Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Damon Server
2005-12-21 08:06
by Cliff Corcoran

After reading through the comments to the last two posts on the Damon signing, I felt the need to generate a new post in response to the many misconceptions that are being tossed around:

To begin with, George Steinbrenner isn't spending his money. He's spending the Yankees' money. There are many major league owners who are richer than Steinbrenner, but no major league teams that generate more revenue. That said, when the Yankees expenses increase, it does come out of the fans' pockets. In addition to the cost of concessions at the Stadium, consider the fact that ticket prices have gone up each of the last two years as the Yankees have slipped into the red.

All of which is proof that the luxury tax is working. Since the new basic agreement went into effect in 2003, the Yankees have exceeded the luxury tax threshold each year and in 2005 paid more than $30 million in luxury tax alone. In 2006, they'll owe forty cents on every dollar they spend above $136.5 million. As of this morning, Hardball Dollars estimates the Yankees' 2006 payroll at $186.2 million. That figure does not include the league-minimum salaries of Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Phillips or Bubba Crosby, nor does it include the still-undetermined arbitration awards due to Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small. Chacon earned $2.35 million in '05 and finished strong. Let's round him up to $4 million. Small earned the league minimum, but went 10-0, so let's give him $1 million (both are likely lowball estimates). Wang, Phillips and Crosby make up another million. So that's a $192.2 million payroll, $55.7 million more than the tax threshold, meaning the Yankees already owe $22.28 million in luxury tax. Any further additions, such as a designated hitter, will actually cost the Yankees 40 percent more than the actual 2006 salaries of those players.

Also, for those counting the big salaries that have come off the books, don't forget that Jason Giambi and Randy Johnson will earn a combined $8 million more in 2006 than they did in 2005.

At any rate, for readers such as Debris to pin the Damon signing, or any other, on the Yankees' "economic advantage" over the Red Sox is simply absurd. Now that the Red Sox are bouncing around in John Henry's deep pockets and the Yankees are cutting payroll, that advantage no longer exists.

Speaking of Debris, he was one of a couple of readers who seemed to have some problems with the schedule of the Damon contract. Debris compared Damon in 2008 to Bernie '05, but Damon will be two years younger in '08 than Bernie was in '05. Levy2020, meanwhile, balked at paying Damon $13 mil in 2011, but his contract is up after 2009. (That said, thanks to Debris for correcting my right/left field flub in my previous post.)

"Alvaro Espinoza" claimed that the Damon signing failed to make the Yankees younger, ignoring that last years starting CF was Bernie Williams, who is five years Damon's senior.

Second to that, no2ss made an excellent point about Damon's effect on Bernie. Should the Yankees resign Bernie, which somehow seems less likely now, the risk of Torre falling back into the old habit of starting him in center on a regular basis has all but eliminated (barring a prolonged injury to Damon, of course), which is nice added bonus. That said, as I wrote here, the Yankees should avoid resigning Bernie altogether, which should tell you how I feel about the comments that project him as the starting DH in '06.

My favorite comment, thus far, also has to do with Bernie and comes from reader 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.

Consider also Steve Finley, who may be cooked in his 40s, but was very good in his late 30s, and Kenny Lofton, who despite renting a room in Joe Torre's dog house, remains a useful player in his late 30s.

All of this speaks to the fact that, despite what some commentors appear to believe, speedy players actually age better than slow ones for the same reason that fastball pitchers age better than junkballers. Its a simple matter of having room for decline. A fast player, or nasty fastball, slows down to average, while a slow player becomes a statue and a slow pitch turns into batting practice.

Now, in the grass is always greener department, some of you (specifically Sabernar and Standuptriple) have pined after Eric Byrnes, who was non-tendered by Baltimore yesterday. Putting aside that Byrnes is a major headcase who made one of the worst plays I've ever seen, costing the A's the 2003 ALDS, he hit .226/.294/.371 (.203/.268/.324 against righties) for three teams in 2005 and turns 30 in February. There's a reason the Orioles didn't offer him a contract for 2006. The Yankees already have a good-field, no-hit outfielder named Bubba Crosby.

The key phrase there is "no-hit." It's time for everyone to stop pretending Bubba Crosby is a prospect. He's going to be 30 in August and hit .231/.306/.362 in 160 at-bats with triple-A Columbus last year. His monster half-season with triple-A Las Vegas in 2003 was a fluke that saw him hit his natural peak in the hitting-happy Pacific Coast League. Bubba's a .260/.320/.410 guy at best and he's already entered the decline stage of his career. Fercryinoutloud, he's only three years younger than Johnny Damon and has a career .221/.253/.301 line in the major leagues.

Likewise, Melky Cabrera is not ready for the show. As I said in comments yesterday:

I saw Melky Cabrera play center from the right field bleachers last year and it was horrifying. I'm dumbfounded as to how the player I saw could have come to the Yankees with such a impressive defensive reputation. What's more, Cabrera didn't hit at any level last year. Cabrera's just 21 and should be given time to develop. He shouldn't be allowed to set foot in Yankee Stadium without a ticket in 2006.

Similarly, Robinson Can could prove to be one of the better second basemen in the American League by the time he reaches his peak, but that's a long way off. He just turned 23 and, as I wrote in my 2005 postmortem:

Cano's lack of patience is much worse that even Soriano's. Soriano drew a walk every 21 plate appearances in 2001. This past season Cano had more than 34 plate appearances per walk. Cano was also a distant dead last among qualified players in pitches per plate appearance (3.05—Soriano actually saw a solid 3.84 pitches per plate appearance in 2001). In fact the only hitter with more than 100 at-bats to have seen fewer pitches in his average plate appearance was Cano's teammate Bubba Crosby. Obviously, Cano will have to learn to be more selective if he hopes to continue to be a productive major league hitter lest the league stop throwing him strikes altogether.

Barring a complete collapse from Posada, Cano should not bat higher than eighth in 2006.

Perhaps the biggest bone of contention here is Damon's defense. We all seem to agree that his throwing arm is Bernie-like in it's lack of strength, but are mixed as to what we expect from him as a fly catcher. Looking at Baseball Prospectus's Rate stats, Damon was consistently excellent in center from 2000-2004, which accounts for his physical peak ages of 26-30. In 2005 he dipped below average, but as has been pointed out, he also suffered various injuries--though none of them landed him on the DL. Then again, such bumps and bruises are the natural result of Damon's all-out style of play, which means more can be expected in 2006 and beyond and the cumulative effect could result in a Bernie-like decline, countering Joe's comment from above.

It has been suggested that Damon should be shifted to left field or even first base in a couple years when those injuries begin to take their toll and players such as Aaron Rowand, Vernon Wells and Andruw Jones hit the free agent market, which all three will do after the 2007 season. Certainly the idea of trading up to one of those three players for 2008 is appealing, but the Yankees would have to trade Damon to make it happen. As a career .290/.353/.431 hitter, Damon is tremendously valuable as a center fielder, where the average AL CF hit .268/.322/407 in 2005, but he would likely struggle to carry a corner spot in 2008 (2005 AL averages for those positions: 1B: .271/.343/.457; LF: .278/.333/.437; RF: .270/.332/.451).

As for those who have suggested putting Damon in left in '06, pushing Matsui to right, Sheffield to DH and clearing center for Bubba. First see my comment above about Crosby. Then consider that the Yankees' current worst-case scenario for DH is Andy Phillips who did the following in Columbus over the past two seasons:

2004: .318/.388/.569
2005: .300/.379/.573

Okay. Home stretch . . .

