Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Reed Johnson

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Reader Blog: Cubs' 2009 castoffs: What are they doing now?

Milton Bradley
He's been slowed by a calf injury and, presumably, by the fact that he's certifiably insane. He's hitting .214 with two home runs and 12 RBI. He has a relatively poor .313 OBP. Oh, and he's mad again.

Aaron Miles
Miles disappointed the Cubs immensely in 2009, and did the same to the Reds in spring training. They designated him for assignment (i.e. released him) on April 5, and he signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals last Tuesday.

Reed Johnson
Jim Hendry let Johnson go in favor of free agent Xavier Nady. Johnson found a home with the Dodgers, and here's the comparison thus far:


So, basically, it's a big shoulder shrug of a move at this point. However, there's a $2.5 million difference in their salaries, so Nady needs to get it going to make Hendry's investment a good one.

Andres Blanco
He has only amassed 33 at-bats with the Rangers thus far--his slash line (average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) is an underwhelming .212/.278/.212.

Rich Harden
Rich Harden has been SO Rich Harden with the Rangers. He has not allowed more than four earned runs in any of his six starts this season, yet he's gone five innings or more just three times. His walk total in his first five starts: 5, 3, 6, 4, 5. Not good. He's had two pretty good starts in a row, however, including a dominant outing on Monday.

Aaron Heilman
You probably know what he's up to after having seen him pitch against the Cubs this weekend: six earned runs in just 10.2 innings on the season (5.06 ERA), plus five walks and two home runs.

Kevin Gregg
Gregg lost out on the closer role in spring training, but Jason Frasor's struggles have resulted in several save opportunities for him. He's 7-for-7 in those chances, has struck out 16 guys in 13 innings, and has a miniscule 0.69 ERA. Basically, he's been awesome. If we would have known he was going to do that, he would have fit real nicely in the eighth inning for the Cubs!

Read more of Brandon's work at his blog Wait 'til this Year!

2009 Recap: Reed Johnson

Reed Johnson
Reed Johnson, Scrappy White Guy.  I'm sure that Milton Bradley was extremely jealous of Reed's popularity in the time he was in Chicago.  After all Cub fans loved Johnson and his shiny bald head, while they were apparently erecting flaming crosses whenever Milton stepped onto the field. 

The difference being, of course, that Reed does a lot with a little talent, while Bradley did little with the amazing gifts he was born with.  That doesn't mean Johnson was a shining example of Chicago in '09, though.  Far from it, he was hurt and hit about 50 points below his '08 performance.

Still, for a 4th (or 5th) outfielder, Johnson put up acceptable numbers.  He batted .255 with a .330 OBP and posted an OPS of .742, which was only 36 points below his '08 numbers when he batted .303.  The problem was that he got hurt, fracturing his foot and being DL'd on July 30th.  He returned for the final week of the season, long after the Cubs were out of it, and probably finished his career as a Cub with a double in their 5-2 loss to Arizona on October 4th. 

There are a lot of questions about Reed's future, but with the recent signing of Xavier Nady and the likely inclusion of Micah Hoffpauir (and maybe even Sam Fuld) on the 25 man roster, it's pretty certain that he'll be elsewhere in 2010.  It's understandable that he'd be gone, he was just a small cog on a team of suck in '09, but it will be a bit of a shame because he was fun to watch if only for being so successfully average.

If the 2010 Cubs will be successful, though, they will probably need a 4th outfielder who is above average, and healthy to boot.  So long, Reed.

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With Reed We Will Succeed?

It's amazing what a difference a few extra words mean.

In all the daily Chicago newspapers, overshadowing the pathetic Pirate sweep, lead stories picked up on Ted Lilly's choice of undergarment yesterday.  Namely, a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan "With Reed We Will Succeed".  I made the mistake of first reading the Sun-Times article, which states that Reed gave the shirt to Lilly.  Self Serving, much?  But doing due diligence, I checked GoatFriend Paul Sullivan, who noted that Reed was given the t-shirt by a flight attendant, and, embarrassed to wear it himself, gave it to Lilly, known for his lack of pretense when it comes to free stuff.  Much different story there.

So, even in the face of a miserable performance, the Cubs clubhouse is once again a harmonious home for our wayward jock heroes. 

My question today to you, Cub fans and Goat readers: is the fact that Ted Lilly wants Reed back, and presumably other teammates do, too.  Is this enough? 

