… for some baseball news.
It’s been a rough off-season for some veteran players and a slower market in general for the usual Hot Stove season. However, the last few days have been exactly what some veteran players have been waiting for. A flurry of activity has resulted in some veteran players finding new homes for the 2011 season.
The Yankees, fortifying their bench with a five-time All-Star, reached agreement with free-agent outfielder Andruw Jones on a one- year, $2 millio
n contract, according to a major-league source. Jones, who turns 34 on April 23, will serve as a right-handed reserve, filling the role previously held by Marcus Thames, who earlier this week signed with the Dodgers.
The Orioles are closing in on a contract with Vladimir Guerrero, reports Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio. Orioles’ president Andy MacPhail shot down the report, telling Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com that it is simply “not accurate.” Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun says that a deal could still happen, but for now it does not appear imminent.
In light of the story about Johnny Damon possibly returning to Boston and ultimately declining to go back, I wanted to take a look at Damon’s career. This morning while skimming Twitter I came across a tweet from Buster Olney asking the question if Johnny Damon was worthy of the Hall of Fame. Let’s take a look.
Despite just two All-Star game appearances in his 16 major league seasons, Detroit Tigers center fielder Johnny Damon should be heavily considered as a Hall of Famer once he hangs up his cleats for good.
Damon, 36, recorded his 2,500th career hit on July 6 in a game against the Baltimore Orioles.
He became just the 92nd player in league history to do so and is currently seventh among active players in hits (2,502).
Thanks to his superior combination of hitting ability and speed, Johnny Damon has scored 1,535 runs with five different teams and has the second-most triples among active players (97, second to only Carl Crawford).
Damon has not been linked to performance enhancers, and his 212 career round-trippers back up that statement.
In fact, his lack of power is most likely the reason the speedy Damon has received little to no credit throughout his illustrious career. The .288 career hitter has stolen 20-plus bases and scored 100-plus runs 10 times in his 16 seasons.
When judging a player’s numbers and production for Hall of Fame candidacy, winning is also a very important factor. Damon has done that very well throughout his career, as well.
The two-time World Series champ reached the playoffs on seven different occasions: once with Oakland, three times with Boston, and three times with the New York Yankees.
In his twelve playoff series, Damon has produced a .279 batting average with nine home runs, 30 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. In his only two World Series appearances (Boston in ‘04, New York in ‘09), Damon put up an average of .326 with 10 runs and three stolen bases.
The only thing the former first-round draft pick didn’t do on a consistent basis is be named an All-Star, despite great efforts.
So, we now know he has the numbers to be considered Hall-worthy, but I failed to mention the classy approach to the game which he has exhibited over the years.
Damon was a leader in the clubhouse while the Boston Red Sox attempted to break the curse of the Bambino, and eventually succeeded. Sluggers Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz got quite a bit of the credit, and deservedly so, but I don’t really think Boston would have been able to do it without Damon in the clubhouse.
Not only did Damon have one of his best seasons statistically (.304 BA, 20 HR, 94 RBI, 19 stolen bases), but Damon’s outgoing personality and long, caveman-esque hairdo helped liven up the players as well as the die-hard Sox fans.
Johnny plays the game the right way, and it isn’t often that you hear a complaint from him or even one about him.
Damon was even recently quoted as saying he loves playing in Detroit and loves the fans. Even at the age of 36, Damon hasn’t slowed down all that much. He’s still scoring runs for his team and winning them ballgames; he hit a walk-off homer the same day he got his 2,500th hit.
His average (.271) right now may be the second-lowest of his career, but he is still on pace to set a career-high in doubles as he currently has 21 on the season.
With more than 200 career homers, 1,000 RBIs, 1,500 runs scored, and 2,500 hits, the numbers are there, but will the voters’ hearts be in the same place? Only time will tell.
My opinion: good player, good team guy, durable… but not a Hall of Fame baseball player.
I’ve started to notice an ongoing theme. In sports, you’ve got guys that have contracts verses guys that don’t. I just don’t understand what the hurry is all about with the guys that still have contracts and the topic of conversation being “what about next year?” If a guy is under contract, he’s just that. Nothing to worry about, he’s got a contract which means he’s got a job to do.
We’ve seen so much fuss over the contract status of guys like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Josh Beckett, and others. The common denominator with these guys is that they are all under contract for 2010. Yet, all we hear is what will happen to these guys after 2010 and what they deserve and so on and so forth.
Stop for a second and think. Do you really think its much of a topic worthy of discussion where Jeter and Rivera will end up? I wouldn’t waste my breath talking about it or allow it to take up space in my brain thinking about it. At his press conference today, most of the questions directed at Jeter were about his contract and as he always does, Jeter did his best to deflect the attention away from himself and direct it towards his team.
