Tag: Nick Johnson

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Report: Nick Johnson chooses retirement at age 34


Former Yankees, Nationals and Orioles first baseman Nick Johnson, one of the great what-ifs of the last 15 years, has opted for retirement, WFAN’s Sweeny Murti reports.

A phenomenal hitting talent, Johnson missed his first full season in the Yankees system before even arriving in the majors. He hit .345/.525/.548 in 132 games in Double-A in 1999, then sat out 2000 because of a wrist injury that required surgery. He debuted with the Bombers in 2001, but he struggled to establish himself as he continued to deal with wrist problems. After he hit .284/.422/.472 in 96 games as a 24-year-old in 2003, the Yankees traded him, Juan Rivera and Randy Choate to the Expos for Javier Vazquez.

Johnson played 4 1/2 seasons for the Expo-Nats and had his best year in 2006, hitting .290/.428/.520 with a career-high 23 homers and 77 RBI in 147 games. Unfortunately, his season ended on Sept. 23, when he suffered a broken leg in a collision with Austin Kearns. He went on to miss the entire 2007 campaign, and although he returned in 2008, he played in just 38 games then due to a torn wrist ligament.

Johnson’s last hurrah came in 2009, when he hit .291/426/.405 in 133 games for the Nationals and Marlins. He finished second in the NL in OBP to Albert Pujols. After that, he played in 24 games with the Yankees in 2010, missed the 2011 season and then played in 38 games with the Orioles last year.

Johnson, now 34, finishes his career with a .268/.399/.441 line in 2,698 at-bats over 10 seasons. That .399 OBP is 62nd all-time for players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. Had Johnson been able to avoid his initial wrist problems and stay relatively healthy, it’s pretty easy to imagine him putting together a career in which he had a few .300 seasons, several top-three finishes in OBP and maybe 300 homers over 15-18 seasons. Maybe that’s not a Hall of Famer, but with the possible .420 OBP, some would have argued for him.

You asked me questions on Twitter. So I shall answer them.

The Question

I haven’t done one of these in forever. Mostly because they were getting a little tired. Batman. Aquaman. Bourbon. Sure, those are things I love, hate and love, respectively, but a sameness crept in.  Hopefully now that some time has passed, this exercise will seem fresh again.

Have at you!

Q: I’ve always wondered how you guys work the blog together. Are there beats? Do you take shifts? Take us behind the scenes.

There are shifts, sorta. And beats, sorta. Basically, I do the morning recap post and the first few things before 10AM. It started out that way back in the 2009 Circling the Bases days, before I was doing this full time. I’m just a morning person and it works that way. Gleeman comes on around 10AM or so (it’s 9AM for him in the Central time zone) and he and I steer the ship, usually trading posts until around 6PM eastern. Matthew comes on around then takes us through a couple of hours in the evening, at which point either Drew or D.J. — depending on the night — join him and the two take us through the night.  On weekends, some combination of D.J. Drew and Matthew are around.

As for beats: not really. I tend to take legal stuff, but not always. Each of us tend to cover the teams we root for the best, but that’s certainly not exclusive. Mostly it’s whoever calls what first. We talk via G-chat all day and say things like “I’ll get the Boston-L.A. trade” or “I’ll get the Ozzie Guillen Twitter meltdown.”  And, of course, we all are assigned 24/7 to the Bobby Valentine beat these days.  I’m not gonna lie, though: a great deal of Aaron and my G-chat conversations involve Cohen Brothers movies and snippy little complaints about people on Twitter that we’d never dare say to their faces.

Q: Better band: Nirvana or Foo Fighters?

I’m not one of those people who talk about bands and artists as if there is a right answer and a wrong answer. Yes, I will go to my grave thinking that Rush kinda sucks and the Pixies are amazing, but everyone has some fans and adherents out there and there’s always someone who hates what you hate. So when I say someone is better, I mean it only for me.  And as for me, it’s Nirvana, in large part because of the when and where of how I first heard and came to love them (I was 18 in 1991).  For me, Foo Fighters will always be a playlist of their best songs on my iPod. Nirvana will be a band where I keep four full-length albums in pretty frequent rotation and even still, occasionally, throw in “From the Muddy Banks of the Wishka” when I feel like listening to noisy dissonance.

Q: Do you ever stop to think how Batman is part of the bloodsucking 1%? Isn’t Spider-Man a better hero of the people?

I try to not let politics and Batman mix, though I realize that’s difficult. When I can’t ignore it, yes, I do acknowledge that in many ways Batman is a conservative fantasy: a rich man stepping in to save society when a feckless and corrupt government cannot. That said, he has had his “Occupy” moments, like when he crashed that fancy dinner party in “Year One.”

Q: Do you now take Twitter blocks as badge of honor? Try to provoke people into blocking you?

This was inspired by the fact that Curt Schilling blocked me on Twitter yesterday because I had the gall to suggest that he is not one to call Bobby Valentine or anyone else a disgrace given the past couple of years he’s had. But no, I don’t take it as a badge of honor and don’t try to provoke people. I really don’t care. The only two blocks I’m aware of are Schilling and Heyman. If anyone else has blocked me I haven’t noticed, which says way more about the quality and necessity of their Twitter content than anything else.

