The Curious Case of Johnny Damon

No, he doesn’t age backwards, but Scott Boras might have you believe that he does.

Johnny Damon is coming off a spectacular season for the Yankees in which he posted a triple slash line of .282/.365/.489. He’s also coming off a 4-year/$52 million deal that he signed after the 2005 season.

The Yankees have expressed interest in retaining him, while Damon has said he’d love to return to the Yankees. However, that is where the similarities end. Damon is seeking not to take a pay cut, while the Yankees would prefer to pay market rate to retain him.

Damon’s over all numbers from 2009 indicate that he deserves another large contract, but it’s well known the new Yankee Stadium quickly became Damon’s personal playground.

Home stats: .279/.382/.533 – 17 home runs
Away stats: .284/.349/.446 – 7 home runs

As evidenced by his splits, he’s a much more dangerous hitter at Yankee Stadium than he is on the road. At Yankee Stadium, he’s the number two hitter with decent pop and great on-base skills. Away from there though, he’s the slap hitter he was in his early years. To the Yankees he may be worth upwards of $10 million a year, but is he worth that to a team without a cozy right field?

That’s a question Damon seems willing to gamble on. ESPN’sBuster Olney and The Times’ Tyler Kepner both accurately point out the lack of visible interest in Damon outside of New York.

If no other team is willing to gamble that Damon could duplicate his 2009 numbers away from Yankee Stadium, why should the Yankees be in any rush to throw additional dollars and years at him? This isn’t disrespect to what Damon’s done for the Yankees and for New York, but business acumen. You wouldn’t bid $200 on an eBay iPod when the highest bid is currently your own. And the Yankees wouldn’t bid against themselves either.

Damon and the Yankees remain a perfect fit for each other and I expect the two sides to come to some sort of compromise before we hit 2010. I expect Damon to realize he’s better off with the Yankees and the Yankees are better off with him.


Posted on December 13, 2009, in Sports and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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