“I’ve never gone into a season focused on the next season, I’ve never put limitations on how long I will play… I want to play as long as I can, as long as I’m having fun, as long as I’m productive.This is the only organization I want to play for. I think I can say it enough times. I’m not worried about what my legacy is at this point. “I want to play shortstop as long as I can.”
A few days earlier, Mariano Rivera – also in the final year of his contract – commented on his situation saying as far as he is concerned he has a contract for this season and that is all that matters to him.
“I have a contract this year, that’s all I need to know,” “The rest is out of my control, therefore I don’t have to worry about that. It doesn’t bother me, hopefully I will continue to do my job. That’s the blessing from the Lord. Stay healthy, and hopefully I do my job. The rest is in their court. They (call) the shots … I don’t make the decisions. I make my decisions, I can’t make their decisions.”
Josh Beckett on the other hand, is less of a sure thing. For the most part, he’s been a stud performer and as reliable as can be in the post season. The concern is health, as it always has been with Beckett. In addition, the Red Sox and the team’s GM especially, are known for cold blooded negociation tactics. Case and point after the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox seemingly dismantled key cogs of the team such as Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar, and Trot Nixon to name a few. So whose to say that Beckett won’t suffer the same fate?
A guy has a year remaining on his contract… so. Just play, that’s your job. As Mariano Duncan reminded the 1996 Yankees:
“We play today, we win today… ‘dats it!”
A few links to get you by on an otherwise uneventful Sunday…
• The Johnny Damon saga is over. The Tigers are on the verge of officially signing him pending the completion of a physical today.
• Not what the Angels wanted to hear from Hideki Matsui:
• Nice job over at NoMaas, landing an interview with Brian Cashman. Nice answer by Cashman, explaining the decision to sign Randy Winn (and Marcus Thames) instead of Reed Johnson.
• Speaking of Brian Cashman, in a recent interview on 105.7 in Baltimore, the Yankees GM called the Orioles a “sleeping giant”.
• Count LeBron James among those expecting championship No. 28.
• The World Series trophy made it’s way up to Connecticut recently.
• Finally, a link that was emailed to me by a Red Sox fan: Rumor has it that Ben Affleck — yes, that Ben Affleck, the one from Boston – might be making a movie about one of the more bizarre stories in Yankees history.
Well, it’s finally over. Johnny Damon has signed with the Tigers. Damon and the Tigers agreed on a 1 year contract worth $8 million pending a physical. The physical is scheduled for Sunday.
Gosh, do we think Damon and “super agent” Scott Boras are kicking themselves for rejecting the Yankees 2 year offer for $14 million back in December?
Yeah, I’d say so.
Thanks for your time of service Johnny. but please, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
** Just found this link via Twitter: Yanks Cashman calls O’s “sleeping giant“
Every baseball fan in the world knows the name of Scott Boras. For those not acquainted, Boras is not a flame-throwing lefty out of the pen or a baseball-demolishing power hitter. No, he’s simply an agent.
But unlike other agent, who normally ply their wares behind the scenes, get the best for their clients quietly and then move one, Boras actively pursues not only publicity—which he does to normally great effect—but seems to enjoy actively attracting confrontation with management and GMs. His thought process seems to be “Confrontation will bleed the bucks for my client. And therefore me.”
But does it? Do Boras’ negotiation tactics actually work? Is he good for his clients? Let’s take a look.
We always hear about Boras having several teams interested including the famous “mystery team”. The most interesting client of his this off-season is Johnny Damon. Reports are that Damon is on the verge of signing with the Detroit Tigers for 2 years at $14 million per. I’m baffled by that because that is the exact deal that Boras advised Damon to reject from the Yankees in early December.
For Damon, this is the second contract in a row that his price has had to drop dramatically. However, this time, the Yankees aren’t there to save him.
In 2006, when Damon came up for free agency, John Henry II, owner of the Red Sox flew to Damon’s home in Florida to tell him how important he was to the Red Sox and how badly they wanted him back. The Red Sox then offered a 4-year, 40 million-dollar contract. Boras dismissed it out of hand and said negotiations for the 34-year-old Damon begin at 7 years at roughly 90 million.
To the surprise of no one, the market did not bear that out.
