Thursday, April 12, 2012

Johnny Damon Joins The Tribe

    Looks like Johnny Damon, self professed “idiot”, world series champion, and (potentially) the next member of the 3000 hit club will be replacing former Yankees teammate Shelly Duncan out in left field for the Cleveland Indians. After Damon tried to sell the Yankees on signing him for the year, Damon might be making out better in terms of playing time with the tribe, only having to play behind Grady Sizemore once/if he returns from the DL, where Damon would have been able to spell Mark Texiera at first base occasionally, and could be stuck out in left field in extreme cases for New York (Damon’s preferred destination) but Damon could potentially be an every day member of the Indians lineup between DH appearances, and left field when the platoon split doesn’t favor Duncan.

Damon is not the same man he was in 2008 or 2009, but he is still a productive hitter, and is a capable fielder in the position where most teams have decided to hide their biggest defensive liability. No longer having quite the wheels required to play center field, Damon still has some pop in his bat, and his legs are still able to carry him for a few stolen bases when the situation warrants it. I can’t see Johnny being so much better than Duncan that the tribe tries to flip Duncan for anything of value, though they might try as he’s becoming arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. Damon certainly wants to right the ship after having gotten on base progressively less over the past 4 seasons, though last season Damon proved there’s still some pop in his bat with 16 homers (I said some pop...) and looked to prove he can still wreak havoc on the base paths stealing 19 bases (and getting caught 6 times). Damon might have gotten a bit swing happy last year, seeing his walk rate drop a bit (taking 18 walks less than the previous year and 15 fewer than his career average), but that’s not necessarily going to carry over into this year.

Damon needs to put together a productive year with the tribe to get a crack at the 3000 mark next season, currently sitting 277 hits from the plateau. Given that his hits numbers having stayed pretty consistently around 145-155 for the past few seasons, getting those extra 15-20 walks could make a huge difference in where he signs next year. Damon could be a good signing for a team looking to get better on the cheap, especially in the AL, but I can’t see Damon being the only piece added if the tribe is serious about trying to get into playoff contention this year.

1 comment:

  1. Johnny Damon is another guy I can't wait for Hall of Fame articles about. How many people are going to vote for him solely because he was on the 2004 Red Sox? Even if he gets 3000 hits, a 105 OPS+ isn't very great. Career EqA about 270, which isn't high above league average (260).