Johnson Only Slight Upgrade

As fellow Venom Strikes’ contributor Nicholas Valenzuela wrote here, the D-backs acquired 27-year-old infielder Chris Johnson from the Astros.

July 26, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros infielder Chris Johnson (23) throws out a runner in the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

The move brought lots of hope to D-backs fans as many saw it as a response to the Dodgers’ acquisition of Hanley Ramirez. And while Johnson is an upgrade over Ryan Roberts, who was traded to the Rays earlier in the week, it’s probably wise not to get too excited about Johnson.

Johnson has been a journeyman for pretty much all of his career. He was not a highly-touted prospect and has never had a great year. In fact, he was worse than a replacement player last year according to fangraphs.com, where he had a -0.8 fWAR.

He was better in 2010, when he accumulated a 1.5 fWAR in only 94 games, and has been better this season as he has a 0.9 fWAR so far. But for comparison, Roberts has a 0.6 fWAR this season and had a 3.6 fWAR last season. So, Johnson has never had a year like Roberts did last year and is only slightly better so far this season.

I, frankly, expected a better haul for Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss, who were sent to the Astros in the deal. However, Borchering has never been able to show he can field at any position and Krauss has been stalled in the organization for the last couple of years.

The simple truth is, the D-backs probably just didn’t regard either very highly and were willing to deal them for even a marginal upgrade. Still, if Johnson is able to finally bring some consistency to third base, it will count for something.

If he is able to account for even one Win Above Replacement for the rest of the year, that can mean the difference between a playoff spot and a spot on the couch for the D-backs.

Just temper the expectations a tad.

Topics: Bobby Borchering, Chris Johnson, Hanley Ramirez, Marc Krauss, Ryan Roberts

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