Playing the Red Sox and Yankees against each other, Boras hoped to drive Damon’s price up. And while he was party successful—Damon did get his 13 million annual—he got it for only 4 years, not for 7. According to the Red Sox, they were shocked by Damon’s signing—Boras never offered a counteroffer to the Red Sox; he never even told them that Damon was signing with the Yankees at all. According to the Red Sox, they were negotiating with Boras and felt that a deal would be worked out at some point—that they were on the same page and that there was an understanding between Damon and them. Former co-general manager Jed Hoyer retroactively described talks the Damon talks with Boras ‘’as very productive.”
However, despite that fact that no one offered Damon anything more than 4 years, much less 7, Damon secured a nice paycheck and was content. Things did not work out so well the past time Damon reached free agency.
When Damon reached free agency in 2009, Boras decided to play hardball with the Yankees. Despite Damon’s obvious love for the Yankees and New York, Boras said to Yankee GM Brian Cashman in early December that Damon would not take a penny less than $13 million per year for two years. Don’t even make an offer if it doesn’t have that figure in it. Naturally, the Yankees GM said: “We believed him,” Cashman said.
Instead the Yankees, much to the surprise of Boras and Damon, have decided to go with Brett Gardner, Randy Winn and a host of Plan B guys, minor leaguers and journeyman in left field. Boras, who had previously constantly rebuffed the Yankees whenever they tried to negotiate with Boras for Damon, according to Buster Olney, ultimately priced himself out of his preferred choice, the Yankees, but seemingly almost the entire league. Too pricey and no longer an option for the Braves, the Tigers, the A’s and the Cubs, and seemingly forced to accept a 4 million dollar deal from the Rays. A far cry from the 13 million he demanded from the Yankees. Out of work, I’m sure there are some nights Damon wished he took the Yankees final offer of 6 million per. Oooops.
Boras has been known as the “super agent”, but that title is being put in question. Yes, Scott Boras thinks only of money. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s his job. However, this year’s salary and the best long-term interests of the athlete do always coincide. And they certainly aren’t what is best for baseball. The betterment of baseball notwithstanding, what Boras seeks just isn’t in the interest of the best interest of his clients sometimes—career-wise, or even financially long-term-wise. Sometimes it behooves players to pick what best serves their personal interests long-term rather than the bottom line.
Ultimately its up to the client. Whatever the athlete wants, no matter what Boras may believe is what should play out. However, considering Boras’ track record, we should consider that Boras’ goal is not always what is in the best interest of his client. It is for the most money. Which is in what is best interest for Boras.
That needs to be checked on.
To quote Jim Nantz let me start by saying “hello friends”. It’s been a busy day and internet access has been hard to come by on the road and at work. It was another typical “Way Back” Wednesday for me at the Fox 1370 studios. The phone lines were jacked all day and oddly enough it wasn’t related to the Baltimore Ravens for most of the day. The majority of topics and phone calls were about the Orioles and how they may structure the line up and other possible moves. For me personally, it was refreshing to hear some optimism and excitement from fans towards the O’s. I don’t know about anyone else but I get tired of the complaining, the bitterness, and the lack of respect towards the game itself. Granted, its been 12 plus years of losing for the O’s and if I were a fan I would be frustrated but not to the degree that I’ve seen and heard around town in the past. I’ll say this about the O’s and how they are going about the building process. For the first time in recent years, the O’s have a plan. Andy MacPhail arrived in 2007 and since that time he’s had an idea. That idea turned in to a plan, and now that plan is beginning to take shape and as a result the Orioles and their fans are starting to see the benefits. I know its difficult and may take some time but trust him folks, he knows what he’s doing.
That brings me to my next point. As I was sitting in the studio today receiving the calls, I listened to a number of the callers continually talk about how many home runs each guy can potentially hit. More specifically the potential 3-4-5 in the batting order: Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, and Adam Jones. I sat and listened and repeatedly seemed to hear: “Oh, Nick can hit 25 and Wieters will hit 15, but Jones is the one with 25-30 home run potential.” Folks, I realize home runs are sexy and they are the fastest way to score runs but stop and think for a second. We are in a different era now. The game has changed. You’ve got to find other ways to create runs and score. Home runs are great but they aren’t the only means to winning. Just keep that in mind. Sometimes the fascination with the long ball really gets me. Judging by the callers I heard today, Chicks aren’t the only ones who dig the long ball.
