Will the Yankees gamble on Nick Johnson’s health?


This year’s free agent market features a number of players who carry an injury risk. Some of them missed part or all of 2009, while others come with a medical red flag. These players will all get deals, though, as long as their demands aren’t outrageous. Teams love one-year deals. It means minimal risk for them. We’ve already seen the Rangers gamble on Rich Harden. Could the Yankees be the next?

The New York Post reports that the Yankees “are talking” with Nick Johnson about a one-year deal. It is not known how serious these talks have become, but George King has a quote from Johnson’s agent, Rex Gray, who says that “things are moving forward.” Even that quote, though, doesn’t explicitly refer to the Yankees and Johnson. So there’s reason to doubt the two sides are anywhere close to an agreement. But, if true, it presents an interesting option to replace Hideki Matsui at DH.

Johnson falls in the second category of injury risk free agents, the kind that carries a medical red flag. In his eight-year major league career, Jonson has broken 600 plate appearances just once, and has had more than 500 plate appearances just three times. One of those three was last season, a good sign, but Johnson’s injury history is long enough to give any team pause. From a Hardball Times article about Johnson:

In 2003, he had a fracture in his right hand, and missed more than two months of the season as a result. He struggled in 2004 after having a lingering back injury, as well as a fractured cheekbone from a batted ball. He never did on track during the 2004 season, in all likelihood a result of his back injury.

After that Johnson stepped to the plate 547 times in 2005 and then 628 in 2007. He ended the latter season on the DL, however, with a broken femur, the result of a collision with teammate Austin Kearns. That kept him out the entire 2007 season. He returned in 2008, starting slow before suffering a torn ligament on the ulnar side of his right wrist. Even during his mostly successful 2009 season he missed half a month with a strained hamstring.

When healthy, Johnson produces immense value. In only two seasons has his on base percentage dipped below .400 — 2002, his first full season, and 2004, the season he struggled with back problems. He walks more than he strikes out, though he doesn’t strike out a whole lot. His contact rate is right around Hideki Matsui’s. Even better, he had a reverse platoon split in 2009, hitting .281/.420/.389 against righties, but .316/.440/.444 against lefties. Kind of like…Hideki Matsui.

At this point in his career, Johnson’s weakness is his power. Once an asset, his ISO fell to .114 this season after residing around or above .200 in his previous healthy seasons. The wrist injury probably has something to do with that. He might recover some power in 2010, he might not. But even if he doesn’t, he’s still a valuable offensive asset. That on-base percentage and contact rate would play well in the two-spot behind Derek Jeter.

Signing Johnson as the team’s DH would probably close the door to Johnny Damon. If, as Joel Sherman has repeated for the past two weeks, the Yankees see Damon as a 70-game left fielder and 70-game DH, there wouldn’t be room for him on the roster. After a day filled with reports that Damon won’t return to the Yankees for less than the $13 million he earned in 2009, on a multiyear contract, the Yankees could be ready to move on. Or maybe the Yankees are using this to get Damon to the table.

While Johnson presents a medical risk, Damon carries a relatively clean injury history. He hit the DL for the first and only time in his career last July, and has 600 or more plate appearances in each of the past 12 seasons. In the two seasons before that he had over 500 plate appearances. He plays through minor injuries, and while those might catch up to him as he ages, he’s still a much better bet to bat 600 times in 2010.

Injury is the only risk Johnson carriers, but it’s clearly a significant one. If they sign him as DH and go with Melky Cabrera (or Brett Gardner) as the left fielder, they leave themselves vulnerable if Johnson lands on the disabled list. I’d like a Johnson signing much more if they were to land a bigger bat for left field. Say, Matt Holliday. Without him, a Johnson injury would devastate the lineup, leaving an outfield of Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, and Gardner, with Nick Swisher at DH.

Given the choice, though, between a multiyear contract for Damon at $13 per annum and Johnson on a one-year deal, I’ll take Johnson. If healthy he replaces Damon’s production (they had near-identical wOBAs in 2009), and any recovery of power would make that even better. Time at DH could also mitigate the injury risk. I’d rather have Damon because of his familiarity, flexibility, and durability, but if his demands don’t come down, Nick Johnson presents a quality alternative.

Photo credit: David Zalubowski/Associated Press


  1. Doris says:

    He looks like the kid from “Life Goes On”

  2. bonestock94 says:

    I’ll be just as nervous watching him run as I was with Hideki, lol. But yea, this sounds good to me for 1 year, especially if Damon thinks he should get the same contract that he did in 05. Man, it’s really hard to like our ballplayers when they become Scott Boras robots during free agency..

  3. The Evil Empire says:

    A Rod

  4. MJ says:

    Only two seasons under a .400 OBP. Need we say more??

    • You can’t dismiss the injury stuff. Your OBP is zero when you’re on the DL. But as a regular DH, maybe he stays healthier. Many of his injuries appear to have happened in the field.

