Tagged: Reed Johnson

8/16 Cubs sign Horacio Ramirez

The Cubs have signed left-handed pitcher Horacio Ramirez to a Minor League contract, and he was assigned to Triple-A Iowa.  Ramirez began the season playing independent ball with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League. He was 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA, giving up eight earned runs over 36 2/3 innings in 12 games (six starts). He was originally drafted by the Braves in the fifth round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft. Ramirez has played for five different teams, making his ML debut in 2003 with the Braves as a starter. He also has pitched for the Mariners, Royals, White Sox and Dodgers. A California native, he is 40-35 with a 4.65 ERA (356 earned runs/688 1/3 IP) and 318 strikeouts.

The Iowa Cubs also announced right-handed pitcher Jaye Chapman, acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm-Reed Johnson deal, was placed on the disabled list with a strained elbow, retroactive to Aug. 14. Chapman, acquired along with pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, was 3-6 with seven saves and a 3.52 ERA in 40 relief appearances with Triple-A Gwinnett this year. In six appearances with the I-Cubs, he gave up eight earned runs over 7 1/3 innings.

— Carrie Muskat

8/5 Baker to Tigers

The Cubs continued to deal veteran players, sending utility man Jeff Baker to the Tigers on Sunday for two players to be named. The ability to move Baker helped the Cubs decide to promote top prospect Josh Vitters. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said they had some talks with the Tigers at the Trade Deadline about Baker, and Detroit claimed the versatile right-handed hitter off waivers. The two teams then worked out a deal.

“I’m happy for Jeff,” Hoyer said. “They wanted him a lot and he gets to go into a pennant race and we get to bring up Josh and give him a chance he’s earned.”

Baker wasn’t surprised at the news. The Cubs now have dealt Paul Maholm, Ryan Dempster, Reed Johnson, Geovany Soto and Baker this week.

“When you see the direction they’re going here now, you knew it was a possibility,” Baker said. “When they made the moves with Maholm, Reed, and Demp, to be honest, I don’t blame them. They’ve got to go young and see what they’ve got and see what they’ve got for the future. I just made up 21 games in the standings, so I’m definitely excited about that.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/31 The Braves’ take on Cubs deal

Ryan Dempster’s decision to block a deal to the Braves may have benefitted Atlanta. One week ago, the Cubs and Braves had a deal in place which would’ve sent Dempster to Atlanta for 22-year-old pitcher Randall Delgado. But Dempster apparently exercised his 10-and-5 rights, and said no. Now, the Braves have a starting pitcher and an experience right-handed bat on the bench after Monday night’s deal which sent Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta for two Minor League pitchers. The Cubs are looking to the future. They get heralded right-handed pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino and Minor League right-hander Jaye Chapman.

“It was a perfect fit for us,” Braves GM Frank Wren told reporters in Atlanta Monday night, including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. “We got two real key pieces for us that we were looking for.   If we are done, if nothing else materializes for us [Tuesday], we’ll be very happy with where we are right now.”

Vizcaino, ranked as the Braves’ third-best prospect by MLB.com, is a hard-throwing right-hander who spent the final two months of the 2011 season in Atlanta’s bullpen.  He underwent Tommy John surgery in March. Once he is healthy, the 21- year-old hurler has the potential to be a dominant force at the back end of the bullpen or possibly a starting pitcher.

“He’s a good-looking young pitcher and we gave up a quality prospect,” Wren said. “But to not give up some of the guys that have been mentioned, that was a real plus for us.  The Cubs are in a different spot than we’re in.  They’re looking for  a long-range young pitcher that they can hold on to for a long time. We’re in a spot where we feel like we have a team that can win.”

When the Braves began their search for a starting pitcher, they put Zack Greinke at the top of their wish list. It appeared they had Dempster but once he rejected that deal, the Braves began looking at other options. Maholm is 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA in his last six starts.

“The thing that kept coming back from scouts is that he is not going to give in,” Wren said. “When I say that, he’s not going to throw a fastball just because he’s behind in the count.  He’s not going to throw you a fastball in fastball counts.  He’s going to pitch his game and he’s been very good at that.”

The Cubs also will send some cash to the Braves. Maholm isn’t just a rental; he has a $6.5 million option for the 2013 season.  His presence allows the Braves the choice to send Kris Medlen back to the bullpen after he makes his first start of the year on Tuesday.

