Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays: Dan Johnson Versus Juan Francisco


In off-season the Toronto Blue Jays non-tendered their ‘Catcher of the Future’ J.P. Arencibia and signed Dioner Navarro to a two year contract. J.P. just came off easily the worse offensive season of…..well anybody. J.P. also struggled behind the plate, but this writer believes that was magnified a little by the media (aka Hayhurst and Zaun).

The signing of Dioner Navarro appeared to be a change in organizational philosophy. Moving away from pure home run power with average defensive capabilities and moving towards players that can draw a walk and are not afraid to choke up on the bat to make contact. Dioner Navarro has been everything we could have hoped for thus far in 2014. He hasn’t been walking much but he hasn’t been striking out either. He currently has 3BB and 5K in 59AB; whereas, J.P. Arencibia has a BB and 5K in 28AB.

Dioner Navarro has been given credit for game calling and receiving skills. Gregg Zaun has even gone so far as to credit Navarro with the way the Jays starters have been able to more than double the number of quality that they had last year after 18 games. I don’t know if that is true, but I would like to think it is because means that putting an emphasis on defense can directly impact the quality of pitching a team receives thereby impact the chances of winning.

So why in hells bells did the Toronto Blue Jays decide to call-up Juan Francisco over Dan Johnson. Simply put, Juan Francisco is an infield version of J.P. Arencibia. Juan Francisco can play 3rd and 1st, but not well. He reminds me of Edwin Encarnacion’s journey to being a first baseman, since he came up with the Cincinnati Reds as a third baseman in 2009. Since that time he has been your prototypical fringe major leaguer. Francisco strikes out 33.6% of the time and only walks 7% of the time. Arencibia has 28.5K% and 5.3BB%, just saying.

In contrast, Dan Johnson has walked 13.2% of his at-bats and struck out 14.8%. Heck just last night in Buffalo Johnson was 2/2 with 2BB against AAA pitching. Also, Johnson owns a career WAR of 2.2 versus Juan career WAR of 0.5. Their ISO numbers are comparable,  Dan owns a career mark of .174 and Juan own a career mark of .189, so nothing to split hairs over. Where Francisco leaves Dan Johnson in his rear view mirror is in BABIP. Francisco owns a .333 BABIP which is 90 pts higher than Johnson career BABIP of .243.

Another factor that the Blue Jays may be considering with this call-up is long-term upside. Juan is just 26 and Johnson is 34, which means Johnson is what he is and Juan can still develop. I am sure that management hopes that fellow Dominican Republic natives Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion can take him under their wing and transform Francisco into a power hitting DH/1B….that is not entirely improbable. If this team wants to win in 2014 than Dan Johnson should have been called up over a project in Juan Francisco. If you want to develop a player you have him play everyday….will he get that opportunity in Toronto. Johnson is a vet and doesn’t need to play everyday, because if he doesn’t produce you cut him….nothing lost. Johnson should be in Toronto, not Francisco.

Juan Francisco highlights for 2013. Please mute as the Eminem song mixed in has course language that Jays Journal does not condone.

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Tags: Dan Johnson Juan Francisco Toronto Blue Jays

  • brad

    Its the splits! In 650 ABs against righties, juan has 32 HRs and 100 RBIs! the .312 OBP is a bit lower than Johnson’s .336 vs righties but as a platoon guy and bat off the bench, Francisco is better served.

    I think the problem here isn’t necessarily who they brought up but rather what they want to use this new callup for. It’s pretty clear that they are going to platoon him with Sierra and in that context, Francisco is likely a better fit. If they were giving someone a full time job, the guy should definitely be Johnson though. What I would ask is “do we think Sierra is good enough right now”?…. and “If Sierra is DH’ing, who is backing up the outfield”? Does Diaz play the outfield?….. lot’s of wierd things going on here… I blame the 8 man bullpen

    • Alex Andreopoulos

      while i agree with most of what you have said, every team pretty much has an 8 man bp at this point…. including many national league teams that typically require more subs

      • brad

        On a lot of teams I think an 8 man pen can be very effective…. but I just don’t think the Jays are one of them.

        Starting with the AL teams using one, if you have a lineup with 9 people that can hit both lefties and righties then there is no problem… and a lot of teams do. If you have a bench where one player can back up both the outfield and infield then you have no problem…. a lot of teams do. The jays aren’t one of those teams. Goins(while not necessarily the type of player who can light up pitcher of either handedness) is quite bad against lefties…. as is Rasmus and certainly Lind(if he were healthy). With a 3 man bench, none can be pinch hit for. That means that after the 7th inning you can pretty much chalk up 4-5 outs via lefty relievers assuming each gets 2 more at bats…. which is terrible any way you slice it.

        In the NL things are a little hazier. There probably won’t be a lot of bench use until the 7th at which point there’s a pinch hitter for the pitcher…. then another at bat to account for. I could see it working if a)everyone 1 through 7 can hit as well against lefties and righties, and b) your best pinch hitter played the positions of both your 7 or 8 hitter and could also serve as a defensive replacement after pinch hitting…… would still result in one relief pitcher AB. Then you get into the same situation as the AL….. if you have a super sub that can play IF and OF(which is more common in the NL) you’re OK and can pinch hit for the relief pitcher as well.

        • Alex Andreopoulos

          I think it has yet to be determined as to whether or not the jays can afford an 8 man BP. As of now, the jury is still out. But I doubt it will be changing any time soon.

    • RyanMueller

      Thanks for the comment. You make some good points and Diaz has played a few games in the OF.