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.)
Why is that disconcerting, OB?
He was a big key to the crazy start, a big key to the end of last year, a big key in not beating the Mets (although lots of help from a tired inexperienced team there), so although the team as a whole can get through a series with a good Jake it will be tough with a bad Jake. I don't think it's realistic to have the insanely great Jake again, but maybe it is. Seeing today's box score it appears maybe it is - but I haven't been able to tune in yet.
IMO Jake is really the key to winning the World Series, but maybe I'm putting too much emphasis on one player.
The reports that they offered EITHER Jimenez or Torres for Chapman are a little disconcerting. I hope 1) Those reports are wrong, and 2) if they are not wrong, that they will hold on to him, as the team could use the outfield depth. I have only seen him in the futures game, but he looks like a keeper.
Very nice. I saw him in Lansing in May. I'm still stunned that he hit a 400-foot foul ball onto Larch Street ... which is going the other way for a right-handed batter. It was perhaps the most amazing swing I've ever seen a minor league player take. I should also mention that it was about 40 degrees out at the time. Not that it's evidence of anything per se, but I feel his plate approach is way more advanced than Soler was at this stage in his development and that the comparisons aren't really fair to Jimenez. 50/50 chance I'll go to Midland tonight for the low-A debut of Oscar de la Cruz.
Eloy Jimenez grand slam tonight. Hoping Soler power returns and gets hot but future looks bright in the outfield regardless.
Finished the night 4-5, with two doubles - 32(!) on the season - along with the grand slam. Sick
Meanwhile, out West:
SF is 2-11 since the break, lead over LA is down to one game, and they are running out Cain and Peavy this weekend against the Nats. Challenging times by the Bay.
Thanks for the updates Phil. Too bad about Frazier.
The Cubs have released RHRP Scott Frazier (2013 7th round dfraft pick - Pepperdine).
A Cubs pitching coach told me in Spring Training 2014 that he thought Frazier had the best pure stuff in the organization. Absolutely electric fastball & breaking ball combo. Other pitchers would gather behind the screen just to watch him throw "live" BP. That's how amazing he was.
Got a chance to see Diamondbacks RHSP Zack Greinke (15-day DL - strained oblique) throw a rehab start at Sloan Park Friday night. Four of the first seven AZL Cubs hitters singled and the Cubs did score an unearned run in the bottom of the 1st inning, but then Greinke got serious and struck out five in a row.
ZACK GREINKE: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 4/0 GO/AO, 49 pitches (34 strikes)
Have fun - It may be good for Arrieta to be facing a team that doesn't know him as well as the NL teams. A nice shutout would do wonders for his confidence. He is confident in public but baseball is hard and he could use a boost, I'm sure.
Me too. I'll be at the game tomorrow and would love to see Good Arrieta.
Last few games have been the April version of the Cubs that disappeared completely the past two months.
Hope they can sustain it.
Don't sell yourself short, Judge.
I love this team.
Looks like Mother Nature is trying to call this fight.
Hey! I remember this team!