Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
...Two Bits!
2005-12-21 06:08
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

One week ago today, our pal Murray, a long-time Bronx Banter reader wrote, "I consider a transit strike in New York more likely than Johnny Planet of the Apes signing with the Yankees."

2-2, whatta ya say? All praise Murray the Sage!

2005-12-21 06:42:30
1.   Felix Heredia
When I was orphaned in the jungles of Rwanda, it was Johnny Damon who took me into his family group and raised me as his own. He protected me from the silverback and taught me to survive in the jungle.

I shall never forget his kindness, nor the bananas he gave me.

2005-12-21 06:49:59
2.   Sliced Bread
Nevermind "Bat Day" at Yankee Stadiium. I can't wait for the "Johnny Damon Crude Spear" giveaway.
2005-12-21 06:52:18
3.   Ben
I'm speechless.
2005-12-21 06:53:01
4.   Ben
Sorry, I mean speeeeeechless
2005-12-21 06:53:58
5.   kylepetterson
Well, if nothing else, at least he's not humble. I can't stand those jerks who are just like "I'm a human. I'm not the greatest player who ever lived." Jerks.

Johnny Damon: "I think the leadoff role has been under-appreciated. A good leadoff hitter is tough to find and I think New York just found the best leadoff hitter in the game."

Man he is cool.

Kyle Petterson
The best opionator in the world. ever.

2005-12-21 06:56:53
6.   kylepetterson
wow. I'm the best opionator in the world? What the crap is that?

Kyle Petterson
The best speller in the werld. ever.

2005-12-21 07:08:30
7.   Fred Vincy
I'm very pleased with the Damon signing. Annoying as he was on the Sox, he is just what we needed.

I'd still like to see an upgrade at DH....

2005-12-21 07:12:38
8.   Paul in Boston
From a financial perspective, Damon's not worth this much $. However, it's not the kind of deal that breaks the bank for either team, so you really do have to wonder why the Sox didn't counter. Did they want him gone? Or is it just chaos at the top?
2005-12-21 07:12:49
9.   standuptriple
4 years huh? Well, I guess that tells us that Boras does not have mind control over GM's. It also say a lot about how Boston views him if they wouldn't match that. At least he'll have to cut that damn hair now. I feel really bad for Bubba. The top of the lineup will be insane. Should help the SP. Overall opinion, could have done worse.
2005-12-21 07:19:55
10.   debris

I think the Sox brass would rather stopgap with, say, Torii Hunter and spend the money on Andruw Jones or Vernon Wells next winter. They're both better players than Damon and probably won't command any more money in next year's market than Damon got in this year's.

If Hunter isn't available now, he will be in June.

2005-12-21 07:20:49
11.   Shawn Clap
After sleeping on this I feel much better about this whole business.

I suddenly realized that Damon won't be in CF for 2008/2009. Lacking the arm for RF he will be playing 1B, possibly as early as 2007.

There, I feel much better now.

2005-12-21 07:25:10
12.   vockins
Watching this oaf play CF for four years is going to be painful.
2005-12-21 07:31:38
13.   jonnystrongleg
RE: 11

A 1B with a probable .800 OPS in 2007 is going to make you feel much better? Jeez, aren't we the YANKEES? Time to go back to sleep on that one.

2005-12-21 07:37:13
14.   debris
re: 13. Damon's OPS outside of Fenway the last four years, as Cliff pointed out, is about .780. I'd say that .800 for 2007 is mighty optimistic.
2005-12-21 08:00:40
15.   Sliced Bread
At least the Yanks can now turn their attention toward bolstering the bench, which currently looks like a Mount Rushmore of Mediocrity.

This is where Cash can get more creative and tinker with "chemistry."

2005-12-21 08:07:43
16.   Murray
Thanks, Alex. I wish I had been wrong about the strike. But the TWU has been itching for it, for some reason, like enlistees for WWI. My next prediction is that somewhere in a newspaper near you, a lazy sportswriter will pen a "Christmas gifts for..." article.

I don't like Damon, but I don't have to: he's still the right addition to the Yankees, and will play a better centerfield than the proposed in-house solutions. I wish Damon had a better throwing arm, but I also wish there had been no transit strike.

2005-12-21 08:25:30
17.   jonnystrongleg
RE: 14

I would have said "probable sub .800 OPS," but I found the prospect too depressing to type.

Main point is that if we're playing our "Center Field Solution" at 1B in 2007 and paying him 13 million a year to do it, the Yankees are deader than dead.

