Feb
05

Nick Johnson and the almighty fastball

By

As I was perusing Buster Olney’s blog yesterday morning during my daily reading, something caught my eye and piqued my interest. He wrote about Orlando Hudson and how he could be a good fit for Minnesota, where he would likely hit second with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau backing him up. Long story short, Olney pointed out that Hudson is a good fastball hitter, and he would see more fastballs hitting in front of Mauer and Morneau, therefore it would be a good signing for the Twins.

What caught my attention were the numbers he provided about the percentage of fastballs seen by each team’s number two hitter last season. The second spot in the Yankees’ lineup saw 69.1% fastballs in 2009, the fourth most in baseball and slightly more than the aforementioned Twinkies. Johnny Damon has always been a good fastball hitter, so it’s no surprise that had such a strong offensive season. FanGraph’s pitch values say that his bat was worth 0.53 runs above average per 100 fastballs last year, down a tick from 2008 (1.11) but right in line with his 2006 and 2007 performances (both 0.58).

However Johnny is long gone now, replaced in the two hole by new-old Yankee Nick Johnson, who will assume control the cushiest lineup spot in the game: hitting behind Derek Jeter and ahead of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. While he may not see seven fastballs out of every ten pitches like that spot did in 2009, chances are he’ll see more than the 61.4% fastballs thrown to him last season. And that’s good news, because Nick Johnson straight up murders fastballs.

While Damon’s bat has been worth just over half-a-run above average against the old number one in three of the last four years, Johnson’s hasn’t dipped below 1.17 runs above average. I tried to put the difference between Damon and Johnson into words, but I failed in two attempts, so I’m going to cop out and use a table. Check this stuff out…

(wFB is runs above average, /C is per 100 pitches)

Even though he missed all of 2007 and most of 2008 with a busted leg, Johnson still generated more runs above average against fastballs than Damon over the last four years. It’s not even close either. On a rate basis, he’s produced close two runs above average for every 100 fastballs seen, more than double Damon’s output. If NJ sees anywhere near the amount of fastballs this year that the Yanks’ number two hitter saw last year, holy schnikees is he going to do some damage.

Obviously there’s many more factors that go into the number of fastballs a hitter sees, more than I care to account for. Will Jeter get on base more than 40% of the time in front of the number two hitter again next year? What about the nine hitters, will they combine to get on base less than 31% of the time again? Those are the great unknowns, and they’ll all affect the number of fastballs thrown Johnson’s way in 2010. The important part is that in one of the better fastball spots in the lineup, the Yankees now have a tremendous fastball hitter, one that’s far better than Damon ever was.

The massive upgrade in on-base percentage is reason enough to salivate over the idea of Johnson hitting second next year, all of this fastball stuff is just icing on the cake. Johnny Damon did a fantastic job as the Yankees’ number two hitter last year, but Nick Johnson could be even better in 2010.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

Categories : Analysis
  • The Evil Empire

    Nick Johnson > Johny Damon; IMO

    • DP

      But- but- he’s slow! And fragile! And OBP is for nerds!

      • Accent Shallow

        The first two of these are valid objections, although apparently the difference between Ichiro! and Posada on the basepaths is only about 1-1.5 wins per year. The difference between Damon and Johnson is probably 0.5 wins.

        Johnson being made of a glass is a very real concern, although hopefully time at DH will help alleviate that.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          The difference between Damon and NJ on the base paths last year was about 0.7 wins, just in case anyone is wondering.

          • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

            Not true. According to Dusty Baker, it’s 7.0 wins. Metric always screwed with me too.

          • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

            Are you using EQBRR? It has the difference as four runs in Damon’s favor.

            • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

              Bah, I acted like I was calculating for WAR and subtracted the runs gained/lost via the stolen base (WAR already includes runs gained/lost via the stolen base). Yeah, it was seven runs.

              • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

                Put down the graphing calculator! C’mon man, don’t you know games aren’t played on spreadsheets?

                • chriso

                  The difference between Nick Johnson and Johnny Damon on the basepaths is 7 runs per year? Hmmm. OK
                  And HOW many more runs per year will NJ be worth over Damon at the plate?
                  There was a very long period of time during which Johnny Damon was the far superior ballplayer. But that’s not true anymore. This piece on hitting the fastball is very interesting, for sure. And then there’s the matter of hitting in the new ballpark. Everyone has talked about how much Damon’s power numbers were boosted by his getting to hit there so often. What will the effect of the new stadium be on Nick Johnson’s power numbers? He’s already hit 20+ homeruns in a season.

                • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

                  Heh chriso.

                  the 7 win part was a joke.

                • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

                  Chriso—I’m still mad the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

                  DON’T STOP ME!!!

      • http://www.bomberbanter.com/ BomberBanter.com

        I’ve heard a lot of folks using the argument that Nick Johnson clogs up the bases, therefore Johnny Damon is a better fit, but Damon only stole 12 bases last year – probably because you take the bat out of Mark Teixeira’s mighty hands if you steal second. Then again, I don’t see Johnson going from first to third very often. Still, it’s only a 1 year deal, so if it doesn’t work out, Johnson will be outa there before you can blink. I have to admit, I secretly wanted vladimir guerrero

    • The Evil Empire

      NJ: .273 (.402) (.447) (.849)

      JD: (.282) .333 .422 .755

      (X) = win

      • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

        What are these numbers?

        • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

          ..I’m very curious what those numbers next to “JD:” are. If anyone could enlighten me I’d appreciate it.

          • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

            They are vital lines (including OPS) for Johnny Damon, but I checked every vital line for Damon in his career and the 2009 campaign and I haven’t found a correspondence.

            • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

              Heh, yeah I spent some time trying to figure it out. No idea where they came from.

        • The Evil Empire

          Career AVG OBP SLG & OPS

          • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

            They really aren’t.

            NJ; yes.

            JD; no, not at all. I have no idea where you got those numbers.

            • The Evil Empire

              Ah, yes my mistake.
              Those were his 09 post season numbers.

              JD: .288 .355 .439 .794

              • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

                Cmon broseph! Gotta use that baseball reference. MLB.com can be a pain in the ass.

                My only point is that:

                (288) 355 439 794

                vs.

                273 (402) (447) (849)

                doesn’t tell the whole story.

                Hell, take away JD’s first 4 seasons and you’re looking at:
                (292) 362 (448) 810

                imo, their career numbers are incomparable.

                JD>>>>>NJ

                At this point in their careers it’s not even close.

                Now, if we’re talking upside, or potential, yeah, maybe NJ > JD.

                • Chris

                  Over the last 4 seasons, the lines compare as:

                  NJ: .285 .420 .467 .887 136 OPS+

                  JD: .285 .363 .458 .821 114 OPS+

                  So NJ ties or wins all of the comparisons. The only real issue with NJ is whether he will stay healthy. If he’s healthy, he’ll perform better than Damon.

    • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

      Dude, you’re comparing a guy who rarely misses a game to a guy who’s position has been DL for the majority of his career.

      • Zack

        JD averaged 142 games the last 3 years; thats missing 20 games a year- thats far from “rarely missing a game.”

    • Bo

      Can NJ play a full season before you state hes better than Damon?

      Theres a reason Damon is a borderline HOF.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Theres a reason Damon is a borderline HOF.

        Reason #1: He’s older

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Oh, and something else that needs to be said:

        Can NJ play a full season before you state hes better than Damon?

        For a guy who claims to hate all forms and variations of non-baseball discussions, you sure seem to enjoy curtailing, ending, precluding, and preemptively dismissing all types of actual baseball discussions.

        You want us to stop making in-jokes to each other and only talk actual baseball, but you don’t want us to talk about how 2010 Nick Johnson might actually be better than 2010 Johnny Damon, because 2010 Nick Johnson hasn’t actually yet demonstrated whether or not he is better than 2010 Johnny Damon. Are we all just supposed to log into RAB every day and say “Johnny Damon is better than Nick Johnson until proven otherwise” all year long, and then after the season, come back and say “Well, Nick Johnson proved he was better than Johnny Damon.”

        Is that “baseball discussion”?

  • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

    Guys, if we’re so in love with OBP, we can still get a certain LF with an unbelievable OBP. Yes, he does exist!

    That’s right, folks. BARRY FUCKING BONDS. BOOM—YOU’RE DIZZY NOW!

    I don’t even care if he’s more juiced up than the Kool-Aid man at age Julio Franco. I want him signed.

    Get it done, Cashmoney.

    • The Evil Empire

      I actually wouldn’t mind, but the chances are close to 0%

      The yankees probably don’t want all the publicity

    • bexarama

      I thought he officially retired :(

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        That’s never stopped us before…

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Could you imagine if they had even 75% of early-00’s Barry batting fifth behind A-Rod? Yikes.

      • Chip

        I wonder what would have happened if we signed Bonds in 2001 instead of Giambi? Seriously, that would have been INSANE.

