Johnny Damon and The Chicago Cubs: A Good Fit?

Mark RudiCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 31:  Johnny Damon #18 of the New York Yankees looks on during batting practice before playing against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Three of the 2009 MLB World Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 31, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs are in dire need of some help after missing the playoffs last season, and have let a number of free agents go by already this off-season.

The New York Yankees were looking to get rid of Melky Cabrea and he ended up getting traded to the Atlanta Braves.  Others like Nick Johnson and Jason Bay were out there, but both have ended up going to New York. Johnson signed with the Yankees earlier this month and Bay has agreed terms with the New York Mets Tuesday, according to ESPN.com.

But what about Johnny Damon?

It's clear after last season that the Cubs need help at the plate, as they were one of the worst teams at generating offense last season. The Cubs were 10th in the National League last season with only 707 runs scored, which was worse than teams like the Washington Nationals (710), Arizona Diamondbacks (720), and division rival Milwaukee Brewers (785). The Cubs were also 13th in the NL with a .255 batting average.

Damon is still a guy that can help in the Cubs' outfield. He hit .282 last season with 155 hits and 24 home runs and is a career .288 hitter in 13 seasons. Damon's offensive performance can help spark a struggling Chicago offense.

XM Radio's Jim Duquette said the Cubs are very interested in Damon, but there hasn't been a lot of chatter about Damon from Cubs GM Jim Hendry. In fact, the Cubs have done pretty much nothing in the off-season, except for trading Milton Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silvia. 

Damon would be a much needed improvement over Bradley, who hit only .257 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs in 2009, and ended his only season in Chicago as a fiasco. 

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However, there are a couple of concerns about Damon.

One, his agent is Scott Boras, who always asks top dollar for his clients, which sometimes can delay the singing of players. A good example would be the Los Angeles Dodgers and Manny Ramirez last season. However, with new ownership, I don't think money should be a problem with the Cubs as investing in Damon would be worth it.

Damon also is not known for his defense and many have said he's a better fit for the American League. Neither was Bradley and Alfonso Soriano really hasn't been great in left field. Once again, Damon's plate performance overshadows his lack of discipline in the outfield.

Damon is also 36 years old.  But his experience will help the Cubs and he still has a few good years left in him.

He would be a huge benefit in the outfield as Soriano only hit .241 last season and Kosuke Fukudome had a big sophomore slump, hitting just .259. If Damon is signed, Soriano most likely would shift back to center field and Fukudome over to right.

The Cubs were reportedly interested in signing Damon back in 2005, but Damon opted to sign with the Yankees instead. 

No one really knows where Damon will end up in 2010. A lot of people have been saying with the Yankees' signing of Johnson, along with their payroll questions, that Yankees GM Brian Cashman is not interested in Damon.  Cashman said he is under orders to keep the payroll low. 

The Mets have been said to be interested in Damon, but with Tuesday's reported signing of Bay, it looks like the Mets will not be going after Damon after all. 

The Cubs need to get on this.

They have done nothing in the off-season to help their team and signing Damon would help a team that struggled to hit the ball and score runs in 2009. Damon and the Cubs makes perfect sense. 


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