Johnny Damon running out of options?

Back from a brief mid-winter respite wandering the streets of New York, and still there has been almost no movement on the Johnny Damon front.

Wednesday’s news brings us this article from Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record, who relays a note from a friend of Damon’s as saying that the outfielder has actually considered retirement with no offers trickling in. Here’s the exact blurb:

A friend of Damon’s recently said, “Johnny is completely in the family mode right now” and has considered that option. It’s still hard to believe that, in the wake of a 24-home run campaign in 2009, and hitting .364 against the Phillies in the Series, Damon actually would quit.

Give him credit for not panicking. In a text message to the New York Times on Tuesday, Damon wrote: “I’m sure things will work out somewhere.” Chances are, however, he never thought he’d be in this kind of predicament so late in the off-season.

The thought is that the Yankees only have about $2 million remaining to address their needs, so Damon – who made $13 million in ’09 and, via Scott Boras, was seeking the same for 2010 – may have overplayed his hand. Our Mark Bowman blogged that the Braves seem an unlikely fit, and Jason Beck notes the Tigers also haven’t expressed interest in Damon. 

As this continues to drag on toward Spring Training, perhaps Damon will be forced to buckle at some point and accept far less than he’d ever thought would be waiting for him after a career year. The Yankees would love to have him back, so don’t rule them out, but only at their price.

If not, as I wrote yesterday in the Inbox, I really do believe the Yankees would be just fine with Brett Gardner in left field. Put it this way – they wouldn’t miss the playoffs because of it.

It’s worth noting that Damon also quietly considered retirement after the ’07 season, when his injuries made it miserable and painful to play, but those maladies had softened in the two years that followed. Hey, there is always the wrestling ring if Damon chooses that route.

10 Comments

Gardner is injury prone and has been on the DL every year. The Yanks also have no bats on the bench. Those 2 deficiencies will cost the Yanks dearly if not plugged up. The Yanks would be wise to sign Nady if healthy, and Damon. Are the Yanks are short because of the $4M/year KEI IGAWA BLUNDER? The Red Sox have a tremendous pitching staff. They could face Josh Beckett 3 times in a series. The Yanks have looked pathetic against him. With a weak #9 hitter, and therefore the ability to pitch around the #8 hitter in the lineup, and no one on the bench the Yanks ought to sign a quality bat in LF. In addition, Damon leading off makes Jeter a better hitter in front of Texiera. Leading off Jeter is not as effective as once was. That is why Damon who can hit #1, #2, #9 allows the Yanks to shake things up if need be. We do not need 20 pitchers on the roster and no one in LF.

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The actual numbers are this:

13 for his first 59 in April .220

33 for his next 100 in May/June .330 (I don’t think 100 ABs and two months are a “mini” hot streak, the 100 AB were 40.3% of his year’s total).

21 for his next 90. .233

Inconsistent, yes. Most definitely. “Mini” hot streak? No.

The inconsistency befits someone in their ROOKIE season. And yes, Gardner was a rookie (less than 130 AB, he had 127) in 2009.

Is there room for improvement and consistency? Most definitely.

Speed doesn’t mean much in this offense? Where will you find it otherwise? From Swisher or Posada? Nick Johnson? Cano? There are really only two other places (taken in mind that Alex’s hip will limit him)—Jeter (who will be 36 in midseason) and Granderson. Where else do you find someone who can run? Lest it be forgotten in a lineup built on “power” that you actually have to RUN the bases? That you can’t trot all the time? That people have to score from 1st on doubles to the gap or go 1st to 3rd? Do you really want a lineup of plodders? Posada, Swisher, Johnson, even Cano aren’t great baserunners. You actualy have to RUN the bases, you know.

Can it be that the Yankees actually HAVE a budget? That they are SERIOUS about only having a certain amount to spend on LF and that JD is overpriced? I’d love Damon back too, but hey, it’s not my checkbook. People are so eager to spend someone else’s money.