With regards to the right field dimensions of Fenway Park vs. Yankee Stadium, the Pesky Pole may be just 302 feet from home plate, but straight away right in Fenway is 380. In Yankee Stadium it's 353 to the old Yankee bullpen between the bleachers and box seats in right.

With regards to Teeth's attack of what I proclaimed to be an 11-win swing in the AL East resulting from the Damon signing, he is correct to be skeptical, but allow me to explain. Yankees were at replacement level in CF before signing Damon (Bubba Crosby being the very definition of replacement level). Minus Damon, the Red Sox are now at replacement level (Adam Stern, coming off an injury-shortened season, being the only CF candidate on their 40-man roster with any major league experience, and that being a mere 15 at-bats). I didn't mean to imply that the Yankees would win eleven more games than the Red Sox in 2006, but that, as the two teams race toward 2006, the Yankees have just taken an 11 win lead. Certainly the Red Sox can make up some of those wins elsewhere, but the key there is that they're playing catch-up. Resources the Sox could have directed elsewhere (such as their similarly gaping hole at shortstop) now must be directed toward CF. Also, Damon has averaged 5.85 wins above replacement in his four years in Boston. I think using his 2005 WARP total of 5.5 is a fair estimate of his value for 2006. All of that said, as a result of this signing alone, there has indeed been an 11-win swing in the division

Finally, there were some questions about what draft picks the Red Sox would get as a result of the signing. The best explanation of compensatory draft picks I've ever read is this one from Baseball Prospectus's Thomas Gorman. What wasn't mentioned in comments is that Kyle Farnsworth was also a type-A free agent. However, as Damon is a higher ranked type-A free agent, then the Red Sox do in fact get the Yankees first round pick that the Braves had previously claimed. Both teams will get a supplemental round pick, with the Braves choosing ahead of the Red Sox as a result of the order of the signings. Meanwhile, the Braves will get the Yankees' first second round pick.

The Yankees are not out of luck, however, as they will get the Phillies first round pick and a supplemental round pick as a result of the Tom Gordon signing. The Yankees picks in both the first and supplemental rounds will come before the Red Sox's picks as a result of the pre-established drafting order and the order of the signings. The Yankees are guaranteed the Phillies first round pick because there are no type-A free agents left on the market who outrank Gordon. Nope, not even Roger Clemens.

Comments (103)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-12-21 11:41:42
1.   JVarghese81
A passionate and deatiled analysis. Nice work and good writing. I'll let everyone else debate it...
2005-12-21 11:45:56
2.   seamus
nice job. thought wouldn't the swing be 5.5 games since each win by the Yankees is only a half-game advantage on Boston and a full game only when combined with a Sox loss?
2005-12-21 11:50:46
3.   Fred Vincy
Agreed, except I'd say "dispassionate"....
2005-12-21 11:51:13
4.   teeth
Your rebuttal to my comment misses the key points.

1. A raw WARP total does not accurately reflect the difference between Damon and his replacements. WARP double counts - it gives credit for value above an RL fielder in addition to value above an RL hitter - this is not real world. Replacement level is really ~17 runs below average; Damon is 6 wins better than a total scrub, but Crosby's defense is on par with Damon's and the offensive difference is closer to 25-35 runs.
2. The Red Sox can get someone with replacement level hitting and average fielding for under a mil, so again we're talking about the offensive difference, so it's hard to say that this is more than a seven-win swing.
3. The Red Sox have a general saber-advantage, and with $12m they're definitely capable of adding 4 or 5 marginal wins. Even if the 11 figure was right, I don't see the point in saying the Yankees picked up an 11 win swing when the money and opportunity cost is left out of the equation.

So if the comparison is between Damon signing in Boston for that price and in NY for that price, the realistic conclusion is the Yanks spent $13m for 2-3 marginal wins.

2005-12-21 11:59:52
5.   tommyl

No, per Cliff's analysis, the Yankees gain 5.5 WARP, the Sox lose 5.5 by not having Damon and now currently going with a replacement level CF. Hence its an 11-win swing (not taking into account teeth's points of course).

Its nice when I can procastinate from doing math for a living to do simple math online :)

2005-12-21 12:06:30
6.   seamus
5.5 Yankees Wins + 5.5 Sox losses = 5.5 game difference in standings.
2005-12-21 12:07:40
7.   debris

Paraphrasing you, the Red Sox are not spending John Henry's money, they are spending the Red Sox money.

As for the comparison between Bernie and Damon being slipshod at best, you are totally accurate there. Bernie betwen the ages of 28-31 put up approximately a .960 ops, nearly 200 points higher than Damon away from Fenway in the same time period. At the ages where Bernie was putting up a .400 obp, Damon was putting up a .340 when not in Fenway.

2005-12-21 12:10:33
8.   seamus
nevermind, I just realized that WARP assumes that 5.5 more wins also equals 5.5 more losses. So my math was right but I wasn't accounting for the implied losses for some reason.
2005-12-21 12:11:52
9.   debris
And Cliff, while Damon's defense has been incorectly maligned on this website, to call an average RAA of +5 "consistently excellent" is to overstate his decent record as much as to compare him to Bernie 05 is to understate his abilities.

He is quite likely to be a league average fielder at the age of 32 assuming he doesnt' run into something or throw himself at something.

2005-12-21 12:33:12
10.   Knuckles
re #9...
Debris, you certainly seem to be singing a different tune about Damon's defensive aptitude than you did eight days ago. How come?

"Damon was a good centerfielder prior to last year, he'd averaged a +5 RAA from 2000-2004. Last year, he was a -5. Certainly, the drop of a point or two had to do with age, but his decline last year was primarily due to his playing banged up much of the year, playing through a shoulder injury the second half of the season that would have shut many lesser players down. I expect that in 2006, he will be a plus centerfielder again. He still has decent speed, has tremendous judgement and a great first step. The arm, while a liability for sure, is no nearly as bad as it was last year with the shoulder injury."

2005-12-21 12:36:08
11.   wsporter
Debris you said this about Damon a week ago:

"If the Sox offer Johnny Damon $50 million for four years and the Yanks offer him $50 million and a dime, Boras will push him to the Yanks. I think he's worth that, barely, to the Sox for the three good years he probably has left and the fourth for career service. I don't think he's worth that to the Yanks. Damon was a good centerfielder prior to last year, he'd averaged a +5 RAA from 2000-2004. Last year, he was a -5. Certainly, the drop of a point or two had to do with age, but his decline last year was primarily due to his playing banged up much of the year, playing through a shoulder injury the second half of the season that would have shut many lesser players down. I expect that in 2006, he will be a plus centerfielder again. He still has decent speed, has tremendous judgement and a great first step. The arm, while a liability for sure, is no nearly as bad as it was last year with the shoulder injury."

That seemed to me to be fair comment at the time. It now seems somewhat prophetic. Have you changed your mind? At least about the first 2 years? You seem to have.

2005-12-21 12:44:25
12.   atc
Knuckles and Wsporter: Very Nice Work!!
2005-12-21 12:46:51
13.   jkay
Two points:

Ticket prices: Prices for upper deck resered seats are unchanged from last year. They have done a good job in holding the line here over the last 5 years or so.

