Is Damon a fit for the Giants?


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.


  1. JMK aka The Overshare says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong (it does happen every now and then; mostly then, though), but Damon would have a lot more ground to cover on LF at Luke Wilson Field, wouldn’t he?

    • Doug says:

      that was going to be my point. damon’s increasing subpar defense would really be exposed over there

    • Evil Empire says:

      I was thinking this as well.

      The San Francisco Giants as a team are actually a pretty damn good fit for JD. However, AT&T Park is probably one of the worst parks for the guy.

      I’m hoping Damon comes back so that’s actually a good thing, but from an objective point of view, its kind of too bad because that’s an organization worth playing for and he’s a player that would fit their needs rather well in a vacuum.

    • Mike HC says:

      LF in Yankee stadium is also huge. Not sure which is larger, but it does not get that more spacious than LF at Yankee Stadium.

      • JMK aka The Overshare says:

        Hmmm…I think you may be right. I’ve always thought LF was a bit bigger in San Fran, but they’re at least similar. Damon may also be helped since Rowand had a Range Factor of 3.8 and Melky only had a 0.8 for 2009.

  2. Johnny says:

    So… the Sox just got a first and a sandwich pick for Billy Freakin’ Wagner and the Yanks could get NOTHING for Damon?


    • JGS says:

      I blame Minaya for that more than anything else. Was it that hard to just hold on to the guy for another few weeks?

    • Steve H says:

      Well the Yankees did get 4 productive years out of Damon. Is it worth risking a 5th year at $15 million in a market that won’t pay him anywhere near that.

      • Johnny says:

        Well what I’m saying is the one area where Epstein is so much better than Cashman is stockpiling picks with moves like acquiring Wagner.

        If Wagner sucks you lost some mediocre prospects and some salary to him, if he’s decent you offer arbitration and get picks back. The picks that make the majors end up paying for the money you spent paying Wagner by being cheap.

        • Steve H says:

          Joba Chamberlin was drafted with a pick from losing Tom Gordon.

          • Scooter says:

            And Phil Hughes says hi – was drafted from the pick for losing Andy Pettitte to Houston

            Based on how the Mets draft, that #1 pick didn’t have much value to Omar. That Omar hasn’t clued in to maxing value out of the draft is a big reason why the Mets farm system is so barren, despite some astute moves on the international front.

            Once Wagner showed he was healthy, it was a perfect storm for Theo – he’d be happy if Wagner was back, and he’d take the pick if someone signed him

          • JGS says:

            So was Ian Kennedy.

            and Hughes was taken with the compensation pick for losing Pettitte to Houston

          • Jeremy Bleich – Luis Vizcaino
            Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain – Tom Gordon
            C.J. Henry – Jon Leiber
            J.B. Cox – Orlando Hernandez
            Phil Hughes and Jon Poterson – Andy Pettitte
            Jeff Marquez and Brett Smith – David Wells
            Brandon Weeden – Tino Martinez

            Theo does it, Cashman does it, everyone does it.

            Let’s stop acting like Theo is the only supergenius who knows how to turn departing vets into free picks.

            • JGS says:

              but…Daniel Bard!

            • Evil Empire says:

              Can we at least all agree that Theo is the only supergenius that can run a small-to-mid market franchise well enough that its a perennial contender?

              Its tough being an underdog.

              • Good point. After all, there’s only like a few thousand Red Sox fans in tiny little Boston. They simply don’t have the revenue streams to compete with the big bad Tampa-St.Petersburg and Baltimore-Towson megalopolises.

                • radnom says:

                  Good point. After all, there’s only like a few thousand Red Sox fans in tiny little Boston. They simply don’t have the revenue streams to compete with the big bad Tampa-St.Petersburg and Baltimore-Towson megalopolises.

                  All joking aside, I actually flew from Boston to NY and back again today. Seeing it from the sky, Boston looks like 10 sky scrapers clumped together in a big patch of nowhere. NY looks WAY bigger.
                  Its not so crazy at night though, it probably just looks that way because Boston doesn’t have the skyscrapers that NY does.

