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Oct 122010

Yesterday, RAB tweeted that Johnny Damon said he was interested in returning to the Yankees in 2011 and didn’t like the sentiment. Friend of the blog Jamal Granger posited that Damon could be an okay DH/extra OF option for $5-6MM. Moshe agreed with Jamal. Another friend of the blog, Mike Axisa, then asked what role the Damon advocates could see him in. Finally, yours truly chimed in:

@mikeaxisa Not advocating for Damon, but he could platoon DH when Montero isn’t on the team. He DHs vs. RHP, Jorge vs. LHP?

Mike’s response was a good one: the Yankees will probably re-sign Thames, rendering my version of Damon useless.

So, now that we’ve finished with the background narrative, let’s jump into the possibility of Johnny Damon returning to the Bronx.

If Damon does indeed return, there’s no way I see him getting a starting job. Brett Garner put up over 5 fWAR in LF this year, Curtis Granderson is a great defender and good hitter, and Nick Swisher is a three to four win player as well. Johnny Damon just doesn’t fit into the Yankee outfield.

The DH spot is one where I could see him fitting, but even then it’s not guaranteed or permanent. As Mike said, the Yankees could bring back Thames to hit lefties and “play” outfield every so often. I disagree with him there, though. I think the Yankees are smart enough to realize that they won’t get anything like this from Thames again and will just thank him for his service this year and let him walk. That could open up a spot for Damon to come back, but only under a very small set of conditions. First, he’d play most of the time, but not all the time. If he was on the team, and I was managing, I’d have him DH against RHP and sit against LHP while Jorge Posada did the DHing. This is, of course, assuming that Jesus Montero does not break camp with the Yankees.

That’s definitely a possibility, but I think the ultimate plan for Montero next year is to have him split time at C/DH with Jorge Posada so he can get a good balance of rest and experience while still keeping his (possibly/probably/hopefully) impact bat in the lineup. Posada’s a switch hitter and has no platoon split, so it’s not like Johnny would be necessary for a platoon caddy when Posada’s not catching. I’m still assuming, though, Montero’s presence on the roster. Let’s explore what could happen if Damon is there during the beginning of the year and Montero isn’t. Damon would likely be used in the way I said: DH vs. RHP, sitting vs. LHP while Jorge gets half a day off. What happens when Montero gets the call, though?

Damon would have to take a significantly reduced role, basically that of the fourth outfielder. Would he want to do that? Would he justify a $5-6MM contract as Jamal suggested? And, lastly, the point of the article, would I do it?

I’m not sure Johnny would be down for it, considering a dip in pay and a reduced role, but I’d do it, but not at as high a price as Jamal proposed. I would only consider it if Damon was willing to take a true bench salary: $1-3MM at most. What do you guys think?

14 Responses to “Johnny Again?”

  1. If I had a choice between Marcus Thames and Johnny Damon for bench roles on this team, I would take the latter. Damon gives you value with his baserunning, ability to not be a butcher in the outfield, brings an above-average bat against pitchers throwing with either arm and, somewhat importantly, the capability to be a suitable starter in case of injury. In regards to Thames, the only value he provides is the ability to hit for power against left-handed pitching.

    For a normal bench player, a salary of $1-3M is right where it should be. However, I think Damon giving Girardi the option to start and not severely weakening the starting nine is a luxury that warrants some extra dollars. If I’m not mistaken, the projected ability to be a fill-in starter is why Brian Cashman signed Randy Winn over Reed Johnson.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris H Reply:

    Ability to not be a butcher in the outfield? Have you seen Johnny Damon play outfield? He actually drops balls that he has settled under with no wind and then laughs about it the guy can’t play outfield at all! Thames is a much better DH option!

    The only value Thames brings in hitting for power against left handed pitching? Maybe you didn’t watch any games this season or haven’t looked at Thames splits?

    Thames Vs left handed pitching .302/.355/.457 with 5 HRs in 129 ABs
    Thames Vs right handed pitching .268/.347/.549/. with 7 HRs in 82 ABs

    The man had more HRs and a higher SLG% against right handers than he did left handers… Johnny hit only 8 HRs all season and had a .375 SLG% against left handers and a .408 SLG% against right handers.

    I don’t understand how all the Damon love can make people so blind? He had 11 stolen bases this year which is not a blazers amount anymore, he only hit 8 HRs proving his 20 HR power was solely because of Yankee Stadium and he had a .756 OPS this year in a mostly DH role.

    Of course Damon wants to come back he never wanted to leave who would? Why leave a great team for a less than great team unless your forced off.

