We Search Our Archives: YFSF Johnny Damon Edition

A little history, from the YFSF Archives.  No finger pointing, no editorializing, just some comments pulled from some recent threads. I tried my best to pull relevant comments, and objectively, I didn’t spare myself.  Upon searching, it was clear that my cohort YF was conspicuously absent from any debate about a possible Damon acquisition, which some could call intelligent positioning.  I, however, might be more cynical, and call it something else. 

All sides represented.  In the interest of history. See it all after the jump.


Note: Gammons on ESPN.com states that Theo was burned out by life in the spotlight. Also, he suggests that the franchise, to stem the bad feeling, is going to have to shell out a huge contract to Johnny Damon, and that Scott Boras is probably licking his chops. (This begs the question: what’s the difference between this money will be and what, it would have cost to re-up Epstein.)


I personally am confused why Damon is the answer to the Sox’ PR woes. Most knowledgable Sox fans watched Damon play in the second half of last year and also know his age. Not giving him a 5/50M contract would be a better PR move than signing him to a ridiculous deal at any cost, just to get it done.

"Not giving him a 5/50M contract would be a better PR move than signing him to a ridiculous deal at any cost, just to get it done."

I think you assume, sf, that most fans care about their team’s bottom line and ability to make sound decisions in the future. Damon is an incredibly popular player in Boston, who to the lay fan, batted over .300 while looking vaguely like Jesus. The majority of fans would be upset if he left, especially if he leaves after a failed acrimonious negotiation between management and Boras.

I think many fans don’t want to see Damon go, that’s a given. He is popular. But after his diminishing performance in the second half, his visibly bad throwing skills in general, and his demands (via rumor, admittedly), it’s not too much to say that a good number (whether that’s a majority I have no idea) of Red Sox fans would rather the team make a smart move, not a rash, expensive one that inhibits flexibility, particularly not after the Renteria situation of this past year.

One of the realities for any championship club is the development of loyalty between fans and players. It makes management’s task much harder when players are up for free agency. Bad contracts, such as Bernie Williams’, often result. Management, in its negotiations, must include the potential of alienating the team’s fan base as a factor. The Nation, most of it, is pissed that Theo, the seeming architect of the 2004 world series team, is gone. If Manny is traded, another piece of that season is gone. And then Damon. The front office is in danger of looking like callous cold hearted jerks who are ripping away all connections to that magical season. And the media will be sure to have a field day.

I agree with SF: signing Damon to 5/50 is dumb.


Posted by: Sam | Tuesday, November 01, 2005 at 12:34 PM

So the Yankees’ worst off-season ever was…the most recent one. But NOW, with the same front office re-upped all is copacetic? That’s one quick turnaround, considering almost nothing has changed personnel-wise, in either the front office or on the field.

We’re supposed to think that the balance of power has shifted because the Red Sox lost their (apparently very) unhappy GM but the Yankees kept theirs? I think the momentum will shift when and if Pavano pitches a full healthy year, Jaret Wright is jettisoned or rebounds to Atlanta form, Randy Johnson pitches like he’s 38, they solve their center field problem, their first base problem, they re-sign Matsui, deepen their bullpen, all while the Red Sox farm system collapses, Manny Ramirez sits out the entire year with nothing gotten in return, Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke are unable to ever pitch at their expected high levels again, the Sox fail to sign any free agents of note, Johnny Damon leaves and is replaced with Johnny Fairplay, Manny Delcarmen and John Papelbon stink up the joint, and Dale Sveum gets rehired. But that’s me. You can pin that momentum shift on Brian and Theo if you want.

I think Theo was developing something very good that threatens to be destroyed if Lucchino, in fact, becomes the center of power in Boston. And I also think that Cashman and people like Stick were increasingly marginalized in recent years. You might remember that Stick, when involved, helped develop an elite farm system, and, even better, a 4-time world series champ. After the 2004 world series and off-season it was easy to be pretty down if you were a Yanks fan. The team made stupid decision after stupid decision. Most media reported that these were decisions called from the Tampa group, which, as a result of Cashman’s negotiations, is now marginalized. And the future looked none too bright. Meanwhile, the Sox, with Theo at the helm, made reasoned choices. Whether or not we’ll see the consequences of this swing in fortunes next season or the season after, it still marks a potentially significant change in direction/philosophy for both teams. Potentially, it’s a reversal in fortune. To paraphrase you post October 2004, you’re sounding like us and it’s just too cool.


Posted by: Nick | Wednesday, November 16, 2005 at 09:55 AM

Perhaps. But don’t underestimate the low-IQ, long-haired, weak-armed demographic that is Boston (heck, I am from Boston!), and hence the marketing value of Jesus. Damon’s a goldmine! Seriously, if he’s asking for 7 years (and I assume you are joking since I haven’t read that anywhere) someone should request a urine test pronto, from him and Boras.

Posted by: SF | Wednesday, November 16, 2005 at 10:09 AM—–

(snip)…in terms of athletic prowess and ability to run down balls, Jeter will have far more years of speed than Johnny D. Regardless, unless Eric Duncan turns out to be the real thing, we shouldn’t have to worry about 3rd and ss for a few more years.