                  In more ridiculousness, that is an absurdly short flight. They said 45 minutes long but at least 25 minutes of that is spent on the run way. The fasten seatbelt lights never turned off. When the pilot announced we had settled into an altitude he also instructed the people to prepare for descent haha.

              • Steve H says:

                Agreed. Get Theo out of his small market and the league would be destroyed. Lincecum/CC/Halladay/Johan/Greinke would be his starting 5.

                Cliff Lee would be the 6th inning guy if Theo didn’t have the financial constraints of Boston.

        • pat says:

          When else has Theo done this that he can be labeled “so much better than Cashman?”

          • Johnny says:

            Ummm… I don’t know how to look it up.

            • JMK aka The Overshare says:

              Well that’s a poor argument then, isn’t it?

              • Johnny says:

                I’m not arguing… I stated my opinion someone challenged it, but I don’t have the time to research it.

                Game over.

                • Johnny, there’s a hard and fast rule around these parts. And by these parts, I mean Earth.

                  If you don’t have evidence to back up your opinion, your opinion is pretty worthless.

                • Johnny says:

                  Thats fine… I didn’t expect such a challenge.

                  I thought it was fairly common knowledge that over the past 3 years or so the Sox have had far more picks in the first couple rounds than the Yanks.

                  I see some people disagree but I can’t find the info…

                  C’est la vie

                • I thought it was fairly common knowledge that over the past 3 years or so the Sox have had far more picks in the first couple rounds than the Yanks.

                  They’ve let more Type A and B FA’s walk and haven’t signed any Type A replacements.

                  We’ve done the inverse; we haven’t had many Type A or B FA’s walk and we’ve signed a few.

                  Simple as that.

                • Johnny says:

                  I may be incorrect but it seems the Red Sox make moves at the deadline for relievers on the verge of free agency (Gagne and Wagner to mind) with explicit purpose of getting the picks when they leave.

                  If this is incorrect, I’m a big jerk and should shut the hell up :0

                • You are correct in those two examples. (Although Gagne was a poor gambit, because they gave up three decent prospects in Murphy, Gabbard, and Beltre just for the one return pick of Bryan Price. But whatevs.)

                  The Cashman counterexample would be Luis Vizcaino, and possibly Damaso Marte, but we decidd to keep Marte rather than dump him, because we thought he would serve a long-term role in our pen, which he did.

                  The main reason the Sox have had more picks than the Yanks recently isn’t moves like Gagne and Wagner, it’s that they’ve let Pedro, Damon, Lowe, Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, Keith Foulke, et. al. walk over the past 5 years and they haven’t signed any Type A replacements other than J.D. Drew (that I can recall off the top of my head).

                  We just haven’t had that level of a talent exodus; the guys who left for us were guys like Giambi and Abreu, and they weren’t good arb candidates because they were guys likely to accept.

                • Johnny says:

                  This, I understand.

                • That’s good. You have taken your first step into a larger world.

                  Obi-Wan Kenobi

              • Johnny says:

                Ahhh… the snarky comments…

                • It’s not snark, it’s a genuine plea.

                  You’re espousing an argument built on a faulty narrative (that Theo is better than everyone else and always makes smart moves than nobody else makes).

                  You then followed up that flawed narrative with a disinclination or inability to look things up to educate yourself.

                  This is a problem. You need a stronger intellectual curiosity, so you don’t settle for incorrect and misleading information and accept it as truth.

                  Educate yourself, young man. Don’t be afraid of looking things up and verifying them for yourself. Things will make more sense for you in the future if you question and analyze things thoroughly.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  All god stuff TSJC, but I would just like to point out instead of google you should be using:


                  That website is AMAZING.

                • Johnny says:

                  You my friend are a condescending twit.

                  No where did I say Theo “is better than everyone else”

                  Thanks for the strawman and analysis of my intellect… It couldn’t possibly be that had already googled but could not find a summary of compensation picks.

                  Think of other possibilities before you expect the worst of your fellow human beings.

                • JMK aka The Overshare says:

                  RRR, doesn’t Google have their own pseudo-charity search?

                  The on you posted is Yahoo!-powered.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  Google has givoogle, which is great but only donates to one charity (something to do with cancer). Goodsearch allows you to pick your charity.