      • AndrewYF

        Why the fuck would 75% of early-00’s Barry Bonds be batting FIFTH?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Two words:
          Nails Krzyzewski

      • http://www.vimeo.com/fiveeightfoursix thisis ledavidisrael

        And In that stadium.

        SO SO CRAY-ZAY

      • JGS

        75% of 2001-2004 Bonds’ OBP is still just over .419

        heck, half of 2001-2004 Bonds’ OBP rounds up to .280
        Jose Molina’s OBP in 583 PA for the Yankees–.281

        • RollingWave

          according to WAR, half of Barry Bond’s career roughly = … uh…. George Brett .

          Yikes

    • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

      I would JIMP if we signed Barry.

  • DAMN YOU MIKE AXISA

    Now i am far too excited for Nicky J…. it will only end in sorrow now… i repeat…

    damn you Mike Axisa

  • Granderslam

    Great read! Can Spring Training start now?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      (thinks)

      No.

  • http://yankees.lhblogs.com Peter Abraham

    Last four years:

    Damon 576 games, 2,525 plate appearances. Nick Johnson 318 games, 1,148 plate appearances. It’s hard to hammer fastballs when you’re not in the game.

    Nick is a tremendous hitter. I covered him in AA in 1999 right before I left to work in New York and he was great then. Good guy, too. But he has had 600+ plate appearances once in his career. Johnny has done it 12 times. Yes, I realize Johnny is older. But Nick is 31 now.

    For whatever reason, the guy has trouble staying on the field. I hope for his sake that changes because he’s a good guy and he’ll rake if he plays.

    I think it’s too bad some people are running Johnny down. The guy played his ass off for four years, changed positions without complaint, changed spots in the batting order without complaint and was a huge reason they had such great chemistry last season. Johnny was one of the guys who helped Girardi understand the changes he had to make.

    It’s really unfortunate they couldn’t come to a deal. Johnny needs the Stadium and I suspect the Yankees will miss him. It would not shock me if they traded for him in July.

    • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

      For once in my life I agree with Pete Abe.

      Now, I think saying that we’ll miss JD is a bit of an overstatement. I think that we will get along fine(well, more than fine), without him.

      However, for those of you comparing JD and NJ, disregarding their “durability + production” is quite silly.

    • AndrewYF

      No one’s running Johnny down. We’re simply stating that it’s not much of a stretch to think that Nick Johnson could be a better hitter than Damon was.

      That Damon didn’t come back to the Yankees is looking to be 100% his own fault. It’s easy to see that Damon was always the Yankees’ Plan A before Winn or Gardner. Damon just kept telling them no, and the Yankees weren’t going to let their backup plans fall through just to let Damon continue playing his Boras-induced game of chicken.

      • AndrewYF

        Also, changing from leadoff man to the number 2 spot, in the Yankees lineup at least, is a reason to jump for joy. No shit he didn’t complain.

      • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

        No one is at fault, he moved on. He wanted more than we could offer. No need to create a villain or victimize one or the other.

    • ROBTEN

      The guy played his ass off for four years, changed positions without complaint, changed spots in the batting order without complaint and was a huge reason they had such great chemistry last season.

      Yeah, it’s terrible when a guy comes to the team, changes positions without complaint even though he’s the better player, changes spots in the batting order during the playoffs without complaint, and was a huge reason they won the past six years and a big contributor to the “chemistry” this season, and gets run down by people…

      “I would suggest that if the Yankees did not have Alex, they would be far more likely to win over the long term. His 24 + 1 mentality is not conducive to championship play. I realize it’s spring training, but the Yankees have looked terrific. They’re a much better team when they aren’t sitting around waiting for him to hit a home run. Of course, he’s signed for nine years and he’s a terrific hitter and they need him back. No question. But that money they spent on him in 2007 could have been used elsewhere.”

      http://yankees.lhblogs.com/200.....ent-704410

      • Esteban

        ROBTEN FTW.

        I think we are more likely to point out Johnny Damon’s flaws now that he’s not on the team. We also look for Nicky J’s strengths because he’s on the team now and of course we look for reasons to be optimistic about him and downplay his fragility. At the same time I don’t think anyone here is criticizing JD out of malice.

      • bexarama

        aaand boom goes the dynamite.

      • Slugger27
    • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

      I think it’s too bad some people are running Johnny down. The guy played his ass off for four years, changed positions without complaint, changed spots in the batting order without complaint and was a huge reason they had such great chemistry last season. Johnny was one of the guys who helped Girardi understand the changes he had to make.

