Mailbag: Will Johnson get more starts?
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat tackles Cubs fans' questions
Reed Johnson, the Cubs and the World Baseball Classic, closer options and Mark Cuban are among the topics in this week's edition of the Mailbag. Keep those e-mails coming -- the Mailbag is back on a weekly basis.
Why haven't the Cubs shown more interest in making Reed Johnson an everyday player or at least part of a steady platoon? All he did was give a spark to the team when the big three (Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez) were all flat. Did he even get an at-bat in the playoffs?
-- Mark S., Excelsior Springs, Mo.
No, Johnson didn't get an at-bat in the National League Division Series, but that was because the Dodgers never called on a left-handed pitcher. If the Cubs move Kosuke Fukudome to center, he could share playing time in a platoon with Johnson, who has a career .313 average against lefties and .268 against right-handers. Last year was Johnson's first after back surgery. If he's healthy and produces, he'll play.
After looking at Team USA's potential roster, I noticed not one member of the Cubs was listed. Will the Cubs organization allow their players to play in the World Baseball Classic this March? If so, who will potentially be representing their country?
-- Andrew A., Sumiton, Ala.
Who will represent the Cubs has yet to be determined. The Cubs did have players participate in the first World Baseball Classic in 2006, including Lee and Michael Barrett on Team USA, and Carlos Zambrano and Henry Blanco on Team Venezuela. Lee suffered a bruised shoulder in an early game against Japan in '06 and that's the risk the parent club has to weigh. Zambrano has said he doesn't want to pitch in the 2009 event because he doesn't want to risk injury.
I see that Brian Fuentes and Billy Wagner are free agents. Will the Cubs consider going after them to lock up the bullpen with Kerry Wood at closer, Fuentes/Wagner at setup and Carlos Marmol in the seventh-inning setup?
-- Alex A., Oak Park, Ill.
First, Wagner has a torn ligament in his elbow and may not pitch again. That's not an option. Second, the Cubs have to re-sign Wood, who is a free agent and will be courted by several teams this offseason. If Wood doesn't return, Marmol may take over the closer duties.
Have a question about the Cubs?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Cubs beat reporter Carrie Muskat for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
I don't understand why MLB doesn't want Mark Cuban to buy the Cubs. So far, I haven't heard one good reason as to why he isn't qualified. In my opinion, he's more than qualified. He has the money, obviously, and has a passion for winning that the other candidates do not. What's your opinion on this matter?
-- Ryan C., Vernon Hills, Ill.
There have been unidentified "sources" who say Major League Baseball doesn't want Cuban to buy the team. But until someone official from either Major League Baseball or the Tribune Co. says he's eliminated, Cuban is still in contention. The problem now isn't finding the right person, it's finding the financing to complete the deal.
Living in Iowa, I see lots of the Peoria Chiefs and Iowa Cubs. Any word on Minor League coaching staffs? Iowa Cubs skipper Pat Listach got snagged by the Nats, so there's a vacancy. Will Ryne Sandberg be back in Peoria for a third year or stay in Arizona? Jody Davis just won the Florida State League. Could he move up to Des Moines?
-- Lynn S., West Branch, Iowa.
There will likely be an announcement about the Cubs' Minor League coaching assignments during the Winter Meetings, which are Dec. 8-11. And congrats to Listach on his new job.
With Barack Obama being elected President of the United States, do you believe his support for the White Sox will encourage the Cubs to have a more active offseason in order to be the best team in Chicago in '09?
-- Drew D., Rock Island, Ill.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.