"Jeter will have far more years of speed than Johnny D"

What? Did I miss something here? Has it now been determined that Jeter has secret Dave Roberts speed that we are all not aware of? I’ll bet its pretty even money in a footrace between the two, and JD doesnt need any practice or warm up games at the position – he’s already better there and not to mention a better leadoff hitter than Jeter. Yankees could do worse than ponying up for that fourth or fifth year to make Boras happy.


Posted by: Brad-Sf | Tuesday, November 29, 2005 at 10:02 PM

All I’m saying is that I really don’t want Johnny Damon on my team. He’s a more over-rated player at this point in his career than Jeter and if they were both up for free-agency and Jeter would only sign as a Center Fielder (with no prior CF experience), I would pay more money and a longer contract to Jeter than to Damon.

Well, Walein, Jeter is signed to a $20M/year contract, and that isn’t getting renegotiated. So if the Yankees were to hypothetically move him to CF then the comparison is Jeter at $20M/year versus Damon at, say, $12-13M/year +/-. I don’t know why (in a pure "value vacuum", of course, which doesn’t exist) you’d ever choose Jeter; their isn’t that big a difference in their performance, at least statistically, to account for such a salary discrepancy. The Yankees finances make per annum salary a kind of non-factor, but you’d be far better served, as YF says, keeping the Jeter money in a position like shortstop rather than sticking it at center, whatever their performances might be. The market for high-production outfielders is just much deeper than for shortstops.

As silly as it sounds, the Yankees and Red Sox may be better off, from a pure dollar value standpoint, signing Milton Bradley rather than signing Damon. Of course, dollars are only part of the deal, for good reason.

20 comments… add one
  • I stand by my statements. Iraq was a serious threat to the US at the time…
    I guess I misjudged RSN’s reaction to Damon’s departure (if I am to judge you and Beth at Cursed to First as representative of the Nation-a somewhat unscientific conclusion). Of course, a major reason for that is that Johnny went to the hated rivals. Say he parted ways with the Sox to play in LA. I’m guessing there would be a lot less effigy burnings.
    But I’ll credit you with anticipating that Theo’s departure did not necessarily mean a sea change in the front office’s philosophy. They are indeed still tied to the idea of roster flexibility, and mixing short-term and long-term needs. The front office did not buckle to Damon’s demands.

    Nick December 24, 2005, 10:44 am
  • I should also say that I think the Damon contract is fine for the Yanks. They’re overpaying on a yearly basis (and I’d much prefer a 3 year deal) but they’re the Yanks. They can afford to overpay on the short-term. I don’t think the contract will hamstring them in the future. Plus, they still have a 1st round draft pick (from the Gordon signing) which will be higher than the Sox picks, and have not had to trade any blue-chippers from the minors this off-season.

    Nick December 24, 2005, 10:49 am
  • Call my absence whatever you want; bottom line, Damon’s now a Yankee, for better or worse, and for the short term at least, it’s likely to be better by a great deal. As for the summer of 2009, guess we can worry about that then.

    YF December 24, 2005, 10:58 am
  • Moving on, what about Gammons? At what point do we just start ignoring him? Could he have been more wrong?
    Perhaps YF and I could get somebody with expertise in Flash to create some sort of wiz-bangy Gammons chart for our redesign, that would actively indicate how far off (or on) he is in his weekly column.

    SF December 24, 2005, 1:24 pm
  • SF – Are you proposing that the comments above show you’re usually right?

    john yf December 24, 2005, 1:32 pm
  • No.

    SF December 24, 2005, 2:02 pm
  • I’m not sure why it’s reasonable to indict Gammons for comments made on the night of the Theo news. It was speculation, and then paraphrased by me. Gammons remains indispensible, IMHO, not that his is the authoritative word of god, or conflict free. (Murray Chass? Different story.) Anyway, SF is welcome to criticize him (as have I, and many times), and there’s plenty of legitimate ammo. But he speaks for himself, and not the both of us, as that last comment might imply, intentionally or not. Gammons’s HoF plaque is definitely well deserved, IMHO, and if we’re not always in agreement, we find him hard from discredited. If we’ve indicated that in the past, consider this a big fat mea culpa.

    YF December 24, 2005, 2:05 pm
  • Michelle and Johnny say Manny and his wife told them to go to New York. If I were a Sox fan, I would want to run Lucchino out of town on a rail. He has dismantled a great team, without a clear direction that I can see.

    john yf December 24, 2005, 3:48 pm
  • I grew up on Gammons. I used to love reading him. But as the years pass, and perhaps with the influence of the web’s immediacy, it seems like he’s pushed the rumor-mongering very close to the edge. With his weekly Globe column (and pre-internet), he used to compile a ton of stuff, probably exclusive, and rattle it all out Sunday, usually along with a longer section that was likely some sort of intelligent criticism. It was one of the best times of the week, those 15 minutes or so that it took to get through Gammons’ work. But now, it seems like his Insider stuff is just blather. He throws out so much stuff that it’s hard to tell what is real, what is spin, and what is a figment of his over-informationalized mind.
    I mean no disrespect to PG – like YF says he’s a deserving HOFer. Lately, though, I am very careful to repeat anything he says on this site as possible news.

