Just a few days ago, January 29th, our own Moshe Mandel pulled a Fire Joe Morgan on Mike Lupica due to Lupica’s hypocrisy regarding the Yankees and their spending. Well, Lupica threw out another silly piece on Sunday the 31st. The title? “New York Yankees and…Johnny Damon still have time to make a deal.” Before I get into the actual piece, I have some advice for Mr. Lupica: let it go. Seriously, man. Let. It. Go. We get it. You’re not going to be happy with the Yankees no matter what they do. Your act is, frankly, getting tired. When I was younger, I used to look up to your writing as something to behold. Something’s definitely changed. The question is: did I change or did you change, Mike? It’s probably both; but if it’s more of the former than the latter, that’s a good thing. So, let’s start the insanity.
There is still time for the Yankees to make a deal with Johnny Damon and for Damon to make a deal with them, just because there is no ticking clock here the way there is no real “budget” for the Yankees.
Okay, sure, the season hasn’t started and Johnny Damon hasn’t been signed so there is technically time to get a deal done. But, in reality, Damon isn’t coming back. He’s constantly said no and the Yankees are sticking to a budget, even if it is high.
Damon? He should make a deal for the best possible reason, because this is the best possible place for him to continue playing baseball. The Yankees make the deal for the only reason that is supposed to matter:
They are a better team with him than they are without him and they don’t have to lay off members of the grounds crew to get him.
I agree with Lupica: Damon’s best option is the Yankees and the Yankees’ best LF option is Damon. The fact of the matter is that they could not come to any sort of agreement. Johnny Damon may be a good player in many ways–he can hit, he can at least stand out in the field, and by all accounts, he’s a good clubhouse guy. Despite all that, Johnny Damon at this stage in his career, is not a guy you rip open the checkbook for, especially if there’s no one else willing to do the same.
It’s painfully obvious here, and later on, but I want to mention it here, that Lupica has no grasp of “context.” In the last two offseasons, we’ve seen the market for most older corner outfielders, even good ones like Damon and Bobby Abreu, completely bottom out. Why should the Yankees pay more for Damon just because Lupica thinks/acts like/wants to believe that they can, especially when no other team has made an offer for Damon? That’s just awful business and the Yankees would be bidding against themselves, like they (the Steinbrenners, not CashMoney) did with A-Rod in late 2007 and the Cardinals and Mets did with Matt Holliday and Jason Bay in this off-season. If the Yankees did that, I guarantee Lupica would be writing an angry article about the Yankees being too free-wheeling with their money in tough economic times and about the bad business practice about the team bidding against itself.
They’re not being asked to break the bank here. It’s not like the gap between the two sides is as wide as CC Sabathia. But are we really supposed to believe that Hal Steinbrenner found $180 million under the bed for Mark Teixeira last winter and now can’t find whatever it will take to bring back a popular, winning ballplayer and stick him back in the No. 2 slot behind Jeter?
1. 2010 =/= 2009. The Yankees are clearly operating differently this off-season than they did in last year’s off-season. Isn’t this painfully obvious? How does Lupica not see this? He can’t be this thickheaded, can he? Is it possible he’s playing a Kaufman-like joke on us?
2. In just about every single way possible, Mark Teixeira is a better player than Johnny Damon. He was younger, entering his prime. He can field his position much better than Damon can feel his. He is a switch hitter. He is a better hitter than Johnny Damon…by a lot. Mark Teixeira is a perennial MVP candidate. Mark Teixeira is a team-changing player. Johnny Damon, at this point in his career, is not.
3. Stop placing all the blame on the Yankees, Mike. Damon rejected some offers, as I pointed out above via Moshe’s other article, and Scott Boras likely didn’t help things. It’s not as if Damon came to the hypothetical door with a smile and an “Anything goes, Bri-man!” attitude and Cashman kicked him to the hypothetical curb.
Come on. You know how many home runs Nick Johnson, Randy Winn and Brett Gardner hit among them last season? Thirteen.
Nick Johnson had a freakishly low HR/FB rate that is likely going to go up for multiple reasons. Brett Gardner and Randy Winn are not power hitters and bring other skills to the plate–they both are pretty good at getting on base and have good speed–and they’re also good fielders. It’s also worth noting that Johnson’s top-notch on base skills will play very nicely in the two hole. Another important thing that Lupica skips over is that Damon’s real offensive replacement–Curtis Granderson–hit 30 home runs in what was more or less a “down” year for him. That number should also go up, playing in a park that’s friendly to lefty power hitters. This brings to a point that a lot of people have glossed over: Randy Winn is not replacing Johnny Damon. Nick Johnson is replacing Hideki Matsui, but Randy Winn, who will be a bench player, is replacing Melky Cabrera.
It’s in his best interests to get his client the best situation as well as the most money. And Damon’s best situation is left field, Yankee Stadium, batting second.
The Yankees found $300 million when they wanted Alex Rodriguez back. They found the money for Teixeira. They can still find the money for Johnny Damon. Can they win without him? Of course they can.
Alex Rodriguez, at the time, was the 2nd best player in baseball and the best player in his league. I’ve already been over the Teixeira thing, so I won’t bore you with a repeat. Those two guys–along with the coupling of Sabathia and Burnett last off-season–are team changing players. A mid-30′s Johnny Damon, playing a non-premium position, coming off a year he probably won’t be able to repeat, is not a team changing player.
Does it suck that the Yankees had to let two fan favorites walk this off-season? Yeah, it does. However, they had good baseball and business reasons, and I can’t fault them too much for it. I’ll miss Johnny and Hideki, but their production is likely to be replaced by Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson. Despite what Mike Lupica would have you believe, Johnny Damon needs the Yankees more than the Yankees need Johnny Damon.
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