Flip-flopping on Dan Johnson

By Jason Wojciechowski on May 14, 2005 at 2:45 PM

This Associated Press story warms my little heart. Billy Beane is meeting in secret with A's coaches. Is a move forthcoming? Are the A's finally going to bring up Dan Johnson? Or maybe Ken Macha's on the way out and the A's are going to hire Davey Johnson!

Well, wishful thinking abounds if you let it.

At this point, though, should the A's bother? Sure, we're only about 20% of the way through the season, with 35 games played. At the same time, though, how much can Dan Johnson fix by himself? Is he going to make Jason Kendall hit? Can he turn around Erubiel Durazo? What about Erics Chavez and Byrnes? Will he bring Bobby Crosby and Nick Swisher back from injury (and help Swisher hit)?

No, of course Johnson can't do all that by himself. Even if the A's did something like acquire Reggie Sanders and call up Johnson, the best they could do would be to provide power boosts out of two positions. If Johnson is worth a win or two over Scott Hatteberg (and is he? That might be generous) and Sanders a win or two over Byrnes, how good does those two or four wins make the A's? Is striving for 77 wins instead of 73 really a goal?

This A's team is young. The vast majority of the players, while not neccessarily signed for next year, will be back, most of them cheaply. This isn't a contract year for anybody important. In other words, this isn't a win-now year.

Do you just declare the season lost and start dumping veterans like there's no tomorrow? No, if only because there's an outside shot of something crazy happening and the A's putting themselves back into the race (at which point, of course, the team should not go crazy and sell off the future for the present, either).

As I drop into the depths of despair, then, I am actually going to reverse course on Dan Johnson. The A's should not bring him up to the majors to replace Scott Hatteberg. Nothing's happening this season for Oakland, so why start Johnson's service clock early? Beane should get in his car and drive down to Sacramento today to meet with Johnson, where he'll say, "Sorry, kid, you're going to play out the year in AAA again. But listen, you'll be up in September, and you're our first baseman next year. I know, I know, we've been dicking around with Scott Hatteberg all this time, and you, and even Graham Koonce, have been ready to step in for what seems like eternity. I know Sacramento sucks. But hey, this is a promise. Hatteberg's headed to the bench. He's going to be a $2.5 million pinch-hitter. You're the man in 2006."