Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Johnny Damon? No Thanks

As part of the MLB-wide reaction to the Curtis Granderson injury, Johnny Damon's name popped up yesterday as a possible cheap stopgap option.  Damon himself spoke at length about his desire to return to the Yankees and his willingness to work around their needs as a temporary player:

“You guys know that I would have tons of interest to go to New York.  But I just don’t think they would be interested.  They have had plenty of opportunities and I kept raising my hand, wanting to go back and, you know, hopefully it would be a perfect fit. It always had been. Have me for six weeks and then send me off on my merry way. That’s fine.”

Damon's interest in returning to New York has been a yearly offseason topic of discussion for him, but as he said, the feeling hasn't been mutual from the Yankees' side.  A year or two ago he would have made sense as a 4th outfielder, but based on his recent performance I don't think that argument still holds.  Damon hit just .222/.281/.329 (.271 wOBA) in 224 PA for Cleveland last year before being cut, with his lowest BB rate since 1996.  He's been on a rapid decline since leaving the Yankees after the '09 season, and even though he still rates positively as a defensive outfielder, it would be a stretch to say he's a better offensive option than the collection of guys already in-house who have to step up and cover for the loss of C-Grand.

So sorry, John.  You'll always have a place in Yankee history, and I know I'll never forget the double stolen base in Game 4 of the '09 World Series, but you just don't cut the mustard anymore.

The Problem With Brett Gardner

(He does deserve props for the bunt.  Courtesy of the AP)

Getting Brett Gardner back is going to be a huge boost for the Yankees this year.  His count-working ability and speed on the basepaths brings back a key missing element to the team's offense and gives Joe another lead-off option, and that same speed makes him arguably the team's best and most important defensive player wherever he is in the outfield.  When Gardner went down last season, the team's speed went down with him, and getting that speed back is a huge blessing for a team that's lost a big chunk of its power.  But Gardner's speed can also be a curse, something that can and has gotten him into trouble before.  Nowhere was that more apparent than in his first at-bat of yesterday's game.