- Can he sign somewhere so we can stop talking about him?
One some level, it's positive that Johnny Damon is still prancing free in the woods like a feral boy raised and nurtured by wolves. (Insert Scott Boras Joke Here.) But when getting past Boras's negotiating skills regarding Damon----skills that look strangely similar to those of George Costanza----the two remaining choices for Damon make the decision easy if the money is similar.
Who knows whether the reports of a Tigers offer of $14 million for two years are accurate? It could be that owner Mike Ilich authorized it, but GM Dave Dombrowski doesn't want to go that high for Damon when there's no reason to do so; one would think Damon would've signed already if he truly wanted to go to the Tigers; he's certainly not going to get more money elsewhere. The White Sox are in on Damon as well.
After getting past the embarrassment of a botched negotiation, felt more by the agent than the player, which venue would be a better fit for Damon? Would it be the young and retooling Tigers? Or the title contending----believe it!!!----White Sox?
Both need Damon, but for different reasons.
The Tigers are carrying two black spots in their lineup to start with in Adam Everett and Gerald Laird; they have the fading Magglio Ordonez; a rookie second baseman in Scott Sizemore; a rookie center fielder in Austin Jackson; and are currently listing Ryan Raburn as their left fielder. They need a bat like Damon desperately. But truthfully, how much would he help them on the field?
The Tigers are stuck in the purgatory of not being so terrible that they might as well clear the decks; being logistically unable to clear the decks because of hideous contracts; and not being good enough to really be aggressive and try to win. Their manager, Jim Leyland, is 65-years-old and doesn't need the stress of a poor offense and rookies galore to make his agita worse. Damon would at least make their offense more viable.
But is he a need for the Tigers?
They're not going to contend either way, so they don't need Johnny Damon. As for Damon, does he want to go to a situation like Detroit where he's going to be playing meaningless games in September (or August; or July) and function as an elder statesman teaching the youngsters how to play and behave? I'm sure Damon wouldn't mind leading in such a way, but why when he's got another option in the White Sox?
The White Sox pitching is deep and among baseball's best top-to-bottom; their offense is good enough for them to contend, but they're banking on a return to health of Carlos Quentin; a solid second season from Gordon Beckham; and are functioning with a rotating DH that includes the no-hit Mark Kotsay and rookie Tyler Flowers (who's going to be very good). Damon would be a perfect fit as the DH. Perfect. He'd hit; his defense wouldn't be an issue; and the team has a legit shot at a World Series. If Damon thinks for himself and ignores his agent for once, it's a no-brainer (Insert Damon Joke Here.)
While Damon has those options and the money from the Tigers will probably be greater, his best choice is the White Sox.
Now that I've written this, watch the announcement come immediately that Damon has agreed to terms with the Tigers. On the one hand, I hate being wrong; on the other, at least we wouldn't have to hear about it anymore if that event did come to pass.
- Just one more note regarding Damon in a roundabout way:
The following was on MLBTradeRumors.com:
Phil Coke tells MLB.com's Jason Beck that he wants the Tigers to sign Johnny Damon.
The link to the Beck posting is above.
But here's my question: Uh. Yeah? So?
All of a sudden Phil Coke is the go-to-guy for opinions on personnel and what makes a championship team? Are things that slow on the newsfront? Is there nothing else?
Can we get spring training started in earnest already so the digging for things to write about doesn't have to include "Organizational Plotting With Phil Coke"?
- Viewer Mail 2.18.2010:
The BrooklynTrolleyBlogger writes RE the Phillies:
(Phils) - They'll go as far as Cole Hamels and Rollins takes them. I believe that. But then again they shouldn't get too taxed by the rest of the division.
When I think of players who didn't know when to hang them up I think Mickey Mantle. He held on just long enough to ruin his lifetime .300 avg.
You're right about the importance of Hamels and Jimmy Rollins. Their bullpen is key as well. You're wrong about the NL East. The Marlins are always tough and with their young pitching and bats are very dangerous in the division; the Braves pitching is good; and the Mets returning to health sends them right back into contention. The Phillies dragged themselves back down to the pack with their idiocy; Rollins is looking increasingly shot; and Hamels had better get off to a good start or the lingering questions of his whiny statements during the World Series of wanting the season to end will grow louder and louder.
It's easy to tell a player when he should hang it up, but if he still wants to try and play, it's no one's right to dissuade him if that's what he really wants to do. Of course, from a distance and in a cold-blooded, nothing personal, strictly business fashion, it's an analyst/agent of chaos's job to tell a Mark Mulder or even a Mickey Mantle that it's enough. That said, players have every right to try even if they're going to be embarrassing themselves or evolving into something that's little more than a hanger-on.