Knowing GM Ken Williams as most fans do by now, he doesn't always make it easy to be a White Sox fan, but he does make it interesting. Another one of these moments could be happening as we speak. Within the past two days, MLB.com has reported that the White Sox could be the leaders for acquiring the services of Johnny Damon.
The leadoff hitter/left fielder was reportedly asking for $10+ million per year from the Yankees at the beginning of the offseason. As everyone knows, even the Yankees were reluctant to give Damon what he and agent Scott Boras wanted. Thus began the bidding war between several teams vying for Damon's services.
When I first saw this report, I was baffled. What happened to DH-by-committee, and, if we were to sign a DH, why wasn't it Jim Thome? The more I thought of this, the more it began to make sense.
The versatility of Damon would allow Ozzie to jump him around the field from two outfield positions, to first base, and to DH respectively. Damon's arm has been poked, prodded, and made fun of for as long as I can remember. With that well known limitation, this is not a defensive move but offensive one.
Damon turns a good lineup into a great one with his particular skillset. Ozzie's "new" system of playing small ball, or "Ozzieball" as it was called during the World Series winning year of 2005, depends on speed, smart baserunning, and timely hitting.
Damon has the speed to be able to steal bases (career 374 SB), bunt for a hit as well as being able to go deep (207 HR in his career). Damon's .288 lifetime average is nothing to scoff at either. Damon's place in the lineup would depend on how Ozzie and Ken Williams want to use uberkind Gordon Beckham. Either could find a spot in the lineup at two hole or the five spot.
Another possible lineup destination for Damon is leadoff. In this scenerio, Juan Pierre moves to batting ninth, essentially another leadoff guy to turn the lineup back over.
Both Boston and Yankee fans alike can attest to Damon's ability to get the timely hit. Few can forget his grand slam for the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees had gone up three games to none, yet the resilient Sox battled it to a game seven. The grand slam basically ended the game within the first four innings, becoming the first time in history a team had come back from three games down to none to win the series.
The only thing preventing all this from happening is money. I'm not sure Damon and Boras will be able to swallow their pride enough to take an incentive laden contract with a contender.
This writer hopes they can because with the pitching staff arguably one of the best in baseball, with the addition of Damon, the South Siders' chances of getting back to World Series rises a considerable amount.