Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 21, 2005
BASEBALL: How You Like Them Big Apples?
So Johnny Damon signs with the Hated Yankees, reportedly for 4 years, $52 million; he'll be with the Yanks through age 35. I guess he's not the greatest leadoff man ever after all. And I can't wait for the day when he and Bernie are in the outfield at once. Opposing teams won't even need third base coaches anymore.
The $52 million price tag isn't that bad, given the current market (e.g., $102 million for AJ Burnett & BJ Ryan) and while Damon seems to me to be a bad bet to be worth it by age 35, he will at least provide some solid value. (On the other hand, this is a guy whose OBP from age 27 through 29 was .339, and he's leaving Fenway for a tougher park - Damon's batted .310/.442/.383 at Fenway the past four years, .281/.440/.342 on the road). Still, were I the Yanks I would have sacrificed some offense, pursued a better, cheaper glove man like Mike Cameron, and tried to come up with a younger solution long-term.
On the other hand, the loss of Damon hurts the Red Sox more than it helps the Yankees - Damon is, at present, still a very good player - and that's worth something to the Yankees by itself. With the loss of Damon, the dumping of Renteria, the continuing efforts to deal Manny and the arrival of Josh Beckett and Andy Marte, the Sox are clearly leaning towards a semi-rebuilding mode, as was made necessary by the collapse of Schilling and Foulke.
UPDATE: Lyford thinks the Yankees are way overpaying Damon, given the various reasons to believe he will be less productive the next four years than the last and the fact that he's no better a leadoff man than Jeter, and rounds up some thoughts from Sox fans. I don't entirely disagree, but the Yankees' decision looks wiser when you consider how it hurts the Sox and the fact that, as I've noted before, it ought to be a seller's market for quality center fielders this offseason.
Also, following up on a point in the comments: in his career, Damon has batted an anemic .252/.346/.301 in 63 games at Yankee Stadium, compared to .298/.438/.373 in 66 home games against that same Yankee pitching.