Saturday, April 15, 2006

Oakland Slogs Through Dan Johnson's Slump

In an 0-27 slump and hitless on the year, Oakland's Dan Johnson was due to luck into a single and finally did with a broken bat bloop Friday. The A's continue to remain committed to the 26-year-old first baseman, who briefly led the team in batting average last August. GM Billy Beane remains convinced that Johnson will break out any day. Barring a trade of pitching for offensive help, Beane has few other options. Nick Swisher could be moved from the outfield to first and underachiever Jay Payton from the bench to the outfield, but Beane finds unsavory the prospect of Payton playing full time after a succession of lackluster performances in recent years. Lucky for Johnson, first base prospect Daric Barton is only 20 or Beane would be eyeing Barton's .320 average at AAA Sacramento. Barton has an excellent eye at the plate, projects with 30-homer power and has batted in the .300 range in three minor league stops. However, Barton is not expected to be ready until next year at the earliest.