Yankees are losing money: I have to laugh at media accounts of these "losses". George has a good accountant.

2005-12-21 13:05:17
14.   wsporter

Wow, what the hell is going on? I'm scared.

2005-12-21 13:10:39
15.   pistolpete
Great post, Cliff.

Also take into consideration the intangibles - we know Damon can play on the big stage, and he seems like a stand-up guy who will fit right in with the 'Yankee way' - regardless of what Sox-shill Jim Caple thinks...

2005-12-21 13:12:12
16.   debris
re 9, 10, 11: I don't see the contradiction. I never called Damon either a defensive liability or a gold glover. I've called him a plus, which he might be, or average. He's been a +5, which is decent but not exceptional, and a -5. I called, as recently as this morning, the -5 an aberration.

Again, I don't think Damon 06 or 07 are a problem, though he's certainly not a star. It's the length of the deal that will hurt the team in the long run.

Here are two quotes from Joe Sheehan today. Joe, of course is a BP writer and a Yankee fan.:

"Despite all the attention paid to him, however, Damon is not a superstar, or arguably even a star. He was a consistent five-to-six win player in his four years with the Red Sox, a period that covered his age-28 through age-31 seasons. Durability and consistency were his strong suits, rather than any particular element of his game, and he does have fairly good speed...Damon, like Nomar Garciaparra, got a big boost from Fenway Park, on the order of 50 points of batting average and OBP the last three seasons. The Yankees aren't really getting a .310/.370/.450 guy so much as they're getting a .285/.345/.425 guy. It's the difference between a star and a solution, or millions of dollars and a couple of wins a year." He's a good ballplayer, but he's probably the second most overpaid signing this winter after Burnett.

Sheehan's next quote: "The Red Sox could actually end up huge winners here. There's a rumor making the rounds that they're trying to deal Matt Clement to the Mariners for Jeremy Reed. If they can do that, they will have replaced Damon with, essentially, a Damon Starter Kit, complete with functional arm and 25-year-old legs, and saved $20 million a year in the process. The Sox may feel they don't have the rotation depth to make a deal like this, but the available pool of pitchers is deeper than the available pool of center fielders, and the cost savings could go a long way come midseason. If they get Reed, they'll never miss Damon."

2005-12-21 13:13:58
17.   debris
Oh, by the way. The one piece where I don't agree with Sheehan is on the Sox saving $20 M. I don't see the Mariners taking Clement without $2-3 M coming along for the ride, reducing the Sox savings to $18 M per year.
2005-12-21 13:17:55
18.   yankz
Another benefit of the signing: Let the Curse of the Caveman begin!
2005-12-21 13:29:51
19.   nycfan
A couple of points:

1) I think it is a mistake to use BP's defensive stats, as Rate judged Bernie to be about average last year, and we all know ho wrong that is. Gassko's RAA is a much better system, IMO, and he put Damon at +15 last year.

2) You say Cano's discipline is worse than Soriano's, but you're basing this solely on BB-rate and not on K/BB ratio, which is far more important in predicitng future performance. Cano may have walked less than Soriano in his rookie season, but he struck out half as many times.

2005-12-21 13:51:45
20.   standuptriple
Good job getting this back on track Cliff. I agree w/pistol, Damon has proven he can get the job done under the microscope and that's something that hasn't been talked about enough. Plus, he a team guy. He'll do what it takes to win. At first I wasn't as happy about this signing, but after hearing the pure disgust from the mouths of Redsox fans on XM I like it even more. They can't seem to decide if he's a bum (in which case they should be happy the Yanks overpaid for him) or if he's a sellout. I see Bowa needing rotator cuff surgery after a season of waving Damon/Jeter/A-Rod in. He'll get on base, he'll cause concern, he'll give the top of the order better pitches to hit.
2005-12-21 13:53:47
21.   standuptriple
Oh yeah, Espnews reported that they signed Bernie for $1.5mil.
2005-12-21 13:57:48
22.   Zack
Cliff, good point on the money issue, I know I was guilty of using that, my main point having been, as you do, to debunk the economics issue. As debris, what Cliff is getting at with Henry's deep pockets, is that he is willing to spend the money, whoever's it is...

As for all of the arguments over how good Damon is or isn't, and according to whom this is a good trade or not, the simple fact of the matter is that the Yankees got what they needed for the next 3 years, which is a reliable, tough, everyday centerfielder who is a huge upgrade over anything else available, without having to trade anyone away. For the Yankees, it was the best option in the end, and for about 7 million more, I'll take it. The difference between 40-45 million and 52 million is hardly record breaking money, so its not like they are killing themselves.

But as Cliff mentioned, for the Red Sox, they now have some major decisions. if they trade Clement to the Mariners, which I agree doesn't seem likely without them picking up some of the contract, that leaves them with a very questionable rotation. AND they still have no SS. The Sox have now lost Mueller, Damon, Myers, Graffanino, Renteria, Millar, Mirabelli, and a bunch of other bums like Bradford, and replaced them with: Loretta, Lowell, Mota, Beckett, Seanez, and Schoppach (I assume). I am probably missing a few people here and there. The Sox currently have no 1b, ss, and cf. You can move Lowell to 1st and play the kid they got for Renteria, but I suspect he will be traded for a SS or CF. Should be interesting to see what happens

I have totally lost track of any of my points by now, sigh...

2005-12-21 14:33:20
23.   Paul in Boston

You make many intelligent points. But for the record, anything the Sox have done this off-season that you don't like?

2005-12-21 14:59:13
24.   Schteeve
This acquisition like all others will be best judged after the fact. I preach restraint prior to judgement. I will say this, it surprised me.
2005-12-21 15:03:59
25.   Simone
If the Red Sox had re-signed Damon, we have heard what a great asset he was from Red Sox fans. Now he has signed with the Yankees, he is the worse EVAH. It is all so predictable.

I have to say that I had a good chuckle over the sad sack look on Peter Gammons' face on ESPNews earlier.

2005-12-21 15:21:45
26.   JohnnyC
It'll be a warm New England winter evening tonight in Boston as they erect that huge bonfire of burning Johnny Damon posters. Of course, they are well practiced in these bonfires: Boggs, Clemens, Vaughn, Nomar, Pedro, Epstein, and now Damon. Can Schilling be far behind?
2005-12-21 15:44:24
27.   Dan M
If the Sox trade Clement for Reed, they might pick up a nice, young centerfielder, but aren't they giving up the best pitcher they had for the better part of last season? I know Sox fans are down on the way he ended the season, but the guy was money during the first half. As a Yanks fan, I'd love to see them pull off that trade.

Plus, if they trade Clement, aren't they admitting they made a mistake signing him, just like they admitted making a mistake with Renteria? If so, is their 04-05 off-season just as bad as the Yankees' in the same period? They make three huge signings (those two and Varitek), two of which look terrible, and the third about to rear its ugly head.

2005-12-21 17:30:59
28.   pmarcig
Personally, I've grown to love the deal. As much as it helps NY (and no matter how you cut it, it helps NY), it hurts Boston. And spin the potential Reed deal if it even happens however you want, but you aren't going to replace Damon. They now have a hole at the top of the order and in CF and that's huge.

