Can Nick Johnson Run?

That was my first concern when I heard that Johnson was re-joining the Yanks as our 2010 DH. We know he can hit consistently. And we know he’ll take a million walks. But will he get thrown out trying to run to first base? Let’s go to the videotape.
OK, so he’s not Brett Gardner fast. He’s not Johnny Damon fast, either. He’s not even Robinson Cano fast. But hey, he’s faster than Hideki Matsui. And he won’t need to have his knees drained every five minutes. It’s true that he’s been injury prone, as in the example below.
But he inspires devotion even when he’s flat on the ground. (Did you hear those people cheering for him?) Plus, the Yankees have access to Dr. Marc Phillipon now. If Johnson so much as breaks a nail we can ship him off to Colorado for a miracle cure.
So welcome back to Yankeeville, Nick. I’m not sure I understand Cashman’s reasoning for bringing you back, except that you’re younger and cheaper than Matsui, but whatever. I always liked you. Baseball is in your blood. You have Larry Bowa for an uncle.
And an official welcome to Curtis Granderson, who looked like a Yankee god at today’s press conference. The pinstripes suit him.
I love how he talked about the great center fielders who’ve preceded him in the Bronx. He was humble about being a Yankee but not obsequious about it. (He didn’t overdo the “I can’t believe what an honor it is to put on this uniform…” thing.) I know he’ll become a fan favorite even without his old #28.
Also making news, speaking of Dr. Marc Phillipon, was A-Rod, who said he went to see Dr. Marc and will not need additional surgery on his hip. Now I ask you: How is that possible? The procedure he had last spring was supposed to be a partial solution to his labrum tear. And yet now he’s been declared 100% healthy? It all makes me wonder what the 2009 She-Fan Award winner for Best Doctor really does in that Colorado laboratory of his.


  1. thegoodofthegame

    Personally, I think A-Rod faked the hip injury. It conveniently seemed to appear around the same time all of his steroids issues were making headlines. Think about it, if you were being haunted by everyone’s favorite acronym (PED), wouldn’t your hip start hurting too?

    Nick Johnson’s going to be Nick Johnson. He’ll help simply because he’s a lefty and the new Yankee Stadium is like 100ft down the right field line, at least it seems like it.

  2. Jane Heller

    Ah, an A-Rod conspiracy, tgofg? If so, it certainly worked out for him and the Yankees. The more I think about Nick Johnson, the more I think he’ll be a nice addition to the lineup. Not a power guy but, as you say, good enough to take advantage of the home field.

    So you’re assuming Johnson will bat second too, Rob? If you put Johnson second and Tex third, you’ve got two slow runners back to back in front of A-Rod. Maybe I’d go with Grandy in the two-spot.

  3. cheshirecat9

    I would have preferred to bring back Matsui, but que sera, sera. I guess I will just have to be patient for Cashman to get around to this off season’s first priority, “Pitching, pitching, pitching.”

  4. thefreak

    I just don’t get it. They are going to sign Nick Johnson to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million. And let Matsui go who signed for $6.5 million for one-year with the Angels.


    Nick Johnson w/ 8 HR’s – Hideki Matsui w/ 28 HR’s.

    I’d pay the extra million for 20 more home runs.

    Let one fan favorite go w/ bad knees that can’t run for someone they traded away years ago that can’t run with good knees.

    Somebody explain this to me like I’m a fourth grader – WHAT THE HECK DID I MISS HERE that we let Matsui go? (hmm, sounds like a blog topic ……. gotta go – HOLLA!)



    Hmmm, so they signed Nick Johnson, who only can play first. Makes me wonder if they are going to deal Swisher. (I hope not, I like his enthusiasm.) I liked Johnson when he was with the Yanks before, but I still don’t think he was the best choice. I agree with Mike, why not resign Matsui? Guess we’ll just have to see how it plays out.

  6. Jane Heller

    I don’t think Johnson is a bad idea, Paul, so I’m with you there. It’s just not what I expected, given his injury history and similarity to Matsui.

    That’s how I feel, cheshirecat. Cashman has made good moves lately, so I’m trusting him to follow through on his pitching promises.