2005-12-21 08:25:41
18.   standuptriple
I don't know why they just didn't make a move for the non-tendered Byrnes.
2005-12-21 08:31:57
19.   Simone
You know, that feeling you have when you wake up the next morning after eating bad take out. You are only a little nauseous and are grateful that you don't have to go to the hospital. Well, that is how I feel this morning. It could have been worse, they could have signed Damon to a 5 or 6 year deal. Plus, he'll be good for the first 2 years of the contract at minimum.
2005-12-21 08:32:30
20.   ChuckM
Apparently the Yanks learned nothing from watching Bernie flop around out there for the last 2 1/2-3 years. I really can't wait to watch all those teams go first to third on us in the playoffs again this year. UGH. I think I'll go gargle with toilet water to get the taste of this one out of my mouth...
2005-12-21 08:51:22
21.   Oscar Azocar
"Johnny Damon: I think the leadoff role has been under-appreciated. A good leadoff hitter is tough to find and I think New York just found the best leadoff hitter in the game."

I think that almost qualifies as a Rickey Henderson quote. Didn't he say something like "Lou Brock was a great basestealer, but today I am the greatest." Humility at its best.

2005-12-21 09:21:41
22.   vockins
At least Rickey's statement was true.
2005-12-21 09:26:45
23.   joejoejoe
Bernie Williams is not the only thirtysomething OF in MLB. It's not realistic to use his production alone as a model for other aging players. Many other good players are productive into their mid to late thirties. Bernie had injury problems above and beyond the average player (shoulder and knees).

Tim Raines and Marquis Grissom are two recent examples of OFs that have played into their mid 30s with only mild decline. Damon isn't the player Raines was but he's far better than Grissom. And both Damon and Matsui will be younger at the end of their contracts than Sheffield (age 36) was last year. Barring injury, Damon will be solid and possibly great as a Yankee.

2005-12-21 09:42:00
24.   debris

Considering that he was good, but certainly not great as a Red Sox, and that his numbers were significantly inflated by his home park, how can you claim that he will be great as a Yankee? Typically, players do not get better as they move into their mid-30s.

Sure, he'll be a fine offensive upgrade for a year or two, but at what price? A Yankee fan friend of mine referred to JD this morning as a Band Aid.

I'd rather have Torii Hunter or even newly non-tendered Eric Byrnes for one year and Vernon Wells or Andruw Jones for the following three than Johnny Damon for four. My best guess is that given next year's much more attractive free agent crop that Wells and Jones won't get any more money than George will be paying Damon.

2005-12-21 10:00:03
25.   Knuckles
Looking at Baseball Reference, here's the guys most similar to Damon thru age 31, and a quick note on some:

1. Tim Raines (914)...Got hit with the Lupus stick, still managed to hit around the .280s thru age 41.
2. Willie Davis (905)...Another .280s hitter thru his late 30s, no great OBP.
3. Cesar Cedeno (900)...
4. Ben Chapman (894)
5. Pete Rose (893)...Got a lot of hits.
6. Claudell Washington (888)...Stole home in 1988, while on the Yanks.
7. Jose Cardenal (885)
8. Lou Brock (884)
9. Gregg Jefferies (878) I hated this guy.
10.Jimmy Sheckard (877)

2005-12-21 10:01:54
26.   Zavo

I hate the fact that Damon is on the Yankees, but he is better than Hunter, and Byrnes isn't even close. He will make the Yankees better for the next 2 years, and unless the Red Sox make a trade for a good CF (which hurts the minor league system or the pitching staff), it makes the Red Sox worse.

If the Sox are able to add Jones or Wells then they will be in great shape in 2007 and beyond. I don't see JP letting Wells go for less than $52 million though, considering what he just paid Burnett and BJ Ryan. Andrew Jones probably won't cost less either. Anyone know Jones' agent?

2005-12-21 10:21:00
27.   alterity

despite your loyalty to the sox, i usually respect your opinions here. however, as 26 points out, hunter is NOT better than damon, or not significantly so much better than damon to be worthy of trading away a good bit of talent for. he's also in his 30s and coming off of a season ending injury. his career OBP is lower than damon's, and his career slugging is in the same neighborhood. and eric byrnes? please. he's geting to be 30, has only been a "full time player" for a couple of years, and has a career ops of .762. and as for vernon wells and andruw jones? i'll give you wells, although he has not emerged as the superstar he appeared to be a couple of years. he's only 27, so it could still happen. as for jones, well he will hit some home runs (assuming that 2055 was the real jones, and not every other year he's been in the bigs). but if it's not a homer, it's not much else. and rob neyer has convinced me that he's no longer the gold glover he once was out in cf. i'm not saying that the sox can't win with any of those guys, just that those guys, to me, do not signal anything special (again, except for maybe wells).

