Pirates interested in Kelly Johnson as outfielder

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Non-tendered by the Braves last week, Kelly Johnson is said to be drawing serious interest from the Pirates, but Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that they view him as a corner outfielder rather than a second baseman.
Pittsburgh has previously been linked to free agents like Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock, so clearly the Pirates are targeting left-handed hitters coming off down years with the idea of slotting them into either first base or right field with Garrett Jones manning the other spot. Johnson has been the Braves’ starting second baseman for the past three seasons, but has never graded out particularly well there defensively and did play left field as a rookie in 2005.
If he’s healthy and bounces back offensively Johnson would be a good low-cost option at second base for a lot of teams, but even his best years at the plate would be merely average production for a corner outfielder. Johnson hit .282/.362/.451 over 1,222 plate appearances in 2007-2008, but fell to .224/.303/.389 in 2009. He’s a career .264/.346/.430 hitter, whereas the average MLB corner outfielder batted .270/.345/.443 in 2009.
Average hitting and above average fielding certainly isn’t a bad combination in right field, but that likely represents Johnson’s upside coming off a career-worst, injury-wrecked season. As a second baseman who potentially hits like a corner outfielder Johnson makes plenty of sense on a one-year deal, but the Pirates can probably do better in their search for a left-handed outfield bat.

Wade Miley will start NLCS Game 5 for Brewers

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The Brewers haven’t yet decided what route to go for Game 4 of the NLCS, but Wade Miley will start Game 5, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Miley will be on three days’ rest after starting Game 2 on Saturday.

Miley, 31, has yet to give up a run this postseason. He made his postseason debut in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Rockies, hurling 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He then went 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dodgers.

Jhoulys Chacín is starting tonight’s Game 3. It seems likely the Brewers will go with an “opener” in Game 4. Who that will be likely depends on which pitchers are used tonight.