Okay, maybe it's a little cheap to spit on the casket of Reed Johnson's career with the Blue Jays before they even lower it into the ground. Still, with the news of Shannon Stewart's signing, you can't help but dig a little deeper into Johnson's career numbers and find him wanting.
Last year, just by eyeballing through the cathode ray tube, we saw Johnson standing further back from the plate and using a longer bat. (He can deny it, but we'd like to think that our seat six feet away from our 27" Toshiba makes us the authority.) We saw Johnson unable to get to pitches on either the outside or inside corners, and we rarely saw him hit anything with a great deal of authority that wasn't a mistake pitch from a bad pitcher.
Plus, he runs like a girl.
The first half of Reed Johnson's 2006 season was extraordinary, if not extraordinarily flukey. His batting average on balls in play in those first 68 games was an absurdly high .409, which likely means that Reed got more than his fair share of seeing-eye squibbers. In the second half of that season, his BAbip dropped more than 80 points, and it has continued to decline in every half-season since.
Granted, he was hurt last year. (Where have we heard that before?) Still, we respect the fact that the Blue Jays' front office is at least taking out some sort of insurance against a further decline.
And as far as the other half of the game goes, Reed has engendered an awful lot of good will for himself by laying out for catches, and for generally being "gritty", "scrappy" and "full of heart". (Cripes, did we even need to bring in Eckstein? We already had a short white guy!)
Don't fret for Reed, though. This season was likely to be his last with the Jays anyways, with Adam Lind and (eventually) Travis Snider coming up quickly from behind him. He managed to cash in on those 12 weeks worth of excellent fortune, and will find a National League team to take him on as a supersub next year, if not sooner.