Q: Fill in the blank: Mila Kunis : Aaron Gleeman :: ___ : Craig Calcaterra.

This references Aaron’s just-this-side-of-creepy fixation on Kunis. For my part, I don’t have a single celebrity obsession like that. I’ve gone through a number of lower level obsessions, however. Carla Gugino and I go way, way back. I had a thing for mid-90s Gillian Anderson, as most geeks did. But I don’t go full-bore into celebrity crushes. Often it’s more characters and roles. Time and place. I’m more of a substantive relationship guy than anything else. My feelings about fleeting attraction to random women I do not know can pretty much be summed up by Bernstein’s speech about the woman on the Jersey ferry in “Citizen Kane.” Maybe that makes a creeper. I dunno.

Q: Has @AaronGleeman kissed a girl yet?

Does your mom count? Aaron may come off as inexperienced, but he’s a stone-cold lady killer. Don’t think for a minute he isn’t.

Q: Does Clint Dempsey start in Kingston?

What’s a Clint Dempsey?

Q: When is Alli going to make you cook a dessert?

That’s a friend of my girlfriend’s, noting my recent, tentative and still extremely modest foray into cooking which was inspired in no small part by Allison. No, I am not and never will be a foodie like Keith Law or someone. This is about subsistence and learning to be the best single dad I can be. As for dessert, I did make this a couple of weeks ago and they came out pretty damn good.

Q: Once I am there for good, football is banned from our respective households, right?

That was actually asked by Allison. And the answer is yes, with a few occasional exceptions for random Ohio State football games. I’m honestly and truly trying to give up college football because it’s corrupt and horrible and I don’t want to be a part of it anymore, but in some ways it’s kind of like giving up smoking. There is a certain kind of addiction at work there, and being in Columbus, Ohio is sort of like being a non-smoker in a smokey bar, always, always tempted.  But yes: I will be 100% football free one day soon.

Q: If you were king of the world, how would you fix the Cleveland Indians?

I didn’t have a good answer for this, so I tried to Google “How to fix the Cleveland …”  First two suggestions in the autocomplete line: “How to fix the Cleveleand Browns” and “How to fix the Cleveland Cavaliers.”  Man, that city is a mess, sports-wise, no?

Q: Shouldn’t Bobby V have shown some professional courtesy by not dragging Joe Maddon into his on-air meltdown?

Good point. My taking issue with Joe Maddon on this yesterday failed to acknowledge that Valentine started it.  But really, Valentine is a thrashing, wounded animal at this point and you have to cut him a lot more slack for that kind of crap. Maddon still could have avoided that whole mess if he wanted to. He just wanted to be clever.

Q: If Bobby V and Aquaman had a baby, where would the baby bat in the Red Sox lineup and could it speak to fish?

I don’t know, but we’d blog the living crap out of that around here, I can tell you that. It’s gonna be really sad when Valentine gets fired. He’s about 75% of our content these days.

Q: Is there a potential baseball situation cooler than Joe Maddon talking to Brandon McCarthy on the mound?

I love Maddon and love McCarthy — both have been great to me personally and interesting to cover professionally — but being into them because they’re smart, sabermetric-friendly, Twitter-friendly and fan friendly creates a bit of a skewed universe. Thinking that they’re the coolest thing ever is easy when, like me, you find yourself consuming most of your baseball information via the Internet. It’s like the “Snakes on a Plane” phenomenon.  Or “Firefly.” Cool? Oh yeah. But also a niche interest one can easily fool themselves into thinking is massively popular and awesome.

Q: Should MLB do more to protect pitchers from comebackers? Helmets? Something else?

Speaking of McCarthy.  Honestly, what could they possibly do?  Helmets would change a pitcher’s mechanics and would be a disaster. If you don’t believe that, do something simple and physical like, say, run up stairs two at a time. Now do it with a helmet. It’s a totally different experience.  And you can’t put L-screens or something up there because they’d be in the middle of the damn field of play.  No, even I as a bleedin’ heart liberal who is predisposed to think that every problem has some official solution has to acknowledge that there is always going to be risks out there, and comebackers to the mound are risks of the enterprise.

Q: Can you get the football tweets to stop?

We’re trying. We honestly are.

Q: Who is the funniest person you follow on Twitter?

I’m ruling out the standup comedians and comedy writers because it’s their job to be funny on Twitter and that’s kind of not fair. As for the people I follow first for baseball things, I can think of a couple good ones. One candidate is Dave Brown from Big League Stew, who I absolutely love. But then again, I have a weakness for puns and 25 year-old pop culture references, so he may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe the funniest guy both in terms of his tweets and his longer writing, is Jon Bois of SB Nation and Progressive Boink. At turns absurd and dry, but always smart. And he will judge what you ate for lunch, which is doing God’s work, really.

Q: With how much certainty do you think we can/should say that a given player is “injury-prone”?

