I figure it’s ok for me to post over the top of YF on this one, as Damon leaving the Sox for the Yanks seems to be the type of story that we can both add our thoughts on as separate threads. I wanted to post my initial thoughts on this, before I spent too much time at SoSH reading analysis on what the true impact of the move will be. So here goes:
Thanks, Johnny. First, before everything, thanks. Before we start rooting for you to miss the cutoff man (if you reach him), before we advertise our hope that your speed continues to diminish, before we cheer for your second half production to suffer increasingly as you get older, thanks. You were an iconic player on a team for the ages, and we (and apparently the Sox too) will never be able to re-pay you for your efforts in bringing our beloved team a title. The Yankees will have to do that. When you signed with the Sox initially I told my Dad this was the smartest free agent acquisition of a skilled player the Red Sox had made in many years, including the Manny deal. It was. Thanks for everything you gave to the team.
My thoughts continue below.
Now, on to the good, juicy, soap opera emotional stuff. It’s sure going to be fun seeing Yankees fans reduced to everything they say they aren’t. They’ll be rooting for Damon to crash into walls. They’ll be rooting for him to steal bases. They’ll be rooting for him to produce, hustle. Just like they root for pretty much everyone else, his "themness" be damned. Yankees fans don’t get to occupy any special place in the roster of loyal "don’t come near us you’re not one of us" fans (and nor do we Sox fans, since we’d root pretty damn hard for Derek Jeter if he ended up in Beantown, however "icky" it made us feel). So Yankees fans, get over yourselves. Enjoy Damon. For just a moment forget the terms of the contract, forget who Damon spent the last few years with. You’re getting a damn fine player, an entertaining one, and you’ve improved.
Now, us Sox fans. What to do. We can hem and haw, we can lament that turncoat Damon, we can foresee rueing the day we didn’t go to 4/50 just to keep that longhair off the enemy. But we shouldn’t. Yet. Let the Sox’ front office fill the CF spot. If it’s Jeremy Reed, then we’ve gotten younger and cheaper (and have the Yankees’ draft picks, don’t forget). If it’s Brad Wilkerson, we’ve gotten younger and cheaper (and, still, we have the Yankees’ draft picks). If it’s Willie Mays Hays, we’ve gotten older and fictional. Nonetheless, people shouldn’t overreact like they did when Epstein tendered his resignation. Damon’s departure will cascade into other transactions. This roster isn’t close to set. It’s not even January. Epstein articulated the Red Sox’ organizational strategy in a chat on SoSH some time back, and it’s worth repeating in the context of the Yankees signing Damon:
Why are we fiscally responsible? Not because we are cheap; we are not. Not because we are afraid of large commitments; we are not. Not because we would rather pursue non-tenders or particularly enjoy reading through thousands of minor league free agent reports instead; we don’t (well, maybe sometimes). Quite simply, we are fiscally responsible because the alternative would be a disaster. Fiscal irresponsibility is the single quickest way to hamstring a franchise for a decade. You don’t have to look long and hard to find examples of the dire consequences caused by two or three bad contracts, by two or three times when you give in to the "win now" temptation and end up with a bloated roster and no way out.
We are fiscally responsible and we value payroll flexibility because we trust our ability to evaluate talent. Our attitude is: give us a talented core and some flexibility and let us go to work. The more talented the core and the more flexibility we have, the better off we will be. Injuries and down-turns in performance will be more manageable if we have flexibility.
Not much has changed, even absent Theo. For this we should be thankful, if not disappointed. The Red Sox, like YF stated, had to know this was a possibility. Boras’ men always go to the high bidder. The Yankees, all "financial difficulties" aside, will always be in the place where they can be the high bidder, if they so choose. So the Sox risked this possibility by not upping their offer, and I can’t imagine they are entirely surprised or entirely unhappy. Are they a better team? No. Not yet. Is it $52M of "yet"? Time will tell. We bid you farewell, Johnny. We thank you, sincerely. We wish you good health. And terrible at-bats. Now go shave.