      While I agree with your points in this paragraph as much as I can from a fan’s perspective, what does this have to do with Johnny Damon’s projected value in the 2010 season?

    • DP

      (knock on wood) Some of Nick’s injury problems should be helped by being basically only a DH.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        That.

        PeteAbe said “For whatever reason, the guy has trouble staying on the field.”

        You could just stop there and throw your hands up and say “Well, he gets injured alot but we can’t figure out anything else about it so we just have to assume he’ll always gets hurt and will continue to get hurt”, or you could, you know, actually think about it critically, examine the nature and frequency of his injuries, and make a rational prediction of how likely he is to get injured again in the future.

    • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

      If you feel like rephrasing it, we can say Granderson is replacing Damon, and Johnson is replacing Matsui. It’s all semantics to me. Granderson>Damon; Johnson>Matsui; Gardner=Melky

      Sure, Nick Johnson has shown he has a plus-plus injury tool (though not quite Chris Garcia territory). As a DH, with the current construction of this roster, the Yankees felt he was a better player for the 2 hole. Better OBP, higher ceiling offensively, younger.

      Now, if you were to have gotten Damon instead of NJ, is he your LF or DH? If he’s your DH, you’ve signed a guy to more money than what an arguably better player will take (in Johnson), a guy better suited to the lineup. Damon may be the safer player because of his Iron Man status, but not necessarily better. It depends on how you weigh risk vs. reward. We have different values, I suppose. That’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with being gravely concerned with NJ.

      If Damon’s your LF, you signed up for an old guy unlikely to replicate his career year and a butcher in the field. A guy who also struggled late in the year and caught fire for two playoff series’. That’s dicey. And you still need a DH.

      As a straight comparison to Matsui, I think he’s a vastly superior option. Younger, doesn’t use a Segway to get around, has knees. Matsui may have the advantage in stronger wrists (pun intended, but NJ also should rebound power-wise as he fully recovers from wrist surgery). He’s not without concern, but I think the team believes NJ as a DH will limit the injury concerns.

      Everything else you said about Johnny is all fun narrative but doesn’t fully fit the reality. He moved a position willingly because he was so bad he couldn’t play the position he moved to capably. He doesn’t deserve a medal or commendation for that.

      Is “chemistry” a metric similar to “grit”? I’m not going to say chemistry isn’t a factor, but it’s likely winning leads to chemistry, in which case Damon plays a small role.

      They couldn’t come to a deal because Johnny’s perceived value was higher than what the Yankees had (if you believe what they say). It’s business. We can’t get caught up in what players meant to us; we shouldn’t have Bernie Williams in CF for 2010 or Scotty Bro at 3B because of his ‘character’. You sign the best guys you can for the most prudent fiscal deal.

      This is a business, not a Hallmark card.

      • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

        Gardner=Melky

        /throws beefsteak tomato at JMK

        • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

          You know how painful it was for me to say, don’t you?

          • Rose

            So what are you guys saying…who’s better? To me, they’re both 4th OF’s…Melky with a slight upper hand because he has more experience.

      • ROBTEN

        Bravo.

      • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

        Just to clarify, if it were a straight Damon vs. Nick Johnson comparison (which it shouldn’t be, but whatevs), due to Damon’s durability I’d have to give him the advantage over NJ.

        All things being equal, if Damon were to have accepted the same contract Johnson did, I’d probably have preferred Damon. He’d be able to give you good production out of the 2 hole and spot start at LF. He provides more flexibility than Johnson although if healthy (a huge if) Johnson OBPing .410 is a much better value than Damon’s output at that spot. That’s Damon’s advantage over Johnson. He’s a much, much safer choice.

        That said, Damon>Johnson exists only in a vacuum. NJ at $5.5 m with a mutual option + incentives is a MUCH better deal than JD at $14 m for 2 years plus incentives. If Damon didn’t feel that contract adequately paid him for his services, hey, I’m not going to argue—it’s his prerogative. His total value probably is around $8 million. However, due to a number of reasons, he has little leverage and thus, probably lost out on his best deal. The market doesn’t always pay true total value.

        Hope that better cleared up my position if there were any questions.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          That said, Damon>Johnson exists only in a vacuum. NJ at $5.5 m with a mutual option + incentives is a MUCH better deal than JD at $14 m for 2 years plus incentives.

          Repeated for emphasis.

