Johnny Damon to the Tigers: What It Means for the Detroit Lineup
The Tigers got their man with Johnny Damon.
First and foremost, he adds a necessary left-handed bat. The Tigers do not have much in the way of left-handed hitting on their roster right now.
With the loss of Curtis Granderson, Damon will represent the only full-time lefty in the starting lineup.
Carlos Guillen, a switch hitter, expects to see playing time at DH, and Clete Thomas will serve as a fifth outfielder and defensive replacement for Magglio in right.
Sticking Johnny in left will also allow Carlos Guillen to remain healthy by playing designated hitter. The oft-injured Guillen will be at less risk of pulling a hamstring chasing after fly balls if he is sitting on the bench when the team is in the field.
Damon won't be the superb lead off hitter that he was in Boston, but he will add some pop to a team with an already weak lineup.
My proposed Tigers lineup looks like this:
1. Austin Jackson - CF
2. Johnny Damon - LF
3. Magglio Ordonez - RF
4. Miguel Cabrera - 1B
5. Carlos Guillen - DH
6. Brandon Inge - 3B
7. Scott Sizemore - 2B
8. Gerald Laird - C
9. Adam Everett - SS
This assumes that the Tigers think Austin Jackson is Major League-ready. If he isn't, Ryan Raburn should get the bulk of the reps in his spot.
Some will argue that Damon should lead off, but his older legs will not be able to steal bases or advance on hits the way the young Jackson will. Damon's experienced bat control will also make it easier for Jackson to move up after getting on base.
This lineup is not pretty. There is a huge hole at the bottom of the order with Inge coming off knee surgery, the unproven Sizemore, and the weak-hitting Laird and Everett. Damon shortens the bottom of the order by taking Ryan Raburn and/or Clete Thomas out of the every day lineup.
Raburn and Thomas will sub in the outfield. Alex Avila should serve as the backup catcher. Expect Ramon Santiago to play twice a week also. Once for Everett and once for Sizemore.
However, the drawback to the signing is the hefty chunk of change that the Tigers are dishing out to the 36-year-old veteran.
A one year contract at $8 million is more than I would have given him. The $7 million price tag that was originally being discussed was a little steep, also.
Many fans will look at this deal and ask “Why didn't the Tigers just keep Curtis Granderson?”
The answer is simple. It was no secret the Grandy couldn't hit a lick against left handed pitching. Damon represents an upgrade in that department.
In 2009, Damon hit a respectable .269 against southpaws to Granderson's putrid .183 mark. Not to mention, Damon won't strike out as much, regardless of which hand is pitching.
On the bright side, the Tigers get a left-handed bat and someone who can catch fly balls in the massive pasture that is left field at Comerica Park.
The Tigers should end up happy with Damon as a player, even if it is for more money than they should have paid.
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