Bullpen restructurings made simple

Brittany Ghiroli on the only logical way to explain the Orioles' sweep of the Red Sox this weekend:

Jim Johnson has been optioned back to Triple-A to make room for Saturday's starter Brad Bergsen on the Orioles' 25-man roster.

Johnson pitched to a 6.52 ERA with appearances in 10 games, allowing seven earned runs over 9 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out nine.

The 26-year-old Johnson has been largely ineffective in a myriad of roles for the Orioles and the general feeling is he needs to go down to Triple-A to get straightened out.

"This is a hard decision to make but I think it's a decision that we made to help him," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "So I'm certain it's going to help him, he needs to get back to who Jim Johnson really is."


Orioles manager Dave Trembley echoed the sentiment and said Johnson didn't seem surprised when he was given the news.

"I told him I was up quite late last night, very early this morning, and he said he was right there with me. He's a pretty sharp guy," Trembley said of Johnson.

"I told him he should be proud of what he's done, he's very important to us, he's a big part of where we're going. He should walk out of here with his head held high. He said. 'Dave, I've given you everything I've got.' I said, 'I know that.' Last night it was max effort like you get from him all the time. It just hasn't worked right now. And it's early enough in the season to get him out, get him straightened out and then get him back."

Today I'm unveiling a brilliant new term that will explain at least half the bullpen moves made this season.



Pure ERA Move.

Forget about 2008. In 2008, Jim Johnson posted a 2.25 ERA but that bizarre number was predicated largely on giving up exactly zero home runs in 69 innings ... an "ability" that Johnson had never demonstrated before then, and hasn't since.

In 2009, Johnson's ERA jumped to 4.11 ... which was almost exactly in line with his demonstrated abilities.

And what of 2010? I hesitate to even list any statistics. Because Johnson has pitched nine and two-thirds innings. The fact that this strikeouts are up, he's walked four hitters and given up one home run ... None of it's interesting or relevant because nine and two-thirds innings means nothing. Johnson's also given up 15 hits, thanks to a .424 BABiP.

Again, that means nothing. Because, you know, it's nine and two-thirds innings.

Unfortunately for Jim Johnson -- an established major leaguer with a 3.87 career ERA -- he's back in the minors, carrying his own bags and eating stale potato chips after the games because all those irrelevant and uninteresting numbers led to a 6.52 ERA, the sort of number that managers and general managers often find highly relevant.

Hey, somebody had to pay the price for the Orioles' (then) 5-18 record. When you're looking for a scapegoat before Memorial Day, you can always find some poor reliever with a bloated ERA. The Orioles weren't lousy because of Jim Johnson, but they won't exactly miss him, either. And he'll be back. I just think we could save a lot of time if we skip past the manager's lame explanations and get right to the heart of the thing.