And the thing that I find sort of ridiculous is the notion that because Damon hit .250 or .260 or whatever it was on the road (and so much better in Fenway)that he's going to do that in NY. How stupid is that? Now he has 81 games in the Bronx...where he can get comfortable hit 5 more homeruns and bat .320, steal 20 bases, and track down a bunch of fly-balls. Damon is a GREAT signing now and three years from now. Stop getting hung up on his lollipop arm. So guys will go from first to third on him. Big Freaking Deal. They did that last year, and at least this year they'll be a dozen more chances that these guys don't have because he'll be getting to balls Bernie didn't.

Color me stoked.

2005-12-21 17:31:08
29.   David
Now that Damon is signed, the Yanks would have been better off without Bernie, in my opinion. In 2005, Bernie didn't hit well enough to be a DH; he'll likely be worse this year. He's not a pinch runner. He's not a defensive replacement. He doesn't even play all 3 OF positions.

Also, I wonder how he'll be able to avoid being a morale problem. Not many of us could gracefully accept so large a demotion while staying with the same organization. Going from team star to part time DH is a heck of a drop.

Also, Bernie's signing discourages the Yankees from signing some DH who would be an above average hitter.

2005-12-21 17:35:28
30.   wsporter

I also don't feel so bad when I look at the options we had as alternatives to Damon or Bubba/Bernie. Crasnick takes a cursory look at 12 of them at the link. Boston may be in worse shape then we were, at least we had Bubba/Bernie, well Bubba anyway.

2005-12-21 17:41:09
31.   Rich
Accounting principles permit rather elastic techniques to determine the make up of a balance sheet. Just because the Yankees claim to be in the "red," it doesn't mean they are.
2005-12-21 18:32:48
32.   murphy

thanks for trying. ; )

2005-12-21 18:44:10
33.   David
How good a year will Damon have in 2006?

Newly acquired players have tended to do worse their first year as a Yankee. E.g., pitchers Vasquez, Clemens, Wright, Pavano. Hitters Womack, Lawton, Raul Mondesi, Todd Zeile, Rondell White. Even players like Giambi and Sheffield who had very good first years with the Yanks didn't match their prior season. If Damon follows this pattern, he'll be an upgrade over Bubba, but not a star.

2005-12-21 19:39:33
34.   debris
Paul in Boston,

I think the Sox have only done one thing this offseason that I don't like and that's dealing Renteria before establishing his replacement. They also attempted to sign Farnsworth. I wouldn't have wasted that effort.

Most of the players gone had to go. I'm happy with all the other trades. Loretta is a fine pickup for almost nothing. The farm system was more than deep enough to deal Ramirez and Sanchez for Lowell and Beckett. The Seanez signing is incentive laden and cheap.

There are other things I'm not happy about. I think they should have given Roberto Petagine a chance to show what he can do. I think they should show more faith in Youkilis. He should be given a chance to play everyday.

Here's what I think they will do that I won't like. I think Youkilis should play everyday with Lowell playing third against lefties, Petagine first against righties.

2005-12-21 20:04:42
35.   BklynBomber
#29 — Bernie, a "morale problem"? Maybe you're on to something here. Come to think of it, if a mid-June fist fight broke out in the clubhouse involving, say, Jeter — the first guy I would think would be trying to bang 'Cap out would be, of course, Bernie Williams.

It just makes sense. The man is due to erupt. He's carried himself with quiet dignity for 14 years and counting. Maybe this is why Cash didn't go after Milton Bradley. He knew we already had one in waiting — and for a lot less dough.


2005-12-21 20:14:28
36.   sabernar
I don't think I was "pining" for Byrnes, at least that's not what I meant. I am growing to like the Damon signing, though I doubt I'll ever be crazy about it. Of course, if he sucks, everyone is going to quickly change their tune on the deal.
2005-12-22 05:40:11
37.   debris
Paul in Boston,

After some thought, here's a more complete response to your question. Two things.

1. The whole Manny thing, which I suspect and hope might just be a farce. The guy signed a contract, they should force him to honor it. If he doesn't want to play, let him tear up his contract.

2. While I'm quite happy with most of the individual moves, most of the players gone needed to go and I like all of the additions, I wonder if they're not playing rotisserie baseball. They now have a collection of good players, certainly with some holes to fill, but is this a team or a collection of players. With all the turnover, will they be able to gel as a team and how long will this take?

I'm not happy to see Mike Myers gone. I'm not happy to see Damon gone, though I see him as a short term fix for the Yanks with a long term contract and, while I'm glad the Sox didn't give him that deal, he's going to be real difficult to replace before 2007. Losing Damon will certainly weaken the team for this year. I'm not happy to see Bill Mueller gone but I do think it time to give Kevin Youkilis a real shot, much as many Yankee fans feel the same about Andy Phillips.

All that said, I think they've fixed the bullpen problem, the starting pitching looks deep in good, if not great, pitchers. They haven't depleted their farm system, having traded two good prospects to Florida, while acquiring one even better one from Atlanta.

They have two significant problems to fix and still have the time, money, and farm system chips to do it. Whether or not they'll be able to remains to be seen. I fear the prices for the fixes is going up every day as every other team knows they have to make two significant moves. Right now, they don't have the roster I'd like to see on opening day.

There's a good article in the Hardball Times Annual on Walt Jocketty and his operation procedure. One of the ways in which he operates is to buy low, acquiring good players cheaply after a down year. Mark Loretta and Mike Lowell are two good examples of players who have had decent careers followed by one off year. They were both bought cheaply in the hope that they'll revert to the mean. (In both cases, I should add, they fill slots, Lowell replacing Millar, Loretta replacing Bellhorn, where the Red Sox got nothing last year.)

The converse of this is the signings of Pavano and Wright by the Yanks. Here you have two guys with long histories of injury and inconsistency followed by one super year. They get long term pricey deals and what do you get. Surprise! Injury and inconsistency.

In the end, Paul, it's probably too soon to answer your question completely. If they don't find acceptable solutions in SS and CF, there's a lot more that I will be unhappy about than I am today. I'm real happy with the pitching staff.

Also one other thing to remember, the Sox had a very thin lineup last year with holes at first and second, a season lost to injury in right, and an underproducing shortstop yet still managed to lead the league in runs scored because they had on base percentage in front of Manny and Ortiz. If they put Youkilis and Loretta in front of them this year, they should score a ton of runs again regardless of the bottom end of the lineup. Trading Manny will destroy the team.

2005-12-22 06:02:03
38.   joe in boston
Thanks Cliff, for calling out Debris -

Everyone up here is trying to spin this all over the place - high comedy indeed.

My take: I would have been happy with Bubba, but I do think this is a good signing. In this crazy world, I find myself saying "13 million a year is a good deal" I like the fact that they made the Sox even weaker.

Of course the front office mess just adds to the confusion and my enjoyment. Those 2 new "Co-GM" look like kids running for Class President...

You know, I am optimistic about this. Johnny is going to turn his game up a notch in NY. Maybe having Bernie/Bubba as a late-inning blow-out replacement will save JDs wheels and health a bit too ?

I like it. Happy Holidays everyone.

2005-12-22 06:27:46
39.   celli23
It is articles like this from Red Sox fans pretending to be writers that make me happy we signed Johnny Caveman. Bottom line is that he can play, has intangibles and is liked by his teammates. I didn't believe this before the signing, but I believe it now. He will be a good Yankee, and good for the Yankees.

