Yanks sign Jason Johnson; Shelley DFA’ed


Via PeteAbe, the Yanks have signed ex-Pirate, Devil Ray, Oriole, Tiger, Indian, Red Sox, Red and Dodger Jason Johnson to a minor league contract. About the only thing noteworthy about Johnson, who has a 89 career OPS+ ERA+, is that he’s a diabetic and was the first player in MLB history allowed to wear an insulin pump on the field, which he wears behind his back on his belt. Joe Girardi said he’ll be in the competition for the fifth starter spot. It was very kind of Joe to say that.

Pete also notes that Shelley Duncan has been designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Mark Teixeira, and that Phil Coke has been told to prepare for Spring Training as a starter. No surprise, I’ve been saying they’ll probably give him a shot to start in camp all along.

Categories : Asides


  1. Ryan S. says:

    Also on LoHud, Pete is saying that Coke has been told to prepare himself as a starter. Interesting.

  2. jsbrendog says:

    get me some coke in the rotation. and from michael irving.

  3. Ben K. says:

    Technically, I’m in competition for the fifth starter spot too if this whole law school thing doesn’t work out.

  4. A.D. says:

    Nice open tryout for Aceves, Coke, IPK, Hughes, and Johnson. Throw that in with CF, and there’s something to watch for spring training

  5. steve (different one) says:

    Pavano signs with Cleveland….breaks hand.

  6. Ol Dirtay says:

    The Yankees should sign Wilford Brimley.

  7. Mike Pop says:

    Shelley is going to go sign a minor league deal with the cards.

  8. John NY says:

    It sounds like Pettitte and his agents are playing hardball. And Cashman is telling everyone the 5th spot is open for the best spring training performance. I would think Hughes gets first crack.

    • Reggie C. says:

      Coke is probably the type of pitcher who’ll be waaaay more effective as a reliever, but if Hughes doesn’t get that 3rd pitch down, Coke could win it out.

  9. Andy says:

    Coke as a starter makes no sense. Look at the guy’s numbers and scouting report – it has middle reliever at best written all over it. He made his major league debut at age 26, and after posting an ERA well over a RUN higher than Igawa in AAA – that alone should eliminate him from starter consideration. At BEST, this guy is a lefty specialist, AT BEST. The same people who ignore Kennedy’s year in 2007 are anointing Coke as a savior after a successful September stint in 2008…

    • Mike Pop says:

      He is a bit more than a loogy I would think. From what I have read from people on here and his scouting report, it seems like he would be a solid reliever but more than a loogy.

    • BBDC says:


      The sample size police say hi.

      He was barely in Scranton before he got his call up, he was arguably the Yankee’s best starter on an extremely strong staff in Trenton (he only switched to relief because he was running up against his innings cap, and it was a way to give him some major league face time).

    • Ed says:

      Coke pitched 17 innings in AAA. It’s too small a sample size to be meaningful. Likewise, that’s why he’s also a longshot to be the 5th starter next season. Most likely he starts off in the AAA rotation, unless he impresses enough that he clearly deserves to be in the Major League bullpen.

      • Reggie C. says:

        If Coke has an impressive Spring and beats out the comp , why not just give him the 5th spot? Damn the AAA starts. Coke hopefully has a month advantage till the average ML hitters start coming around.

        • Ed says:

          That could happen. I just think it’s really unlikely that he pitches well enough to deserve that. Look at Hughes – he dominated the lower levels of the minors far more than Coke did, but essentially skipping AAA didn’t work out so well for him.

      • Andy says:

        Look at his stats from past years, and the past scouting reports (including one, I think, from this site) – they show a pitcher who has a very low ceiling. For example, 5.42 ERA, 122 hits in 103 innings with only 68 strikeouts, at Charleston in 2005, all at age 23, which is quite old for low A, particularly for a CC guy. While he had some success at Tampa in 2006 and 2007, again at an advanced age, he was certainly not lights out.

        Let me put it this way – name ONE starting pitcher in recent memory who came up through the minor leagues, made his major league DEBUT at age 26 and was an even marginally effective starter for any length of time. If you can name one who became a good starter for more than a couple years, I will retract my comment.

        • A.D. says:

          Nick Blackburn did it at 25 (just like Coke), obviously the jury is still out, but he was solid this past season, his first full season.

          • Andy says:

            Coke was born on July 19, 1982, and made his major league debut on September 1, 2008, making hin 26, not 25, at his debut. And Blackburn, who was 25 at his debut, has pitched one full season in the ML, and was marginally effective (4.05 ERA, but allowed 224 hits in 193 innings, with only 96 Ks). We’ll see how well he does in 2009, I say he takes a major step back.

            Believe me, I’d love for him to be successful, but there are way better starter candidates, and Coke could be a good lefty specialist. Leave him in that role, where he has a chance to make the team and make an impact.

            • Aaron says:

              First, Coke doesn’t have to be a specialist. He has been able to get both righties and lefties out in his brief career. So let’s not peg him into the “specialist” category just yet. What’s the harm in letting him compete for the fifth spot? Sure, he may ultimately end up in the bullpen but there’s no harm in seeing what he can do in Spring Training.

            • A.D. says:

              Good call on the ages, was looking at the age from baseball-reference.

              Otherwise I don’t if Blackburn takes a step back, sure he gave up hits, but he doesn’t walk anyone, that’s why he had a lower WHIP than Pettitte last year, and a similar one to Dice-K, despite the hits.

              If Coke could come in a do what Blackburn did last year they’d take it. Not saying its going to happen, but it was the closest example I could find when you asked.