          It’s similar to the concept of why Phil Hughes should begin the season in the Scranton bullpen in 2010, building up innings and refining secondary pitches: Any marginal increase in production that Damon would provide over Johnson this year is offset by the massive roster permutation advantage of NOT having either player under contract for 2011, when we might have to do something like, oh, say, move Jorge Posada to fulltime DH.

          • Bo

            You really think they’d even consider putting Hughes in the minors???

            It isnt practical.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              “You really think they’d even consider putting Hughes in the minors???

              It isnt practical.”

              Fixed. And, yes. It is practical, if you look at it from both a short-term AND a long-term view. Hughes will still contribute to the 2010 Yankees. He’s just not needed ALL year long. He can spend the first part of the year continuing his progress as a starter, building innings and secondary pitches and waiting for a hole to emerge in the rotation, as one always does.

              But 2011 must be planned for as well.

              • http://www.vimeo.com/fiveeightfoursix thisis ledavidisrael

                If he spends enough of this year in the minors its one less year till we have to pay him. I remember someone saying he would need to spend about 5 months in scranton for this to kick in.

                I was wondering if he spend 3 months in scranton this year and two months next season would that slow his clock the same way?

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  Not sure, but this is also true.

                  This is by far the ancillary benefit, though. The primary reasoning is
                  A.) Hughes needs innings and a routine to build armstrength, which can only happen in Scranton
                  B.) Hughes is a massive upgrade as a 6th starter over Gaudin/Ace/Mitre/etc., and 6th starters invariably make multiple starts in any given season
                  C.) If Hughes goes to the pen initially, he’s not coming back out of it this season
                  D.) In the unlikely event that Hughes never is used as a big league starter, he’s still going to join the big league team in September at the latest, either as a starter or in a move to the pen for the stretch run and playoffs
                  E.) Hughes MUST pitch more than 100 total innings in order to be ready for an effective 2011 rotation spot, and he just can’t get that as a situational reliever
                  F.) We already have (and can easily acquire more) several other quality BP arms who can’t equal Hughes’s 8th inning production but can approach it with enough aplomb to be effective.

    • chriso

      Great to see you on the board, Peter. And I think you make a few good points.
      As for the “health” of these two players, though, let’s consider this:
      Damon could, indeed, last for a few more seasons. He’s been durable. I figure that you could count on him for 145 games+ as a DH, easy. But you can’t count on him as an outfielder for that many games. You really can’t count on him to play the outfield at all. His arm is really, really bad and his range in left field 2009 was almost as bad as his arm.
      Could he play first base for some team? Possibly–so long as he wouldn’t have to deal with any “bang-bang” infield plays that require a first baseman to throw a bullet to second, third, or home.
      And who’s to say he wouldn’t get hurt if he were to make that kind of position change?
      But, I digress. The real big question here is “How will Nick Johnson perform as a DH compared to Johnny Damon?” And, secondarily, “Will being a full-time DH help to minimize the chances of Nick Johnson getting hurt?”
      I think that any reasonable pair of answers to those questions would indicate that the Yankees have made the right move.

    • Jeffrey

      Last year: Damon 550 ab’s, NJ 574 ab’s. This year NJ will rarely play in the field.

      There is good reason to think that NJ will stay on the field this year.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        This year NJ will rarely play in the field.

        Again, repeated for emphasis.

        Hideki Matsui was also a man of glass, and moving him to fulltime DH dramatically lessened his injury problems.

        • Andy

          Hideki Matsui was also a man of glass, and moving him to fulltime DH dramatically lessened his injury problems.

          I think that comparison isn’t a great one.

          Matsui was healthier for longer early in his career. He only started breaking down after having a huge consecutive games streak and a large percentage of them on turf. His injuries look (wrist aside) as a result of wear and tear.

          NJ has some horrible appearance stats in comparative years and now he’s getting older the book is he’ll slow down even more. I’m hoping he’ll be another outlier in a team of them though.

          Matsui was DHing because it managed his known injuries, NJ seems like the kind of guy who will put his back out sneezing so it’s still a wildcard – lessened risk but with an injury history so varied who can predict the next?

          My bet on NJ’s next? He pulls a Wang on the ‘pads!

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Eh, the whole idea of running players down after they leave happens everywhere. The Red Sox trashed Nomar, Manny, Bay, etc. when they left. However I did say several times in my post how great Johnny was in that two spot, I just intended to show people that NJ was an upgrade in certain aspects of the game.