      • YankFanDave says:

        An average of 85 games played per season over his 9 year career, 85! No season over 147 games played and only 4 seasons with over 100 games played (that’s less than half his career.) Remember this guy missed all of 2007 and played a whopping 38 games in 2008. That’s an average of 57 games played over the last 3 years. Career high hrs is 23, career high rbis 77, career avg .273. Why would we sign him, oh because he gets on base the few games he plays (only averages 54 walks per season) and he looks like a real ball player with the high socks. It is well past the time to look at this guy for his potential. Whether you look at this as a possible replacement for Matsui at DH or Damon’s OBP, he does not provide the run production of either and is too risky.

      • Pasqua says:

        His hands are often a problem, and that was the case during his first stint here. I would be wary. The DH role could still pose problems for him.

  5. Rod says:

    Johnny Damon’s career season by wRC+ is equal to Johnson’s career wRC+. Having him DH and play in Yankee stadium would be a hell of an offensive upgrade over Damon and is on par with Matsui. So I say sign Johnson and take a flyer on Sheets and call it an offseason.

    • Drew says:

      Offensive upgrade? I wouldn’t go that far. Damon’s last two years have seen 130 and 132 wRC+

    • aj says:

      How is he an upgrade over Damon’s .489 slugging?? and just throw in his 12 for 12 in stolen bases. And his speed. And above average OBP.

      • Matt-Pitt says:

        Nick’s career OPS >>>>> Damon’s career OPS… The only thing Johnson doesn’t have that Johnny does, is speed, like you stated. Its not like he won’t be valuable though, or even be a slight upgrade. He draws more walks, puts the ball in play, and could potentially put up better power numbers in YS.

      • lebigyank says:

        speed fades

      • Rod says:

        OBP > SLG and in any case, you could pencil in a healthy improvement in Nick’s slugging with a full season at NYS.

        As for durability, Damon has only been on the DL once because he plays (poorly) through injuries. He’d help the team more if he sat when truly banged up.

  6. Omg!Zombies! says:

    The only other Johnson with a better OBP that I know of is mines.
    I’m here all night folks…

  7. bronxbrain says:

    I’ve been waiting for Johnson’s name to come up in association with the Yankees. In my opinion, he is (injuries and all) the perfect replacement for Damon. It’s not as a left fielder where Damon’s absence hurts–it’s as a two-hitter. Nick Johnson–when healthy–is about as good a left-handed two hitter as a team could ask for. Signing him would be a very good move.

  8. Salty Buggah says:

    Sign Sheets and Johnson and I’m pretty damn happy.

  9. Granderslam says:

    Maybe there won’t be as much of a chance of him getting injured if he is strictly DH. I think that’s the only real concern with him. I think that if the Yankees are looking at him, then they are considering signing Holliday since they are aware of the risks with Johnson.

  10. Esteban says:

    How the hell do you guys (at RAB) know what I might like. You don’t know me!1! (Not a bad feature actually)

    On a more relevant issue, I would still prefer Johnny Damon, but if he doesn’t back off his demands, Nick Johnson is the next best option probably.

  11. gigem says:

    Sign Johnson to a one year deal maybe with an incentive to stay healthy, get Sheets and get ready for a run at 28 and if injuries strike there is always going to be a mid season pickup

  12. gigem says:

    Damons post season defense from 9th inning on >>>> Holliday’s clearly a sign to stay away

  13. Mike bk says:

    i would rather take the risk on delgado than nick as the upside i believe is greater for carlos. nick had absolutely no power last year with an iso of .114.

    • Drew says:

      THe great thing about JOhnson is that he fits into the 2 slot so well.

    • Bo says:

      Delgado is coming off a major injury here. And the season before he was this close to being cut by the Mets until a great 2nd half. He would also want guaranteed ab’s in order to build his market again. Something he wouldnt be guaranteed here even with those inviting RF seats

  14. dkidd says:

    nick johnson is larry bowa’s nephew. that fact alone puts his grit factor into the stratosphere

    if i was as injury prone as johnson, i’d want as long a deal a possible. i love him, but i doubt he ends up a yankee

  15. dsss says:

    I maybe missing something, but what is the point of NJ? I thought the Yanks wanted someone with flexibility who wasn’t just a DH; he doesn’t give that with Tex at 1b.

    At this point why not forget NJ and Damon and sign Holliday, and then move on to Sheets.

    • Drew says:

      Holliday @ 5/85ish + Sheets between 5-8 mil.

      Johnson, 4-9 mil 1 year.

      Your proposing two drastically different situations but linking them together somehow.

      • dsss says:

        True, but they offer a much better return.

        • Drew says:

          Not necessarily. For 2010, Delgado/NJ/Thome may be as productive as Holliday but at a fraction of the cost, both in terms of total contract and 2010 salary.

          Holliday is more of a sure thing, no doubt, but you’re paying out the ass for him and would still need to sign a DH.

          • dsss says:

            Partly true, but couldn’t Swish and the others share DH, and all the other OF’s share RF when Swish is at DH?

            • Drew says:

              Yeah sure they could do that.
              It still makes the most sense to me to just sign a DH. Then, if the opportunity presents itself you work on the third outfielder.

