Mailbag: Johnny Damon

Betances promoted to AAA after a rainy day
Fan Confidence Poll: August 15th, 2011
Still insane. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Cory asks: Word is Johnny Damon cleared waivers, is he worth looking at to fill the DH role? It seems like he would be at the least a slight upgrade over Chavez/Jones, but would pretty much close the door on Montero being any more than a bench option this season.

Damon did clear waivers, at least according to Jayson Stark. That means the Rays are now able to trade him to any team for a player that a) also cleared waivers, b) was claimed off waivers by the Rays, or c) is not on the 40-man roster. Money really isn’t an issue here, there’s less than $1.5M left on Damon’s contract this season. He does have some weird incentives tied to attendance, but I think those go away if traded since they’re dependent on Tampa’s attendance. Either way, it’s only another $750k at most.

So the real question is this: Is Johnny actually better than what the Yankees already have at DH? Even with his Friday homer off CC Sabathia, he’s still hitting jut .261/.315/.395 with ten homers in 481 plate appearances. The Trop is one of the more extreme pitchers’ parks in the game, so it’s not a surprise that Damon has a .356 wOBA on the road and a .270 wOBA at home. The current cast of DH’s for the Yankees is Eric Chavez (.323 wOBA vs. RHP in 81 PA) and Andruw Jones (.380 wOBA vs. LHP in 103 PA), though we should also include Jorge Posada in that mix (.351 wOBA vs. RHP in 228 PA). Damon’s platoon split is basically non-existent (.315 wOBA vs. RHP and .309 vs. LHP), and based on just this season’s numbers, he’s not an upgrade anywhere. Unless you believe he’ll hit like he has on the road for the rest of the season.

There’s also the roster space issue. Someone would have to get the axe to make room for Damon, and frankly both Chavez and Jones have proven to be very useful in their prescribed roles. Eduardo Nunez can’t go anywhere because he’s the backup middle infielder, and they’re not going to cut ties with Posada. They’re just not. The Yankees could get a little creative and swing a trade for Damon on the night of August 31st, so they wouldn’t need to play with a wonky roster for an extended period of time because of September call-ups the next day. Of course, there’s basically no chance the Rays will go along with that, and they’ve already shown an unwillingness to trade within the division.

Johnny’s still a good player, but he’s no longer great or even very good. He’s basically an average hitter these days, which is an upgrade over what the Yankees were getting out of their DH’s for most of the year. I think I’d rather have the Chavez-Jones tandem going forward, unless they can finagle something on the 31st and use him as an extra bat in September. There’s a pretty good chance that if he wasn’t a former Yankee, we probably wouldn’t even consider Johnny a viable option. There’s some nostalgia afoot.

Betances promoted to AAA after a rainy day
Fan Confidence Poll: August 15th, 2011
  • Foghorn Leghorn

    that photo above was one of the best baseball plays I ever saw….at first I was crapping my pants but then quickly realized the genius of Johnny Damon…

    • Bavarian Yankee

      yeah. When I think about the 09 WS that double steal by Damon always comes to my mind.

      • Nickel

        Me too. I remember actually yelling at my television, “DAMON! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINK- YES! YOU’RE FRICKIN’ BRILLIANT!”

        • V

          And that double steal was -perfect-, as it took away Lidge’s slider, and ARod could just sit fastball.

  • Xstar7

    They might as well claim Hideki Matsui off waivers too. Both are Clutch Veterans(tm), and True Yankees(tm).

  • FIPster Doofus

    The Trop is stifling seemingly everyone nowadays, even Longoria – who has a .299 wOBA at home and a .382 mark on the road. I’d take Damon back for sure. I miss seeing him in pinstripes, launching bombs over the short porch.

  • Captain Beatty

    Cashman already stated what you see is what you get. Yanks aren’t going to make any moves because the only one they needed to make they made yesterday. Scott Proctor is a Yankee once again.

    • Avi

      Proctor is more than enough nostalgia for me.

    • Jerome S.

      Another literary name? What are you guys all in a book club or something?

  • Plank

    Should we get Damon?

    Short answer: Yes, with an if.

    Long answer: No, with a but.

    • BigLoving

      What you see is what you get! AJ Burnett is a good pitcher! Freddy Garcia really has a cut on his finger! I do not make mistakes….EVER!!!! Yo tengo los pantalones yo tengo los pantalones

    • BigLoving

      What you see is what you get! AJ Burnett is a good pitcher! Freddy Garcia really has a cut on his finger! I do not make mistakes….EVER!!!! Yo tengo los pantalones yo tengo los pantalones!!!!!!


      Brian Cashman

      • Mister Delaware

        Wasn’t even worth it the first time.

  • Jerome S.

    Awww Mike why you such a Debby Downer

    • Bavarian Yankee

      yeah Mike, you’re such a funsucker :D

  • Andrew518

    Not to mention that I’d hate to give Tampa Bay more depth in their farm system. Best to avoid trading within your own division whenever you can.

  • mbonzo

    Matsui or bust… Seems like the news of the Athletics considering resigning him is just planted to up the price. If we give up a scrub for 2 months of Godzilla, I think it’d be an interesting gamble. .424/.486/.652 in the last 107 PA.

  • Alfred

    If the Yankees were interested in Damon, then why didn’t they claim him. The Rays probably don’t dump him on the Yanks then (and I’d be fine if they would) but it hamstrings them in trades, since the only possible destination is the Yanks. So this may offset the Rays resistance on an intra-division deal.

    • CountZero

      ^^^This. If the Yanks had any interest (and I don’t see why they would), the proper move would have been to claim him and either get him without trading a player or securing an exclusive right to negotiate.


  • TLVP

    The Rays are out of it this year so why would they not trade with the Yankees? A weaker NYY organization (by virtue of giving up something that pressumably has a value) next year is only good for them.

    Normally helping a division rival get better is bad even if its only for the season since success will create more revenue, but the Yankees make so much money it doesn’t matter to the Rays if tehy win this year or not.

  • Brian in NH

    I would rather have Montero get a crack at DH/Backup C than Jones being out there

  • Jorge

    I love Damon. I love Matsui. I’d love nothing more than to have Yankee pinstripes be the last uniform they ever put on. The reason the team was able to bring in veterans in August these past couple of years was that the team went with a barebones bench at the start of the year. Thanks to Cliff Lee’s love of Geno’s Cheesesteaks, those kinds of players have been with the team all year.

    If the team decides not to bring back Jones next year, then Damon would be a nice guy off the bench in that role. Can’t see it happening now, though.

  • Grover

    I would prefer Matsui to Damon but would like both. If Swisher struggles in the first game of the postseason, Gardner moves to right and Damon plays left with Matsui at dh. I’d rather live with the defensive struggles than what I’ve seen of Swisher when it counts the most. Still hoping someone claims AJ and Posada off waivers and Yanks have the balls to let them go.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Swish and Tex at the plate in the post season against top pitching is going to be a concern for sure. Swish does most of his damage on 2-0/3-1 fbs-something you don’t see much of against the quality pitchers of the post season. But I hope he proves me wrong. Damon in left is difficult to digest.

  • Mister Delaware

    Hey Mike, did you tell “Cory” not to worry, even if the Yanks did pick up Damon in a waiver deal, he’s safe?

  • Woodrow Sweats

    Why no embedded video of the double steal? sheesh, lazy… :)

  • http://Yahoo Gary Hogan

    They should grab them both, they are proven cluch players. They are exactly what we need going down the stretch!!!