Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News assesses some potential Giants targets this off-season. We know that that the team needs bats, especially in the outfield. Could Johnny Damon be part of their plans?
Johnny Damon is interesting. He could address the Giants’ leadoff dilemma and he certainly fits the profile of a veteran that Sabean loves: A winner and all-around player who’s battle-tested in playoff environments. But the Giants didn’t have any conversations with anyone in Scott Boras’ camp at the GM meetings in Chicago, and I don’t think they’ll overbid for his services. Plus, while I’m told Damon would go anywhere, I have a hard time believing he’d just pack up and go to an NL team for the first time in his career.
Baggarly notes that owner Bill Neukom “has prioritized the farm system,” which means the Giants could tread lightly with the bigger bats, Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, because both would cost them their 24th pick. I’m not sure that will be an obstacle in adding a significant bat. If the Giants think that either player could turn their team into a serious contender, the draft pick cost becomes marginal.
Concerning Damon, he might not be a great fit for the Giants. Much of Damon’s value in 2009 came from home runs, and most of them came at Yankee Stadium, where the right field porch sits just 314 feet away. AT&T Park suppresses home runs (though is not really a pitchers’ park otherwise), especially for lefties — Bonds just made it look easy. True, he’d still provide the Giants value, but is he potentially more valuable to the Giants than he is to the Yankees? I’m not so sure. The Giants might inquire, but I don’t see them offering more than the Yanks, unless the Yanks either don’t want Damon back (for whatever reason) or lowball him.
We’re going to see Damon’s name connected to many teams this off-season. It’s part of having Scott Boras as your agent. Some destinations will make more sense than others, but in this case I don’t think the Giants will make a serious push for Damon. While he’d help, the home run suppression at AT&T Park makes him less valuable to them. They might even seek out Mike Cameron over Damon.