              • dsss says:

                I can understand that, but then why didn’t they just sign Matsui?

                • Drew says:

                  Gotta figure Cash had serious concerns about Matsui’s knees. He had them drained at least 4 times this season.

                  I think Cash really wants JD because he can DH and then play left when we have a weaker lineup, say.. sans JoPo, Al or Jetes.

                  If JD continues to ask for the moon then Cash will move on to the next best thing. A guy like Thome or Delgado would be awesome in YSIII. NJ doesn’t have the power but he’d fit in great with our lineup.

                • The Three Amigos says:

                  Also, Damon was clearly the Yankees first choice, so unless they were done with Damon they couldnt have signed Matsui, since Cashman views Damon as a half DH half LF.

  16. A.D. says:

    While I wouldn’t be apposed to NJ, I wonder if a vet back like Delgado or Vlad doesn’t offer more upside with similar downside.

    • KK says:

      The only reason go to for Nick Johnson is that he’s going to be cheaper. If they weren’t drastically cutting costs, they would have just signed Hideki Matsui, he’s essentially the same player anyways.

    • Both of those guys could very well be done. Lowell never bounced back from the same hip injury Delgado had and Vlad is a shell of his former self. Vlad is also so undisciplined as a hitter, that he doesn’t figure to age well. Loss of bat speed kills his ability to reach pitches out of the zone.

      • A.D. says:

        Lowell never bounced back from the same hip injury Delgado had

        Lowell’s OPS & numbers last year were fairly in line with his career avg.

  17. pat says:

    Damn, NJ had a 122 ops+ last year. That’s pretty sweet.

  18. lebigyank says:

    id rather have vlad but you guys make a compelling enough argument on johnson’s behalf. i really do worry about too many changes all at once like this ’09-’10 transition but hopefully the other options for DH can produce well under pressure and we have a decent shot to repeat. sometimes raw data doesn’t tell the tale.

    • The Three Amigos says:

      I am for Vlad too, I think he is the perfect 5 hole hitter, with Granderson and Swisher in the 2 hole.

      But, that OBP for Johnson is just ridiculous and you could drop him to #2 against lefties and have Granderson there vs. righties.

      • Blakes says:

        How about sign both Vlad and Johnson? Vlad can still play the field a couple days a week and other days platoon the DH spot between Johnson and Vlad.

  19. aj says:

    haha, the Orioles are “in” on Matt Holliday

  20. aj says:

    I’m afraid of Nick Johnson going to the Yankees. Only because it will result in six months of Suzyn Waldman saying “Wow! he has such a great eye. You know he’ll never swing at a pitch outside the zone. He sees so many pitches. He is so patient at the plate. You know with Nick Johnson you’re getting a patient at bat. You throw it over the plate, otherwise he won’t swing at it, he’s just always on base!

    She went ape over Swisher, and his .370 OBP, I can’t imagine if Johnson comes to the Yanks and gets on around .390 OBP. She might go nuts and start yelling about someone being in “George’s Box!!!”

  21. trent says:

    I like what salty buggah had to say. Johnson and Sheets. Done.

  22. Januz says:

    I happen to agree what Cashman said about getting younger. Damon is 37 years old, wants $13m a season, and can’t throw anymore. I can’t imagine any team paying him that, but if they will God bless them. Johnson is a nice alternative while we wait until Carl Crawford becomes available. I would like this signing a lot.

  23. Scooter Blake says:

    ONE PERSON has mentioned Jim Thome so far! One! That’s ridiculous fellas. If we’re content with a 90% of the time, regular DH guy, assuming we don’t sign Johnny, then Big Jim is the guy. Without a doubt. How can we resist a huge power bat from the left side who gets on base at a +.370 clip?
    And why the heck doesn’t anyone talk about Robinson Cano in the 2-hole? He was one of 3 hitters in all of baseball with 200+ hits and hit .320 on the year, yet we’re flirting with the idea of Granderson and his, at best, .285 average atop the order? What a joke. Grandy should hit 5 or 6, while Rob Bob hits in the 2 spot.
    And where’s the John Smoltz talk? We’ll flirt with Ben Sheets but refuse to sign a gamer like Smoltzy who can help in the pen and as a starter. Can’t figure that out. And don’t give me the “did you see him in the AL last year” crap. He’s a notoriously slow starter. Did you see him mowing mofo’s down in St. Louis? His K/BB ratio was unheard of and his fastball was clocked at 95.

    • boy says:

      Look at Cano’s OBP, that’s why.

      • Will says:

        Cano’s OBP was .352 last year. Damon’s was .365. My bigger concern would be Cano’s 22 DPs (Damon had 9, which was higher than his career average of 6). Also, Cano has not exactly lit it up with men in scoring position, although he might see fewer opportunites hitting toward the top of the order.

        • Cano’s on base percentage is, sadly, purely driven by his batting average. His walk rate last season was 4.5%, and his career HIGH is 5.9%. No way should Cano be batting high in the order.