      Remember, Damon was awful the last month of the season and in the ALDS, he just had himself a very good 56 plate appearances in the ALCS and WS. Plus he had calf trouble in the playoffs despite all the extra days of rest.

      The bottom line is that the Yankees were looking for a DH/LF, and Damon was asking for too much. So they moved on. I think it was Heyman that said NJ was ready to accept an offer from the Giants, so the Yanks had to act. They couldn’t just wait around forever.

      I’m sure the Yankees will miss him at times, but there’s also going to be times when we’re loving life with NJ.

    • pete

      The thing with Nick Johnson is that he gets that “fragile” label thrown around quite a bit, but take out a freak accident in which he broke his leg, resulting in over 200 missed games, and he’s essentially a player who has had one injury in his career. That’s not to say that it’s a worrisome one – wrists are very important for a hitter. Luckily Johnson’s such a good OBP guy that he can survive without power. Nonetheless, being another year removed from that injury + being in the new Yankee Stadium should give him average or better power in 2010. In fact, with Johnny being out of YSIII, I would not be at all surprised to see Johnson hit more HRs than Johnny – I’d say 21 for Johnson, 16 for Damon. Throw in the OBP, and it’s extremely unlikely (in my opinion) that Damon outproduces Johnson next year unless Johnson does get injured, which, as I’ve already pointed out, would be because of bad luck, not because he is “made of glass”.

      Remember, as good as Johnny was for most of last year, A) it was by far his best year since ’06, and probably one of the top 4 or 5 seasons of his entire career, and at age 36, he can’t be considered a likely candidate for a repeat, and B) he slumped horribly through september, which of course does not prove anything, but it’s not even a little bit out of the question to consider that he was tiring. Considering he’d come into the season in the best shape he’d been in for quite some time*, that suggests that he is declining, and could see his production decrease drastically next year.

      And of course, if you’re making the comparison (positionally correct but irrelevant in terms of production anyway) between Johnson and Matsui, Johnson should be an even clearer choice. While Matsui’s power is still better than Johnson’s, Matsui at this point in his career has to be considered “fragile,” because he has two surgically repaired and still balky knees, and he too had his best year in quite some time last season.

      Bottom line is, both Damon and Matsui are all but guaranteed to regress next year, at least a little, and matsui’s a good bet to miss some time because his knees are simply that bad. Johnson has been injured in the past, but certainly not to the extent (in terms of the number of and type of injuries he has sustained) to which he would actually deserve the injury prone label he gets, and Granderson had a down year last year, but chances are better than not that both of those two improve upon last years numbers. I love Damon and Matsui both for what they DID for the yankees, especially last year. But as far as what they project to do in 2010, I’ll take NJ and CG any day of the week, and twice on sundays. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see 2010 NJ+CG out-WAR 2010 JD+HM by 4 wins.

    • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

      Conspiracy theorist.

  • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

    By the way folks, we’ve just witnessed what some might call a Peter Abraham thread-jacking.

  • Salty Buggah

    If this article about Johnson didn’t get you super excited about 2010, nothing will.

  • Kevin G.

    Wonder if Cashman considered this when signing Johnson.

    • Warren

      That is why GMs have a staff

  • dkidd

    who hits second if johnson gets injured?

    • BigBlueAL

      I would assume Swisher or Cano. Maybe Grandy vs RHP.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Who hits second if Johnny Damon gets injured?

      I mean, let’s not forget that Johnny Damon is now 36. 36 year old players get injured. It’s what they do.

      • Bo

        And who hits 3rd when Tex goes down because players get injured

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          I’m not sure where you’re going with this.

          • pete

            also, there’s a pretty obvious answer to that question.

  • BigBlueAL

    I still remember the fastball/sinker Nick CRUSHED off Derek Lowe in Game 2 of the 2003 ALCS.

    • Rick in Boston

      That was actually the only post-season game I’ve ever been to at Yankee Stadium. My god that place shook when he hit it. My Red Sock-loving friend just sat there with his head down and cried a little bit.

  • http://yankees.lhblogs.com Peter Abraham

    Of course it makes sense that hitting second for the Yankees is a good deal. But ballplayers don’t look at like we do. Johnny wants to get into the Hall of Fame and has a specific series of statistical goals in mind. This includes stolen bases and when one hits second for the Yankees, one does not steal second base.

    Johnny was not thrilled with the idea of hitting second or playing left. But he did it and never bitched. There was value in that, especially in New York and especially with a new manager who at the time was not exactly rolling in endorsements in that clubhouse.

