I’d been pretty darn hard on Chris Johnson for a long time and up until he was dealt to Arizona last Sunday, I still wasn’t a believer. That said, I thought he had value and considering he was playing good ball coming up to the trade deadline, a trade was a possibility. So it took me by no surprise to see a move happen – but what did surprise me was what was given back for Johnson. See, while I saw value, I wasn’t sure he had the value to bring back significant prospects in return. Jeff Luhnow would prove me wrong and once I saw the prospects coming back to Houston, I was left speechless and left even more impressed than I already was with the young general manager.
Luhnow made move after move, revamping an improving farm system with each move. The beauty of his new toys was that not one of them was the top of the line merchandise that shoppers are willing to embarrass themselves over come Christmas. However, each acquisition had a purpose and kept the new found momentum going. The last move may have been the best. Exchanging a mediocre third baseman, having a decent season, for two prospects that have something that isn’t found so easily, power. Marc Krauss and Bobby Borchering may not be huge names but both have promise. Since the trade both have shown that promise and then some. Both are torturing AA pitching for Corpus Christi and are making Jeff Luhnow look like a genius.
Now let’s talk about Chris Johnson and what he left behind. Was Chris ever an all-star, heck no but he did provide offense at times. He was never meant to be the next great Astros’ 3rd baseman. His defense was mediocre at best but often below average and at times a magnet of criticism. I can admit to judging him unfairly and often expecting way too much from him. I wanted Ken Caminiti in his prime but got a league average player at his best. I partly blame Chris himself because after he came up in 2010 and tore through NL pitching, it created a certain level of expectation that probably couldn’t be met. Looking at his stats right now and they’re not bad, not bad at all. He is hitting .285 with a respectable .783 OPS combined this season and has now shown life in his power bat. I thought he had value but would bring back very little, I was wrong and happy to be wrong because not only did the Astros seem to make out pretty good but Chris Johnson is going to contribute to a playoff contender.