            • BBDC says:

              You’re Kidding me, right?

              Do you do any research on these prospects before you spout off.

              As evidence of Coke’s low ceiling you refer to his 2005 season statistics, the season where he was coming back from a major injury that almost completely wiped out his ’04 season. Really?

              As for the late bloomer issue his ’04 injury has more to do with his current age and career stage, then being a “late bloomer” (he was out the entire season, and then needed to readjust the next year, the Yankee’s also gave him the kid glove treatment thereafter.

              He may turnout to only be a major league reliever, but not on the facts you are citing.

              • Andy says:

                Injury or no injury, the fact is, he is way to old to ever make an impact.

                You also have to read scouting reports. This site (which is a good one), didn’t even rank Coke in the Yanks to 30 prospects just prior to the 2008 draft!! The scouting reports were all low 90s, not much else. Then, when he surged at the end of last year, the reports were he picked up a second pitch. In fact, Cash even admitted the guy was not on their radar at all, and came out of nowhere.

                Fact is, he should be a reliever. If I am proven wrong, great.

                • whozat says:

                  Fact is, he should be a reliever. If I am proven wrong, great.

                  And yet, you’re angry that he’s even being given a chance to prove you wrong.

                  What is the harm in him coming to camp as a starter? Either way he’s throwing pitches. Look at it this way…they’re basically just saying “hey, we want to see you throw to a lot of batters, even some major-league hitters, during spring training”

                  if he’s one of the seven best pitchers, maybe he makes the pen. If he’s actually comporting himself well as a starter and you have a bunch of other relievers doing well…let him stay a starter in AAA. You can always call him up for bullpen duty later. You make it sound like this is closing some kind of door, and it’s not. At all.

          • A.D. says:

            debut at 25, first full season 26

        • kenthadley says:

          how about Woody Williams?

    • steve (different one) says:

      At BEST, this guy is a lefty specialist, AT BEST

      says you.

      others disagree.

      capitalizing words doesn’t make it true.

  10. kunaldo says:

    Mike A., I believe you meant 89 ERA+, not OPS+….that definitely confused me for a second…haha

    • Mike A. says:

      D’oh, my bad. Fixed now.

      • kunaldo says:

        no worries

        so jason johson…he’s not that great huh…filling a spot in the minors? looking at his numbers, i dont know if i put him ahead of igawa even

        • Aaron says:

          Not that great? I’d rather have another go around with Sidney Ponson. (Totally kidding here.)

          Johnson will do nothing more than fill a rotation spot down in Scranton until one of the younger guys needs to be promoted from Trenton.

  11. JeffG says:

    You know who else is competing for the 5th spot? My Dong. aka Johnson.

  12. E-ROC says:

    The Yanks should sign Mark Prior, Jason Jennings, Mark Mulder, and myself to compete for the fifth starter spot. I hereby announce that I am turning pro after no amateur experience. Hold your applause for my HOF induction.

  13. BBDC says:

    For the record I of course feel that whoever pitches the best in ST should win the 5th starter position, I would prefer that the 5th starter not be Hughes, as it would be difficult to juggle a rotation with 2 full time starters on a severe restricted innings cap.

    But we will see how it turns out.

    • A.D. says:

      My guess is Coke would have a cap too… IPK & Aceves are the 2 that can pitch 200 innings no problem

      • Ed says:

        Coke pitched about 150 innings this year, so he’d be capped around 180-190 next year. I think the Yankees would be thrilled if his innings limit becomes an issue.

  14. Conan the Barack O'Brian says:

    So when a guy like Shelley goes, all I can think (assuming he does not return to the Yanks) is about who has the longest tenure with the Yanks from a farm standpoint (excluding made guys like Jeter, Posada, Rivera)….

    Off mlb.com, it’s:

    1. Chase Wright
    2. Eric Hacker
    3. Phil Coke
    4. Eric Duncan
    5. Tim Battle
    6. Jason Stephens

    Wright will probably be gone soon enough, too, I’m guessing. And it’s interesting that Coke and Hacker finally have some buzz. So two questions: 1) will this be the year that E-Dunc will finally get his, well, second round of buzz (usually this question waits until March, right?), and 2) do we have any reason to believe Phil Coke will not be dust in the wind this time next year like Shelley is now?

    On the first question, given Tex and A-Rod, probably a “no” on Eric Duncan…

    • A.D. says:

      On the first question, given Tex and A-Rod his lack of ability to hit baseballs, probably a “no” on Eric Duncan…

  15. Old Ranger says:

    [Comment From tommiesmithjohncarlos]
    25, awesome, that means Mike Z gets to keep using his authentic Giambi jersey, and Old Ranger gets to keep using his authentic Joe Pepitone jersey.

    Sorry, ain’t got none!
    Although Joe wasn’t a bad 1st baseman/hitter. Had a lot of style too. Those were the down years.

  16. ceciguante says:

    why is there an ad for yawkeywaystore.com on your site??


  17. Matt says:

    So long, Shelley. Dude should’ve been traded last offseason.

  18. [...] Yanks sign Jason Johnson; Shelley DFA’ed | River Avenue Blues [...]

  19. [...] make room on the roster for Tex, the Yankees DFA’d Shelley Duncan. This comes as no surprise. Like all DFAs, Shelley will hit the waiver wire. If unclaimed, though, [...]

  20. [...] Yanks sign Jason Johnson; Shelley DFA’ed | River Avenue Blues [...]

  21. Mike A. says:

    Why are you talking to yourself?

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