Monday, January 25, 2010

Hey, Johnny Damon Needs a Job

And the Blue Jays need a leadoff-hitting outfielder.  The Yankees would apparently pay him $2 MM, and there really aren't any other competitors for Damon's services.  Were Alex Anthopoulos to pick Damon up for, say, 1 year, $5 million with a few incentives, it would make the Jays' top of the lineup better and give them valuable trade bait at the deadline.

 Lineup - 2009 Stats (AVG/OBP/SLG, wOBA)
 LF Johnny Damon - .282/.365/.489, .376
 2B Aaron Hill - .286/.330/.499, .357
 DH Adam Lind - .305/.370/.562, .394
 CF Vernon Wells - .260/.311/.400, .314
 1B Lyle Overbay - .265/.372/.466, .363
 3B Edwin Encarnacion - .225/.320/.410, .322
 RF Travis Snider - .241/.328/.419, .327
 C John Buck - .247/.299/.484, .332
 SS Alex Gonzalez - .238/.279/.355, .275

 C Raul Chavez
 DH/1B Randy Ruiz
 MIF John McDonald
 3B/OF Jose Bautista

New York Yankees' Johnny Damon walks back to the dugout after getting thrown out against the Seattle Mariners in the seventh inning at SAFECO Field in Seattle.While I did get really depressed halfway down writing up that lineup, it would actually be pretty awesome should Vernon and E5 bounce back even a little and Snider just continues to develop.

Though Damon's home run totals would go back to the teens having left Yankee Stadium, his ability to get on-base and his baserunning would provide a significant upgrade to Jose Bautista, the current leadoff candidate.  It would also make a pretty slick left-right balance in the lineup.  Damon also would not cost a draft pick as he was not offered arbitration and could potentially net the Jays half-decent prospects at the deadline or two draft picks after the season (he is currently a Type A free agent and a pretty sure bet to maintain that ranking going into next offseason).

The downside is pretty obvious: cash.  Would the potential prospects Damon would bring back be worth the cost of the contract?  Maybe, maybe not.  Considering that the Jays are 'building,' a short-term pickup does not benefit their long-term goals and as such may not be deemed worthwhile.  I would contend that for the amount that Damon would improve the team and increase fan interest it would be worthwhile, maybe giving the Jays a fighting shot at playing .500 ball.  I'm also a tad concerned about his defense in left field, but his UZR has been positive there over two of the last three years.

As a last throw-in, Damon would be a character on an otherwise rather bland team.  He has won two World Series over the last six seasons and could provide decent veteran presence that isn't Vernon Wells (who is having a hard time leading by example these days).  At the very least, it would make this coming season a little more bearable.


  1. Interesting thought. As much as it would pain me to see Damon in the line-up, he would bring some veteran leadership and WS experience. That being said, his pie-throwing arm would hinder the defensive outfield of the jays. Not to mention, he ain't getting any younger...

  2. As opposed to the fantastic defensive outfield that would result from Snider-Wells-Bautista? I think we're just going to have to suck it up this season and hope the pitchers can keep it on the ground.

  3. Beyond just the WS rings, Damon has played in the post season 7 of the past 9 seasons. The guy is used to winning, and bringing a little bit of that culture to an otherwise inexperienced team can only help. Especially when we consider that it's time to start grooming the next generation of team leaders in guys like Hill and Lind. Wells had his chance, and he dropped the ball.

    Also, in Toronto he's allowed to wear his beard and long hair again. I am a big fan of beards and long hair.