Kelly Johnson A Diamond(back) In The Rough

I really like it when teams make smart and sound acquisitions. The latest example of this–the Arizona Diamonbacks’ signing of free agent Kelly Johnson.

According to SI.com’ Jon Heyman, via Twitter, the Diamondbacks have signed 2B to a one-year, $2 million contract. Johnson will undergo a physical today.

Johnson is headed to the valley of the sun

There are two ways you can look at Johnson.

The first way is to look at the player, whose OPS has declined three straight years and lost his job to Martin Prado last season. There are some Diamondback fans that are probably wondering why the Diamondbacks would sign a guy who spent the majority of the 2009 season in Bobby Cox’s doghouse?

It’s a good question and I could see why a fan would ask it.

However, there is a second way to look at Johnson–the way I look at him.

I am probably a bigger fan of Johnson than most people. Here is what I wrote about Johnson in my Free Agent Primer:

“Non-Tender Candidate Sleeper: Kelly Johnson. On December 12th, hundreds of players will not be tendered contracts. The sleeper out of this bunch–Kelly Johnson.”

Johnson was put in Bobby Cox’s doghouse in Atlanta in 2009, but in 2007 he had an OPS of .831 and in 2007 he had an OPS of .795. He is a classic change of scenery guy.”

I really believe Johnson just needs a change of scenery. Just because a player was in a manager’s clubhouse doesn’t mean he can’t play. Adam Kennedy was in Tony LaRussa’s doghouse and he did quite well with Oakland last season.

I fully expect Johnson to have a year that rivals what he did in 2007 and 2008. .280 with 10+ home runs and an OPS around .800 is not out of the question for Johnson in 2010.

For the Diamondbacks, they get a second baseman to replace Felipe Lopez, who was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers last season. While Ryan Roberts and his 300 tattoo’s were productive in 2009 (.276/.367/.416 in 110 games), I am guessing the Diamondbacks view him more as a utility player rather than a full-time starting second baseman.

Johnson will be 28-years-old next year and has a career .264 average and a .777 OPS in four seasons with the Atlanta Braves.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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