and as for the change of tune on this blog, well i seem to recall that you were the one who was fine with the sox paying damon for the past rather than the future not so long ago. and now you're saying they're better off without him?

no malice here, just making conversation.

as for me, i never wanted damon, but i will have to live with him. as such, i will go ahead and rott for him. let';s face it, we're more or less rooting for the uniforms anyway. we're gonna have him for 4 years as no one will take that contract from us, so we better just make the best of it. i hated kevin brown, but i still wanted him to win each of his 14 starts for the yanks. (not sure about that numer, but it seems about right to me.)

2005-12-21 10:22:25
28.   Zack
moving the discussion to this thread, I think you are overestimating Loretta and Youk, and underestimating Damon. I am not a huge fan of the signing, but it has nothing to do with the $. To say it is throwing it away is silly, Tek is currently making 13.5 a year, Damon will make 13. I think of it the same way. The Sox had to go up to that, and throw in the last year to keep him, taking the hit on his last year when he probably will be declining. With Damon, the Yanks will get two good years most likely, and considering his health record, never being on the dl, knock on wood, its not unreasonable to project him, a la Finley, to not regress hugely at 35. So if we can get 3 solid years from him, I'll take the hit for the last year while he may not play CF all the time. The Yanks do have the luxery, but lets be honest, so do the Sox. Its great to play the economics card, but George turned the Yanks into the money machine they are by spending, they weren't pulling in the dough all the time. And did you notice that they have lost money the last two years, lots of money? George is willing to spend money he might not have to win, you should be so lucky. Its not like he isn't giving tons of money to other teams who chose not to spend it. The Sox have as much money as anyone, and for them NOT to be spending it would anger me more as a fan. Fine, spend it more wisely than Damon, but didn't the Sox trade for Beckett and assume Lowell's contract, because THEY COULD?

And as I said, in terms of Damon's defense, we won a lot with Bernie in CF with a noodle arm and no instincts, we can do it with Damon too..

2005-12-21 10:22:45
29.   debris

Certainly, Damon is a better hitter than Hunter, but the defensive offset makes it fairly close. But I didn't say Hunter was better than Damon. I said that 1 year of Hunter and 3 of Wells or Jones is better than 4 of Damon, much better.

And I dare say that the Yanks won't even be in the market for Jones or Wells. What would they do then with Damon? They're certainly not going to move a Gold Glove centerfielder to right in favor of Damon and they certainly can't put Damon in right.

2005-12-21 10:24:39
30.   joejoejoe
debris - Damon will be great if the Yankees win multiple World Series while he is here and he plays to his historical averages and is solid in the playoffs. Sheffield is only signed for this year. Beyond '06 Damon could slide to RF and the Yanks could still pursue Wells or Andruw Jones.

And I'm not sure where I saw it but some think Damon will benefit from the short RF in Yankee Stadium and have a slight HR boost even as his doubles drop.

2005-12-21 10:27:34
31.   Ben
Rock on Alterity.

I always liked watching Damon, a little jitery, but fun to watch. he seems like a loose character, in the best way. So while I'm not sure how much sense it all makes, it certainly isn't breaking the bank, and now we get to watch him for four years. Again, putting my GM hat aside, as a fan there's no way i'd rather watch Bubba Crosby take his hacks over Damon.

2005-12-21 10:29:37
32.   debris

I was fine paying Damon $40 for 4, nothing close to what George is giving him. And I was recognizing that the Sox would have been overpaying him by $10-15 for "past service." In essence, to my mind George is paying Johnny for what he did for the Sox, not what he is likely to do for the Yanks.


First, Varitek is getting $10 per year not $13.5. He's getting $9 M per year, plus a $4 M signing bonus. And, to my mind, he was overpaid to the tune of about $10 M, again for "career service."

As for Loretta, he's pretty much shown what he can do, although he's coming off an injury plagued year. Youkilis? Sometimes you just have to give a young player a chance to see what he can do. I don't expect much power, but I do expect a lot of OBP, intelligence on the bases, deep counts.

As for my underestimating Damon, I'm just parroting the comments of Rob Neyer and Cliff Corcoran.

2005-12-21 10:34:54
33.   debris

You MUST have a strong arm in right field. You can't put Johnny Damon there. That is simply giving runs away.

