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Ben Johnson

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The Mets acquistion of OF Ben Johnson from mthe Padres reminded me of something I wrote about him last March.  With the exception of the change of teams and the names of that team's OFs, my fantasy baseball assessment remians unchanged.

As I perused John Sickel's The Baseball Prospect Book 2006, I flipped through the j's and came to Ben Johnson. His power numbers in 2005 and 2004 were interesting. He hit 28 HRs combined between AAA and the Padres last season and 23 the season prior.

What struck me was he had been bouncing around for this entire century. I vaguely recall his appearing on prospect lists for a long time. He always had double digit HR and SB, a trait I cannot resist, but his AVG was always terrible, one I cannot ignore after several seasons.

In 2004, he struck out 136 times while hitting .251. The jump in power was not accompanied by the double digit SB. Not exactly a a combination I'd note. Also, I was under the impression he'd be an old minor leaguer by then.

However, he improved his strikeouts in 2005 while retaining the power. His AAA AVG jumped to .312 The two HR data points is a trend in baseball. The decrease in strikeouts, accompanied by a slight increase in walks and a large one in AVG, is what makes him noteworthy. I also realized he'd only be 25 this season - certainly not young but definitely not too old.

The Padres enter 2006 with Brian Giles in RF, Mike Cameron in CF and Dave Roberts in LF. The Padres acquired Termel Sledge in the Adam Eaton trade and resigned Eric Young. There is OF depth, depth that I believe will be used.

Johnson may not get much of a chance without two injuries - one to a starting OF and another to Termel Sledge. If that happens grab Johnson especially if he does a decent job while acting as a 5th/6th OF/pinch-hitter. He could be that mid-May/June pick-up that accelerates your teams towards the thick of the competition for some money.

If you have a very strong hitting team, Johnson is worth a 5th OF slot or UT.