Johnny Damon/Yankees Update
I mentioned Johnny Damon’s availability yesterday and suggested the idea with each day that passes it become more likely that Damon would return to the Bronx. Well, so much for all of that. The Yankees seem to have found the outfielder that will presumably platoon with Brett Gardner in left by reaching an agreement with veteran Randy Winn as first reported by the New York Post. It is a one year pact worth approximately $2 million dollars. At first glance, it looks like a curious move at best for the Bombers. Winn is coming off of a down year hitting .262 with 2 HR and 51 RBI for the San Francisco Giants in ’09. It’s obvious here that the Yankees are hoping for a bounce back year from Winn. Furthermore, his splits aren’t great as explained explained here by Chad Jennings of the Journal News. Winn can certainly help the Yankees. He is considered an exceptional corner outfielder with the ability to play center field if needed, plus he is a high-percentage base stealer. Winn was successful in 16 out of 18 tries last year for San Francisco, and has stolen 56 bases and been caught seven times over the past three years. (As stated in the article by The Post)<em> Joel Sherman believes that the Yankees remain hopeful to reach a minor-league agreement with a righty-hitting outfielder who does well against southpaws, with Rocco Baldelli a possibility. It seems to me the Yankees are content to use several pieces in the outfield which is similar to what was during the championship run of the ’90s with the likes of Chad Curtis and Shane Spencer manning the corner outfield spots. No doubt Johnny Damon will be missed on the field as well as the clubhouse but baseball is a business and his demands were beyond the Yankees financial limits. As I stated yesterday, I’m ok with the Yankees going in this direction. It might not be the popular decision among Yankees Universe but its one we better get used to.
Speaking of Damon, Joel Sherman of The Post is also reporting that the Tampa Bay Rays have emerged as a dark horse candidate to sign him. It’s an interesting fit considering Damon lives in the Orlando area. I would think Damon would be used as a primary DH and occasional left fielder even if the Rays have to hang on to Burrell. We’ll see what happens in the coming days and weeks but hopefully he will end up somewhere and be happy. Heres to you Johnny, best of luck.
Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane is known for his “Money Ball” philosophy of high OBP guys and guys who hit the 3-run Home Run. Over the years through Beane’s tenure, the A’s became convinced that these qualities were cheaper to obtain on the open market than more historically valued qualities such as speed and contact. These observations often flew in the face of conventional baseball wisdom and the beliefs of many baseball scouts and executives. The A’s were also known for development of prospects especially pitchers, going back to the years of the “Big 3″ of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito. Low cost players who are under team control for a number of years until they approach free agency when Beane can almost always get away with highway robbery by shipping his proven commodities to teams in contention for the other sides best prospects and can once again field a low budget team who somehow remains in contention or right in the thick of things.
It’s this philosophy that has some throughout the industry scratching their heads at the 1 year 10 million dollar deal for the oft injured – but very talented – Ben Sheets. Sheets did not pitch at all in 2009 and was injured at the end of the 2008 season unavailable for the Brewers ’08 playoff run. No question about it though, if Sheets can regain his form from years prior he can be well worth the 10 million dollars and be the veteran ace of an otherwise young and inexperienced staff. All that being said, it’s still a tremendous risk for any team, much less the low-budget Oakland A’s.
The move is curious but it makes sense to me on some level. If Sheets can regain form and stays healthy – I know thats a big if – Beane can sell high on Sheets at the deadline for his coveted prospects or hold on to him and get the draft picks when Sheets signs elsewhere. Furthermore, the A’s are often scrutinized for not spending money so they go out and put 10 million on the table for a rehab project but one who has a name and a track record to go with it. Even though its as a risk to many, in my opinion the Oakland A’s and Ben Sheets have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Still a number of big name free agents are available but I don’t think any are bigger or more surprising then former Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon. The more time that goes by the more likely it is that Damon returns to the Yankees. As much as I like Damon and agree with GM Brian Cashman’s thought that Damon is the perfect #2 hitter for Yankee Stadium and the team’s line up – I am of the belief that the Yankees would be OK with a platoon of Brett Gardner and one of the right handed hitting free agents: (Rocco Baldelli, Joe Inglett, or Reed Johnson). Out of that group I prefer Reed Johnson. His lefty splits are impressive, he has experience in the AL East from his time in Toronto, can play all of the outfield positions, and is a hard nosed max effort and Joe Girardi’s type player. In addition, it would give the Yankees a different element in the line up allowing them to do more things like hit and run, bunt, and steal bases. It would also go along with the teams plan to get younger and more athletic.
Undoubtedly, we know what Damon brings to the table but at this point in his career he is becoming more of a liability defensively and probably a better candidate for DH and not every day in left. The signing of Nick Johnson as the teams DH certainly clouds that picture so if Damon were to return to the Yankees it would be as a left fielder. Until then, as Spring Training draws closer we’ll have to keep an eye towards the Hot Stove to see where Johnny Damon and company will be playing in 2010.