In my mind, Reed does not add anything significantly that Fukudome doesn't already have, and in fact is not a great deal better than Sam Fuld - except his batting average with runs in scoring position.  I mean, Fuld has played in over 60 games without an RBI??  For all you Fuld Fanz, let me break this to you gently...Sam sucks!  I know he plays hard.  Hey, I can find you ten guys in the aisle next to me that will run full-out for the major league minimum.  Doesn't make them major league ballplayers.

So the fact that Reed Johnson isn't substantially better than Sam Fuld tells me that it is wasted money if you pay him much more than the minimum.  Great guy, probably.  Nice 25th man.  His teammates love him.  Is that a good enough reason to keep him?  Or would you rather have Hoffpauir and Fox, two guys who are nearly the same player, will hit .250, hit double-digit home runs?

Johnson, Fox, or Hoffpauir.  Pick two of the above for 2010.  Or one or none, if you wish.  We don't have room for three, unless you are planning on starting one of them.  And if you are, then we are in big, big trouble.

Open Forum: Call-ups and Line-ups

Update: The moves have been announced.

Fuld and Hart have been sent to AAA, and Patton is on the DL with a groin strain.

As for the line-up, here's tonight's:

Fukudome, CF
Theriot, SS
Lee, 1B
Bradley, RF
Ramirez, 3B
Soriano, LF
Soto, C
Fontenot, 2B
Wells, P

From earlier:

At some point today, the Cubs will announce their recall of Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson, and Angel Guzman to the major league club's active roster. They'll also announce the corresponding roster moves they've made to make room for these three bona fide major league players.

In my opinion, roster and line-up speculation is what makes sports blogging fun. Not only do you get to play GM, but you also get nearly instant feedback from other passionate fans with interesting ideas of their own.

With that, let's try to get some opinions in the comments on what folks are thinking would be ideal for the club at this point. There are two questions to answer:

1) Who should be sent down?

2) How should Lou line the hitters up now that Aramis is back?

News Flash: ReJo to DL, Freel takes spot

According to Chris DeLuca of the Chicago Sun-Times
, the Cubs will send Reed Johnson to the disabled list tomorrow, as the outfielder continues to deal with back spasms.

Reed was phenomenal in his 41 at-bats from the month of May, posting a .366/.413/.707 slash line. For those keeping score at home, any OPS above 1.000 is, as Big Z might say, "fantastico." His June numbers are significantly down, however, perhaps as a result of this injury problem.

DeLuca also reports that utilityman Ryan Freel will be taking Reed's spot on the roster. Freel has been playing well in Iowa, hitting .417 with four doubles and five steals in seven games.

I wonder if Freel will see any action in center field against lefties.


White Slice has a blog

Mr. Reed Johnson has graciously picked up the Official MLB blogging slack that Mark DeRosa left behind when he was traded to Cleveland.  I was looking forward a great deal to White Slice's blog this year, because I figured it was going to be a merry romp to 97 wins and the NL Central crown, and all Reed would have to do is make fun of Lil' Mikey Fontenot all summer.  I was anticipating a different "dwarf" joke for each week, along with the blow-by-blow of Font's reaction from the previous post.

Of course, things haven't exactly happened that way.  Sure, Font blew up good after the first couple of posts, and Reed really hasn't nudged him again, but it isn't because Mikey is a sensitive soul and Johnson deep down cares about his feelings.  No, it's because there's bigger fish to fry - the offense sucks like Jenna Jameson on payday, some of our highest-paid producers aren't producing, and we're wasting some quality starts with some miserable situational hitting, along with some madcap bullpen adventures. 

It would appear arrogant and uncaring if Reed continued to fill his space with car talk and how short the inseam of Font's pants are, and to his credit, he has instead tried the best he can to address the mindset of his ballplaying peers.  He does a pretty poor job, but hey - I wouldn't want one of my peers out here trying to speculate why I'm not designing my databases efficiently, so Reed's left staring at the 2-ton gorilla.  The Cubs offense sucks, he knows who sucks and probably why, so he hems and haws to let us know that he DOES smell the suckage, but in the name of team unity, he isn't going to peel open the lids in OUR presence.

He says that "guys shouldn't alter their approach" to hitting.  On one hand, this is an extension of "don't mess with what got you here".  It's a safe statement to make, but I'm thinking poor Reed is trying to talk to us here, in code.

