I, like many other Mariner fans and writers, don’t really understand the enigma that is Rob Johnson. He’s lauded for his defense, and yet he drops pitches and can’t block them and generally seems like a fairly bad defensive catcher. Save for about two weeks last summer, he’s given no indication that he’ll be even an average offensive catcher. His one skill that draws raves from teammates and coaches is his pitch calling, but it’s hard to know how true that is and how much it helps. Talk radio show hosts point to catcher ERA, and maybe there is something to that, but I have a hard time believing there’s anything to that stat (I’m sure I’ll have a good rant on that sometime in the next few months).
Then we went to Mariners Fan Fest and saw a little Q & A session with Johnson and David Aardsma and I think Tui, and I understood the attraction a little better. He just inspires confidence. He acts like he’s supposed to be there and appears to be one of those take charge types who everybody loves because he’s just a cool guy. Which is admittedly what I’d want in my catcher if I were a pitcher. And yet, he’s not really good at most other baseball skills. He’s also coming off surgery on both hips, which can’t be good for a catcher.
So, what are we to do? I’m hoping, save some crazy improvement from out of nowhere by Johnson, that Adam Moore hits so well at some point early in the season that they have to start him, making Johnson the backup, and a surprisingly good one at that.