R.I.P. Reed Johnson, 2003-2008
Reed Johnson was a beloved leftfielder, teammate and Shelby Cobra owner who always gave his scrappy 110%. He broke relatively late (age 26), which shrouded him in a perpetual underdog status even after he'd won a full time job. I'll never forget the game in 2006 when he got beaned three!?! times. He always put the team ahead of himself. He was good to great with the glove, and alright with the bat, which means he ways at least an average ballplayer all things considered. And there's a certain pride to be taken in that. You will be kind of missed, Reed, by some of us, I mean.
So, we have an offseason where JP seemingly takes the lesson of 2007 to heart (injuries can derail the best of plans) and does everything cautiously, aiming to give the club depth enough to get through the bad times that will inevitably come over the span of a 162-game season. Eckstein replaces Clayton, Scutaro replaces Howie Clark (ya, him), Barajas replaces Phillips, and Buck Coats is a Show-ready OF to be stashed in Syracuse alongside Adam Lind. But going with Stew over Reed doesn't really fit the plan.
I'm going to jump to the conclusion that JP's stated aim of going with a LF platoon of Matt Stairs + warm body was untruthful from the beginning. You simply don't make the decision--to dump the superior defender and hitter against lefties--they did today (or the earlier one to pass on Kevin Mench) that being the case. One injury to Rios or V-Dub and we're going with the defensive nightmare of a Stairs/uninjured regular/Stewart OF? Someone will be called up, of course, but neither Lind nor Coats defends like Reed.
It's the peanuts involved that really stick out about the move. Reed has to be bought off for roughly $500 grand, so Stewart will ultimately end up costing about 2/3 of what he would've been paid. The savings to the club from this move is around $1 million.
If the club is so strapped, why did they give J-Mac (2 years, $3.8 million) and Scott Downs (3 years, $10 million) the deals they did? The latter was the more baffling of the two; Downs definitely should've had trade value--Scott Linebrink brought in three players at the deadline last year--or could've been allowed to walk at the end of the year for draft pick compensation. J-Mac could've been signed for less, and for one year for that matter. And now I get to wondering how we're supposed to raise the cash to sign Rios and Hill long term if we couldn't afford $1-ish million for the superior player in LF?
It all sits ill with me right now for so many reasons. And Marco Scutaro should get to dusting off his outfielder's glove, because I have a sinking feeling he's going to need it this year.
Rotoworld's take on the whole affair:
I'm surprised by the way the Jays have gone about things in left field this year. They brought back Matt Stairs, who can pretty much only play left since Frank Thomas and Lyle Overbay own the DH and first base spots. They've got a seemingly Major League ready (and cheap) outfielder in Adam Lind. They decided to tender a contract to Johnson, something I did not expect. And then they signed Shannon Stewart on top of it all. What are the Jays going to do with all these guys?
Wilner wasn't surprised and notes the Reed had been preparing himself for this moment since Stewart was brought on board. The club's aggressive attempts to trade him in recent weeks were compromised by the fact that everyone knew they'd have to drop either him or Stewart by the end of March.
Randy Wells did well in a rain-shortened start against the Yankees yesterday. Good for him. That's pretty much it for today, folks.
* If you care about the Joba Rules, apparently he's officially slated to transition from the bully to the rotation mid-season unless injury/intense suckage forces it earlier. Really, this Yankees rotation is held together with gum and paperclips, people.
* Jose Cruz Jr. is still employed? Ya, he is.
-- Johnny Was