On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 7:19 AM: Nate
Johnny Damon’s name keeps appearing in the Times. Raysindex keeps writing about it too. My gut reaction was that there wasn’t a big enough upgrade to justify the potential for having to bear the brunt of some of Burrell’s contract when we go to trade him to an unsuspecting team. Here’s the tale of the tape. I figured I’d give Burrell the benefit of the doubt and I included last year’s and his 2008 numbers in the matrix
Statistically Damon has a distinct edge. But it’s the Rays so there is always the matter of money. One thing that the writers never seem to mention is that the whole potential Burrell trade and Damon courting at this point is a product of writer chatter. I haven’t read anything to suggest real interest from the Rays. Also, the whole point of signing Pat Burrell was to add a right handed power hitter for the middle of the order. Johnny Damon is a left handed top of the order guy who isn’t primarily a power guy, so I’m not seeing the fit in that regard. I think the top of the Rays batting order is pretty much set at this point
You could even say that the #5 spot is most likely Zobrist on most nights assuming he continues playing good baseball. After that it gets interesting. BJ Upton’s spot in the order is going to be a question mark. We know Maddon likes having a quality hitter at #9, but that doesn’t seem to fit with what BJ has in mind for himself. You gotta think Navarro/Shoppach is slotted for the #8 spot. This would make the back part of the lineup:
2B/RF (depending on where Zobrist isn’t playing that night)
Those 6 and 7 spots are where we will see appearances from Rodriguez, Joyce, Aybar, Brignac (maybe Brignac is probably a #9 guy)
Also if you acquire Damon is he a better RF option than Zobrist? I don’t know how his arm stacks up. It seems like it might be worth a gamble to keep Burrell and hope he turns the corner into a prototype AL DH. But even then you would think Zobrist gets to hit at #5 ahead of him to start the season. I guess this is where the manager starts earning his salary.
2009 Johnny Damon (35)
2009 Pat Burrell (32)
2008 Pat Burrell
My thoughts on Damon are that he knows the East and most of the pitchers in the East pretty well at this point. I don't know if you can look up his numbers against AL East pitching alone, but I would bet it's better than the rest of the AL. He also seems to be a good clubhouse guy, and will be able to keep guys loose during the year. He's also a pretty grizzled vet at this point, knows the frustration of playing for small-time clubs (from his KC days), and would probably be an asset in many other regards. My biggest issues with him would be a) the amount of money that it would take to sign him, and b) if his performance against the Rays was any indication, no player benefitted more from the shallow deck in new Yankee Stadium than Damon. He's also, in my opinion, a big time steroid risk.
On the other hand, F- Pat Burrell. He seemed to be a surly prick during most of the season, never came up big in situations that demanded it, and is getting paid far too much money for what was an embarrassing performance last year. I know his numbers picked up in the second half, but he rarely inspired confidence at the plate, and gave no indication that he liked anyone around him on the team. I wouldn't be sad to see him leave.
As for where Damon would lineup, I think he would be a good fit in the 9 hole. He'd be setting up our leadoff men, and would be in a good RBI spot for the back half of the lineup, which is surprisingly stronger than many other teams in the majors. I could see:
That's a pretty good lineup, and Damon and Joyce/Rodriguez could always be flipped depending on performance.
I'm not against the switch, but mainly because I hate Pat Burrell.
On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 10:46 AM, Nate
Here’s a direct link to his performance by team (sortable)
It’s hard to draw conclusions on his performance against the AL East because of the unbalanced scheduling. You make a very strong case for why he would be an asset. I think Nick Swisher will go into mourning without Johnny Damon. To your point about Burrell being disliked, he was the only guy who didn’t get regular pies to the face during Kalas post game interviews. I’d like to know more about his confrontation with Crawford too. The fact that he is capable of published disagreement with Carl Crawford tells me that he’s out of his element. He killed rallies with untimely strikeouts. The guy never advanced runners with no outs.
Your lineup with Damon at #9 does look great, but it’s probably not worth getting frothy over it because it’s unlikely to happen.