    SF December 24, 2005, 4:19 pm
  • maybe this is why Marte was available for Edgah.
    “Andy Marte went 0-for-3 yesterday to drop his average in the Dominican Winter League to .220.
    He has walked 16 times in 118 at-bats, but with two homers and five doubles, he’s not showing his usual power. Maybe it has something to do with the mysterious elbow injury. Marte hit .275/.372/.506 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A last season, so while his performance in 57 at-bats in the majors and in the Dominican suggests he’s not ready yet, he’s one of baseball’s best prospects.”

    Nick December 24, 2005, 4:20 pm
  • John, why should we do what you suggest? Where is the proof that the Red Sox have been “dismantled”, for the worse? If they had signed Damon to the same contract the Yankees did, you’d be completely laughing about how much Boras suckered them. If there’s anything I think I have been correct about, it was about the Sox’ organizational strategy remaining consistent even through the departure of Epstein.

    SF December 24, 2005, 4:21 pm
  • Many of you have probably read this, but it’s Bill Simmons’ take on Damon. We share many sentiments, though he says it far more professionally.

    SF December 24, 2005, 4:44 pm
  • Comments of 2 of Simmons statemetns:
    “And sure, I’m rooting against him next season and plan on booing him in person when I have the chance.”
    That is so bush league and so Boston. I like it much better when the Yankees have applauded players that helped them win titles when they returned on other teams (i.e. Tino at TB) The RS have a WS win after 86 years and he was a big part of it. And all they can think of is to boo him as thanks.
    “and Larry Lucchino (the con artist who’s currently running the Red Sox into the ground)”
    Although SF states otherwise it is OBVIOUS that the RS are being dismantled… reminds me of the Marlins after 1997. And this from a very wealthy team that sells out every game.

    bronxborn December 24, 2005, 6:42 pm
  • SF, I said “team”: compare the 2004 roster to the 2006 roster. The new team will definitely not win as many games, and yet it’s not exactly building towards the future either.
    Combine this with the gross mishandling of Golden Boy Theo, and as I said, if I were a Sox fan, I’d want to ride Lucchino out of town on a rail. You don’t have to agree, but there are plenty of Sox fans who do.

    john yf December 24, 2005, 7:18 pm
  • The issue I have with the word “dismantled” is it’s implication: that the Red Sox are being taken apart for duplicitous reasons. Perhaps that’s my interpretation, or just projection. The “dismantling”, and for a moment I will allow that word to pass, is to me a restructuring, and not at all insidious.
    Simply put, “Ddsmantling” has a pejorative tone. I have been consistent in thinking what is happening is somewhat by design, and also well-intentioned, so I think it’s a bad word. It’s subjective, no doubt.

    SF December 24, 2005, 7:19 pm
  • “That is so bush league and so Boston.”
    Okay, then how did you guys treat David Wells when he returned to the Bronx wearing red stockings?
    It’s hard for me, as a Bostonian, to separate arrogant attitudes like that from a city i’m actually quite fond of, and to keep the sentiment ‘Yankees suck,’ not ‘New York sucks’. But then again, sometimes the best the crowd in the Bronx can do is say ‘Boston sucks’, so maybe that says enough. Who’s bush league again?

    rcolonna (sf) December 25, 2005, 9:19 am
  • Damon says one of the reasons he left Boston is because the team is being “dismantled,” “like the Marlins.”

    john yf December 26, 2005, 10:25 am
  • All of sudden Johnny Damon is the second coming of Enrico Fermi?

    SF December 26, 2005, 12:06 pm
  • Fermi’s OBP was around .020
    But the point of my comment, of course, was that at least some of the Sox players feel the team is being dismantled. That’s always bad.
    Manny told Damon to leave. Papi said letting Theo go was a disaster.

    john yf December 26, 2005, 1:23 pm
  • RE; Johnny Damon
    As a YF I am conflicted over the Damon acquisition as JD has been THE ENEMY for four years. Nonetheless he is a great leadoff hitter and the type of ballplayer NY looks for, one who has performed in the big games. The biggest problem is NY was painfully made aware that defense matters in 2005. It makes your pitchers better. The diving outfield catch with two out and two on is equivalent to a two run homer. The great throw to third that cuts down the first to third runner can stifle a rally. And on and on. While JD has speed and hands he does not have an arm and that hurts for a team that has seen its team ERA go up every year since the last time they won the WS. Next year when some excellent CF players are available and Sheffield probably leaves, NY could go for a new CFer but putting Damon in right, the position where an arm is really valued is a problem. Moving Matsui to right is also not the answer here. JD is going to look great penciled in to the leadoff spot but defensively this move is suspect and defense was the squeaky wheel in 2005.

    Robert English January 7, 2006, 9:13 am

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