Inbox: Why stick with Johnson?
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers Cubs fans' questions
Reed Johnson, Aramis Ramirez, Starlin Castro's intro music and the flags are among the topics in this week's Inbox. Email your questions to email@example.com, and please include your full name and hometown.
Why did the Cubs get rid of Sam Fuld? He's a great defensive player with speed, something the Cubs need. Johnson's best days are behind him.
-- Tom P., Wolcottville, Ind.
If Fuld had stayed with the Cubs, he would be a bench player, and last year in that role, he batted .143 with the Cubs. He was out of options and wasn't going to bump Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin or Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs' outfield rotation. It's been tough enough for Colvin to get playing time. As for Johnson, he delivered the game-winning home run in the 11th inning of Game 1 on Wednesday against the Padres and went 3-for-4 in the second game. Cubs manager Mike Quade on Johnson: "What makes him such a great player off the bench is he knows his role and is ready for any situation." That's a valuable piece to have.
The Cubs rank last in all of baseball in stolen bases. Last year, Tony Campana stole 66 bases, best in the Cubs' farm system, sixth overall in the Minors. As a leadoff man, he hit .319 for Tennessee. This year, he is leading off for Iowa and hitting over .400. He plays center field and turns 25 in May. Clearly he is more valuable to this Cubs team than Johnson. Why don't the Cubs recall him and release Johnson?
-- Mike B., Plainfield, Ill.
Campana may be more valuable down the road, but right now, he needs to play every day. Teams like having experienced players on the bench, and Johnson is a perfect fit.
"It's easy to lay down and stop making the effort because you're not playing as much," Johnson said, "but when that opportunity comes -- whether it's an injury or you're called on late in the game -- if you put that work in and that preparation in, you're going to be more successful than not."
Why doesn't Ramirez bat third? He's been the best hitter on this team for so many years and has never batted third (that I can recall).
-- Cody W., Clarksville, Ind.
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 know it's early, but based on his performance, what is the chance that Darwin Barney will be considered for Rookie of the Year honors?
-- Jack R., Indianapolis
If Barney keeps hitting and playing the way he has, why not?
I've noticed the Wrigley Field organist plays John Williams' "Imperial March" from "Star Wars" whenever Castro walks up to bat. Did Castro choose this music as his at-bat music or is it just a choice by the organist to warn opposing pitchers of the impending doom that is Starlin Castro's bat?
-- Jarrett P., Chicago
Organist Gary Pressy is in charge of the at-bat music this year. I thought he played Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star" as well for Castro. It's more of a play on "star" and not because of the "force" of Castro's bat.
I live in Blake Parker's hometown, and I haven't been able to find anything about him this spring. Is he still in the Cubs' organization?
-- Steve S., Fayetteville, Ark.
Parker is pitching for Double-A Tennessee, and through Wednesday, he was 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in five games, giving up six runs (three earned) on nine hits and two walks while striking out seven over 9 2/3 innings.
My friends and I were arguing over the display rules for the "W" and "L" flags that fly after games at Wrigley Field to signify a win or a loss that day. Could you tell us all the rules? For example, should the flag be taken down at the end of the night or the next morning?
-- Billy B., Pella, Iowa
The flags are taken down late every night from the scoreboard. Here's a little trivia: When the Cubs win, they raise a new "W" flag each time.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.