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Yankees need to stop being stubborn and bring back Damon

by Justin Diaz

If the season started today, Brett Gardner would be the starting left fielder for the New York Yankees.

Gardner, he of the .256 career average and .677 career OPS, is a nice player to have on the bench for pinch running purposes. He is simply not an everyday player, not by any stretch of the imagination.

The Yankees, who currently have a projected payroll of about $194 million, apparently have $2 million available to sign a left fielder.

After initially asking for a four year, $52 million contract, Johnny Damon and Scott Boras have lowered their asking price to two years and $20 million.

The Yankees, however, are sticking to their guns, and insist that they will not spend more than $2 million for a left fielder.

There is no questioning the fact that the Yankees have a great team, one that should contend for another World Series title. Unfortunately for them, they are in a division with another great team, one that has made some big moves over the course of the offseason.

With the addition of John Lackey, the Red Sox have one of, if not the best starting rotation in the entire league. They may be lacking a big bat with the departure of outfielder Jason Bay, but a rotation of Josh Beckett, Lackey, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matzusaka will keep Boston in the divisional race with the Yankees for the entire year.

Which brings us back to Damon and the Yankees, and raises a very simple question. Why haven’t they signed him yet?

Do the Yankees have a good lineup without him? The answer to that is yes, a great lineup and probably the best lineup in the league. But that does not mean there isn’t room for improvement.

Lets say Nick Johnson was to get hurt early on in the season, Robinson Cano goes into one of his patented massive offensive slumps, and Curtis Granderson takes awhile to adjust to New York. Do any of those things sound too farfetched? Suddenly that great Yankees lineup isn’t necessarily so great anymore.

Do I think Johnny Damon would be the answer to any problems the offense might face for the entire year? Absolutely not, but my point is that you never know what will happen over the course of a very long season. If you have an easy opportunity to improve during the offseason, it is very foolish to pass up on it.

I understand that the Yankees do not have unlimited resources (although you would think that is the case based on their spending during the past decade), but signing Damon would bring their payroll to about $204 million for 2010. That is certainly a very high payroll, but not when compared to the $208 million that they spent last season.

No, Damon is not a kid anymore, and he is unquestionably a bad fielder with a historically weak arm. Despite what many Yankees fans seem to think though, Gardner is not a good fielder either, and although his arm is better than Damon’s (whose isn’t?), you won’t be seeing him gun out too many runners at the plate.

Damon’s bat is a drastic improvement over Gardner’s, and that is indisputable. Bringing back Damon may seem like an unnecessary move to some, but when you’re in a division with a team as good as the Red Sox, any realistic opportunity to improve should be taken advantage of.


  1. Completely agree. When you have to compete with the Red Sox yer after year you have to do anything realistically possible to improve, because you know that they will.
    At the MOST Damon will get $10 million, but I bet, given the lack of interest from other teams, you could negotiate that down to somewhere in the $7 million range. In the grand scheme of things, given the Yankees considerable resources, what difference is $196 or $201 million?
    Great article

  2. One possibility is that Cashman is liking what he sees over with how Epstein and co. are building around pitching, speed and defense. The Red Sox let their 100+ RBI man walk, while bringing in an ace pitcher, and improved their defense at 3B, SS, LF, and CF. That gives the Red Sox an above average defender at every position on the field.

    While Granderson is a fine hitter, he's just as impressive for his speed and ability to patrol centerfield. Perhaps the Yankees, like the Red Sox did in bringing in Marco Scutaro to play short, believe their offense is good enough with Brett Gardner, and his upgrade in the field (however small it may be) and the dollars saved makes up for the lost offensive production.

  3. minus catcher* I should have said. Victor Martinez is no good back there, but we think Jason Varitek died three years ago so you won't hear me complaining about V-Mart any time soon.

  4. I credit the Yanks for assigning a player a value and sticking to their guns at the negotiation table. Still, this article is on the money in saying that injuries, slumps, and other disappointments do occur, and I agree that Damon adds a lot to the lineup. Good read.

  5. totally agree they should bring him back.. the extra money they spend isnt gonna suddenly bankrupt the entire yankee organization

  6. I completely disagree with this writer in regards to his message, writing style, and overall voice. He should be ashamed of his journalistic exploits. I respectfully request that he withdraw from the world of sports.

  7. I totally agree his writing style sucks. Make paragraphs man. Then you think Nick Johnson is injury prone when he doesn't have any consistent ailment. There all freak incidents that could happen to anyone. Just like A-rods hip, Jeter's shoulder in 03. Time for you to retire as a writer.

  8. I respect your opinion, but I have to say that I strongly disagree. Johnson has been in the league for 9 years. He has played in over 100 games in four seasons and never played in over 150 games. You're telling me that he's been unlucky for nearly a decade? Sure, some of his injuries were freak accidents, but when you are injured more often than not you are simply an injury prone player. There's no two ways about it.

    I thank you for your words of wisdom about my writing, but I will respectfully decline your advice. I feel safer accepting advice about writing from my college professors rather then from somebody who doesn't know the difference between "there" and "they're".