Josh Johnson: Talented Right-Hander Will Struggle in AL East with Blue Jays

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Josh Johnson #55 of the Miami Marlins pitches to the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on September 26, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Everyone is going to talk about the Miami Marlins shipping Jose Reyes to the Toronto Blue Jays, but right-handed pitcher Josh Johnson is the real x-factor in Tuesday's blockbuster deal.

In case you missed it, ESPN's Buster Olney gave some details regarding the major move:

The Blue Jays-Marlins trade is done... This is going to be one of the all-timers, with Reyes, Johnson, Bonifacio, Buck, Buehrle...holy crow.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 13, 2012

Reyes will help Toronto tremendously. There's very little doubt about that. Johnson, on the other hand, will struggle. He's talented, and he's proven himself in the past, but stepping up the American League East is nothing to take lightly.

The AL East is baseball's toughest division. It asks the most of its pitchers because two of the league's high-budget teams like to stack their lineups up with dangerous hitter after dangerous hitter.

Johnson made 31 starts last season after making just nine the year before. He posted an 8-14 record with a 3.81 ERA—the highest he's posted since his 7.47 ERA in 2007.

It's tough to gauge because of his injury history, but his 2012 season wasn't necessarily good.

Pitching in Rogers Centre isn't going to make it much better. Johnson only allowed 14 home runs last season, but Marlins Park held balls better than most last season, according to ESPN. Going from a park that allowed less than 0.75 home runs per game to a park that allows 1.030 bombs per game is going to make a difference, even if it's a small one.

Because of the stadium change, the long balls that Johnson allows should go up. When you factor in a stronger division, they could go up even further. That doesn't lend much optimism to a bounceback year in 2013 for the powerful pitcher.

Picking up Johnson makes sense. Sometimes a change of scenery can help a player, but this one doesn't look like it's going to have many positive effects. He's going to receive more run support from Toronto's lineup than what he got from Miami's group, but that's not going to help him keep runs off the board.

Johnson isn't short on ability, but this isn't a good situation for him.