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Why Josh Johnson Is a Better Atlanta Braves Trade Option Than Zack Greinke

Matt PowersCorrespondent IIJuly 26, 2012

Why Josh Johnson Is a Better Atlanta Braves Trade Option Than Zack Greinke

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    With just a few days remaining until the trading deadline, it has become obvious that the Atlanta Braves are going to make every attempt to add a starting pitcher. It had appeared that the Braves were close to landing Ryan Dempster, but for better or worse, that won't be happening due to Dempster earning the right to veto the trade with his length of experience.

    With Dempster out of the way, some of the top names the Braves are focusing their attention on are Josh Johnson and Zack Greinke. This article will take a look at why Johnson is the more sensible fit for the Braves at this time, in spite of Greinke's better numbers.

Johnson Is Signed into the Future

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    When comparing Josh Johnson and Zack Greinke, one thing to pay attention to is the future. To obtain either of these guys, the Braves will need to pay a high price and likely aren't going to go crazy to get a rental after seeing the end results of the Mark Teixeira trade.

    One of the biggest reasons that the Brewers have not yet dealt Zack Greinke, is teams are a bit hesitant to give up a ton for a guy set to become a free agent at the end of the season. Add in the fact that the team that acquires Greinke will no longer be eligible to receive a draft pick if he signs elsewhere as a free agent.

    Josh Johnson, on the other hand, would be able to help the Braves next year as well. Though he doesn't have a long-term contract, the certainty of having him next year will help soften the blow of giving up some very valuable prospects.

Johnson's Track Record Against the NL East

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    Josh Johnson not only has a ton of experience against the NL East, but he has pitched very well against competition within the division. That could be something that would give the Braves a big advantage as they try to win the NL East to avoid the one-game playoff for the two Wild Card teams.

    Johnson has gone 8-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 15 starts against the Mets, to go with a 1.11 WHIP. Against the Phillies he has gone 6-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 14 starts. He's also had success against the Nationals, as he has gone 8-1 with a 3.53 ERA in 16 starts.

    Johnson hasn't just been successful against the Braves' competition, but trading for him would also mean that the Braves wouldn't have to face him anymore. That would also be a plus, considering Johnson has gone 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 17 starts against the Braves.

Greinke's Lack of Big-Game Experience

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    Zack Greinke made his big league debut in 2004 with the Kansas City Royals. Since that time, he has played on bad teams for his entire career other than just one year—the 2011 Brewers. That means most of his big league experience came in games that didn't have much meaning.

    During the one year when Greinke pitched in meaningful games, he was able to make three rather disappointing playoff starts. In his one start in the NLDS and two starts in the NLCS, Greinke went a combined 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA and 1.62 WHIP.

    Josh Johnson has never pitched in the playoffs, but he has pitched in a bunch of meaningful games for the Marlins since making his big league debut in 2005. Johnson has pitched on four teams that have won at least 80 games during his career.

The Numbers Say Johnson Is the Better Pitcher

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    While Zack Greinke is one of the most talented pitchers in the game today, he has been making a living off of his reputation since his dominant 2009 season. Immediately after that season, Greinke saw his numbers slip a bit, and he hasn't been dominant.

    Greinke went 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA in 2009, 10-14  with a 4.17 ERA in 2010, 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA a year ago, and 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA this season. Those are strong numbers, but not those of an elite pitcher.

    Josh Johnson has been very strong over the past few seasons, though he has been a bit inconsistent this year after battling an injury a year ago. Johnson went 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA in 2009, 11-6 with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in nine starts last year, and 6-7 with a 4.14 ERA so far this year.

    Over the last four years, Johnson has had more success than Greinke despite the fact that Greinke gets more national attention for being a top pitcher.

Greinke's Anxiety Issues

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    One thing that could be scaring some teams away from going after Zack Greinke would be his well-publicized anxiety issues. Greinke walked away for a time earlier in his career due to his issues, and came close to retiring from the game.

    Greinke has only pitched in smaller markets during his big league career, with his stops being in Kansas City and Milwaukee. Atlanta would become the biggest market he has ever played in.

    The anxiety issues may or may not be a big issue for Greinke, as they could be under control. However, when the Braves need to add one pitcher for a playoff run and have to give up a Julio Teheran to do so, they can't afford to have a non-baseball issue sabotage their efforts.

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