                • Johnny says:
                  December 2nd, 2009 at 5:40 pm

                  Well what I’m saying is the one area where Epstein is so much better than Cashman is stockpiling picks with moves like acquiring Wagner.

                  You didn’t say what, now?

                • Johnny says:

                  Johnny “the one area”

                  Tommy “Theo is better than everyone else and always makes smart moves than nobody else makes”

                  Straw-man buddy. Face it.

                • JMK aka The Overshare says:

                  Good stuff, RRR. I’ll use that from now on (I’m hoping they have Tits for Tots, a charity that promotes women shaking their beautiful, juicy boobs for toddlers with terminal illnesses).

                  As for everything else developing through this comment bracket: this will end badly.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  Sounds as if tis for tots would be kind of useless if they don’t appear to teenagers.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:


                • It couldn’t possibly be that had already googled but could not find a summary of compensation picks.

                  Dig deeper.

                  Add, if necessary.

                • JMK aka The Overshare says:

                  “Tot” is used very loosely. It extends to age 25. Thus far, it’s been more successful than my other charity, Bikes for Dykes, where lesbians are given bicycles to ride to marriage freedom in Vermont. Environmentally friendly!

                • That surprises me.

                  Dykes LOVE bikes. I thought that would sell like hotcakes (which sell quite well, I’m told.)

                • JMK aka The Overshare says:

                  I may have screwed up. Directing them to California and telling them the whole Prop-8 thing would blow over may have been a miscalculation. And then telling them The Independent Republic of Texas would totally let them marry may have been inaccurate. By then, they were too exhausted to ride to Vermont.

                  You win some and you lose some.

                • By then, they were too exhausted to ride to Vermont.

                  But I thought they had limitless energy from all that granola?

                • JMK aka The Overshare says:

                  Heh. I don’t think they have granola in Texas, so they were unable to re-up.

                  All of this really makes me hungry for some Chicken Fried Steak.

              • ultimate913 says:

                I feel quite depressed that you didn’t lmgtfy him.

                • JGS says:

                  define “Imgtfy” as a verb

                • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

                  lmgtfy: verb. from the historical american let me get that for you 1. the act of googling something for somebody to lazy, inexperienced or firewall-inhibited to do it themselves, usually provided in a fairly humorous response to a question they could have answered themselves if they had remembered google. 2. the same above definition delivered i a self-searching google tiny url. 3. what she says when you ask her for a beer, usually followed by ‘no, fuck that, get your fat ass off the couch and get your own beer’ also immediately followed by a thrown shoe. see also george bush, google (v), beer

      • JMK aka The Overshare says:

        That’s how I see it. I’d be happy to get two picks for Damon but I’m not sure he’d decline the arb. or another team would lose the pick AND sign him to a big deal. I’d rather take the risk of attempting to sign him at market rate.

        Sure, Wagner stings a little but whatever, the Yankees can’t dictate what other teams do and the Braves were the ONLY team that would/could have taken Wagner. Sometimes stuff like that happens.

        • the Braves were the ONLY team that would/could have taken Wagner.

          Meh, that’s probably too far.

          The Braves were the only team who could SMARTLY taken Wagner.

          But if they weren’t in the situation they’re in, SOMEBODY would have eventually. For all the teeth-gnashing and caterwauling about the poor, woebegotten Type A’s on the market last year, they all got deals with someone.

          (Well, except for Jason Varitek. But he’s a special case: he sucked.)

          The Royals gave up a pick for Juan Cruz. The A’s gave up a pick for Orlando Cabrera. Someone would have given up a pick for Billy Wagner, methinks.

          • JMK aka The Overshare says:

            I see what you mean and those are all good points, but Cabrera provided much more value than Wagner (and wasn’t there some sort of weird deal that Cabrera nullifies any Type-A status?) and Juan Cruz was less of a risk than Wagner (although he wasn’t exactly lights-out for KC).

            It was horrendously stupid for any team to give up a 1st round pick for them, but Wagner’s risk runs pretty high for non-Braves teams. Sure, it’s possible someone would have repeated the stupid, but I’d say it’s pretty low.

    • Mike HC says:

      That is why they have to change the arbitration system a bit. The relief pitcher category is getting ridiculous and I think everyone is beginning to realize that. In due time that will no doubt change somehow.

