While watching the Cubs get beat badly by the White Sox, I noticed that Reed Johnson was in line up, but not in center field. Normally, that means Tony Campana is patrolling center. It's hard to argue with that, as there's a good chance that Campana is the fastest guy in the major leagues. But, Campana was in left field last night. David DeJesus was in center.
This seems to pretty clearly indicate that Reed Johnson is not the athlete he used to be. Which is sad to me. When I think of Reed Johnson, I'l forever think about when he got the game winning hit in extra innings in the first (and to date, only) game I was at with Kristine, and when he totally robbed Prince Fielder in one of the best plays I've ever seen. Though my memory is a bit faulty. He was in right for that catch, too. I guess this era has been over for longer than I realized. Still, any excuse to show this catch is a good one.
What is incredibly sad is that Reed made an even more unbelievable catch against the Nationals (on April 25, 2008), but no video seems to exist of it. It was of course uploaded to YouTube numerous times, but MLB and their complete non-understanding of how social media is beneficial has forced it down. And to reward us, that catch no longer seems to exist on their servers. The internet is supposed to be this huge, grand depository of human knowledge and experience. Only to be taken down by stodgy old men* who can't understand that you will make more money in the long run by opening things like this up. So, because of all that, all I can offer you is a link to a small photo montage of the catch that totally doesn't do it justice. That's no fault of the website, but there are no pictures that are going to show the kind of ground he made up, or how hard he went into the wall.
*Just guessing here.
I know I'm biased, but I will always think of Reed Johnson as a Cub thanks to those moments. I'm sure Toronto fans would have something to say about that, but that's just how it is around here. Oh, and Reed is a staunch supporter of stirrups. Does this guy do anything wrong?
In a somewhat related story,* debate is raging about Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals saying they're going to limit him to 160 innings this season, no ifs, ands, or buts. If I saw PTI right while I was waiting on my B-Dubs to go yesterday, he's currently sitting at 77 innings pitched. At this rate, he'll run out of innings in, what, August? Early September at best?
*Related only in that it's still about baseball, and we kinda-sorta talked about the Nationals.
Here's the problem. Strasburg is your ace, as he would be on a lot of teams. Right now, you've got your team poised to make the playoffs for the first time since the team has been in DC.* And you're going to shut down your ace for fear of injury?
*And only the second time in franchise history. And making it that year was a fluky deal. The Expos went into the 1981 playoffs because a player strike forced the season into halves, and Montreal won the second half division title. They would have finished second in the division (behind St. Louis, who didn't go to the playoffs at all). The Expos even managed to beat the Phillies in the divisional round (the first divisional round in baseball, thanks to the halves set up that was supposed to be a one-off. Thanks, Bud!) and pushed the Dodgers to a deciding game five. Not a bad showing for your first crack at it.
Look, I'm not a big proponent of pitch counts or inning counts. You know how you get stronger? You push yourself. You go just a little further than your body typically goes, which will break down the muscles in your body. Then, when your body rebuilds those muscles, it makes them able to withstand the new toll you're taking on them. Now, does that mean you need to push it to the point you need Tommy John surgery? No, but I don't think putting restrictions on how many innings your guy throws is going to prevent that. If anything, it will promote that. He won't throw enough innings, so his arm won't continue to develop and get stronger. Which means the first time you really tax him, in, say, a deep playoff run, he'll probably injure himself.
As of right now, the Nationals are leading the East by three games. There is every reason to think they can take this division. Shutting down your ace is going to put that in peril. Now, would it be worth it to let him skip a few starts? Probably. He has some well-documented arm issues. Clearly his arm is not quite built up enough, and nobody wants to see him turn into Mark Prior. But letting him bulldoze his way to 160 innings and calling it a season isn't going to help anybody. Let him skip some starts in August, maybe even in July. Let that arm rest and rebuild itself. That way you have a fresh and healthy Strasburg to barrel into September and October. You shorten your rotation to be Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Edwin Jackson, that's a rotation that could drag your offense kicking and screaming into the World Series.
And for God's sake, MLB, get your pitchers throwing long toss as soon as they're drafted.