    • theyankeewarrior says:

      You must be new here

    • Dax J. says:

      Smoltz? The John Smoltz? Didn’t you see him get smacked around in the AL East last year? I rather have Sheets then Smoltz. Cano in the 2-hole? His plate discipline won’t let him have that spot for a long time.

    • Bo says:


      Ugh. Guess someone didnt watch his Sox starts.

      Fat chance he leaves the NL again. Hes too smart a guy.

  24. Will says:

    Johnson would be a nice signing, but I don’t think you could depend on him as a full-time player. I think another very good option, both with or instead of Johnson, would be Vlad. Like Matsui, he would mostly be a DH, but I think Vlad could probably play 10 games or so in the smaller RF at YS. Even though he had a down year in 2009, his road line was still very robust: .317/.363./.515. Considering that he has the ability to use the opposite field, he might benefit from the friendly confines at YSIII.

  25. dr. yankee says:

    I love this upgrade. One year of Nick Johnson is vastly superior to 2 of Johnny Damon. You just have to ignore the laundry list of injuries to see it. If anything I fully expect the Damon slide to begin next year anyway. Without Yankee Stadium, the HRs will vanish from his game as he hit most of them there and, let’s be honest, a good majority of them barely cleared the short porch to begin with. Damon has had a variety of maladies (just waaaay less DL time) affect over the entire 162 as well, so the difference between them is the size and scope of the contract as both would be in the DH spot, both bring similar offensive credentials, and both fit between Jeter and Tex beautifully. The shorter cheaper contract wins all day.

    • Will says:

      Of course, if Damon returns he will be playing in Yankee Stadium, so it doesn’t matter how cheap his homeruns are. Damon fits like a glove into this Yankee lineup, but I agree that it is time to move on if he doesn’t come down from his unreasonable demands.

    • Bo says:

      How is he vastly superior to Damon?

      Have you not even glanced at the stats from the last 4 yrs??

      • some guy says:

        Younger. Cheaper. Less years. Add it up the answer is vasttly superior. Obviously fthis is rom the viewpoint of mngment not offense crazed fans.

  26. gargoyle says:

    There’s nothing particularly “interesting” about talking to NJ. Stupid yes (after letting Matsui walk for peanuts) – interesting no.

  27. Somebody please tell Nick Johnson to drink more milk. The man has broken more bones than I knew existed.

  28. Nick says:

    As a cheap option, NJ is great, but the yanks would have to be content with their backup plan (miranda) because of the great injury risk. I’d be worried about his wrist, since the recent injury was at least the second serious wrist injury in his career (first was in 2000 when he missed the entire year).

    Positives: cheap, huge OBP skills, potential power bounce back.

    Negtive: injuries, slow baseruner producing more double plays, injuries

  29. mustang says:

    Looking around the net I found this piece which is about what I would like to see done:

    The only change I would make would be to replace Guerrero with Nick Johnson. I know that there is a lot of moving parts here and it probably wouldn’t happen, but all the pieces are in play.

    • Boogie Down says:

      I like where the piece is going, but I would replace Johnson for Guerrero, and hit him in the 2 hole.
      Also, I would take Lowe, but Atlanta would have to eat some contract if they want to rid themselves of him so bad.

    • themgmt says:

      Derek Lowe?


      45M left to an old pitcher who looked cooked by the 2009 ASB

      • mustang says:

        Yes, Lowe he would be at the back end of the rotation. He gives them innings and is not coming of an injury by the time they subtract Swisher contract plus making Atlanta eat some money they would be paying less then 8 million a year for him.
        There are many parts in this piece but basically they would lose Swisher and gain Lowe and Matt Holliday while staying within their set budget. And still have money to add a DH if they want.

        • mustang says:

          Swisher has 27 million left of his contact Lowe has 45 million that means they would get Lowe at 6 million for the next 3 years.

          • Mike Axisa says:

            Then you have to pay someone to replace Swisher. I’m just weary of a guy like Lowe who so clearly declined last year, in the NL no less.

            • mustang says:

              Read the whole piece Mike the replacement for Swisher would be Matt Holiday. They would have Holiday in LF, Granderson in CF, and Cabrera in RF.
              I didn’t look at Lowe’s numbers as closely as I should of so I want to exchange him for Javier Vazquez which would be even less in dollars and years.

          • mustang says:

            and if you don’t like Lowe there is Javier Vazquez for even less.

  30. Boogie Down says:

    If you signed Johnson & Mark Derosa, that may suffice for losing Damon.

  31. themgmt says:

    Why would Swisher DH?

    Broken Record: Melky is the worst defensive outfielder on the team. Gardner, Granderson, Hoffmann and Swisher are all better.

    They would keep the OF the same and try Miranda/Vazquez at DH or make a trade. Nick Johnson is the right move.

    • Nick says:

      I thought about Vasquez at DH too, but I find his lack of walks disturbing (8 in 225 AB).