As for Swisher, the guy drew 97 walks. No one on the team drew more. Yeah, his average was .249. He was 2nd in the leagues in walks. Or doesn’t that count for anything anymore?

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Meant Gardner hits for a higher average and has more speed than Belanger, Santana or Elster ever did. Sorry.

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*** refered to a Shortstop. Funny how It would not take a (abbreviation for shortstop). LOL

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People knocking Gardner need to study baseball history. The Orioles of 1969-1971 did just fine with Mark Belanger (who couldn’t hit a lick) as their shortstop. The 1986 Mets won 108 and a World Series with Rafael Santana at SS. The 1988 Mets won a division and went to Game 7 of the NLCS with Kevin Elster.

The Yanks have **** who hits like a LF.

So they have a LF with no power. Gardner has far more speed and hits for average far higher than Belanger, Santana or Gardner ever did.

Look at Dick Green at 2b for the A’s of the 1970s. The A’s won three WS in a row, two with Green as the full-time 2B. He couldn’t hit.

The Yanks have a 2B who hits like a LF.

The 1961 Yankees had Bobby Richardson. A .266 career hitter, no power, never walked. His 9 SB were 2nd on the team that year (behind Mantle’s 12). His OPS+ was awful. As a leadoff hitter hitting ahead of Maris and Mantle, he still only scored 80 runs.

Gardner has more speed and his .270 of last year were better than any of these players (Santana, Elster, Green, Richardson, Belanger) on dynasty teams.

You may say that the other players were middle infielders. Fine. But remember that the middle infielders the Yanks have now:

a) both hit over .340 in 2006.
b) both had over 200 hits in 2009.
c) both hit more like LF than middle infielders.

Stifle on Gardner. If he plays great D, covers LF like a glove, hits .270 and steals 40 bases….IN THE #9 SLOT…I’ll take it.

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With Abreu taking a 68.75% pay cut from the Angels in 2009, Damon gets no sympathy from me!!!

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I have been a Yankee fan all my life. Bring back Jhonny Damon. Brett Gardner is a good fielder however has no relyable bat as of yet. Yankees would be better off with Damon again at least for this year. Get Gardner some real good batting coaches then he will be one of my favorites. As far as his base running. Second to none. Looking forward to #28 this year.

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Johnny was the catalyst to win game 4 of the World Series for the Yankees and it is really dissappointing that they can’t go out and get him back at a number that works for both parties. 2 Million for 1 year? Please! That’s his monthly salary! Damon had a career year and needs to be in LF. I dig Brett G but he’s not your everyday solution and for sure he’s more effective off the bench. Hard to beleive that we are coming to the 3rd week of January and he’s not placed yet. Chemistry, Mojo and Club House karma is affected and I wonder how much Boras is to blame.

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If it’s true that Damon was willing to come back with a 30% salary cut ($10m) but the Yankees offered a 50% cut ($6-$7m) after he had a career year and was a pivotal part of the championship team, then shame on the Yankees. I know it’s a business but that’s just disgraceful. And bad karma, too.

“I really do believe the Yankees would be just fine with Brett Gardner in left field.”

And Cody Ransom really worked out too, huh? Yeah, I’m exaggerating–but not by much. Bottom line: Brett Gardner is not an everyday LF-caliber player. Not in The Bronx, anyway.

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Retirement is doubtful for Johnny D. Where else can he earn millions of dollars? This is one of the many standard replies when the salary offers are not there. Johnny D. needs the Yankees more than the Yankees need him, and at this point there don’t seem to be a bunch of teams who want him, so chances are he’ll have to accept what the Yankees will offer, which will be about six million a year for a couple of years if he comes to them and says, “I want to play and am willing to talk more reasonably.” I don’t completely buy Cashman’s budget but this is standard for a GM to say. If the Yankees continue to wait out Johnny D. they can beat Boras, and get him at their money (which is still very generous).

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