Johnny Damon sounds desperate. He comes across as a fading champion just dying to take one more punch. An athlete reared by Scott Boras who has already thrown any idea of negotiating out the window.
That the Yankees should take a flyer on Damon, who was released by the Cleveland Indians last August, as an outfielder/DH with an OPS of .610, says a lot about the current makeup of the team. It already feels like dire times, and first pitch is still two calendar turns away.
Damon would fit in with this Yankees club. He is accomplished and hungry for one final run.
This is what will define this season. The 2013 Yanks will be a veteran, feisty club that uses its experience to outmaneuver younger, more athletic opponents.
They have a team that wants to sacrifice for a title and taste victory again. Hiroki Kuroda returned for less money, as did, reportedly, Ichiro Suzuki. Kevin Youkilis takes two rings with him out to third base each day.
“I’m not just coming back to play,” Rivera said. “I’m coming back to win.”
That is why Damon wants to return to the Yankees. We saw how putting on the pinstripes reinvigorated Ichiro last year. Ichiro transformed from a .261 swinger in Seattle to a .322 batter in the Bronx.
Who knows if Damon has that in him? But if he comes in on a minor league deal at the minimum salary, what do the Yankees have to lose? Would you rather have Juan Rivera or Matt Diaz facing right-handed pitching with the short porch in right? Damon's career OPS against righties is .799. Rivera's is .739. Diaz's is .675.
So wouldn't the Yankees be better for the first six weeks with a platoon of Damon and either Rivera or Diaz than just the right-handed bats?
At the end of the day, if Damon has nothing, you thank him and send him on his way.
QUESTION: WOULD YOU SIGN JOHNNY DAMON?