      • themgmt says:

        I just meant in the scenario that Johnson hits the DL. I’m sure they could live with a few weeks of either bat. Vazquez still needs a little time in AAA before he’s an option for anything else

  32. Section 39 says:

    You’re all nuts if you think this is an upgrade over Damon. The huge differnece is Damon always stays health and Johnson ALWAYS get hurt. That is a HUGE different. Forget the numbers for a moment, they mean nothing if you’re on the DL.

    But if you really look at the numbers, Damon is still better. Damon has more power and more speed. You’re making a huge deal over Johnson’s OBP, however, it’s not like Damon’s was .300 or anything. His OBP last year was 365 — not exactly weak.

    Now sure, he may benefit like Matsui did from not playing in the field. But, let’s not get carried away and start thinking he is better than Damon. Right now, he is a good name to throw out and play with so Damon knows we’re ready to move on without him if he elects to continue with his outrageous demands of 3/39. Damon will get 2/20 with maybe a 3rd yr team option. That’s it. If he won’t take that, then yes, Johnson would be a good BACKUP plan.

    (Either way, this plan needs to be followed by signing Ben Sheets!)

    • themgmt says:

      There is a substantially large gap in value between Damon’s .365 OBP and Johnson’s .426 OBP. NJ is a better.

      • Section 39 says:

        Way to look at only one stat and come to the ridiculous conclusion that he is better than Damon.

        Damon’s Advantages:
        2B, HR, SLG%, SB

        Johnson’s Advantages:

        Really? That’s literally the only area he shows he’s been better than Damon on. He has a laundry list of disadvantages including:
        SOLELY A DH
        HAS NO SPEED

        Please, spare me the nonsense that Nick Johnson is better than Johnned on the basis of his OBP alone.

        • themgmt says:

          Damon limps off the field twice a week and is 36. The fact that he can play the outfield actually makes him worse. Every inning he plays in the field he decreases his value. This is strictly a DH vs DH situation.

          Your other observations are pretty comical, since there’s really no argument who the better offensive player has been. But I’ll allow you to continue to make arguments otherwise, should be fun.

          • Section 39 says:

            You comment about age when it only a small factor here. Sure, in general, you go for the younger player but not when the younger player has only played 1 season of more than 140 games and the older player (Damon) has played 140 games every season except his rookie year. Good call there.

            I’m glad you agree Damon is the better offensive player… So where is exactly is the basis for YOUR argument that Nick Johnson is a better player?

            Thanks for “allowing” me to type on here. I’m glad I can bring some sense to your ridiculous assessment and argument.

            • themgmt says:

              Facts, please reference them.

              Find a singular all encompassing offensive measure that says Damon is better. Thanks.

              • YankFanDave says:

                Damon per season career:
                142 games played per season
                13 hrs per season (high 24)
                66 rbi per season (high 94)
                .288 career avg

                Johnson per season career:
                85 games played per season
                11 hrs per season (high 23)
                47 rbi per season (high 77)
                .273 career avg

                • themgmt says:

                  All that says is NJ has played less games than Damon. Do yourself a favor and get those same stats averaged over 162 for each player.

                  Or just look at OPS, wOBA, RC etc.. Pick your poison.

        • Actually, only on the Yankees would Johnson be solely a DH. He’s got a very good defensive reputation that is backed up by the numbers. If needed, he could fill quite nicely at first. That fact is why a lot of people think Johnson won’t be a Yankee in 2010; he could easily get a job playing first full time somewhere else (Seattle? San Francisco?).

          • Oh and it’s worth noting that Damon pretty much tanked in LF last season, so I think he’d primarily be a DH in ’10, which limits his value (as it would anyone).

          • Section 39 says:

            LOL. Playing him full-time in the field will certainly get him hurt. His best chance is to play primarily at DH like he would with the Yanks. I don’t could the 15 games that he would replace Tex at 1B as fielding. He would essentially be the DH.

            • I said:

              only on the Yankees would Johnson be solely a DH.

              The filling in at first bit was about a hypothetical situation. And, I’m pretty sure the Yankees see Damon as just a DH at this point, which is probably why they’re not willing to pay him what he wants, which makes a lot of sense.

        • Rod says:

          Damon’s career season is equal to Johnson’s career averages.


    • DP says:

      Isn’t this more or less what has been said about Johnson, that he’s a good backup plan if Damon won’t lower his demands? Thanks for the rant though.

      • Section 39 says:

        Have you read the nonsense posts on here… People honestly believe that we should make Johnson our #1 priority and not Damon. It’s ridiculous…

        Johnson is a BACKUP plan. A good backup plan, but just that, a BACKUP plan.

        • Johnson’s younger and cheaper, and could provide similar production to Damon. It’s likely his power would rebound due to YSIII and that his HR/FB was very, almost freakishly, low last season.

          If Damon wants $13MM as it’s been (really super duper is it really confirmed probably not) rumored*, then you definitely cross him off the list and go for someone else. With $13MM, the Yankees could sign one of Johnson, Thome, or Delgado AND another pitcher for depth.


