Monday, February 22, 2010

Johnny B. Gone

I'd like to interrupt the solemn righteousness of the steroid series to talk about the latest in another drawn-out soap opera: As Johnny Damon Turns. It's official now -- Damon, Tigers agree -- Johnny is a Tiger, for one year, $8 mill.

I'm disappointed by this for a number of reasons. I like Damon, I’ve followed him his entire career, dating back to 1995, and despite his advanced age (36 – John Paul Stevens territory in baseball years) I think he can still play and be a major contributor to a winning team.

I liked Johnny even during his Mountain Man days, when he was responsible for an October grand slam in Bronx that I only discuss with my therapist.

I also think the Yankees made him a fair offer at two years, $14 million. Damon and Boras badly misread and misplayed the market, and now all sides, including Yankee fans, lose out. I understand that ego is a factor when a star player is asked to take a significant pay cut, especially coming off a strong regular season and dazzling postseason performance. But the reality of the market is that aging outfielders with deteriorating defensive skills don't get multi-year big money contracts.

Clearly the Tigers were not willing to guarantee two years. Damon has repeatedly declared his love for New York and desire to remain on the Yankees, so I think it’s a shame that hubris (it felled Oedipus too, Johnny!) prevented him from taking the best offer from the team for which he most wanted to play.

Still, I'm glad he got a gig. Recently it looked as though he might not begin 2010 with a club. That's a good thing for all of us, because this is what he would have been doing otherwise:

Good lord. If he plays well and we have a need, let's pick him up at the trade deadline.

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