2005-12-22 06:45:40
40.   Simone
Day Two of JohnnyGate

The Red Sox's "Co-GMs" idea was ridiculous from the start. Now Olney seems to be putting the blame on their front office for mishandling the negotiations with Damon, while Gammons tries to put the blame on a tense Lucchino/Boras past even though it seems clear from multiple accounts that Lucchino was not directly involved. Olney and other media people keep talking about Theo returning in some capacity. Is this speculation or has someone actually confirmed this with Theo? I must say this is a moment of pure schadenfreude watching the Red Sox front office debacle.

Goldman is positively giddy about the Yankees signing Damon:

2005-12-22 07:08:58
41.   Alvaro Espinoza
I'll clarify.

Yanks didn't get any younger in the sense that they didn't get a young guy to play CF. Sure, he's younger than Bernie but not as young as I, personally, would have liked to have seen. Asked another way, is Damon a young guy? Nope. Will he succeed a la Finley/Raines/Grissom as he approaches his mid-30's? Hey, I sure hope so. I would sum up my comments on the Damon signing as I did yesterday: this would have been a great move 4 years ago. In 2005, I don't hate this move but I certainly don't love it.

As for baseball's finances, at the risk of copping out, I have to get to work. I appreciate Cliff's points re luxury tax and how team spending transfers to the fans but it is nowhere near as neat and effecient as portrayed in this post. A combination of progressive payroll ceilings, floors and contractions should be instituted (and I am generally as free market a guy as they come). And I don't see any hints of MLB going this way.

I'll leave it there. Gotta go. Good points all around. Keep it coming!

2005-12-22 07:31:15
42.   wsporter
Its been a lot of fun reading the Boston press over the last two days. All the hand ringing and venom is a pure source of evil joy and is definitely not in keeping with the season. Yet Bob Ryan put together a very generous column this morning that is almost Runyonesque in its spirit of fair play. Every once in a great while one of those heavy weight columnists shows they are listening in a way that lets you know why they hold the job they do. Good for him. Now back to Shaughnessy.

2005-12-22 07:38:07
43.   Felix Heredia
I got caught in a WARP once. I travelled into the past and say myself winning a World Series with the Marlins.
2005-12-22 07:47:19
44.   standuptriple
As with saber, I don't think I was pining for Byrnes either, just making conversation. He would have been a Spring Training tryout type deal with little risk. I forgot he'd been bounced from that many teams in such a short time though.
One thing I do like about this is that Cash put his foot down (if you can call $52mil that) and gave Boras an ultimatum. These cheesedick agents always want to bring the Yankee name into the fray to drive up the price. Enough of that garbage. Here's our offer. You have 24 hours to accept. And to show you we mean business, you now have 12 hours. Excellent.
2005-12-22 07:47:31
45.   celli23
thanks for sharing wsporter

I have always thought of Bob Ryan as a class act and that article only solidifies my feeling

2005-12-22 08:27:36
46.   seamus
Cash did put his foot down. Quite honestly, if he didn't go to $52 over 4 years Damon would still be in Boston. The key is that it is very close to the minimum that the Yankees could have offered and still signed Damon. A combination of supply & demand, Damon's preference to stay, and Yankees needs made it impossible to get Damon for any less.
2005-12-22 08:58:16
47.   Cliff Corcoran
Speaking of Damon's desire to stay, I saw a post-announcement clip of him on the news last night and he looked like he was having second thoughts. When talking about being remembered for his Salami in Game 7 of the ALCS and about his time in Boston in general he was glowing, when talking about "switching sides" he clamed up, his eyes dropping and his voice lowering. I almost wonder if Damon would have taken the Sox lower offer but was overruled by his agent.
2005-12-22 09:00:38
48.   debris

I posted right here sometime last week that if the Yanks offered Damon a dime more than did the Sox, Boras would push him to New York.

2005-12-22 09:09:02
49.   Simone
Cliff, players who sign with Boras do so because they want the money. Boras is not the devil incarnate. He doesn't mesmerize or coerce his players into taking the money, they do that for themselves. $12 million is a lot of money and Damon didn't turn it down.
2005-12-22 09:14:41
50.   jayd
With the two best lead off hitters in bb, derek and johnny d, would you go 9-1 with this combo or force one of them to hit 2nd?
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-12-22 09:21:06
51.   Knuckles
I think you have to put them at 1-2, simply because you don't want Damon batting 9th, getting less at-bats than the likes of Cano/Po/Bernie.

I don't care whether he hits leadoff or behind Jeter; I think maybe the Yanks should decide in Spring Training which of them can commit more to stealing bases, and which is willing to spend their Grapefruit League trying to smack the ball between 1st and 2nd, and go from there.

I think they both need to consciously extend their AB's longer, and work the count more. They were both about league avg in pitches per PA last year, but that was a big drop for Damon who had a few years in a row of being in the top 5 in the league.

2005-12-22 09:21:50
52.   debris

Hitting one of them 9th will cost him about 140 plate appearanes. Damon is a better contact hitter than Jeter; Jeter is a better leadoff hitter than a number 2 hitter. Damon should bat 2nd.

2005-12-22 09:24:11
53.   debris

If, as Neyer and Corcoran suggest, Damon's obp is inflated by 40-50 points by Fenway, he, then, is not only not one of the two best leadoff hitters in baseball, he is even an average one.

2005-12-22 09:45:30
54.   jdsarduy
Nice article wsporter,
by Bob Venom

It's probably how Red Sox fans really feel and won't admit to it.
Getting Damon was a good job on the Yankees part and if Farnsworth has a good season like he's had in the past he could the best set up man in the AL East.

2005-12-22 09:46:49
55.   Simone
Based on all the skepticism about Damon, the real question seems to be: Is Johnny Damon even a major league caliber hitter? Sarcasm dripping
2005-12-22 09:56:24
56.   JohnnyC
According to RSN, everyone whoever plays in a Red Sox uniform is a great player, who doesn't merely benefit from the eccentricities of Fenway. The minute they leave, of course, they suck and their great stats were ALL because of the Fenway effect. Good to have a consistent point of view, isn't it?
2005-12-22 10:00:45
57.   standuptriple
I don't worry much about Damon's last year. Jeter is a much better hitter than whoever hit behind Damon last season. Nobody can dispute that. I think that's why JD decided to see less pitches last year. I expect him to go back to his patient self and be near the top of the AL in pitches seen per AB.
Also, I wonder how much influence the MLBPA has on these "premier" signings since they somehow get a pass from criticism when people talk about outrageous salaries. Obviously, it is in their best interests for every player to take the more $.
2005-12-22 10:04:04
58.   susan mullen
Cliff, thanks for mentioning it's the Yankees'
and the fans' money, not George's. It could be
George's if he chose to pocket it like other
sleazy owners do. And, there are a number of
owners with far greater personal wealth than
George, who, for example, won't even pay for
a safe environment for their players (eg the
Twins). Bill Madden points out that Rafael
Furcal set the market for free agent lead-off
hitters at an average $13 million/yr.
2005-12-22 10:29:59
59.   KJC
// Another benefit of the signing: Let the Curse of the Caveman begin! //

Which team gets cursed?

// The Sox have now lost ... Graffanino ... and a bunch of other bums like Bradford //

Actually, the Sox haven't lost Graffanino. And I hate seeing Bradford called a bum, though you're not wrong. (I just have a soft spot for sidearmers...enjoy Myers!)