          • Section 39 says:

            Again with the “younger” comments…

            Younger doesn’t mean much when you’re made out of glass like Johnson. He has yet to break through with more than 140 games other than in 2006. That is nothing to be praising. Damon has been relyable, great for the clubhouse, and an excellent hitter at Yankee Stadium. As we have found out with free agents before, proving you can replicate anything in Yankee Stadium should be weighted heavily.

            • As we have found out with free agents before, proving you can replicate anything in Yankee Stadium should be weighted heavily

              What does this mean? No one’s been able to replicate anything in YSIII; it’s been open one season. While it’s unlikely, it could play as an extreme pitcher’s park next season (actually, aside from HRs and BBs, it favored pitchers last year, but that’s beside the point).

              Do you really think Johnny Damon is likely to play 140+ games going forward, especially given his drop in defensive output this season? Though he’s never suffered anything major, he’s gotten banged up a bit the last few years.

              You’re ignoring the cost argument, too. Johnson at a lower salary could end up bringing back more value to the Yankees than Damon would.

              • Section 39 says:

                Forget this YSIII garbage. It’s Yankee Stadium. This nonsense that balls suddenly fly out more than the other stadium is yet to be proven and quite frankly, I believe its a load of crap. But as you said, that’s besides the point.

                Success in NY and success in Yankee Stadium are things that not all players can have. We have signed a number of FA’s over the past 5-6 years who have come here and just SUCKED. I place weight on the fact that Damon has been successful in Yankee Stadium and in big games over the past 4 seasons over the newcomer (I know he played with us to start he career, but please… he’s still a newcomer).

                Value is only a small factor when you’re talking about the Yankees. Whether they sign Johnson for 6 million or Damon for 12 million, it is not significant. The Yanks will sign who they want and neither of those signings with allow or not allow them to sign anyone else. Value is a bigger issue for teams who can’t afford to spend that extra 6 million — the Yanks are not one of those teams.

                • Success in NY and success in Yankee Stadium are things that not all players can have.

                  Okay. And? Success in Kansas City and Kaufman Stadium is not something all players have.

                  We have signed a number of FA’s over the past 5-6 years who have come here and just SUCKED.

                  Such as? And, it’s doubtful that simply being in NY made the player suck.

                  I place weight on the fact that Damon has been successful in Yankee Stadium and in big games over the past 4 seasons over the newcomer (I know he played with us to start he career, but please… he’s still a newcomer).

                  Okay, sure, I’ll agree. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know, but it has little to do with where the guy’s played as it has to do with how the guy’s played.

                  Value is only a small factor when you’re talking about the Yankees.

                  So because the Yankees have a lot of money, they should just spend it, not looking to utilize it the best way possible? That’s what got them into trouble between ’01-’08.

                  Whether they sign Johnson for 6 million or Damon for 12 million, it is not significant.

                  That’s incredibly significant, considering the extra $7MM could be used to sign someone else to help the team.

                  The Yanks will sign who they want and neither of those signings with allow or not allow them to sign anyone else.

                  And you know this how? Maybe they really are looking to budget their spending or spread some of their money around to multiple resources instead of throwing it all in one player. There’s a big difference between spending and spending wisely, and the Yankees are finally leaning towards the latter.

                  Value is a bigger issue for teams who can’t afford to spend that extra 6 million — the Yanks are not one of those teams.

                  Value is important to every team. I agree that the Yankees can take a $6-7MM hit more easily than other teams, but that doesn’t mean they should be looking to do so. If they can get similar production for millions less, they should do it.

                • Bo says:

                  Anyone that says Johnson is better than Damon is eating paste.

                  How can you even make that comparison?? Because of Johnsons high OBP?

                  Dont make it seem like Damon has some Benjie Molina OBP # because thats false.

                  Damon as he has proved is an elite offensive player and perfectly made for this stadium and this lineup.

                  Johnson is a nice fall back option. Thats it.

                • DF says:

                  Anyone that says Johnson is better than Damon is eating paste.

                  And it’s a mighty fine tasting paste.

                  .426 versus .365 OBP? That’s a significant difference. More paste, please.

  33. Camilo Gerardo says:

    Joe Paw, do you think it realistic for tampa to go after Holliday in Left?

  34. theyankeewarrior says:

    Justs because Damon wants 3/39 doesnt mean he’s getting it.

    2/20… applebees style

    then sheets


  35. Jake H says:

    It matters how much Nick wants. If it’s 4 million plus 3 in incentives for plate appearances why not? Over the last 6 years his lowest OPS is .758. Pretty good. Also don’t you think hitting at Yankee stadium is going to help?

  36. Pablo says:

    They are not going to sign Holliday or Bay, all the other dh’s are the same. Remember that if JD leaves Girardi will ahve to replace 50+ hrs.

  37. Mac says:

    No matter who the Yanks sign to primarily DH, they should be a lefty. With that said, I would not commit more than a year to whoever that is. I would be going right down this list:

    - Delgado
    - Nick J
    - Thome

    Then sign Sheets to a 1 year + 1 year option contract with the first season being worth up to 13 million if he pitches in 200 innings.

