Just 33 days before pitchers and catchers report, the Cubs have brought back two role players from the 2008 NL Central Championship team. The Cubs have signed OF Reed Johnson to a Minor League Contract and C Koyie Hill to a 1 year/$850,000 contract. Hill, who signed with the Cubs prior to the 2007 season, has avoided arbitration for a second consecutive year.
Johnson, 34, returns to the Cubs organization after spending last year playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Johnson appeared in 102 games for the Dodgers last year, while getting on base at just a .292 clip, while slugging .366. Last year was Johnson’s worst since coming to the National League.
Not to worry, Cubs’ fans! If used properly, Johnson will not put up numbers anywhere close to what he put up last year. Unfortunately, Johnson received an equal amount of PAs against LHP and RHP while with the Dodgers, despite having an OPS 170 points lower vs. RHP. Johnson hopes to be able to put up the numbers he had vs. LHP, rather than his numbers vs. RHP in 2011 with the Cubs. Despite already having 4 OFers battling for a starting spot, Johnson will face a battle of his own the newly acquired OF Fernando Perez for the 5th OF spot on the roster.
Koyie Hill, 32, will be looking to improve upon his lackluster 2010, which was the worst of his career. Hill appeared in 77 games, in which he was worth -0.7 Wins, or 0.7 losses, according to WAR. Hill also posted a .242 wOBA in 231 PAs. There were 346 players that got over 200 PAs, 340 of them had a higher wOBA. The good news for Hill is that he can’t get much worse. However, the bad news is that the Cubs have a 24 year old catcher named Wellington Castillo who can, at worst, put these numbers up for about half the cost. Hopefully the Cubs give Castillo a chance to prove himself in Spring Training, otherwise say your prayers that Geovany Soto doesn’t get hurt again, or else we will be subjected to the poor excuse of a baseball player that is Koyie Hill.