|If Damon goes, who will represent the Yankees in the world of sports entertainment??*
If you had told me five years ago that I'd be mourning the departure of Johnny Damon from the Bronx, I would have laughed in your face. I'm not ashamed to admit that I harbored an intense hatred for "Johnny Demon" when he and his nasty beard were residing in Beantown - the very sight of him was enough to illicit a vomitous reaction out of me - but something unexpected occurred at some point over the last four years: I became a Damon fan.
I actually tried hard NOT to like him once he joined the Yanks, but my efforts were in vain. He lost the beard, stole a few bases, showed some good team spirit, and I was converted. I liked his contributions to the team, from the solid OBP and speed (and the fact that he capitalized on the new stadium's freakish right-field with a buncha cheap-o home runs in 2009) to the relaxed and fun-loving attitude he brought to a team in dire need of a little loosening up. When the Yanks opted not to re-sign him right away after his contract expired, I sincerely hoped that they would reach a deal to bring him back (just for one year; let's not get too crazy here) - not because he's the best player available, but because he's been such a great fit for the team.
Unfortunately, it's not looking like Damon will be back in the Bronx in 2010, thanks to his salary demands and the Steinbrenners' out-of-character adoption of an actual budget. According to the New York Post, the Yanks are dead against spending a dime more than $2 million for their 2010 left fielder, a number far lower than what Damon thinks he's worth. To be fair, while I would like Damon to re-sign, the Steins are wise to stick to their guns on this matter: there are a plethora of similar left-field options to be had for $2 million (Brett Gardner is an obvious choice, but free agents like Nady or Jerry Hairston Jr are also available and could form a platoon of sorts) and the rest of the lineup is so absurd that paying big bucks for an offensive star is simply not necessary.
At this point, it appears that the only way Damon will wind up back on the Yankees this year will be if he can't find a deal elsewhere and is forced to lower his asking price and ditch his demand for a multi-year deal. Both the Giants and more recently the Braves have reportedly shown an interest in him, so the odds of that situation coming to fruition are slim.
It'll be sad to see Damon go; I'll miss his BS right-field home runs and his sheepish smiles after he makes mistakes in the outfield. He's got good mojo. I can only hope he goes to the National League so that I can continue to like him (cuz we all know the minute he hits a home run against the Yankees, he'll be stricken from my fickle heart).
*I vote Cano
Labels: free agency/arbitration