It’s like porn. You know it when you see it. I mean, for years I wanted to say that guys like Nick Johnson just had freaky injuries. And they often do, with no injury those types suffer bearing a relation to the last one.  But we all see these dudes. There probably needs to be a Nick Johnson Index or a Jeffery Hammonds Quotient created to measure such things.


Q: Is Chris Perez trying to force his way out of Cleveland? Great closer but latest comments indicate he wants out.

Yeah, him ripping the Indians owners seems like a case of suicide-by-media. He knows he’s known for saying crazy stuff, and now it sounds like he’s trying to use it to get the hell out of Cleveland.

Q: Does MLB do a comeback player of the year? Shouldn’t it be Ryan Braun? He deserves MVP, but they won’t let that happen…

It does, but I don’t see how the reigning MVP can be said to have had a “comeback” year.  His 2012 is actually better than his 2011, but the MVP is so totally out of the picture. For one thing, the Brewers aren’t good this year, and though that’s not a part of the formal criteria for voters, most care about that. For another, the second great season in a row is always given less heft than the first one in MVP balloting, because the storylines do matter to voters.  Finally, and most significantly, voters likely still want to punish Braun for the positive test fiasco last season, so even if he was single-handedly winning the division for Milwaukee, he’d get boned in the vote. Politics, man.

Q: Do any modern ballparks have urinal troughs, a la Tiger Stadium?

Sadly, no. At least none that I have seen. Wrigley may be the last one that does, actually. Maybe Fenway. Haven’t been to Fenway. Trough status, anyone?  In other news, seriously considering putting one in the house here for those times the boy and I both need to go.

Q: As a Braves fan do you see the attendance picking up at any time in the future? Nats seem to be in the same boat.

The Nats could turn DC into a baseball-crazy town if they sustain success, I think.  The Braves: nah. They’ll always have lukewarm support during the regular season. If they make a serious World Series run the place will, contrary to the popular narrative, be sold out, but it takes A LOT to get people in Atlanta excited about baseball.

Q: If the Justice League were a baseball team would Aquaman be the bat-boy?

No, I’d never trust Aquaman with something as important as that. I’d consider him for the job of clubhouse attendant. He’s be in charge of towels and jocks and stuff. He’s probably be very good at laundry.

Q: Have you tried Maker’s 46? It’s goooooood.

I have tried it and I like it a lot. Even had it at the Maker’s distillery last year. I like Maker’s, but I’m getting away from it a bit and into things with higher rye content and less wheat, which is what makes Maker’s sweeter and smoother.  I still totally recommend Maker’s to bourbon newbies, as it’s the most accessible of the higher end hooch.

Q: You seem well-reasoned in public. In what ways do you overcompensate for that in your personal life?

I’m not sure if that’s meant to be an insult or a compliment. But the answer is probably “bourbon.”

Q: Will the Boston media ever stop overreacting to every little thing?

We don’t ask the birds not to fly, do we? We don’t ask the fish not to swim.

Q: If you were a hot dog, would you eat yourself?

Yes, but I’d make myself like this first.

Thanks for the questions, all.  More tomorrow on HBT Extra.

Shocker: Nick Johnson wasn’t injured before last night

Nick Johnson

I swear I read the box scores to every game, but for some reason the fact that Nick Johnson had gone all the way until today without being on the disabled list took me by surprise. But he’s there now: the O’s placed him on the DL with a sprained right wrist he sustained in last night’s game.

Obviously the DL and wrist issues are nothing new to Johnson. What is kind of new is his relative ineffectiveness when he has been in the game. He’s hitting a mere .207/.324/.391 on the year.

Bobby Valentine going old school with Alfredo Aceves

Alfredo Aceves

Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves is on a roll, having converted nine straight save chances. And they haven’t all been easy: in the last week, he has three save of four outs.

That may not look overly significant at first glance, but Aceves is the only reliever with multiple saves of more than three outs this season. In all, there have been 16 saves of more than one inning. Four of those were of the three-inning variety in games that were blowouts. Just seven of the saves took place in games that were decided by three runs or fewer, and Aceves has three of them.

Today, Aceves entered a 6-5 game against the Orioles with the tying run on second and struck out Nick Johnson, who had homered twice, to end the eighth. He then pitched a perfect ninth.

Of course, Aceves is used to the heavier workload and is probably better conditioned than any other closer to get saves of four-to-six outs. Credit should go to Bobby Valentine for realizing that and not saving him for the ninth in games when he’s needed earlier.

Nick Johnson homers, steals base, retains limbs

Nick Johnson

I’m really pretty happy to see Nick Johnson back in the majors.

The 33-year-old Johnson had his best game of the season Friday in a win over the Rays, going 2-for-2 with a homer, a walk and a stolen base as Baltimore beat Tampa Bay 4-3. It was his first homer of the season.

Credit the Orioles for sticking with Johnson after he went 0-for-26 in April. He’s now 7-for-17 with three doubles and six RBI this month.

Best of all, he’s played in 14 games without getting hurt. The Orioles have spotted him pretty well so far and haven’t needed to expand his role with Chris Davis playing well at first base. Used as an occasional DH against right-handers, he might actually be able to contribute all season.