Time To Grab Josh Johnson ‘Round the Ankles

Seriously...can we pass a plate for payroll purposes? This is getting ridiculous.

Yup, it's that time of year again! That time when we find out whom the Marlins are going to let slip through their fingers this go-round. (You just think it's Thanksgiving.)

Unfortunately, this year's stuffing is Josh Johnson, who will in all likelihood be moving on to greener pocketbooks after the 2010 season. He and his agent were looking for a 4-year contract around $38 mil, the Marlins reportedly offered 3 years for $21. “We made it clear that it was going to be this year or it wasn’t going to happen,” said Matt Sosnick, Johnson’s agent.

“It was now or never. And the Marlins agreed.”

Johnson, Sosnick says, wanted to make a deal to stay in South Florida (why? Don't ask. Perhaps he likes Star Wars). But the Marlins, who have never offered a multi-year contract to a pitcher, wouldn't go for four despite Johnson's willingness to work for a "discount." It's all so very...Marlin-y. We've seen it happen. And happen. And happen.

Except not like this. The Marlins have traded or set free a lot of good pitchers, but as even Yankees blogs [ptouie!] acknowledge, Johnson is that guy you just lock up, precedence be damned. He's a franchise cornerstone who is young and strong and has his best years ahead of him:

Johnson isn’t like most pitchers. He has true front-of-the-rotation power stuff that enables him to do the two best things a pitcher can do: strike guys out and generate ground balls. Here’s the list of pitchers who struck out at least eight batters per nine innings, walked no more than two-and-a-half batters per nine innings, and got at least three groundballs for every two flyballs in 2009:

 1. Josh Johnson

That’s it. Not Felix, not Lincecum, not even Greinke. No one else. Just JJ. His fastball is a legit mid-90’s heater, and he backs it up with a sharp mid-80’s slider and split-change that he probably doesn’t use often enough. He’s got a huge powerful frame (listed at 6′-7″, 250 lbs) that screams durability and innings eater.

You know what? Those pinstriped know-it-alls actually know it all for once. This is big mistake, and while we can enjoy one more year of Johnson, we'll have to do it knowing we'll just end up facing him the following year. Or grab him around the ankles and refuse to let go. Hmmph!

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