    See if you can sign Chapman to a 4 year 25 million dollar contract. That gives him 1-2 years to move up the system. If he can’t develop a sufficient enough 3rd pitch then it might be time to have Mo show him how to throw that cutter….hehe

    • Section 39 says:

      We can certainly afford to sign Damon for 2 years. We don’t need to limit him to a single season. Being that Yankees comes with some advantages and we have the ability to afford an extra year even when we don’t want to or the player doesn’t deserve it. Even if Damon stinks his second year of the contract, which is highly unlikely, the Yanks will be aggressive in the 2011 free agent class and can easily overcome that.

      Damon should be the Yanks priority right now at their price which is a 2-yr deal. Meet half way at 11.5/yr and just get this over with before we get Nick Johnson hurt in April.

      • 2-yr deal. Meet half way at 11.5/y

        Much easier said than done.

        • Section 39 says:


          Both sides are just being stubborn and trying to hold their ground. I am more concerned about years than $$$ so just sign a 2 yr deal — I’d honestly go up to the $13 he’s asking for really. In the grand scheme of things, 1-2 million/yr is pocket change for the Yanks and won’t inhibit them from signing anyone else they have in mind for this offseason or the next.

          • I’d honestly go up to the $13 he’s asking for really.

            Which would be really silly. Until someone else shows they’re willing to pay that money, the Yankees shouldn’t even consider it. Like the post-2007 A-Rod contract, they’d be bidding against themselves. If Mike Cameron got $15MM across two years, there’s no way Damon should get $13MM in one year anymore.

            • The Three Amigos says:

              Mike Cameron 2 years 15 mil
              Bobby Abreu 2 years 19 mil
              Chone Figgins 4 years 36 mil

              9/10 million ceiling is the common theme here.

      • Mac says:

        I don’t commit 2 years to anyone who is 36+ years old, can’t play the field, and will actually prohibit the Yankees from being more aggressive during next years free agency period.

        That would leave Jeter, Mo and Pettitte as the only players becoming free agents. I fully expect Jeter and Mo to resign. Maybe for a little bit less money, but not much.

        To many better options to spend money on next year including: Mauer, Crawford, Pena, Dunn, Lee, Webb, Beckett, Werth, Street.

        Unless the Yanks don’t mind raising payroll to 210+ after this year there is no way they are aggressive with these players if they only have 12million coming off on account of not resigning Pettitte. Not to mention Granderson, Cano, Swisher and Tex will all be paid more in 2011.

      • Lifetime of Question Marks says:


        And…If we sign Damon for two years the risk on our end comes into play not in 2010, but in 2011. Because Jorge is still under contract for the next two years, and because Jorge might not be able to be a full time, or even a part time, catcher in 2011, signing Damon for two years could screw us in 2011 by leaving us with two overpriced DHs. One we will be forced to live with (Jorge), the other we should not force ourselves to live with (Damon). Carlos or NJ for 1 year.

        • Mac says:

          I don’t understand why the Yanks didn’t jump in and grab Matsui for what the Angels got him for. That would have been perfect.

          • Lifetime of Question Marks says:

            I thought that too. Especially with Matsui’s production. The only reason I could come up with is that Cash is making an actual effort to make the Yanks younger, and keep them younger. Yes JD is the same age as Matsui, but Matsui’s body is a lot older than JD’s. This is why I think we target NJ at DH before Carlos or Thome.

          • I agree, but I think they passed on him because they don’t think his body’s gonna hold up for another full season.

            • Reggie C. says:

              Mats may remain relatively healthy with the Angels and maybe even surpass last season’s numbers, but I don’t see how he plays more than a dozen games in the OF. He’d require weekly knee drainage sessions.

          • Doug says:

            b/c they weren’t looking to sign a DH, especially one who can’t play the field, this early in the offseason. LF is a bigger priority

  38. Lifetime of Question Marks says:

    Sorry, I messed up the “reply.” I meant to reply to Mac.


  39. Burnettscreamfilling says:

    i don’t understand why everybody wants to Kill Johnny for his defense…yes he had a bad year on defense but it was just that 1 year. don’t forget to factor in the new stadium and learning how to play it, i don’t know about you but i remember quite a few left fielders from other teams having an adventure out there, this year.

    Granted hes not as good a fielder as he once was, but i’m fairly sure that he will be a decent fielder for at least another year or two.

    I would be perfectly happy with him playing Left field full time. (at the right price of course..)

    • Bo says:

      He was so terrible in LF that they won 103 games and a title.

      I dont get it either. hes not a GG defender. We all know that. His bat more than makes up for it.

      You dont need a GG LF to win. Its not a prime def position. its an offensive position. You need a bat out there. It would be a waste to have an off nothing out there and a risk or rotating players at DH. Why waste 2 prime off spots?

      • themgmt says:

        “He was so terrible in LF that they won 103 games and a title.”

        There should be a lifetime ban attached to this ever popular yet no less senseless line of thinking.

      • Zack says:

        “He was so terrible in LF that they won 103 games and a title.”