Wren said he tried to acquire Johnson before last year’s Trade Deadline and has always liked the talented outfielder.  With some uncertainty surrounding Matt Diaz’s injured right thumb, the Braves had an even greater need to acquire Johnson this year. Johnson has batted .307 with three home runs and a .807 OPS in 166 at-bats with the Cubs this season.  The 35-year-old outfielder has batted .280 with a .743 OPS in 161 career pinch-hit at-bats.

“He gives you a professional at-bat and he plays the game the right way,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to find right-handed hitters who can play center field and left field as well.  With our club, that is so important. We need another right- handed hitter that you feel comfortable to put out there for a number of at-bats.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/30 Johnson, Maholm gone

The Cubs made some in-game lineup changes Monday night. Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto were both pulled from Monday’s game, but the Cubs would only confirm that Johnson and Paul Maholm were headed to the Braves. Soto is reportedly being traded to the Rangers, although that deal was still pending approval.

Johnson, 35, started in center field against the Pirates and scored two runs but was pulled for a pinch-hitter for his second at-bat. He went through the dugout and shook hands with his teammates, hugged a few of the players, and then exited. The veteran was batting .302 this season, including a .333 average against left-handed pitching. Soto, 29, who has been in the Cubs system since he was drafted in 2001. He was pulled after the Pirates sixth inning, and also greeted in the dugout by handshakes and hugs from his teammates. Soto was batting .199 this season in 52 games this season. He missed time because of a torn meniscus in his left knee. Maholm is 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA in his last six starts, and 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA overall.

“You hate to be pulling guys out of games,” Hoyer said. “It isn’t comfortable to go down there and make moves. I don’t like to make lineup changes.”

“I can’t lie to you, it was the first time I’ve ever gone through that,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

The Cubs will receive Minor League right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman from the Braves in return. Chapman, 25, was 3-6 with seven saves and a 3.52 ERA in 40 games with Triple-A Gwinnett. Vizcaino, 21, may be the prize in the deal. A power arm, he was ranked as the second-best prospect by Baseball America. He made his big league debut with the Braves last season, and was 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in 17 relief outings. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery which he had in March.

“We’ve been really clear all along that we’re not contending right now and we need to take assets that are shorter term and turn them into longer term assets,” Hoyer said Monday night.

The Trade Deadline is Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT.

— Carrie Muskat

7/30 Cubs lineup

Justin Germano makes his first start for the Cubs Monday night as they open a three-game series against the Pirates at Wrigley Field. This will be Germano’s 37th Major League start and first since 2010 with Cleveland. Germano has never faced the Pirates, and last pitched at Wrigley Field in 2008 while a reliever with the Padres. Lefty Erik Bedard will start for the Pirates. Here’s the lineup:

Johnson CF

Castro SS

Rizzo 1B

Soriano LF

Baker RF

Soto C

Barney 2B

Mather 3B

Germano P

— Carrie Muskat

7/30 Countdown to Deadline

Will Ryan Dempster make his start Tuesday night for the Cubs? Or will he be in another uniform? Will a team take a chance on Matt Garza, who has not pitched in one week?

The Trade Deadline is a little more than 24 hours away, and the Cubs’ roster is still intact. Dempster has drawn interest from the Braves and Dodgers, and although the Braves have said they’ve moved on, the Cubs may come back to them if they can’t work out a deal with the Dodgers. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal points out that under the new CBA, there is no longer a required 24-hour waiting period for 10-and-5 players to approve a trade. That would mean any deals can go right to the deadline as long as the player gives consent. That applies to Dempster, who has 10 years in the big leagues and five with the same team.

Garza is in a different situation in that he would be under team control through 2013. But Garza’s elbow cramp came at a bad time for the Cubs. He had to leave his July 21 start after three innings. An MRI confirmed the cramping, and a little fluid in the elbow, but it’s not serious. The Cubs have X-rays to prove it. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen on Monday at Wrigley Field. Expect a few early bird scouts there to watch.

Paul Maholm may draw interest from teams, too. He’s 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA in his last six starts.

“As a manager, you’d be upset if anybody is gone as far as starting pitchers,” Dale Sveum said Sunday. “But that’s part of the game. Whatever happens, that’s part of what happens with organizations trying to do things different and trying to build for the future.”

The Cubs pitchers aren’t the only ones drawing interest. Teams looking for another bat for the bench are focusing on Reed Johnson, David DeJesus and Jeff Baker. Johnson and Baker are well suited to their roles as bench players; DeJesus has been a starter. The Pirates were believed to be keeping an eye on Johnson and DeJesus.

Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, and general manager Jed Hoyer have been working the phones rather than talking to the media in the last few days. The deadline is Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT.

— Carrie Muskat

7/28 Reed to the rescue

Reed Johnson has heard his name mentioned in rumors so many times, he simply ignores them.

“I’ve had rumors over my 10-year career and never been traded,” Johnson said Saturday. “It’s a situation for me for when you’re packing your stuff, that’s when you believe you’re headed somewhere else. If I stay here, great; if not, I realize that’s part of the game, and I have to move on.”

On Saturday, Johnson drove in the game-winning run with a pinch-hit bunt single in the seventh to give the Cubs a 3-2 win over the Cardinals.

“That was on his own,” Dale Sveum said. “He’s a good bunter, and I remember once in Boston, he did it against us with the bases loaded and it turned into a monster inning.”

Tuesday’s Trade Deadline can’t come soon enough for the players, who are weary of the rumors. It’s not really distracting, Johnson said.

“Once you’re in between the lines, you don’t think about it too much,” he said. “Maybe before the game when you’re in the clubhouse with the guys, everybody’s kind of chipping on each other about getting traded, and you think about it then, but once the game starts, you forget about that stuff. It’s a good release to get out there this time of year.”

He’s had family and friends keep him up to date.

“I feel like my mom could be my agent because she always has an idea of where I’m going to go but I never end up anywhere,” Johnson said. “I might have to fire her.”

Could Johnson, who was batting .448 as a pinch-hitter this year, help a team?

“He’s a valuable guy to a team vying for a championship or trying to get to the playoffs,” Sveum said.

 — Carrie Muskat

7/15 Extra bases

* On Saturday, Ryan Dempster earned his career-best, fifth-straight win, tossing six scoreless innings. Dempster extended his scoreless-innings streak to 33 dating to his start June 5 vs. the Twins. It’s the longest scoreless-innings streak by a Cubs starter since Ken Holtzman also tossed 33 scoreless innings in 1969. Dempster’s scoreless-innings streak is one of only four streaks to reach 33 IP in the last 95 seasons of Cubs baseball dating to 1918 (also, Bill Lee 37 IP & 35 IP in 1938; Holtzman 33 IP in 1969).  The 33 scoreless innings are a career high for Dempster, surpassing his previous mark of 30 1/3 set between the 2005-06 seasons as a reliever.

* The Cubs head into Sunday’s game riding a season-high five-game win streak at home. The Cubs now are 21-20 at Wrigley, moving above the .500 mark at home for the first time since they were 6-5 following play, April 23, 2011.

* Reed Johnson (2-for-4, 2B) is batting .563 (9-for-16) since July 5 at Atlanta.

* Darwin Barney (1-for-3, 2B, R, RBI) extended his errorless streak at second base to 74 games and 597 1/3 innings since his last miscue (4/17 @ MIA – 8th inn.).

* Carlos Marmol has converted his last eight save opportunities dating to May 2 at Cincinnati.

* With Saturday’s win clinching a series victory over the D-Backs, the Cubs are unbeaten in their last five series (4-0-1 dating to June 25-27 vs. the Mets) for the first time since September 9-25, 2008 (4-0-1).

* The Cubs are 11-4 in the last 15 games and 27-15 record when scoring four or more runs. They also are 5-1 in the last six games and 6-2 in the last eight against left-handed starting pitchers dating to June 25 vs. the Mets.

* Friday notes: Alfonso Soriano (4-for-4, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI) recorded his 30th-career, multi-homer game and his second of 2012 (also, June 8 vs. Twins). Soriano has totaled 149 homers as a member of the Cubs, surpassing Mark Grace for sole possession of 13th place on the club’s all-time list. Soriano’s five RBI tied his career high (it is the seventh time he has accomplished the feat, most recently Sept. 6, 2008 vs. the Reds).

* Paul Maholm earned his third-straight win on Friday. He is 3-0 with a 0.81 ERA in four appearances (three starts) since June 29.

— Carrie Muskat

6/20 Cubs lineup

The Cubs close their intracity Interleague series against the White Sox on Wednesday night, sending Randy Wells to the mound against Gavin Floyd. Bryan LaHair is back at first base because Steve Clevenger is catching. Reed Johnson is starting in right. Can the Cubs complete the sweep? Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF

Castro SS

LaHair 1B

Soriano DH

Clevenger C

Barney 2B

Valbuena 3B

Johnson RF

Campana LF

Wells P

— Carrie Muskat