Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | December 30, 2005

Johnny Damon Joins Devil

Just because I thought it was worth posting.

Okay…

So Johnny Damon joined the Dark Side and became a Yankee, big deal…you knew that type of stuff was going to happen. The Yankees are the devil and Damon is a pretty big douche-mongaloid. So what can you do, right?! But here’s the thing…this guy right here…

Yeah…that guy up there…is definitely not the guy you’re going to be seeing in Pinstripes. No, that guy is long gone and dead. The 2004-2005 version of Johnny Damon is long gone and he is to replaced with this this douche bag right here…

How about a look at what the Yankees are getting for their $52 million…

* A centerfielder against whom even 36-year-old backup catchers will go from first to third at will. Have you ever thrown a baseball or football with your opposite hand? This is precisely what it looks like Damon is doing when he uncorks one of his weak, high-arcing parabolas that leave the cutoff man contemplating a fair catch as everybody moves up an extra base. Yes, Damon will match his predecessor Bernie Williams lollipop for lollipop, so Yankees fans will not have to adjust their expectations when it comes to the arm of their centerfielder.

* A leadoff man who has posted a .342 on-base percentage away from Fenway Park the past four seasons in Damon’s athletic prime. He’ll still get to play nine or 10 games a season at Fenway as a visitor with the Evil Empire, but Yankees fans can expect his OBP to be closer to that .342 mark than the .383 he enjoyed at the friendly confines. A sampling of hitters who exceeded a .342 OBP last year includes free-swinging Juan Encarnacion, possible Damon replacement Coco Crisp and legendary hacker Shea Hillenbrand, who had a .343 OBP despite walking only 26 times.

* While Damon has shown flashes of power — 20 home runs in 2004 — he dipped to 10 home runs last year. He finished the season with an .805 OPS, which put the one-time Royals outfielder just above current Royals outfielders David DeJesus and Emil Brown (both at .804) as the trio finished 64th, 65th and 66th in the majors in OPS. So I’m assuming Boras believes that DeJesus and Brown are each worth $12.99 million a year.

* To be fair, part of Damon’s power dip was attributed to the nagging shoulder injury he battled for much of 2005. Yankees fans should be sympathetic to this since they watched their beloved Bernie struggle over the years with various power-sapping shoulder maladies. I don’t know if Boras let the Yankees kick the tires on Damon, but there sure are a lot of miles on those treads. A big part of why Johnny D. was so worshipped in Boston is also why any prospective buyer should have been wary of just what kind of violent collisions their high-priced acquisition had endured.

* You see, Damon never met an obstacle into which he wouldn’t happily crash. Boston fans loved him for this, but it took a toll. It may not be as easy as CarFax, but had Brian Cashman looked beyond Boras’ propaganda and had a staffer put together a Damon crash reel, he would have seen: Damon being carried off on a stretcher in the 2003 playoffs after going noggin-to-noggin at full speed with Damian Jackson; Damon slicing his arm open on the Toronto scoreboard in April 2005, forcing the Blue Jays to redesign that neon monstrosity in left-center; and countless showdowns between Damon and the Green Monster’s metallic scoreboard.

* Damon has put himself through a one-man demolition derby during his four years in Boston. Caveat emptor. But of course the Yankees don’t have to be wary. Because even if the Damon signing turns out to be a huge mistake, they’ll just swallow the money and overpay for someone else. Luxury tax be damned. As long as the Boss is around and the Empire has its ludicrous TV revenue, the Yankees will buy their way into the playoffs every year, even if it means doubling the payroll of their pursuers.

* Even though his power dipped in ’05, Damon enjoyed the highest stolen-base percentage of his career, a gaudy .947 success rate. The downside is that his 18 stolen bases were his lowest total in eight years. In Boras’ exotic calculus, the guy who tied for 30th in stolen bases in the majors and ranked 43rd in on-base percentage is a Hall-of-Fame-bound second-coming of Rickey Henderson. In truth, Damon is not the equal of the greatest leadoff hitter of all time. In fact, Damon is not the best leadoff hitter on his new team. Derek Jeter had a .389 OBP last year, good for 16th in the majors. For their careers, Jeter’s OBP (.386) is superior to Damon’s (.353).

…in closing. Good move for about 2 years…afterwards the Yankees are going to have another Bernie Williams situation on their hands. An overpaid, gimpy old man wandering around centerfield who is a mere shell of what he once was. Good thing they didn’t go out and snag someone like Juan Pierre or Torii Hunter who have a good decade ahead of them, smooth move Yanks…smooth move.

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