Now, what you will find if you go out to his blog, and read the comments, is that they come in two flavors: the teenage girls and housewives from Des Moines are gushing with love for him, patting him on the rump and telling him to keep up the good work.  Bleah!  On the other hand, you have the reactionary dickweeds, you just know these mopes put down the Old Style and sausage long enough to splutter that Soto Sucks, Lee Sucks, Soriano Sucks, Fontenot Sucks, trade them all, trade them as far as they can possibly be traded, bring in A-Rod and Pujols and all them...(the actual type of people that China and heimie always accuses ME of being)...anyway, if Reed doesn't read his comments, small wonder.  He ain't getting a whole lot of constructive criticism.

My point of all this today is that some guys SHOULD change their approach.  Why?  Because several of them are NOT practicing what got them to the bigs. 

Soriano, well, he is beyond anything I can offer up here.  He more than any other guy on the team has hurt us the most the past 2 weeks.  Outside of the three homers, has he even hit the ball?  But somehow he will end up with his .270/30/90.  More than anyone, Alfonso has REMAINED true to who he is.  He simply isn't quite as good as he was four years ago.  Ditto Derrek Lee. 

I'm fairly convinced Font is not capable of holding down a starting role for a full season, and he's killing us, too, but until we get back any one of the three guys from the DL that can play third base, he's stuck where he is.  Andres Blanco could never hit big league pitching, and he still can't.  The Bobby Scales Experience has extended LONG past it's expected life.

The two guys, though, that should take a look in the mirror are, of course, Geo Soto and Milton Bradley.  Both have played well in the past, both are not playing well now, and both need a reality check.  Lou Piniella HAS been trying to mess a little with Soto lately, letting Hill get more playing time.  As for Bradley and his "calf tear", if he's hurt, he should be on the DL.  If he isn't, then he should be out there busting his ass.  No way Lou and Hendry should allow him to hold this roster hostage over his contract.  (Bradley earns incentives for number of "days available" - and putting him on the DL risks his losing these incentives). 

I find Bradley's current situation repulsive.  Either suck it up and play the way you had last year, or put yourself on the DL and heal.  That's the choice.  He can't be allowed to do what he's doing now, not with the crap lineup we run out there every day, and shame on Lou and Hendry for allowing this to happen.

I know YOU can't say all this, Reed, but I can.  You're welcome.

Gamecast: May 31st vs. Dodgers

Cubs v. DodgersEric Milton (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Sean Marshall (3-3, 3.70 ERA)

Story Lines

In case you've been avoiding the Cubs for the past week, I would like to point out that they have a chance to take 3-of-4 against the best team in baseball tonight at Wrigley Field. How have they done that? Well, they continued to pitch well thanks to Randy Wells, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster. Then, yesterday they broke out the bats to club the Dodgers 7-0.

All of the sudden the Cubs are showing signs of life before heading out on a 9-day road trip to Atlanta, Houston and Cincinnati next week. With Milwaukee pounding the Reds this afternoon, the best they can be is 3.5 games out of first, which is just fine. The Brewers and Cardinals are in action tomorrow, so maybe we can pick up a half game without playing.

Back to the game at hand, the Dodgers are throwing Eric Milton. I thought he retired or something. Apparently, Milton did not pitch in '08, before signing a Minor League deal with the Dodgers this season. So far he's made two starts and is 1-0. I can't imagine he will keep up his 3.00 ERA, so I expect the Cubs to score a few today. Milton marks the fifth lefty the Cubs have faced this week, which is something you don't see often. They have fared pretty well against them, except Randy Wolf on Thursday.

Marshall will counter for the Cubs. In his last three starts, he's only gone five innings in each of them. Of course one of them was a rain-shortened complete game, but it is an interesting trend to look at in the time being. Unless somebody else gets hurt or the Cubs trade for another lefty, Marshall will move to the pen when Rich Harden comes back. I'm not sure how I feel about this, but if Randy Wells keeps pitching out of his mind it won't matter much.

The only other thing that's really got to worry Cub fans is the super-ice-cold Alfonso Soriano. Pat Hughes made a statement yesterday that he was a limping after catching a fly ball, but he stayed in the game. The Cubs really can't afford to lose another player, but playing with half a player really isn't that great either.

