Cubs Roster Profiles: Reed Johnson
As the 2012 season approaches, Cubbies Crib is profiling each and every member of the Cubs forty man roster. Today, we are talking about Reed Johnson.
The scrappy veteran outfielder is a fan favorite at Wrigley, and the mention of his name usually triggers memories of two spectacular catches he has made in Cubs road gray in the past. One being the diving grab in the left center field alley at Washington that he was able to hang onto despite the play resulting in his cap bill being bent back at almost a right angle, and the other being his Spiderman like effort to climb the right field wall in Milwaukee to rob Prince Fielder of a grand slam.
But highlights aside, many fans appreciate the cliché 110% effort you can count on from the veteran outfielder.
After having a subpar year in 2010 with the Dodgers, Johnson decided a return to the familiar Cubs blue pinstripes would be a good setting to get back on track. That ended up being the case. Johnson saw his batting average creep above .300 for the third time in his career and he was just shy of the .350 OBP mark. He was a perfect fit for the reserve outfielder role and both parties benefited.
Johnson is now 35 years old, so some may wonder why he was brought back when there are outfielder prospects like Brett Jackson knocking on the door. A veteran that can handle the bench role would be an even better fit for a contending team, but as mentioned earlier, the Friendly Confines appears to provide Johnson the comfort that allows him to produce at his best.
It would also be foolish to have prospects like Jackson or Matt Szczur sitting on the bench all season long when they can continue to gain valuable at bats in the minors. Veterans like Johnson more times than not seem to mold better to the part time role than youngsters, and we would not want to see Tyler Colvin 2.0 from any of the top outfield kids.
Barring injuries, Johnson will most likely get most of his playing time spelling defensively handicapped Alfonso Soriano in left field. Due to age and his history of back issues, it may be unfair to expect Johnson to repeat his numbers from last season, but anything north of .275 at the plate with an OBP over .325 will be just as satisfactory out of Johnson’s role this season.