Why wouldn’t Damon come back to Boston?
Could it have been the booing? Let’s hope not, but if it was the booing that turned Damon off to Boston, then childish Sox fans get what they deserve. It was inane to boo a player who played 100 percent every day, delivered key hits in most of the big games at the end, and almost killed himself in service to the Red Sox when he collided with Damian Jackson during the 2003 ALDS.
This is inane. Fans aren’t rational, and “writers” like CHB love to stoke the Sox-MFY rivalry (he makes a lot of money doing it too). MFY fans would do the same to one of their own who signed with the Sox. That’s why David Wells laughed at Joe Torre’s reaction to the booing Damon got when he returned to Boston. Wells was treated poorly by MFY fans when he played for the Sox. A washed-up David Cone was called a traitor on the back page of the Daily News when he signed with Boston.
Did Damon deliver more key hits than Manny or Nomar, two players CHB hated? Who cares about the collision with Damian Jackson? That was a freak occurrence, not a result of Damon’s hard work. That’s not to say Damon didn’t play hard. He did. But CHB has made a career of tearing down Boston sports icons and other hard working players.
All of the above was erased in the minds of some nitwits because Damon signed with the Yankees. And that is pathetic. Damon came here from Oakland because Boston offered the best deal. When his contract was up, the Sox offered four years at $40 million while the Yankees offered four years at $52 million. It’s a significant difference. Damon wasn’t a guy who left for one extra dollar. He left because the Yankees outbid the Sox — by a lot.
For this, he was booed. He saw the T-shirts about looking like Jesus and throwing like Mary. He saw himself portrayed as a hardball Judas. He heard the Bronx cheers simply because he played for the Bronx Bombers. And that was stupid. And wrong.
The Sox bumbled the Damon contract negotiations after the 2005 season. They misread the future. They figured Damon’s game would deteriorate.
It did. As of 2007, the second year of a four-year contract, Johnny Damon no longer was able to play CF (the position he was signed to play). Damon’s defensive in CF had been declining for years. The Sox needed a CF, and didn’t want to overpay a player whose skills at that position were in decline. Damon lucked out in New York because the MFY could play him at LF/DH. The Sox had two players locked into both positions: Manny and Ortiz. Had Damon stayed in Boston, it would have been a disaster!
They were wrong. Damon was worth every penny the Yankees paid him from 2006-09. He played hard and he played well for the full four years. In his final year of the contract, he hit .282 with 24 homers and 82 RBIs. Think Boston could have used that? It’s better than the sorry numbers posted by J.D. ($14 million per year) Drew.
This is especially stupid. Damon wasn’t “worth every penny.” He was an overpaid, poor fielding, decent hitting LF/DH. As for Damon’s last year with the MFY, he hit 17 HR .279 AVG/.382 OBP/.533 SLG (.915 OPS) at home and .284 AVG/.349 OBP/.446 SLG (.795 OPS) with 7 HR on the road. Hmm, looks like his home ballpark (Coors East in 2009) helped his numbers tremendously. So far this year, Damon is hitting .273 AVG/.361 OBP/.409 SLG (.770 OPS).
I love it when idiots like CHB try to analyze baseball. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Here are Drew’s “sorry numbers” from last year: .279 AVG/.392 OBP/.522 SLG (.914 OPS). Drew also hit 24 HR in a HR-suppressing ballpark (11 HR at home, 13 HR on the road). CHB bringing JD Drew into the mix is rather odd because Drew didn’t replace Damon; he replaced Trot Nixon. This is just a weak attack on the FO—and a strange one at that. The Drew signing was a good one, and a good value for performance. Since CHB mentioned it, here’s a comparison of Drew’s and Damon’s hitting from 2007-2009:
Damon - .285 AVG/.364 OBP/.449 SLG (.813 OPS)
Drew - .276 AVG/.390 OBP/.485 SLG (.875 OPS)
Drew was the far better hitter, even with his subpar 2007 season. Also, Drew is the far better defensive player. What was the FO thinking?!?
Damon came up big again in the end. He turned the 2009 World Series in the Yankees’ favor with his amazing instincts in the ninth inning of Game 4. It was a 4-4 game with two out and nobody aboard when Damon singled to center off Brad Lidge on a nine-pitch at-bat. He then stole second and third on one pitch, taking advantage of Philadelphia’s infield shift on Mark Teixeira.
With Damon on third, Lidge couldn’t throw his slider and that gave Alex Rodriguez the cookie he needed to hit a game-breaking double. Damon’s instincts effectively won the World Series for the Yankees. That is the kind of player he is.
Wow, Johnny Damon single-handedly made Brad Lidge suck. Remember, we’re talking about a relief pitcher who had a 7.21 ERA (5.45 FIP) in the regular season in 2009.
In Boston in September 2010, Damon wasn’t going to be the Damon of 2004, but he would have helped. The Sox left field production this year is abysmal; people who have manned the position in front of the Monster are hitting .232 with an aggregate 16 homers, 62 RBIs, and a hideous on-base percentage of .301.
Yep, Sox LF have been pretty bad overall. But CHB is overstating the problem. Ells wasn’t good due to injuries and Jeremy Hermida, who is a bad player, played more games in LF than any other Red Sox player. Hermida is gone now. Ells probably won’t play again. Now, LF will be manned by a combination of Bill Hall, Daniel Nava, Darnell McDonald, and Ryan Kalish, .333-.360 wOBA hitters. So far this month, the Sox have gotten more from LF than the Rays and about the same production as the MFY:
MFY - .245 AVG/.330 OBP/.372 SLG (.703 OPS/.324 wOBA)
Sox - .235 AVG/.290 OBP/.447 SLG (.737 OPS/.322 wOBA)
Rays - .229 AVG/.279 OBP/.344 SLG (.623 OPS/.279 wOBA)
Another thing to note, while Damon is better than Hall, Nava, or Kalish (right now), the real question is: what are five weeks of Damon worth in terms of wins? So far this year Damon is a 1.3 WAR (Baseball Reference) to 1.7 WAR (Fangraphs) player overall. That numbers is deflated because Damon is primarily a DH. Let’s assume that Damon would be a 2 WAR player in LF, which averages out to a third of a win per month. Even if Damon came to Boston and played way over his head, he probably wouldn’t be worth more than half a win. The difference between Damon and Nava/Hall/McDonald/Kalish (a combined 2.7 WAR – Fangraphs) just isn’t that great—especially over a short period (a little over a month).
When Jorge Posada heard that the Red Sox had claimed Damon off waivers, the veteran Yankees catcher said, “Obviously, he would make them a lot better.’’
This is anecdotal BS. Damon and Posada are likely friends; just like Tek and Papi are friendly with Damon. Players aren’t always (or usually) the best judge of talent.