    Randy Winn worked out so well lets remake that mistake! Johnny made 8 million dollars this year he isn’t going to want less and he isn’t going to want to be a bench player sign Thames!  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    Hey ,all true..Damon’s greed , was our gain.  (Quote)

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  2. Would be a lot fo fun to see JD come back, but I just dont see it working as you point out. Barring an injury, Montero will arrive at some point early next season. And JD just doesnt seem like a guy (or his agent) who would be interested in a low base salary. But I’m a big fan of his, I’d love to see it.  (Quote)

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  3. If I had a choice between Marcus Thames and Johnny Damon for bench roles on this team, I would take the latter. Damon gives you value with his baserunning, ability to not be a butcher in the outfield, brings an above-average bat against pitchers throwing with either arm and, somewhat importantly, the capability to be a suitable starter in case of injury. In regards to Thames, the only value he provides is the ability to hit for power against left-handed pitching.For a normal bench player, a salary of $1-3M is right where it should be. However, I think Damon giving Girardi the option to start and not severely weakening the starting nine is a luxury that warrants some extra dollars. If I’m not mistaken, the projected ability to be a fill-in starter is why Brian Cashman signed Randy Winn over Reed Johnson.  (Quote)

    Seeing as I’m too lazy to look it up, what happened to Reed Johnson this year? Didn’t he sign with San Fran?  (Quote)

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    Matt Reply:

    Reed Johnson hit .262/.291/.366 for the Dodgers this year in 102 games.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris H Reply:

    He really had an off year… Didn’t he get off to a fast first month or something? Maybe I’m wrong but I thought he played OK at first but then really hit a skid.  (Quote)

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  4. I ain’t fer it, I’m agin’ it.

    I don’t want to ever see him in the NYY OF again. he was pretty bad when he was here, and 2 years later is likely to be even worse.

    There has to be better (and cheaper?) options out there than him.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris H Reply:

    Yes like Thames the guy isn’t a Kerry Wood who will have better options out their next year and he will have the same skill set and ability for a similar price tag he is a perfect bench piece/DH platoon and he gas already proven he can get a big hit in the playoffs.  (Quote)

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  5. Never…I didn’t want him this year, i predicted he would not hit more than 12 hrs, why would we want him and his .270 8hr production and his belly hanging over his belt.. I say if the yanks go for anyone ,jason werth will be the guy, where they put them is another issue..posada has the DH spot locked up, along with arod ,jeter.. it will come down to Lee, then cash will fit guys in ..if they don’t sign lee i think they look for a guy in late june ,july in a trade, and sign RHed punch.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris H Reply:

    Jayson Werth is represented by Scott Boras and is ion his 30′s why do you want to sign him? He plays pretty decent defense so you don’t want him as a DH and he doesn’t bring as much versatility or defense as our current outfield does.

    The only way I would consider bringing in Werth is if we traded Swisher but honestly Swisher won’t be paid as much with similar production and a world of personality in the club house that I think we would miss too much!

    I hope we go into next season with the same outfield we have now, the only really big addition we should make is Cliff Lee and after that it’s just about bringing guys like Thames back and seeing if you can get Wood back.  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    I feel the yanks would sign him, i said where would they put him..I am happy with the outfield now, grandy has done what it took, so I am off his case.. but why i felt the yanks would sign, reggie met with him and had lunch during this season..that is telling.. a shmooze job, hey Moshe did i spell it right/  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris H Reply:

    I like Werth but like I said if we has him I wouldn’t want him at DH because he plays a decent enough outfield to make his bat more valuable in RF but I don’t want to trade Swisher and I think making Swisher a DH weakens his value since he has improve his defense as much as can be expected. Plus the Yankees don’t have a great relationship with Scott Boras.

    I think this is a tricky year in free agency because you have some interesting players but you also have some players getting on into their 30′s looking for multiple year deals so any player signed to a big deal this offseason needs to be thought about long and hard.

    There is no starting pitcher other than Lee and maybe bringing back Andy in this years class that I would sign at all, the whole group seems to be guys past their prime and guys destined for the NL or bullpen pieces. Carl Pavano is actually one of the most intriguing names on the list after Lee and Pettitte and I wouldn’t sign him if he paid the Yankees to pitch.

    Just running through and looking at all the names if the Yankees come out of this offseason with Jeter, Rivera and Girardi back on reasonable deals for all sides and they have Cliff Lee in tow they will be more than happy. I think Joe likes the idea of a fluid DH so I don’t see the team signing a big bat and other than trying to maybe retain Wood, Thames and maybe Kearns (I doubt it) I doubt they do much more.

    I think at this point the brass has shown that any bullpen problems are going to be solved either in house or at the trade deadline and while I do think they will approach Kerry about coming back I think it’s about 80/20 that he leaves and that’s a 20 he stays if we win the World Series.

    They may look at a cheap bat for the bench like Hinske or the versatile Hairston Jr since they tried to trade for him mid season but I think they like Eduardo Nunez and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him uproot Pena as the first infielder off the bench next year.

    I would love to see Adam Dunn in pin stripes as I know some of you would but at this point he has pretty much crushed that dream by stating he wants to play in the outfield and we don’t another Jason Giambi on our hands who can’t hit while DH’ing and can’t field when he’s hitting.  (Quote)

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  6. Damon makes no sense anymore.That ship sailed.I expect Brandon Laird to be up here for part if not all of next season, along with Nunez.Both can probably play some OF if need be, Laird is playing there this winter.  (Quote)

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