    Also, Johnny would be one hell of a DH because he hates playing the OF these days. Every time he sees his name on the card as the DH, he gets giddy. Or at least more giddy than he usually is.

    I really like Nick and potentially this could work out very well for them if he stays healthy and can still hit AL pitching. But history suggest that while Nick may have better percentages and averages, Johnny will be on the field more often and contribute more wherever he ends up.

    They should have signed Johnny to DH for a year and played Gardner in left. Johnny was dumb to turn down their offer in December.

    The second aspect of this which nobody is talking about is that Gardner is going to be very, very good. He’s right on the verge of good stuff based on what Kevin Long has said.

    • Slugger27

      Johnny was not thrilled with the idea of hitting second or playing left. But he did it and never bitched.

      this confuses me… if he never bitched, then how could u know he “was not thrilled” by hitting 2nd?

      also, i have a hard time believing johnny cares about his career SB stats…. what the 2 hole lacks in SBs it makes up for in RBIs, not to mention SBs rarely if ever come into the conversation regarding HOF voting

      but what i really take issue with is saying “they should have signed johnny to DH” or that “johnny would be on the field more” and treating the signings/decisions as if they were equal… they ARENT equal… nick johnson quickly agreed to a 1 year deal for 5.5M with no haggling…. my guess is JD wouldve been a yankee had he been willing to accept such a deal back when the spot was open

      the yanks didnt necessarily pick nick johnson over JD, they picked nick johnson and his lower demands over JD and his higher demands… dont neglect this fact when citing their durability/health/chemistry to the team or anything else you throw into your pro-damon argument

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        This is an irrelevant tangent.

        How much or how little Johnny Damon bitched about where he hit matters only if his replacement, Nick Johnson, is a notorious bitcher about where he hits. Johnson is the opposite.

        In fact, ALL of PeteAbe’s argument in this post is ass-backwards. He’s claiming that Johnny should have been signed over Nick Johnson because:

        A) He will hit wherever in the batting order he’s asked to hit, whether he likes it or not. MOOT: so will Nick Johnson.
        B) Johnny will be a great DH because he hates playing the outfield now. MOOT: Nick Johnson will also be a great DH because he’ll play wherever we tell him to play, gladly. Johnson is just happy to be back in pinstripes.
        C) They should have signed Johnny to be the DH and played Gardner in left, because Gardner has great potential as an everyday LF. MOOT: Gardner’s also going to play LF with Johnson the DH. More, even.

        Furthermore, the bit about Johnny’s HoF candidacy is NOT a point in Johnny’s favor over Nick Johnson, it’s a point AGAINST it. Johnny, as a vet, is more likely to be self-interested than Johnson and do things like steal when he shouldn’t, etc. to compile more counting stats to bolster his case. I’m reminded of Ivan Rodriguez calling fastball after fastball to protect his caught-stealing percentage.

        The above PeteAbe post is full of fail.

        • Zack

          I lol’d at Pete’s HOF point; similar to JD saying he wanted a 2 year deal because he wanted to see Jeter get 3000 hits; except he just wanted that extra guaranteed money, which is cool just dont spin it into something its not.

    • Mac

      Damon/Boras really miss evaluated what they thought they could get. They get all of the blame. The Yanks would have loved to have him as their LF/DH for 2 years. But the Yanks were smart to not get into a bidding war with themselves and they went out and got some solid players to replace him and Matsui.

      I like Gardner, and I think he will get more reps in CF this year then anyone else on the team. But if he is going to be “very, very good” he needs to show just a little bit of power. If he does that he will at least have an OPS in the 800’s.

      • A.D.

        They’re still apparently asking for “at least 7M” for a 1 year deal. Seriously.

    • Zack

      “Johnny was not thrilled with the idea of hitting second or playing left. But he did it and never bitched”

      And the Yankees werent thrilled with his crappy CF play.

      Moves that make the team better >>>> Moves that make JD happier

    • Rose

      Johnny Damon’s Status – Press Conference

      [Scott Boras at the podium]

      “Johnny ‘Mnemonic’ Damon has undergone cybernetic surgery over the offseason to have a data storage system implanted in his head. This system allows him to view digital data of simulated footage of a pitcher’s pitch before it’s thrown based on the trajectory of his arm compared to previous similar pitches thrown in the past. The digital data also includes syndicated episodes of Small Wonder and Perfect Strangers. The surgery has required Johnny to wear a Robocop-style helmet which ironically came with the same Auto 9 Beretta M93r airsoft Robocop pistol which has been cleared for road games. If you are not willing to pay Johnny Damon $90M paid in gold krugerrands over 4 years time, we will have no other choice but to auction Johnny off to one of the Baseball Simulator 1000 Ultra Teams where his talents will be more appreciated.”