Who's Hot
Reed Johnson - What has gotten into Reed? He shaves his beard and goes nuts. In the last seven days, Johnson is hitting a not so cool, .389 with 3 HRS while posting a 1.339 OPS. Also, Reed is doing the little things like laying down 2-out bunts. This recent hot streak has raised his overall average to .270. Now if we can some other guys this hot.

Mike Fontenot - Nine days ago Fontenot was hitting .193 after a pinch-hit appearance. I guess he thought he might lose his job or something, because he's raised his average 37 points. He came up  with a 2-for-3 preformance yesterday that included a double and a triple, not to mention a walk and two RBI.

Milton Bradley
- Well he didn't do any real damage, but he collected three hits and saw his average raise to .223. Hopefully, he's ready to carry the team for a couple weeks and get up to around .270.

Who's Not

Alfonso Soriano - What's cooler than being cool? Well, I guess it's Soriano, who went 0-for-5 yesterday. He's average has dropped to .246, and he hasn't hit a HR since May 17th.

Bobby Scales - It wasn't a great day for Crash Davis. Scales rapped into two double plays and left four guys on base.


After losing a game on Thrusday it seemed unlikley the Cubs could win this series, but they have that chance now. I suspect the Cubs will put together a good performance and get pick up their second straight series win.

Also, I'm going to all three game in Atlanta. Scott Lange, of the Northside Lounge, and I will be tailgating at least a couple of days this week. I will try and post more details later, but we're probably sitting in the Upper Deck. Leave a comment below if you anybody wants to get together.

Gamecast: May 28th vs. Dodgers

GameCastRandy Wolf (2-1, 3.01 ERA) vs. Randy Wells (0-1, 1.50 ERA)

Story Lines

It's the battle of the Randy's today as Wolf takes on Wells in a 12-round fight. Err, 9-round? Oh, forgot it. Anyway, the Cubs come into tonight's matchup smoking hot. They've scored 19 runs in three games against a dynamic foe. Who am I kidding? Ok, the Cubs did what they had to do to beat the Pirates, now they must face the best team in baseball, not to mention the enemies of last year's .....well, you know.

Wells has been as solid as a call up could be. Too bad he hasn't won a game thanks to Kevin Gregg and some lackluster offense. Wells will have his hands full tonight with the Dodgers. Right now the Dodgers lead the league in BA, Runs, and OBP. Their only 2nd in OPS, and fourth in Slugging.

The Cubs are only 4-games out of first with everybody else off tonight. So, this is an excellent chance to gain a little ground.

Carlos Zambrano continues to dominate the news a day after his gentle disagreement. The more I look at the video, the more I believe the ump bumped into Big Z. The word just came down, and Z will get six games. My guess is it is reduced to five games and he won't miss a start. It will probably be reduced on appeal, and Z will miss one start at most. With an off say on Monday, the Cubs could just adjust the rotation without calling up anybody.

In other news, Ryan Freel was placed on the DL, and Bobby Scales was called back up. I hope he actually didn't make it Iowa, but if did at least he got some airline miles for his troubles.

Who's Hot

Mike Fontenot - don't look now, but Fontenot is 6-for-15 in his last six games. He's not driving in runs, but he has to start somewhere.

Geovanny Soto - Geo is still not hitting for power, but he is drawing walks and getting on base. He's got five hits in his last five games. Now, if we can only get a few more HRs.

Ryan Theriot - After a little slump, Theriot started hitting again. He went 3-for-3 yesterday.

Jake Fox - Ok, I know it's early, but the man just hits. He's got a 3.00 OPS right now (I know it's just one AB).

Who's Not

Light hitting middle infielders - Aaron Miles and Ryan Freel now find themselves on the better side of the DL in many Cub fan hearts. The good thing was that neither of them were really hitting.

Derrek Lee
- Lee had a 0-for-3 yesterday and is up to .246 on the year. We really need to see a few more 2-for-4 days with some 2B's and HR's.


The Cubs should destroy Randy Wolf, but stranger things have happened. Wells is long overdue for win, and I think he picks it up tonight.

Guess who's back..back again

NO, NO, NO, no, no!!  You're all doing it all wrong!!!

So, how are you all enjoying your Memorial Day weekend so far?  (For Canucks such as Kurt, the fourth weekend in May here in America is set aside for...)  Ok, Kurt is actually here somewhere in the lower 48, and of course he grew up in New York, and that's probably the last attempt at humor from me for the rest of this post, because this shit just ain't working.  I came out here after the first 20 games, I think we were 11-9, and I pointed out that Geo Soto was fat and sassy, that Milton Bradley completely had his head stuck up his ass, and that Derrek Lee's best days are absolutely behind him, and you all flamed me up one side and down the other, leaving me with a nice charred crust with very little pink in the middle, because by gawd, it's only TWENTY games, give guys a chance, for cripes sake!!