// If the Red Sox had re-signed Damon, we have heard what a great asset he was from Red Sox fans. Now he has signed with the Yankees, he is the worse EVAH. It is all so predictable. //

As predictable as Damon's "rag arm" somehow now being stronger in pinstripes. Yankee and Sox fans both suck.

2005-12-22 10:36:06
60.   standuptriple
What exactly are you bringing to the table? If Yanks and Sox fans suck, why do you comment/care?
Thanks for spreading your insight though.
Happy Hannakwanzachrismafestikuhvus.
2005-12-22 10:38:12
61.   KJC
Well, for one thing, I'm a Sox fan...
2005-12-22 10:48:25
62.   wsporter
If this had happened to us I'm sure we'd be searching for ways to pull a silver lining out of this cloud and arguing that the situation does not benefit the other guy and in fact may work to his detriment. We would be engaging in some low level doom saying as well. Red Sox Nation, as represented here, hasn't acted in an odd or mean way. Where's the harm in letting them blow off a little steam? Besides some of it actually makes some sense.

Having said that, is there much chance that these RN squeals and displays of angst will continue? They leave one with such a warm and special glow. This unforeseen display of generosity should not go unnoticed. Merry Christmas, thank you and god bless you, one and all.

2005-12-22 11:00:14
63.   jayd
"Yankee and Sox fans both suck"
Well, you got that half right.

Rag arms benefit from having the greatest cutoff man in the history of the game playing short.

The Yankees have never been cursed. "Reverse the Curse" is an ice cream sold locally here in Boston.

2005-12-22 11:18:44
64.   standuptriple
Best cutoff man in the history of the game might be a stretch, but DJ does have lots of experience and I'm more than happy having him in the relay. I'm actually surprised how many MLers have horrible footwork. If you don't believe me, watch a top-program college game (on mute, of course...Ping!). Yankee Stadium is deep in CF, but it's no 420' with crazy angles and a roll-up door. Plus we have the luxury of not having to worry about Matsui cutting the throws too.
KJC, sorry about the venom. That was pre-coffee.
2005-12-22 11:34:57
65.   Simone
While some Yankee fans are occasionally annoying (including myself), I know for sure that we don't suck. However, I willingly agree that Red Sox fans suck.
2005-12-22 11:42:13
66.   jayd
I've heard DJs hands, speed, range, arm and propensity to error place him below other shortstops but most commentators place his instincts and cutoff abilities second to none. All right, "in the history of the game" may be a slight flair for literary accentuation but you can't call it "a stretch" now, can you?
2005-12-22 11:53:17
67.   Hank
Jayd -- I agree. I was thinking exactly the same thing, that Jeter would help mitigate the effects of Damon's poor arm. Jeter's phenomenal on the cut-off. With all the criticism heaped on Timo Perez for cadillackig and not scoring in the 2000 World Series, Jeter's perfect strike to get him (while falling into foul territory) was completely overlooked. And what about when he nailed that guy at third in Game 7 of the '01 Serious? I remember he had to leap to cut off the throw and had already rotated his body and gotten into his throwing motion as he hit the ground.
2005-12-22 12:03:55
68.   Zack
Cliff, I don't doubt there will be many times this year that Damon regrets his decision, and I am sure it would be the other way haad he stayed in Boston.

On the other hand, its not like the Sox team he is leaving behind is filled with his old pals. With Millar and Mueller gone, and probably Arroyo when all is said and done, there will be many new faces and a new clubhouse there. Heck, maybe he should have signed with the Dodgers, they have a solid # of Sox at this point, they should sign Millah too while they are at it.

I guess Johnny and Giambi and can sit and reminisce over their wild days in Oakland...

2005-12-22 12:27:02
69.   Shawn Clap
It's funny. I didn't realize how much I liked Damon until I read all Bahston Blogs crying about his departure. I think this might work out.

And to fans around the league: Yankee fans don't expect a winning team. We DEMAND one!

George & Co. know full well if they don't produce an ultra-competitive team year after year, we'll turn that Big Ballpark in the Bronx back into the half-deserted eyesore it was in the 80s!!!

2005-12-22 12:30:44
70.   wsporter
66 & 67 - Boys I'll go bumper to bumper with any one based on my appreciation of D.J. I have to ask though, how much help Jeter was to Bernie and his obvious below average CF arm? Do you think DJ elevated a truly awful arm up to one on a merely sub-par level? Playing a good, clean and even a deep cut off is great but if the ball doesn't get there you end up jogging a lot of 'em back into the infield. I don't think you can hide a bad arm. You maybe able to play around it but you can't hide it. IMHO.
2005-12-22 12:46:06
71.   Simone
wsporter, as much as I love Bernie, part of his problem in the center over the 2 years was compounded by his low baseball IQ. Not only did Bernie have a raggedy arm, but he would amble to the ball and take his time to get it back to infield, often throwing to the wrong person. Damon's arm may be below average, but at least he hustles to the ball and generally throws to the correct person. At least, it looked that way when he played against the Yankees and in the playoffs.
2005-12-22 12:53:55
72.   wsporter
Simone, I can't agree with your assessment of Bernie. Low baseball IQ ok maybe. But Bernie's weak arm caused him to nearly always throw to the cut off man. That was one of the reason he rarely made the usual outfielder's mistake of trying to cut the runner at third. While what you say about Damon is true I believe you are over generalizing in Bernie's regard. He rarely tried to do it because he just plain couldn't. On the occasion he over threw the cut off you'll notice that most of those throws were unintended balloons not ropes to a base.
2005-12-22 13:10:13
73.   standuptriple
I saw Bernie take quite a few bad angles in the past couple years. That, in my book, is inexcusable especially when you have diminishing skills. Granted they weren't as bad as, say Lawton's (good grief) but it seemed to me he was confident that he was still playing at a high level when I could clearly see he was 80% of old Bernie. His long stride gives the impression of lack of hustle (which I don't think was the case) but that certainly did not make him appear to be giving his all. I'll probably be raked over the coals for that last sentence. One thing that really bothers me is the long arching toss. Let it skip twice to DJ if you have to but get it there ASAP. For the life of me I cannot understand how these guys cannot have a strong arm. It's not like they pitched a thousand innings. It's called LONG TOSS. Learn it. Live it. Love it.
2005-12-22 13:32:00
74.   Oscar Azocar
I think Bernie has poor throwing mechanics, which overtook any sort of arm strength he had. Now with the chronic shoulder condition his throws have gone from bad to worse the past few years. Not that I'm an expert pitching coach, but it seems that his left shoulder flies wide open before he releases.

No reason why you can't become at least a decent thrower with practice and a refinement in mechanics. You don't even have to be that big and strong. Look at Ichiro. That guy just launches rockets from RF.

2005-12-22 13:40:41
75.   jayd
In the spirit of the season, a little Christmas song I've been working on for the Boston Faithful (Sung to the 12 days of Christmas)

On the seventh day of Hot Stove
My RedSox gave to me
Seven starting pitchers
No centerfielder
No backup catcher
No fir-ur-st baseman (a little rough there)
Three third basemen
Two general managers
And a left fielder who wants to go to LA

Haven't finished yet but give me a little more time and this front office...

2005-12-22 14:25:05
76.   Simone
wsporter, we'll just agree to disagree about Bernie.

After reading many articles on the Red Sox/Damon negotiations, I now believe that Lucchino was never serious about re-signing Damon. The Red Sox made an offer of 4 years/$40 million and said, "let us know your decision by Christmas." They never increased their 4 year offer even as they knew that the Yankees and perhaps the Os were interested. I simply can't believe for a second that they believe that Damon would accept that offer. They are not stupid people.

