While every one now is pondering why Roy Halladay is needed on the Yankees (he isn't), I want to focus on the first important deal that Brian Cashman will attempt to get done.
After Johnny Damon finally helped the New York Yankees back to the World Series, and winning their first title since 2001, he is a free agent again. And every time Damon has been a free agent, he has changed teams. He was the good corporate guy who said all the right things before, during and after the big parade down the Canyon of Heroes.
Damon would "love to be a Yankee again," and he wants "to end my career in New York."
But after making the defining play of this years World Series with his double steal, smart dash to third base*, it appears Damon does want more of the Yankees...more of their money and more years in his contract.
*Great photo above on the double steal isn't it? But while looking at the photo I am left wondering why right fielder Jayson Werth is just standing there like a little leaguer. On steal attempts all three outfielders need to move forward towards the infield in case of an errant throw or a rundown ensues.
Before his breakout in the 2009 post season, it was widely thought that the Yankees and Damon would agree to a one year deal with incentives, similar to what Andy Pettitte signed with New York last off season. That type of situation would work well for bothe sides; the Yankees would retain the popular Damon with reasonable dollar figures and Damon would continue to play his usual 140+ games per season.
Damon would play mostly left field and occasionally DH to give his 36 year old legs a rest.
Now Damon (his wife, Michelle and agent Scott Boras) says that many teams are interested in his services, and he has told friends that he will not give the Yankees a discount to stay with the World Champs.
There is no other way to say this - Johnny Damon is a moron. Simply put, if he leaves the Yankees then he is a very stupid individual.
While a member of the Boston Red Sox, Damon was considered one of the "idiots" of their 2004 World Series title team.
That name aptly fits this older version of Damon, too.
After finally experiencing a World Championship in the best city to win a sports title of any kind, Damon wants more money. His agent has bandied about needing a four year deal for the 36 year old outfielder. But Boras' free agent rants never get his client was he says they deserve.
In separate interviews Boras has said that Damon should get the same type of deal that Yankee catcher Jorge Posada (also 36 at the time) received prior to the 2008 season. Then Boras said that Damon "made Derek Jeter" by hitting behind him this season and his client compares favorably (saber and fantasy stst wisw) to the Yankee captain over the last three seasons. He stated that "whatever the Yankees plan on doing with Jeter long-term, Damon deserves similar consideration."
Problem for Boras and Damon is that the decision on Johnny will come well before any work on Jeter's new deal begins.
Also, Boras does not realize (or maybe he does and is just blowing his usual smoke), that the Yankees really needed Posada that off season, as they had nothing in their system at the catching position remotely close to the major leagues and the other choices available in free agency or via trades were terrible. At that time Francisco Cervelli had finished his first full season in the minors at High A Tampa.
In fact, the Yankees were willing to give Posada a three-year deal, but had to go the extra year because Jorge was being courted by Omar Minaya and the New York Mets, and at that time, the best available catcher was their own backup Jose Molina or free agent Paul LoDuca. Also, Alex Rodriguez had already opted out of his Yankee deal at that time, and the Yankees were in desperate need of right handed power, something the switch-hitting Posada provided.
In addition, Posada plays a more demanding position (although not as well as his younger years) and was a mainstay Yankee from their dynasty years.
Not quite the same situation as with Damon is it Mr. Boras? But when have you ever been reasonable in your free agent demands?
And in regards to comparing Damon to Mr. Jeter, a five-time World Series winner, de facto leader of the Yankees over the last 10 years, this generation's version of Joe DiMaggio and a sure fire first-ballot Hall of Famer... well I guess I just said all that needs to be said about that absurd Boras comment.
As the title of the piece says, Damon needs the Yankees more than the Yankees need him. There are quite a few left fielders available via free agency (Jason Bay and Matt Holliday) and within the Yankees own system - they can promote Austin Jackson, and have a trio of Jackson, Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner man center and left field.
Lefty power can then be supplied by Juan Miranda or re-signing Eric Hinske. The Yankees can also look at a one-year deal for Garrett Anderson, a Type B free agent. I am pretty sure his power numbers could improve in Yankee Stadium.
Or the rumored trade involving the Yankees and Detroit Tigers for center fielder Curtis Granderson would move Cabrera to left field and Granderson in center will supply the lefty power Damon provided last season. While I personally do not like Granderson for the Yankees, it is another option for Brian Cashman.
According to reports Damon has options, too. Remember that even Damon said several teams have shown interest. Those teams include the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox (very early reports). But lefty hitters are a dime a dozen. What most teams need is righty power such as Bay and Holliday. The Red Sox, Rangers, Rays and a dozen other teams fit this category.
And from what I remember, Damon hits left handed. So I do believe some teams are interested in a guy who put up a line of .284/.365/.489 this season with an OPS+ of 126. It is just that those teams are not good and would be in Damon's worst interest to sign with them.
Damon needs to think about himself first, but not in the monetary sense, but in terms of legacy. It is what every person wonders - how will I be remembered in this game, business, job, family etc? And in major league baseball, legacy is determined by World Series Championships and the Hall of Fame.
According to baseball-reference.com, Damon has made a tick over $97 million in his baseball career. Assuming he hasn't blown it all (and TMZ is more busy following Tiger Woods' life), he is pretty well set, as are his children, his future grandchildren AND THEIR future grandchildren!
Unless you are Montgomery Brewster, a person can't even begin to spend all that cash.
In other words Damon doesn't need any more money.
What Damon does need is more career hits, runs, doubles, HR's and RBI's. Evidenced by his never being in the Top 10 of any MVP vote, Damon has not been dominating in any aspect of his game during any part of his career.
Damon needs to accumulate stats to even get a whiff of the Hall of Fame. He has two World Series rings, but Damon needs to get 3,000 hits, needs to get to around 1,800 runs scored, needs 600 doubles, needs 300 homers and needs about 1,300 RBI's.
Is Damon going to get to those numbers hitting second in the White Sox lineup? Will he get there hitting in spacious AT&T Park in San Francisco, hellish for a lefty hitter? No and no. The Red Sox might need a left fielder this year, but Damon can never go back there.
Damon bests interests for HOF consideration (and a great legacy) is playing for the Yankees where he gets to hit in cozy Yankee Stadium, hitting behind a Hall of Famer in Jeter and in front of Mark Teixeira (potential HOFer) and Alex Rodriguez (lock HOFer). Hitting in that lineup, while in that park, will get Damon more of the accumulated stats he needs to get serious Hall of Fame votes somewhere around 2020.
It would be great for Damon if they can work out that two year deal, and a TEAM OPTION for a third, which would keep Damon hungry to continue to produce.
I want Damon back to the Yankees. He would provide great offense again and would give more time for Yankee prospect Austin Jackson to become integrated into the majors.
Here is what Damon said during the parade, "I want to continue to be on a team that can win and to play in front of great fans - and we know that the Yankees fill both of those," Damon said. "I think everyone knows my desire to come back. Still, every time I've been a free agent, I've ended up switching teams. It's the nature of the beast. If people are interested, I'm going to listen."
Go ahead and listen to the other teams Johnny because when you take that bigger contract in San Francisco for more money and years, but fall short in career numbers for the Hall of Fame, you only have yourself to blame. Imagine at age 70 Damon sitting on the front porch or back at Yankee Stadium for Old Timers Day answering another reporter's question about his thoughts on falling short of the Hall of Fame?
Don't be an "idiot" this time around Johnny, but be a man and tell your agent, Mr. Boras, to get a deal done with the Yankees.
It will be in your legacy's best interest.