17 March 2012

Last of the Expos: Nick Johnson

NICK JOHNSON - 24
Last transitional Expo/Inaugural Nat to be traded away.

Nick as a "Damn Yankee"
 
Nick Johnson started his Major League career with the New York Yankees. Post-Nationals he would return to the Yankees after his brief stint with the Florida Marlins, and due to the Yanks super-star roster be sent back down to the Minors). Nick was the last of the transitional Expos/Inaugural Nationals players to be traded away. He was traded for a Minor League pitcher Aaron Thompson plus some cash on the 31 July 2009 trade deadline. Thompson has yet to be brought up permanently from the Minors and has since been traded away. He had been put on waivers by the Nationals and picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates he made his Major League debut with them. Last December he signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins and was invited to their spring training.

 Nick was traded to the Marlins for this guy Aaron Thompson who is still in the Minors
Aaron Thompson in Nationals uniform 2010 (photo via wikipedia)

I was really upset with that trade as I have been with all the trades that involved a fave player. This one like most of the others I feel were not really worth it and the player the Nats traded for has since moved to another team, usually within a year or two.

As for the Ex-Montreal coaching staff most of them were fired when the club cleaned house while getting rid of Manny Acta in September of 2008 pitching coach Randy St. Claire was the lone exception who would last until June 2009 the last of the old Expos Coaching Staff.

Nick may not have been the best first baseman but he was the current Nationals "First" 1st baseman. When the Nationals started up in 2005 he was one of my fast first favorites along with Brian Schneider, Ryan Church and Brad Wilkerson. Part of his charm is his old-school way of wearing the high socks over the shorter pants, all he needs are the stirrups and he is the retro king. His on base percentage I thought was exceptional. He would often get to a full count and then after 10 pitches or so either draw a walk or force the pitcher to get him out. So yeah he struck out a lot.

23 September 2006 Shea Stadium vs New York Mets - Aftermath of collision between Nick and Austin Kearns

Unfortunately Nick has had a string of injuries over his career and set-backs due to those injuries. He never had much speed, and after his big leg injury at Shea Stadium in 2006 vs the Mets (a result of a collision with Austin Kearns) he was never the same running the bases, but he was still a decent first baseman.

Nick Johnson slides home to score vs the Boston Red Sox during spring training game 06 March 2012 Tho Orioles lost 5-4. - Associated Press photo

Currently Nick is trying to reboot his career with the Baltimore Orioles. He signed a Minor League contract (on 08 February 2012) with them and has been at spring training with them. I'm hoping for good things for both the B'More team and Nick. Now onto the cards.

I love vintage and I love these Retro sets. Ironically when I first saw one of the first Topps Heritage card packs for sale at a 7-Eleven (Football I think) back in 2001 or so I thought it was a terrible idea. I now think it is because football doesn't retro as well as baseball does. Now I really enjoy them.

2006 Topps Heritage Baseball - 188 Nick Johnson Nationals
(Front and Back)

2008 Upper Deck Baseball Series 2 - 700 Nick Johnson Nationals
(Front and Back)

2009 Topps Baseball Updates & Highlights - UH289 Nick Johnson Marlins
(Front and Back)

2005 Topps Heritage Baseball - 183 Nick Johnson Nationals
(Front and Back)

2003 Topps Total Baseball - 271 Nick Johnson Yankees
(Front and Back)


Senators/Nationals mentioned in this post:
Manny Acta
Ryan Church
Nick Johnson
Austin Kearns
Brain Schneider
Randy St. Claire
Aaron Thompson
Brad Wilkerson

On Deck Brian Schneider - (39) 23

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