I keep remembering the guy who posted here last season when Pedro left. I think he was a Padres fan, anyway, he said that Lucchino demantled the Padres after they won the World Series and that he would do the exact same thing to the Red Sox. Without a new stadium on the way, I think that Lucchino is simply working to lower payroll by letting older expensive players go under the guise of market contraints.

2005-12-22 14:53:19
77.   wsporter
Congrats to all my friends who no longer have to walk the highways and byways of metro New York. Now that is good news.
2005-12-22 15:55:25
78.   tommyl
Argh, SportsCenter just did another of those:

What could the Yankees get for what they are spending?

Where they throw out all these names that are often players who are either not even yet arbitration elgible or who signed deals well before their best seasons. Do you honestly think that if Cashman could get Johan Santana for $10 million a year less than RJ he wouldn't?!

These idiotic stories piss me off.

2005-12-22 17:11:35
79.   seamus
What could the Red Sox get for the price of Cano and Wang?


2005-12-22 18:26:32
80.   sabernar
Sweet! Sox just signed Flaherty! That's excellent news for the Yankees!
2005-12-22 19:28:58
81.   KJC
Ha! Take THAT, Yankee fans! You can have Damon -- the Sox got Flaherty!

Man, I miss Doug Mirabelli already...

2005-12-23 08:28:59
82.   Peter
Check out this reaction to the Flaherty signing:
2005-12-23 08:45:18
83.   pistolpete
>> I almost wonder if Damon would have taken the Sox lower offer but was overruled by his agent.<<

I don't believe ANY player can be 'overruled' by their agent, but I imagine a scenario whereby Boras almost harasses his clients into taking the BBD.

Then again, I think Sox fans really need to take a look at what's going on with their organization before they start screaming about loyalty and 'evil empires'.

Lucchino must have naked pictures of John Henry - it's the only explanation that makes sense to me.

2005-12-23 11:05:12
84.   jayd
Thank you for your kind attention Simone. I'm not a Padres fan, but the posts you are talking about concerned the firing of Sean McDonough, former red sox announcer, and his criticism of the Henry-Warner-Lucky Lucciano gang that took over ownership of Boston thanks to the grease job on their behalf by the commish's office. McDonough had the temerity to offer the opinion that the group didn't have the bucks to swing the deal. In hindsight, you can see that he has been more than right. This is the same hatchet job that boy Theo and Lucky pulled in San Diego, although they are spreading it out over 2 or 3 years. At least the Marlins are ballsy enough to just go ahead and do it. These weasels are pulling off the greatest heist of a modern franchise in the history of sport while their fan base sits around and feigns intelligence. Happily, the Red Sox are now a real estate enterprise. Bring on the BlueJays!
2005-12-23 11:43:10
85.   debris

There are several holes in your thinking, although I'm in complete agreement with you on the grease job that got the Henry group the franchise.

Hole 1. This ownership didn't have the jing to swing the deal. John Henry is one of the richest men in baseball, considerably wealthier than George Steingrabber.

Hole 2. Lucciano (well named) is trying to cut payroll to dismantle the franchise. By all accounts, Lucchino was the only one in the front office who wanted to open the vault for Damon. In a clear sign that his power is waning, he was overruled.

The simple fact is that the Sox didn't think Damon worth the money. I see a scenario where they can upgrade significantly at two spots for less money.

1. Deal Wells and a prospect for JD Drew. Drew is an adequate centerfielder although a slight downgrade from Damon. Drew is an immense offensive upgrade from Damon, with a career .907 ops to Damon's .784. Adjust that with the Fenway differential and Drew could beat Damon by 150 points. LA will have to throw in a witch doctor to keep Drew healthy for more than two weeks at a time. Drew is $2 M cheaper than Damon and has three years left on his deal. LA has added Lofton, Garciaparra, and Mueller to their offense and has only four starters. Swapping Wells for Drew trims payroll and gives them a pitcher in Wells whose contract only becomes expensive if he stays healthy.

2. Sign Kevin Millwood. An upgrade from Wells.
3. Acquire Julio Lugo for Arroyo or Clement plus Shoppach.

With these moves, the Sox will have strengthened themselves vs. 2005 at every position except backup catcher.

2005-12-23 12:04:27
86.   Simone
jayd, my memory was vague so thanks for clarification.

It was strange seeing Johnny Damon in Pinstripes, but he looks really good clean shaven. Plus all the bitterness from Red Sox fans is enjoyable entertainment. Welcome aboard, Damon.

2005-12-23 13:51:29
87.   wsporter
Sounds good. Yet, why wouldn't LA sign Millwood, who is an upgrade over Wells, and keep Drew?
2005-12-23 14:50:55
88.   jayd
It's not thinking, so there aren't holes. The McDonough interview is still at
As for John Henry's deep pockets, his company just finished their worst year, so McDonough is looking even more prescient.
The 2003 team has been almost all sold off and I've yet to see an addition of note. If getting rid of Nomar, Pedro, Lowe, Damon, etc etc is not a payroll dump, what is? Moneyball is great for small market teams but if your opponent is the Yankees and you have a cash cow like Red Sox nation, the faithful have a right to expect more than real estate moves.
Beware of billionaires who can't tolerate dissent…
2005-12-23 18:59:48
89.   debris

Drew and Millwood would cost about $21 M. Wells will cost between $2.5 and 7.5 M, incentive dependent.

Wells will cost them for one year; Millwood probably four. The Sox might have to add something to the mix.

The Sox would likely be getting more from the deal in two ways. More talent. More risk.

2005-12-23 20:54:25
90.   wsporter
Debris, Looks like L.A. thinks they can afford it. They look like they're ready to defend market share against a predatory Angel regime by spending some money as well as by taking on some upside risk to do it. I don't see Wells as worth a 29 yr. old 900+ OPS Centerfielder (or potential Centerfielder anyway) and I don't see L.A. helping out the Sawx without a lot more coming back their way. The Dodgers aren't the K.C. A's, they have a buck or two to spend. Millwood and Drew make just as much sense for L.A. as they do for the Sawx. IMHO and WADR I don't see it.
2005-12-23 20:57:21
91.   NBarnes
How can you miss Mirabelli? He played in 50 games and was traded for an all-star 2nd baseman. It's bizzare that people wail and gnash their teeth over what the Sox have lost this offseason (prospects, Renteria, our backup catcher) and ignore what we've gained (a .380 OBP 2nd baseman, a 25 year old SP with a WS MVP, one of the top 5 position prospects in MLB). Damon makes the Yankees a better team and fills a massive hole for them. But the Yankees are not about to win 115 again; they're one serious injury to either a 39-year-old SP or a 43-year-old SP away from being a .500 team.
2005-12-23 22:08:27
92.   wsporter
Debris, BTW do you see Manny staying or going? If he goes I can't see them getting equal value in return, that is a top 5 hitter (hell they're not going to get a top 20 hitter unless they pay Manny's salary). The ripple effect through their lineup will be catastrophic when coupled with the Damon loss. If he stays they may have to kiss his ass so much that he'll still be a major distraction and their payroll will still be high.

