Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Johnny to the Bronx

Before discussing Damon, I'd like to amend my comments on the Padres-Rangers deal. I said it's not bad for both teams, and it's not, in a vacuum. It's a fair trade as these things go, but my analysis shouldn't have stopped there. I think it's a problem for Texas that in order to get one pitcher they had to give up another. Even with the earlier acquisition of Vicente Padilla, this was far from a deep pitching staff (remember, Padilla only replaced Kenny Rogers, not that I'm in love with Kenny Rogers, as I've said earlier). Now, I don't know what else Jon Daniels has up his sleeve (the fact that he's four years older than me is insane, by the way), and there are rumors that Kevin Millwood may be headed to Arlington. But it strikes me as unfortunate that they only way to acquire a pitcher like Eaton was to trade Chris Young in the process, even if they do ultimately get Millwood.

So, Damon to the Bronx. First, I'll admit it - I was wrong. I predicted that (a) he wouldn't sign for a few more weeks and (b) that he'd return to Boston for $60 mil over five. At least I was right that he wouldn't get seven years.

As we know, the Yankees have a no facial hair/long hair policy. This is because the Yankees are assholes. So now Damon will have to clean up a bit. I'm actually thrilled about this. Those of us who actually follow baseball with some degree of regularity remember that Damon played the first nine years of his career with normal hair, no beard, etc. And he was a good player, but no superstar, no household name for the non-fan or maybe even for the casual fan. Then on opening day 2004 he shows up looking like a gay caveman and then he's Mr. Mainstream Celebrity. "Wow, that Johnny Damon is so outrageous, he's like Dennis Rodman or something! He's on Jay Leno tonight!" I mean, I guess if I had to play in Kansas City for six years I'd want to let loose too. (Just watch - Beltran is gonna show up in spring training with blue hair and a dress). But something always pissed me off about this Damon hair thing - I resented how it served to elevate his baseball accomplishments (which aren't bad by any means) to more than they were. That's right, I actually RESENTED Johnny Damon - this is because I'm crazy, petty, and unbalanced.

Now, as for the baseball element of this, I don't know how I feel. I've heard/read both sides. Avraham Simcha Yaakov Shmuel Adler said that this move is great for the Yankees, as having Damon leadoff will give A-Rod a lot more men to leave on base. It's indisputable that Damon is an upgrade over Bernie or Bubba Crosby. But the Yankees didn't exactly have trouble scoring runs in '05 - they were second in baseball (to Boston, interestingly enough). They also were second in OPS. So this is not a team starved for offense. Considering the players they have, this shouldn't be a shocking revelation.

I know that the Yankee fans have been screaming that the CF defense just wasn't cutting it, and I'll take that as a given, as I don't watch the Yankees on a day to day basis. Damon is good, but he has a terrible arm (I don't watch the Red Sox every day either, I'm kind of just repeating what I hear on that). But taking that Damon, while being an offensive upgrade, wasn't really a critical offensive upgrade, you have to focus on the value he's giving as a defensive upgrade. And you don't pay $13 mil a year for a defensive upgrade, certainly not when the player will be with you for ages 32-35 and is bound to progressively decline.

Oh, right, the Yankees can afford to overpay, they're the Yankees. At some point, they'll have to stop. I thought that point had arrived; I guess not. It's gotta catch up with them though soon. Regardless of the money (it's the Boss' money, what do I care?) - the Yankees know by now that a lineup full of all stars doesn't correlate to postseason success. And I think any argument about the intangible benefit of demoralizing the Red Sox is total crap. Think David Ortiz is gonna say "Oh no, Johnny Damon went to the Yankees, now I won't be able to hit a game winning 3 run homer every other night." No, I don't think so. (By the way, the Yankees have been doing just fine, grabbing Damon and four relievers to give them a criminal surplus of pitching, so I don't want to hear how the Mets have become the new Yankees. The Yankees are still the Yankees.)

As for the Red Sox, yeah, this hurts them for now. They've targeted Jeremy Reed as a replacement, offering Bronson Arroyo. Reed has a lot of potential and the Mariners had high expectations, but he was thoroughly underwhelming in '05, and lots of prospects never pan out. Maybe that's Reed's fate, who knows. So the Red Sox offense is in trouble now, remembering also that their 3B, Mike Lowell, is coming off an awful, awful, awful year and they traded their SS without replacing him yet. But as I said, they were first in runs scored in '05, so they have a little room to fall. They also have Andy Marte on the very near horizon. I agree with Rob Neyer's argument that the Red Sox might suffer a bit in '06, but they'll quickly find a way to apply the money more efficiently and usefully than they would have by tying in up in 4 years of Johnny Damon in his mid 30s. And as I said, I don't think the emotional impact of losing Damon accounts for that much. I don't think it will make a difference at all in the W-L column. With Ortiz on board, that team has plenty of heart.

Speaking of which, Ortiz won DH of the Year today. Anybody who gives two shits about an award that has four nominees every year, raise your hand...Mrs. Ortiz, you can put your hand down now.


Blogger adam20ss said...

No discussion of how the yankees were bidding against nobody? The red sox had the highest offer on the table - $40 million/4 years. The yankees offered $52 million - a bounce from $10 mil per season to $13 mil - without any other teams offering anything else. And, when you figure the luxury tax costs, this will cost them even more.

Get rid of the word verification.

By the way: Isn't my constant nagging to get rid of the word verification more annoying than a single instance of blog-spam?

8:49 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

Why is everyone making Jesus Damon out as a savior of some sort? We all know how this story ends--him hanging nailed to the wall in centerfield of Yankee Stadium.

Bur seriously, is he really the difference between the Yankees winning 90 games and 95 games next season? Shouldn't they have signed, say, a top notch pitcher to that contract instead?

10:51 PM  
Blogger The Mink said...

Your distaste with Johnny's use of his facial to "elevate his game" is understandable. That being said, the grungy man was the face of the "idiots" and was the perfect symbol of the anti-yankee for the yankee hater nation. So when he shaves and trims in order to put on the nazi uniform (sorry typo) I will be troubled by the physical transformation which has in my mind tarnished one of the former best portraits of the anti-yankee......

In other news baseball lost a great man last night, Baltimore Orioles coach Elrod Hendricks....He was in the organization for almost 40 years. I was fortunate enough to attend his baseball camp and speak to him before ballgames. He absolutely was a true mensch.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I hear you about the anti-Yankee thing, Mink. It is unsettling from that perspective.

And I'm glad that we've got people here to mention Elrod Hendricks. Very nice that you got to know him.

Oh, this word verification is ever so annoying Adam, this is just such a terrible hassle.

2:15 PM  
Blogger adam20ss said...

well, Eric B, whoever you are, you never post. I post all the time. and it's annoying

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny Damon was heard singing this Tuesday:

Don't be fooled by the locks that I got,
I'll be (I'll be) Johnny in the Bronx
I used to suck a little now I'll suck a lot,
I'll be (I'll be) Johnny in the Bronx

2:04 AM  

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