As for Damon's power increase, Cliff was citing the short porch in right, neglecting the fact that Fenway has an equally short right field corner, where Damon's power lies.

Damon is certainly fun to watch and will be a great factor in the clubhouse, no doubt. He is a pure hustle player, too much so, as he plays banged up a lot.

As for Damon playing to his historical averages, they are not particularly strong once you remove him from Fenway. As posted on this very blog today, Damon has averaged .340 obp away from Fenway. Rob Neyer points out that Yankee Stadium depresses OBP and figures Damon at .320-.340 as a Yankee. That is not worth $13 million even if you got Gold Glove defense. Not even close.

2005-12-21 10:38:30
34.   wsporter
I'm not sure how completely relevant they are, but has anyone seen Damon's career Yankee stadium numbers? I can't seem to find them. Lots of stuff out there about how that short porch and lefty power alley might add to his overall slugging numbers. Rob Neyer and others have predicted that Damon's OBP will slip at the Stadium. Have they looked at Slugging Percentage? I think it was B.P. who did an interesting analysis about the relative weights that should be given to OBP and SP when determining how they correlate to runs scored (can't seem to find the article). It turned out that O.B.P. should be given a slightly higher weight because it correlates higher to runs scored. But, it seems both sides of the OPS equation should be examined if were going to examine this thing fairly. I'd like to see what he's done in the past and what his projected slugging #'s look like. Anyone have those?
2005-12-21 10:47:51
35.   Shawn Clap
Hey Wsporter,

3 HRs - all to right.

2005-12-21 10:49:23
36.   Zack
Lupica has his typical bash the Yankees article on Damon...
2005-12-21 11:08:03
37.   Alex Belth
Just a few weeks ago, Lupica was bashing the Yanks for NOT doing anything...he's incorrigible.
2005-12-21 11:10:49
38.   Nick from Washington Heights
Alex, I was about to use that word. Beat me to it.

The more I surf around the blogosphere the better I feel. Goldman likes the move. So the Lombardi, so does Manhken. So does Pinto. I'm optimistic.

2005-12-21 11:28:04
39.   Zack
But what you are missing is that, a) the Yanks don't have to give up anyone from their already so called weak system, the Sox will b) Damon isn't exactly old, so to say that we are paying him for his past is overstating it. He is 32, which is really still in his prime, if the tail end. Two years of solid play, another of weakened I will take, and a fourth of part time/dh, so be it c) and perhaps most importantly, being that there weren't any great options out there, and that the anyone in the Yanks system is at least another year to two away, this makes sense. Melky is 21, so in three years, he will 23-24, which is prime age for him to take over. If not Melky, someone else from the system. That is the way I see this, it allows us time to allow our minor league CFers to grow. Melky may or may not be the answer, but as Cliff said the other day, he is most likely two years away from real majors level...

The Sox, meanwhile, will have to trade for a CF that everyone knows they need. If I were the Mariners or anyone else, I would raise the asking price right away. Of course they won't, b/c of the "conspiracy" but the Sox NEED someone to play CF...

2005-12-21 11:32:42
40.   Zack
and as for Caple's article on ESPN about Damon's hair and all the other comments, if I remember correctly, it was only two years ago that Damon showed up looking like Jesus, before that he was Johnny Rockster, with the short hair and sunglassess. I think he will fit in just fine clean shaven. The hair was all about standing out anyways, he won't need that in NYC.
2005-12-21 11:36:18
41.   Ben
Jim Caple has a sampson and delila story on he swears this is a large mistake on Damon's part because he's not corporate and he's gonna have to cut his hair and tame his free-spirit ways. Clearly Caple has never heard of one Mickey Rivers.
2005-12-21 11:46:08
42.   Knuckles
Fenway's "short porch" in right is in no way similar to Yankee Stadium's. Fenway goes from 302 almost directly out to about 380, while the Bronx has a gradual curve from 314 to 385. When standing at the plate looking down the RF line, in Beantown you have about 3 feet of visible 302 foot distance, while in NY, you're looking at a much large swath of short porch territory.

Damon ht 3 HR in Boston last year, all no-doubters, and yes has hit his share of Pesky Pole HR in his career. But I'd be willing to bet he'll convert his fair share of long fly outs from Fenway into bombs in the Bronx.

But hey, whatever you can do to twist the facts and make yourself feel better, go nuts.

2005-12-21 15:08:26
43.   Simone
Just Lupica being Gollum.

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