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Closing the Books on 2003….

I’m sure most of you have made your New Year’s resolutions, and probably some of you have already broken them by now. With that, the Tigers along with Mike Ilitch and Dave Dombrowski resolved to make the Tigers better.

Just before the New Year, the Tigers made one more addition. A critical spot, they made an addition to their starting rotation. The Tigers signed Jason Johnson to a two year, seven million dollar deal the other day.

Like Vina and White, this is a decent pickup, but not a move I’m doing cartwheels about. Johnson is an average starter, who’s never thrown more then 200 innings in a season, has been plagued by injury problems, but lasted through the entire season in 2003. His strikeouts per nine innings slid last year compared to 2002, which is a little discouraging, but he was less succeptable to the long ball then he was that same season.

On any good team, Johnson would be a fifth starter. On the Tigers, he’ll probably be our most effective starter in 2004 (barring a better signing). Bonderman could sky rocket, but I think he has one more year of growing pains. In that respect, I’d put Johnson slightly ahead of Maroth and Cornejo.

One stat I like to use when measuring pitchers is a stat Baseball Prospectus has termed simply as “Stuff.” Basically, it’s a rough number to determine a pitchers dominance. A level of 10 is rougly average, and a level of 0 is roughly replacement. Jason Johnson’s Stuff went down from 12 in 2002 (slightly above average), to a four this year (below average, but a little above replacement). Jeremy Bonderman had a 2 stuff, Mike Maroth a -4, and Nate Cornejo a -11 (mostly because of his lack of strikeouts).

So Johnson was a little better then all of those guys. This year he’ll be coming to a slightly better pitchers park, so hopefully we’ll be able to see him win some games.

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