    Mike, I went over the same points in my head last night. I’d rather have Matsui’s power any day – and his ability to hit in the clutch. Yes, he would have been more expensive and was a bit older than Johnson, but I would have preferred keeping him. STILL, it all makes me wonder if Cashman knows something about Hideki’s medical condition that we don’t.

    Very funny, Jeff. I’m going to insert titanium in all his bones.

    I can tell you’re heartbroken that the Yankees let Matsui go, Jenn. LOL.

    I had the same thought about Swisher, Melissa. He could be moved. My bigger question on Johnson vs. Matsui is where are the RBIs going to come from? Sure, we still have plenty of guys who can drive in runs, but….


    I didn’t realize that Johnson was a done deal – I thought they were still just talking. In fact, I kind of thought they were chatting with his agent to try and get Damon’s agent to come to reason. We’ll see.

    Granderson did a beautiful job…and I’m happy Girardi really did go for #28 on his back. So Granderson took the # he wore in high school. How cute is that?!

    Not much else to discuss. Those couple of days of 50 degree temps here in N.Y. have now given way to the teens and we are supposed to be getting a big snow storm tomorrow through Sunday — they’re predicting a foot of snow – not that they are right more often than wrong.

    Okay, there’s my tie in to baseball. Weathermen are wrong way more than they are right – if we did our jobs at such a level we would have been fired long ago. And in baseball, you only have to get a hit 3 out of 10 at bats to be considered successful. Again, if we had that kind of “batting average” in our various lines of employment, we’d be on the streets. Have a great day, everyone.

  8. Jane Heller

    Haven’t heard the Johnson deal isn’t happening, Diane, so I’m assuming it’s a go. I can’t say I’m excited about it. I guess we have to trust that Cashman has a pitcher in mind for us too. Sorry to hear about the approaching storm. I wonder if it’s related to the big cold rains we had in California. Stay warm and safe!

  9. raysrenegade

    Nick Johnson suffered a knee injury last season before he was dealt to the Florida Marlins.
    While with the Marlins he then had a leg injury, but still played daily playing first base for the Marlins.
    He has a bit more speed than Matsui had after his first knee situation, and actually should be fine by the beginning of Spring Training.
    People forget he had a violent collision during 2009 while with Washington that might have took down most First Baseman in this league.
    I actually think it was a wise and great decision to add a guy who is a great defensive First Baseman, and could give the Yankees some options at Designated hitter or even First Base if they want to switch out Teixiera for a rest.

    Rays Renegade


    Hey Jane – Gettin’ out the snowshoes here on the East Coast. As we do, some musings. First, despite the weather I am warming up to the Nick Johnson idea. I think the big thing is that a.) he took a one year deal; b.) he’s relatively inexpensive; c.) he has a terrific on base % and also takes a TON of pitches. He’s another Swisher in that regard, as I think we are trying to get back to that 90’s formula of working pitch counts for the tougher starters we face…

    I appreciate some who compare him to Matsui and ask why not Matsui, and also ask about 8 HR vs. 28. However, the more relevant questions are, is the Granderson-Johnson combo better than the Damon-Matsui combo, AND is the Granderson-Johnson combo likely to outperform the Damon-Matsui combo not looking at last year, but in 2010??? It’s not about last year, it’s about projecting 2010. Sure it’s a tough call, but I am aware (I do have an indirect connection with the Yanks but dont want to abuse that) that Matsui’s knees were constant trouble for the trainng staff last year, and that Matsui himself was such a gamer and played in a great deal of pain, and that they were constantly draining both knees. As a result, I believe that Cash has made a decision that it’s time to move on. I also believe that if Damon’s demands were more reasonable, they wouldve re-signed him.

    PS – early prediction. Yanks sign Cliff Lee after 2010. Take it to the bank.

    PPS – next post features my own list on how to improve the game. Promise.

  11. Jane Heller

    “Wise” and “great.” I like the adjectives you used to describe the Johnson signing, Renegade. I guess that’s the idea: giving Tex a rest at first occasionally, along with getting on base. Very glad you have such a positive reaction to this!

    I’m sure you’re right about Matsui’s knees, John. I’ve been thinking about his situation and I had a feeling it was more serious than we knew and that Cashman made the decision based on the medical facts. I really like your prediction about Cliff Lee. And I’m turning your comments about how to improve baseball into my next post! Have fun shoveling all that snow. 🙂

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