Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dan Johnson Signs With Rays

Tampa Bay Rays fans remember Dan Johnson for his heroic pinch-hit home run in September of 2008, as well they should.

But Durham Bulls fans remember Johnson’s 2008 season a bit differently. We remember him as a regular all season, sharing time with Chris Richard at 1st base and spending some time out under the blue monster. In all, he played in 113 games and hit a bunch of home runs (25) for us. As much as we celebrated his heroics in Boston there were a few (OK, maybe just one) of us who thought that maybe, just maybe, if he’d been around we’d have pushed through the playoffs and won a Governors’ Cup that September. He was, after all, the Bulls’ Player of the Year for 2008.

Which doesn’t answer the puzzle of why the Rays have signed him to a major league contract. He played in Japan in 2009, mostly at 3rd base. The report on the Rays website implies that he wasn’t all that happy in Japan, but that the option was still there.

Of course, this is a major league contract signing, so it might not mean anything at all to the Bulls. However, one reporter says that it is a “split” contract meaning that he might show up in Durham (although he’d surely stay on the 40-man).

I suppose it is possible that Rays Index has it right, that the Rays are looking for a corner infielder backup to Willy Aybar who was injured playing winter ball. (Here’s a question for you, how come Aybar was playing at all? For the fun of it? Just to stay in shape?).

Seems to me that it’s possible that the Rays simply aren’t comfortable with the depth they have at either of the corners. We haven’t seen a really talented 3rd baseman here in Durham since Longoria passed through. And as much as I like Chris Richard at 1st base, clearly the Rays think he’s third or fourth behind Pena, Aybar, and Zobrist (and now Johnson).

Still, here's hoping that Dan shows up here in Durham. He brings a ton of power to the roster.

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