      • Johnny says:

        Well this move by Atlanta is actually against your argument… Atlanta signed Wagner anyway.

        Where its screwed up is relief pitchers who are mediocre and still are type A so no one signs them.

        • pat says:

          Atlanta has 2 relievers who are type A so they are very likely to get picks anyway.

        • No, the move by Atlanta doesn’t go against the argument.

          Atlanta is taking advantage of the problem with the arb system by flipping Gonzalez and Soriano for Wagner and someone like Dotel or Rodney (as setup men) and GAINING 3 picks in the process. The forthcoming pick windfall from their departing FAs allows them to sign Wagner virtually pain-free.

          • Johnny says:

            I see. When you take all those into account Atlanta is gonna really stock up in June.

            Well, I’d like to see Cashman get in on that action.

            • We have in the past. We probably will again in the future.

            • pat says:

              Except it’s much harder for us because we are usually paying these guys crazy money to begin with which would make their arbitration proceedings even more ridiculous. Mike Gonzales made 3.4 mil last year, bump him up for arb and he’s prob around 5 million. That isn’t that much of a commitment. Johnny Damon made 13 million in the last year of a contract signed under much much different economic circumstances. If we offer him arb he will be jacked up to 15 or 16 million. In this year’s market he can prob be signed as a FA for 10 or 11 saving us a couple million to use elsewhere. Trying to get some picks in return for being straddled with a crazy inflated contract is not worth the risk.

        • Mike HC says:

          Not really. I’m not saying that the arbitration system prevents other teams from signing Type A relievers, although it surely is a bit of a hurdle. I’m saying that it is inherently flawed for a relief pitcher going no more than 70 innings a year to be worth the same as the top outfielders, infielders, starting pitchers etc …

          The point of the arbitration system is to fairly compensate teams that lose their own free agents. Really for small market teams. “Fair compensation” is not achieved when teams get the same compensation for relief pitchers compared to every other position.

          Like Ridiculous Upside wrote, there are other considerations in play when teams make these free agent decisions, and they are forced to work with the system they have.

        • JMK aka The Overshare says:

          Atlanta’s move is a total outlier.

    • Lanny says:

      Yea its kind of ridiculous he wasnt offered arbitration unless they have eyes for Holliday or Bay.

  3. Mike HC says:

    I think Damon would make an excellent fit with the Giants. The guy can hit. Anywhere. And while clearly a below average defender by almost every possible measurement, you don’t have to be a great corner outfielder to make a positive impact on the team. All about the bat. The move to the NL would be a bit of a shock for the career ALer Damon, but money talks with him. For everyone really.

    Teams will want Damon, but probably for the same one or two year deal the Yanks want him at. I’m not sure that any team is going to get really serious with Damon, knowing that they will be competing directly against the Yanks. Other teams also know that Boras will happily play them off the Yanks. No team wants to end up in that situation. Yanks should just sit and wait this one out.

    • Steve H says:

      His ops was 120 points higher at home this year, so while he’s solid on the road, he ain’t special.

      • Mike HC says:

        Most players hit better at home than on the road. And nobody is doubting that Yankee Stadium is a hitters park, but that still does make you ineffective in other ballparks. Damon is a slap, all fields hitter by nature. I doubt he will have trouble adjusting. It actually may fit his style better.

        • JMK aka The Overshare says:

          I agree to a point, but Damon is now more of a pull hitter at this stage in his career.

          To LF he hit .333 (good!) with an OPS+ of 91, to CF (.249) 58 OPS+, to RF (.475!) with an OPS+ of 157.

          • Mike HC says:

            Don’t you think there is a chance he attempted to pull more balls because of YS dimensions. If not playing at Yankee Stadium, I have a feeling those numbers will even out a little bit. It is obvious that most of his power comes from pulling the ball, but that is true with most players and everyone has the same disadvantage when playing in SF. There is no doubt that Damons numbers will be better at YS than in San Fran. But that would be true of almost any player.

            • JMK aka The Overshare says:

              Yeah, the YSIII dimensions likely played a big roll in Damon pulling the ball more. No argument there. Batting is such a precise thing to do, one that requires great repeatability in mechanics and timing, so Damon possibly altering his swing again to hit toward all fields may be a big adjustment.