I think this is a huge problem for them that few seem to be talking about in the wake of the Damon loss. It appears they're in the same bind the Yankees were in prior to the Damon signing; no one was willing to deal with them on a reasonable basis and they were going to pay a premium price for any talent they received. As such teams are going to try to cherry pick those talented young relievers. I think Boston miscalculated this thing and didn't foresee the bind loosing Damon was going to leave them in. But for the pending Manny mess I think they'd be in pretty good shape. With it they've got a strategic nightmare on their hands.

How would you characterize the situation and where do you see this going?

2005-12-24 04:13:06
93.   debris

First of, I'm going to totally disagree with one thing in your post. "no one was willing to deal with them on a reasonable basis and they were going to pay a premium price for any talent they received." They've made a fabulous deal with Florida and a fabulous deal with San Diego.

But back to your original question. Right now, I think the Sox are in fine shape. What people seem to overlook is that, despite the fact that the Sox led baseball in runs scored last year, they had a very thin lineup. They had a star behind the plate (for a catcher), two of the three best hitters in the AL in left and DH, a decent though not exceptional third baseman, a quality centerfielder though not a star. That's 5, count 'em, five guys. Shortstop was mediocre to miserable, right field was a decent half season, the other half lost to injury. First base and second base were total washouts.

Again, the Sox are in fine shape, today. They have a couple of holes to fill. They've upgraded first and second, they've made at least a lateral move at third. They should have no trouble upgrading at shortstop; Lugo is an upgrade over Renteria. While they are not likely to adequately replace Damon in 2006, they will likely have a better player than Damon in CF in 2007 for less money.

And then there's Manny. Dealing Manny would blow up the 2006 season. Manny is a monster offensive machine. Not only can they not get equal talent for Manny, it seems that every trading partner they speak with wants them to eat part of his contract. Do I see him staying or going, you ask? They would have to be stupid to trade him; I don't believe they're stupid. Therefore, I think he stays. That's purely on faith.

I don't see Manny as disruptive in the clubhouse. Papi will see to that.

As for the bind you speak of in losing Damon, I don't see it. There was talk in the Boston papers on Wednesday that the Sox had decided against resigning him and, for that reason, didn't increase their initial offer. Rob Neyer, who is a SABR friend of mine and who formerly worked for Bill James and who now, as you likely know now writes for ESPN, did a piece on Damon on Thursday. What he said is that Damon is a .270-.290 hitter out of Fenway with a likely .320-.340 obp. They decided against paying for Damon's Fenway inflation.

Jeremy Reed is his ideal replacement for about 4% of Damon's price, if they can pry him loose. Neyer believes, as does Red Sox management, that Reed will be a better hitter than Damon by 2007. Reed, in Fenway, will put up numbers equal to Damon in 2006, although they won't really be equal; they'll be inflated to the tune of 40-50 obp points, just like Johnny's have been the last four years.

There are two real negatives in losing Damon: the Yankees have clearly upgraded at least in the short term and there are signs that the Sox, desparate to spend Damon's money, are looking to give Kevin Millwood the 2005 Carl Pavano Award.

2005-12-24 06:57:49
94.   wsporter

Thanks for the post. I know it makes sense to you, to me it sounds like whistling past the graveyard. I'm sure, as usual, we'll find that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Its going to be interesting finding out. One thing, I meant no one would deal with the Yankees, that's why I put the phrase after a semicolon. The Sawx may find themselves in that same bind post Damon. Nice line on Pavano, I think you nailed that one. Thanks again, happy holiday and good luck.

2005-12-24 07:39:21
95.   debris

It appears that they are going to get enough from the Dodgers to help get Gathright and Lugo from the Devil Rays. Lugo I see as a reasonable upgrade from Renteria.

Gathright I'm not sold on; I'd rather Reed or Crisp. They're also now speaking with the Tribe about Crisp, who they might be able to get if they'll part with Marte.

The story that the Sox had decided to move past Damon appeared in the Boston Herald and on Buster Olney's blog 12 hours before the deal with the Yanks was announced. I'm not privy to what goes on in the Sox offices, but my sense is that they feel Reed will be a better player than Damon by 2007; Crisp is already a better player than Damon.

Crisp's road OPS was 108 points higher than Damon's in 2005; his patience at the plate his grown tremendously in the past three years; he's 26 in 2006.

2005-12-24 08:12:13
96.   DownFromNJ
Cliff, I have to disagree with you here.

The Yankee's high payroll has no affect on ticket prices. The economic variable that controls ticket prices is the demand for tickets. The Yankees will continue to raise ticket prices as long as the tickets remain elastic, regardless of payroll.

The payroll is more contingent on the ticket prices moreso than the ticket prices on the payroll. It's economics 101.

2005-12-24 08:29:22
97.   Simone
Apparently, in the eyes of Red Sox fans, anyone who can swing a bat is a better hitter than Johnny Damon. I would have never been against the Yankees signing Damon if I had known the extent of the resulting hysteria from Red Sox fans. Could this be any more fun for Yankee fans?
2005-12-24 08:33:58
98.   jayd
Damon says Manny is going.

He also said Boston is "dismantling" its roster.

You have to understand: Damon did not "get away" from Boston; it is not some monstrous fuckup, but the act of a cynical group of businessmen who chuckle softly and roll their eyes at the words "redsox nation."

2005-12-24 09:30:28
99.   jdsarduy
97. Simone
You're absolutely right Simone. I wasn't a big fan of Damon either. The Red Sox fans already have their one-sided trades happening to replace Damon. And now that Damon is gone the replacements are all younger, faster, better hitters and better fielders than Damon. Granted the Sox have made some one-sided trades recently where they got the best of some dumb General Managers. But the Red Sox are going to have to continue to make those kinds of trades to fill their big holes. D.J. Drew for Wells? Dodgers would be real be dumb to make that one. I don't expect much in return for Wells. But the Red Sox who knows.
2005-12-24 09:38:07
100.   Zack
If Reed is supposidly going to be such a great hitter, why the heck would Seattle trade him? And if they do, don't you think they will demand the kitchen sink from a team that is literally desperate for a CF and one that everyone knows is in such a state? Its great to predict that he will be such a great hitter, but we shall see. Everyone claimed the same for Ricky Ledee and Gabe Kapler as well. And I wouldn't be oo upset if the Yanks sign Millwood, the Yanks have hit him to a tune of a 6.00 era in 4 games, 24 innings, with 30 hits and 6 hrs.
Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2005-12-24 10:08:55
101.   debris
re 98: Damon is a great guy. Great in the community. Great in the clubhouse. That said, he is also dumber than a post.
2005-12-24 12:09:30
102.   wsporter
He can't be any dumber than anyone who would watch "Skating with Celebrities". Thank you Fox for that contribution to the society. I think we're all better off for that.
I take it you've had an opportunity to sit down with him and engage in some high level discourse. I guess he couldn't keep up right? Let me see, first he's a cuddly "Idiot" now he's "dumb as a post". Sour grapes make a lousy holiday meal.
I'm reminded of the Lenny Bruce cut Imus used to run about Billy Graham. "….if he's so god damned dumb why is he driving two Lincoln Continentals?"
2005-12-25 04:08:38
103.   sabernar
Saying Damon is "dumb as a post" is pretty low. That guy isn't the smartest guy in the world (and he admits it), but how many baseball players are? He's rich, playing a game he loves for a ton of money, loves what he does, loves the fans, and has a beautiful wife...seems like he's not quite "dumb as a post", eh?

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