New York Mets: 5 Reasons Why Johnny Damon Would Be a Great Fit for Citi Field
With the offseason almost coming to an end, the Mets are now trying to figure out who will play the minor roles on the bench, for example.
The Mets' bench for now consists of backup catcher Mike Nickeas, Scott Hairston, Justin Turner and the newly signed Ronny Cedeno. Barring any sudden promotions from the minor leagues, the Mets are missing a left-handed bat off the bench.
One veteran left-handed hitter who could help the Mets in 2012 could be free-agent Johnny Damon, who has had a long and productive career in the American League.
Damon would most likely be a strict pinch-hitter, being that he has lost the defensive range he once had. Furthermore, he has had one of the worst throwing arms in the league for years.
Here are five reasons why Johnny Damon could be a great fit for the Mets—and for Citi Field in particular.
Citi Field Is a Park for Gap Hitters Like Damon
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Despite having 231 career home runs, Damon has never been considered a power hitter throughout his career.
He's more of a doubles hitter and has hit over 30 doubles in 11 of his 17 seasons in the league. With Citi Field still having its vast outfield gaps, Damon should be able to hit plenty of doubles at Citi Field.
If Jason Bay struggles early on in the 2012 season, the Mets could experiment by having someone like Damon play left field for a while and bat leadoff.
Damon has always been a solid table-setter, and with Jose Reyes no longer on the team, the Mets could certainly use a new catalyst to spark the offense.
2. There Is a Short Porch in Citi Field
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Damon's best offensive season came recently in 2009, and it was no secret that the new Yankee Stadium's dimensions played a large role for not just his season, but also the seasons of his teammates that year.
That year, Damon batted .282 with 24 home runs and 82 RBI. Like the rest of his team, he took advantage of the short porch in the new Yankee Stadium's right field, plus the possible wind current that exists at the stadium.
Many people may think that if Damon plays at Citi Field, he would never have a shot to hit many home runs. The thing is that Damon is a pull hitter and could easily pull some home runs into the small porch that Citi Field has in the right-field corner near the foul pole.
The distance from the right-field foul pole from home plate is only 330 ft and could be very useful for someone like Damon who knows how to use right-field porches to his benefit.
Ever since Citi Field opened, the Phillies' Chase Utley has used Citi Field's right-field porch to his benefit, hence leading to the unofficial term, "Utley's Corner."
An area of Citi Field should not be named after a Phillies' player. Hopefully, a left-handed pull hitter like Damon, despite always being more of a doubles hitter, could start hitting some home runs there to take the attention away from Utley.
3. Damon Would Be a Great Pinch-Runner in a Deep Park Like Citi Field
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No one currently on the Mets bench is particularly quick, so in the late-inning situations when the Mets could use a faster pair of legs around the bases, it would be difficult for the team to choose a quick and reliable pinch-runner.
However, if Johnny Damon becomes a Met, he could definitely fill that void and be a legitimate pinch-runner if need be.
Andres Torres, David Wright, and to a lesser degree, Jason Bay are the only starting Mets that have at least decent speed on the bases.
Thus, pinch-running situations could come in handy for this team, especially since Citi Field has never been a ballpark for sluggers.
4. Damon Could Be a Solid Injury Replacement at a Place Like Citi Field
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In the event that Jason Bay, Lucas Duda or Andres Torres get injured and is out for a long period of time, the Mets may not have to worry as much about a solid temporary replacement.
Although he's 38 years old, Johnny Damon, if he is a Met, could do a great job by filling in for an injured player.
Damon has been around baseball for almost 20 years and would provide suitable hitting, running and defense. His throws probably will not impress anyone, but other than that, Damon should be able to play well if he's forced to start every day.
The only other player who the Mets have who could play all three outfield positions is Scott Hairston, but being that Hairston has been a streaky hitter throughout his entire career, the Mets may want to opt towards a more consistent player like Damon if one of the starting outfielders gets hurt.
5. Citi Field's Left Field Is Not Too Deep
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If Damon ever plays a certain outfield position for the Mets, it would almost certainly have to be in left field, due to his weak throwing arm and the smaller area of space within the stadium that he would have to cover.
Citi Field's left-field area is the easiest area in the outfield to cover, being that there aren't any weird gaps in left field, compared to the alleys that were once in right field. The left-field foul pole is at 335 ft from home plate and the left-center field area only gets as deep as 385 ft. Thus, that should be a comfortable task for Damon to perform if he ever needs to play the field in a starting role.
As for the left-field wall, it's getting lowered and should not affect Damon's playing ability by any means.