      [While scribbling notes from the speech, some of Pete Abe's drool trickles down onto his notepad]

    • Bo

      If this was Pete Abe wouldnt he link to his NEW BLOG???

      I was with fake abe until he said Gardner was going to be very good because kevin long said so. first of all long wouldnt put his rep on the line for a guy like gardner.

    • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

      Or Johnny Damon hit 2nd and played LF because he was under contract for $52 million over 4 years with the New York Yankees.

      Therefore he has to honor said contract and do what the management of the Yankees tell him to do.

      Because that’s how life works.

      Someone pays you to do something, you do it. If you don’t, they stop paying you. Shocking concept.

  • Bobby V

    Did anybody notice Luis Sojo is not coming back to coach Tampa.Wonder what’s up with that.

  • Hughesus Christo

    Nick Johnson will be in amazing shape ($$$) and will get 500+ ABs this season. He will then decline the option, because he will have looked so good.

    I WENT THERE.

    GGBG will be the leadoff hitter in 2011.

    I WENT THERE TOO.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada
    • Bo

      what lottery numbers should i play too???

      Gardner could be someones leadoff hitter in 2011. Probably KC.

    • pete

      i don’t see gardner ever OBPing enough to bat 1st. In the 9-hole, he can get on at a .340 or so clip and be fine with it, plus he can steal second and let jeter knock him in.

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  • Rose

    All of this Johnny Damon Vs. Nick Johnson talk is essentially meaningless.

    Some people are assuming 36 year old Johnny Damon running around in the field all season will be perfectly healthy all year and Nick Johnson at full time DH will be constantly injured…others are assuming a historically always-injured Nick Johnson will definitely stay healthy and a historically durable Johnny Damon will be more likely to get injured.

    Nobody knows anything. People are using the past as some guarantee or form to predict the future. But it’s no guarantee.

    They both could get injured for all we know. And even if Johnny signs with another team and doesn’t get injured doesn’t necessarily mean the surrounding circumstances would be the same if he were on the Yankees.

    Nobody knows. They’re both great ballplayers (when healthy)…Johnny’s older, Nick’s had some bad luck in the past. They both have their reasons they could get injured…but so doesn’t everybody else.

    Let’s just wait and see!

  • Bo

    Johnson isnt a bad player. Hes even a fit for the lineup with his eye. But hes no Damon. They will just have to replace his production in LF at some point during the season because Gardner/Winn are backups at this point.

    Now people can say that NJ getting hurt every yr is a fluke. but the facts are facts. Hes always hurt.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      They will just have to replace his production in LF at some point during the season because Gardner/Winn are backups at this point.

      They already replaced Damon’s production in LF. They did it my massively upgrading the production in CF by swapping Melky Cabrera’s career 91 wRC+ bat for Curtis Granderson’s career 119 wRC+ bat.

  • yanksfan4life

    wRC+,wfb,wfb/c.WTF? This isn’t fantasy baseball.Sabermetrics is for dickheads.All ya need is ur eyes.Just watch.Either a guy can hit or he can’t.And from what I saw,Gardner was totally overmatched most times.And his fielding aint that great either.If he wasn’t fast he’d be a terrible fielder.He turns the wrong way on balls then uses his speed to cover up for his lack of skills.Same thing with his base stealing.A good pitcher/catcher combo will throw him out more often than not.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      This has to be satire.

    • Klemy

      Wow.

    • pete

      FACT: I once saw Bubba Crosby hit a walkoff home run. Therefore he is a clutch hitter who can hit home runs. FACT.

      In all seriousness, if this is satire, it’s weak. At least Alex Gonzalez was subtle with his stupidities geared specifically towards the RAB community based specifically on our pet peeves.

  • yanksfan4life

    And I can see Nick Johnson hitting 20-25 homers in that new stadium.

    • Klemy

      I’ll go one further and think 25-30.

    • pete

      Nick Johnson will hit .291/.413/.462/.875 with 21 HRs in 2010. Book it.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    NJ broke his leg…so either random shit that happens when you, you know, live…or he’s got that disease samuel l jackson had in glass.

    since he doesnt have a wheelchair-or an arch nemesis that i know of–i’m going to go with #1.

    regression to the mean for 500 AB’s this year.

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