              I’m not saying it can’t be done, and Damon’s always been a good hitter, but it’s not like he just turns on a switch and he sprays balls all over the field.

    • pat says:

      Boras probably wants Damon to leave so he can try and cajole the Yanks into overpaying for Holliday.

  4. I was about to say that there’s no way the Giants would give Damon 2 or 3 years, but…

    …this is the team that gave Aaron Rowand a 5/60, so, yeah, whatevs.

    • Steve H says:

      And Renteria 2/18 in a horrible economy. In the same season Abreu gets 1/5, Rent-A-Wreck gets 2/18.

      (not to mention Zito)

      • You know, for all the bitching and moaning about some of the bad contracts we’ve agreed to over the past decade, I don’t think there’s a single Yankee FA signing from the Cashman/Big George era as bad as the Rowand, Zito, and Renteria deals.

        Not even Carl Pavano’s boondoggle. He got hurt. Those guys just suck.

        • JGS says:

          it didn’t hurt as much, but in terms of actual production (or lack thereof), Kei Igawa?

        • Mike HC says:

          Zito surely takes the cake. You cannot overcome that. That was just an epic, historically bad signing.

          The Pavano era had far more comedy and drama, but the Zito era is straight up atrocious on a whole nother level.

        • Steve H says:

          No, definitely nothing to compare with Zito/Rowand as far as years and dollars. As bad as Pavano turned out to be, he had other offers for the same years/money. Renteria probably would have gotten 1/4 if the Giants didn’t sign him, making that one totally mind boggling.

        • Johnny says:

          In fairness, yes, the money for Zito was pretty crazy, but I didn’t think a 29 year old left hander was going to get so much WORSE moving to the NL.

          He was 29, a lefty, as durable as it gets and once he put pen to paper he sucked.

          What happened?

          • Tough to say, but from what’s visible: he lost speed on his already slow fastball, starting giving up a ridiculous number of line drives, and didn’t induce infield pop ups (which are as good as strikeouts, and important for a non-strikeout pitcher like Zito) as often. There were certainly other factors at play, but that’s what we can find from the data.

            FWIW, FIP has always had him pegged as getting hit like this. Maybe not as bad as 08, but certainly how he pitched in 07 after signing the contract.

          • JMK aka The Overshare says:

            His peripherals had been declining and he hadn’t really posted a good season since 2003, but I don’t think anyone really expected him to shit the bed that badly.

            I’m not being snarky here, but if you’re interested, check out Baseball References or Fangraphs to see more advanced stats.



  5. JMK aka The Overshare says:

    I’d just like to point out that Bill Neukom is about the greatest owner’s name EVER. I wonder if he takes the nickname “Duke.”

  6. Brooklyn Ed says:

    its Brian Sabean, he will most likely he will bit onto Boras’ bait. He bit on to Zito’s bullet. just saying.

  7. yankeefanindc says:

    My question is: Where is Damon both a better fit for another team and can get as good a deal from that team? Put another way, this post could be written about a lot of other teams, not just the Giants. Which team is going to give Johnny Damon the length and salary he wants? I just don’t see him fitting anywhere else.

    The only places with minimal, at least tiny potential for Damon are Yankees, Mariners, White Sox, Braves, Mets, Giants, Cardinals. I think the Giants, Mets, Cardinals and Braves are bad fits just being NL teams signing an older payer with diminishing defensive skills, among other reasons, not least of which is his asking price. The Cardinals have a ton of free agents to worry about and money to save for Pujols and Carpenter. The Braves are not spending big money on Damon. The Mets have other pressing holes in their roster. The White Sox just signed Andruw Jones and the Mariners just resigned Griffey.

    Am I missing something here? If not, at maximum, a Bobby Abreu-type 2-year, $20mil. deal with the Yankees, where does Damon go? Who both has a need for him and can afford him?

  8. Lanny says:

    Pretty simple actually. If Damon wants to be a Yankee they’ll work out a 2 yr deal. if he wants 3+ yrs he’ll be playing someplace else. Won’t fault the guy for taking 10+ mill more and an extra yr.

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