d have a couple of pretty good wins under our belt. Pretty simple stuff here but no one wants to see the obvious.

    Now the real issue is this: since no one will break from the herd and just manage to win a game instead of saving games, we’re pretty much stuck with the Closer BS. So if we’re stuck with anyone as the closer, is Wieters going to actually start taking charge of the staff and make these pitchers throw smart pitches instead of gopher balls?

  3. Jeff

    August 15, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I’m not sure if we have any hard throwing guys in our farm system that locate his pitches well and has a filthy secondary pitch to back up his fastball, like a slider, change or curve. I’m assuming we don’t because he would have gotten called up. Johnson is simply not the answer any more. I guess Krod will tale his spot soon. My only worries is he is a headcase. He’s picked fights with teamates in the past etc. I just hope Buck can figure out what to do

  4. MGW

    August 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Time to MOVE on!

  5. JCG

    August 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    It is hard to disagree that JJ needs to take a break from the closer role. I am a huge fan of his based on his performance in the past two seasons, but he has had 9 blown saves and has had other saves that he almost blew but battled to get out of a jam that he created. I get it that the O’s are not doing the job offensively, particularly with runners in scoring position. But we need a pitcher in the closing role who can regularly work a single scoreless inning. Let’s move Johnson back to pitch in earlier innings so that he can work his way back, but right now he does not have it. With FR in the bullpen it may be time to get him back in as the closer.

    • Spy

      August 16, 2013 at 9:53 am

      Agree…

  6. anonymous hippopotamus

    August 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Disagree. Did anyone watch BB-Rod last night? Doesn’t have the closer stuff. A commitee may be more beneficial, however I can’t see Buck going that route. Seems like we’re stuck with JJ til the Spring at least.