Now, it's forty games in, we're 21-19, which means we've played .500 ball since that last post.  I did what you said, I gave them a chance to work things out, and what's happened since? 

  • Geo Soto still ain't hit dick
  • Milton Bradley is still pressing
  • Derrek Lee is not only still struggling, but he's now doing it in the cleanup spot
  • and, now, we've exposed Mike Fontenot for what HE is, useful as a backup, but not capable of hitting on an everyday basis
  • and, as an added bonus, Ryan Theriot has gotten away from what HE does best (go to right field) and he's swinging for the fences, with the predictable result of a plummeting batting average, on-base percentage, and overall usefulness
  • and, of course, Aramis Ramirez' shoulder is still fusing itself back into one piece
  • and, we now have not one, but two useless utility men burning at-bats and butchering plays in the field.  Sometimes, the Orioles aren't stupid, and I know pretty much the Cardinals aren't.

    But what worries me the most is looking at Lou Piniella night after night.  There is a noticeable cognitive difference in him from 2007 to today.  His job is stressful - particularly when he has come so close twice, and have it all slip away so suddenly and completely.  This job turns people.  When Dusty Baker hit town, he was all California Cool.  By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin.  When Don Baylor hit town, he was all New Age Enthusiasm.  By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin.  When Jim Riggleman hit town, he acted like the slimy horndog he was.  By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin, which was probably somewhat based in reality, considering his typical nighttime activities.  (When he and Mark Grace left town, it left a lot of dental hygenists and flight attendants in their mid-30s unfulfilled)

    Now, Lou don't talk like he's in pain, but I have talked to people trained in diagnosing dementia, and they notice how he can't seem to put a coherent sentence together when he is asked a question.  He is probably the most confused man in Chicago presently, and not only does that explain why Neal Cotts still has a job, it doesn't bode well for the immediate future of the Cubs.  I have backed this man since day one, but I can no longer. 

    Hendry ain't gonna fire him, no way.  But I don't believe Lou has an answer for 2009, and in the meantime, we are wasting some decent-to-good starting pitching.   Man, I still think getting Jake Peavy would send a message, but Adrian Gonzalez would look a HELL of a lot better in pinstripes.  Too bad he ain't available...

Game Recap: Cubs 6, Astros 3

Cubs 6, Astros 3
It's odd, but I've read multiple recaps about the game and nowhere have I seen a mention of the passed balls capitalized on by the Cubs. 

Regardless, Reed Johnson's big day was emphasized by scoring not once but twice on passed balls.  But probably more impressive was Reed's 3-run triple in the 1st inning and Aramis Ramirez's homerun in the 7th, giving the Cubs all the offense they'd need to beat a putrid Astros team. 

On the mound Rich Harden pitched 7 splendid innings of 1-run ball; unfortunately Lou elected to dip from the well once too often and left Harden in there to be hammered in the 8th.  But then Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg - both of whom will be the subject of an afternoon post if I can remember it - stepped in and closed out the game for a Cubs win.

Overall the Cubs collected 8 hits and 4 walks, and the only two members of the Questionable Quartet to start today - Bradley and Soto - combined to go 1 for 8 with a walk and 2 runs scored.  Not exactly splendid by any means.

Talent In, Garbage Out
Although we Cub fans appear to be brimming with common sense, Hendrinella did not release Neal Cotts yesterday and designate Angel Guzman as the defacto LOOGY, but they did smartly demote the struggling Jeff Samardzija while promoting an Iowan Fox - only not the right one for the job.

Chad Fox - rather than the ball-crushing Jake Fox - has been called up.  Fox apparently enjoys the taste of pain, otherwise he'd be retired by now.  Presently in 11.1 innings of Iowan work he has an ERA of 1.59, but I ask again - why do the Cubs need 7 relievers?

The other Fox presently has a .393 AVG in 89 at bats along with 12 homeruns.  And did we mention that before this season he's played 274 games at catcher, 119 games at first, 4 games at third, and 99 games in the outfield?  Isn't that kind of versatility valuable? 

Cubs play for the mini-sweep today.

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