Cubs Potential Offseason Targets: Kelly Johnson
I'm in the midst of one of my hell projects at work, this one just happens to be a little more hellish and is gonna last until December. In order to keep the fun going around here, I thought I'd present some reasonable trade and free agent targets over the next weeks - some of the low-hanging fruit that will probably be more in line with Hendry's budget for 2010. I'm not really going to make a case one way or another, rather just try and open up the discussion. Today's guest is Atlanta Braves second basemen Kelly Johnson....
Braves GM Frank Wren came out today and said Martin Prado will pretty much go into 2010 as the their starting second basemen which leaves Kelly Johnson as prime trade bait. It doesn't mean the Braves have to move him, but he's certainly going to be available for the right price, which can't be a whole lot for a guy with a .692 OPS last year. He's also arbitration eligible and coming off a 2.85M payday in 2009, so it's very possible - let's go ahead and call it likely - that he'll just end up being non-tendered if he's not traded before December 12th.
A tough year for Johnson in 2009 and honestly in 2008 he didn't look to great either until he just went nuts in September with a 1.071 OPS to bring his season OPS to a respectable .795 for a second basemen. And he did battle through a knee injury for most of 2008 as well. Defensively, BP has his Rate2 numbers as above average at 108 for his career while UZR over at Fangraphs doesn't think highly of him at all. The Fan's Scouting Report compiled by TangoTiger seems to think of him as average to below average at second base.
On the upside, 2010 will be his age 28 season compared to it being Mike Fontenot's age 30 season and the Cubs could definitely use an infusion of talent under the age of 30. His minor league numbers cumulated to a .832 OPS, but he broke out in 2005 with an OPS of 1.018 in Triple A at age 23 and looked well on his way in 2006 before an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery prematurely ended his season. Actually, Johnson started out as
a left fielder(make that shortstop, then 3b, then left field) in the Braves system and that injury forced him to second
base, but enough time has passed that there's the very small possibility that he could fill a
utility role of some kind. If there's one thing that really makes me think it would be a good idea to go after Johnson, is that he had a BABIP of .249 last year, compared to his .313 career mark. He's either forgotten how to hit a baseball or last year was more about bad luck than anything else. He has a career walk rate of 10.9% which is on the high end and sees 3.94 pitches per plate appearance although both numbers have taken a hit over the last two seasons. Either he's losing his patient approach at the plate or pitchers have been more willing to go after him as his power numbers have dropped off.
There's no way the Cubs would pull off a trade for Johnson and just hand him a job, the only reasonable scenarios are make a trade or sign him after he's non-tendered and then let him compete with Jeff Baker...that is unless the Cubs end up signing Chone Figgins to play second base which I have my doubts will happen. Also any reasonable scenario of bringing Johnson in would mean the end of the Godenot era, but I personally have no problems with that as Johnson is younger, higher upside and has had major league success as a regular.
So how say you TCR readers, should the Cubs make a run at Johnson?
*UPDATE* I should note that Mike Fontenot does have one option year left and at 2 year and 139 service days (according to Arizona Phil) it appears he's going to miss Super Two status by two days
meaning the Cubs could bring him back on an auto-renew and send him to
the minors if there's no spot for him after spring training.
Photo courtesy of PicApp (AiWire Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom Content © 2009 Newscom All rights reserved.)
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.