        That’s a pretty poor connection you’re trying to make if you ask me. A team won the WS so that means that any below average area they have is ok because they just won?

      • They also won in 1998 (remember that year?) with Chad Curtis and his 90 OPS+ spending 100 games in LF.

    • Zack says:

      “Granted hes not as good a fielder as he once was, but i’m fairly sure that he will be a decent fielder for at least another year or two.”

      He’s a horrible LF now, why will he be a decent fielder for 2 more years?

      • Burnettscreamfilling says:

        if you bothered to read the rest of the paragraph i explained my opinion of why I thought him bieng “horrible” in LF was not true..and thus explaining why he would be decent for the next couple of years….

        • Zack says:

          Yeah, I dont buy it. He has no arm, no range, and even catching the ball last year became questionable. He’s just a DH now.

      • To be fair, ’09 was the outlier of Damon’s recent LF defensive days. It’s likely that it was just one of those one year things that happens and it could rebound in ’10. HOWEVER, I don’t think that’s very likely.

        • Zack says:

          I get the idea that it could just be a blimp in his performance, and if he was younger I’d put more belief in it; but because of his age and because he always has some nagging injury (back, calf, neck, whatever) I’m not willing to bet that he becomes decent again.

      • andrew says:

        Try to read his first paragraph. His point was that last year was likely an anomaly considering his positive LF contributions previously, and that we can expect to see an improvement now that he has learned Yankee Stadium. I’m not sure I agree, but it’s pretty clear why he thinks so.

        • Zack says:

          Thanks for telling me to try and his read it 30 minutes after he replied to my message saying the same thing and I posted my response.

  40. Bo says:

    How long before every half arse DH type has their agent say things are moving forward with the Yankees or connect them to the Yankees?

    cust thome delgado vlad etc etc

    A nice easy way to get their client out there. And also a nice way for the Yanks to have some subtle pressure on Damon to come to the table.

    • Zack says:

      Doesnt that happen with every player (FA or on trade block)? How many guys have Yankees “checked in” on this offseason?

  41. Aj says:

    maybe this will work out in the case that the yanks will be in on crawford next off season?

    • I’ve kinda changed my stance on this a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Mini CC and if he’s available, the Yankees should be in on him. However, if you asked me to chose between Matt Holliday on a five year deal starting in ’10 or Carl Crawford on a four year deal starting next year, I’d probably take Holliday.

      • The Three Amigos says:

        That is a valid point, because both contracts would end at the same time… Also, because I don’t think anyone saw the market for Holiday being this weak. If the Yankees want him it seems like 5/80 would do it (right now). That may change, but who knows.

  42. JeffG says:

    The more I think about it I just wish we could have signed Matsui for one more year… makes Damon not coming back less of an issue and if he did then so be it we have the same team as last year plus the upgrade of Granderson.

    Was 6-7 mil that big of an issue?

    • I don’t think it was the money w/Matsui, but the age/injury issue. They probably don’t think his body will hold up for another year.

      • andrew says:

        Yet they think Nick Johnson’s body will? That’s one of the things I find odd here.
        If you’re going to let Matsui go for health reasons, then bringing in Johnson seems a bit silly.

      • JeffG says:

        I think the Yanks are trying for the Sub 200mil payroll and feel they are losing one of Damon or Matsui so they can add another pitcher.

        - Who knows if there is pressure with the 2011 labor agreement coming up or perhaps the debt financing of this new stadium is making it mark… but it seems like Cash is being very conservative because he is limited in what he can do. I know a lot of people think that is BS and we’ll spend but when I read Cashman’s words I think he means it.

  43. Burnettscreamfilling says:

    It is when your going to give it to somebody with 2 bum knees and has had injury plagued last couple of seasons..

  44. Yes, yes, a million times yes on bringing Nick the Stick back. I’ve been banging this drum nearly every day for the past week.

  45. Steve B. says:

    Why not sign Nick Johnson AND Damon ??…Damon can play left, Johnson can DH…OR Damon can DH, Johnson can play 1B, giving Tex rest…Having Johnson as a backup 1B and DH, gives the Yanks more felxibility in case of injuries and resting older players…IF Johnson gets hurt, Damon moves into the DH spot, Melky moves to LF, bats 9th, everybody else moves up a spot.

    Signing BOTH Johnson AND Damon can work !!

    The possible 2010 Yankee position players:



    • Pasqua says:

      Yes, it could work…in your fantasy league! Unfortunately, that pesky little thing called “cost” exists in the real world and likely would get in the way of this proposal. That, and roster space.

  46. FrankFernandez says:

    A slow, injury-prone #2 hitter who only helps at DH and doesn’t hit for power…cool.

  47. [...] it (.426 last year, .402 career). We’ve already written extensively about Nicky J. here and here, so you know we’re in favor of bringing him aboard. Posted on Thursday, December [...]

  48. [...] question many of us had upon hearing of the Yanks interest in Johnson: what does it mean for left field? Melky Cabrera isn’t the worst choice. He was, after all, [...]

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