Johnny Damon to hang them up and have 2009 be his last season?
Via Bob Klapisch -
Remember back in November, when [Johnny] Damon refused to give the Bombers a hometown discount? Remember when he said that unless Brian Cashman was ready to pay $13 million a year, don’t bother making an offer? Damon should’ve been careful for what he wished.
No one has called, no one has that kind of money anymore and no one, least of all Damon and his agent Scott Boras, has any hope of this ending well.
With only a month to go until spring training, Damon has two options: He can call the Yankees and admit he has nowhere to go. The Yankees, who will listen politely, will tell Damon he can play for $2 million for one season, not a penny or a day more.
Option 2, practically unthinkable after the World Series, would be retirement. A friend of Damon’s recently said, “Johnny is completely in the family mode right now” and has considered that option. It’s still hard to believe that, in the wake of a 24-home run campaign in 2009, and hitting .364 against the Phillies in the Series, Damon actually would quit.
Give him credit for not panicking. In a text message to the New York Times on Tuesday, Damon wrote: “I’m sure things will work out somewhere.” Chances are, however, he never thought he’d be in this kind of predicament so late in the off-season.
In past years, the Yankees automatically would’ve broken their budget to make room for an extra part. And Damon, after all, has his selling points: His swing obviously is built for the Stadium, he’s proven he can succeed in big-market pressure and he’s a good guy whom everyone likes. Damon was a key reason why the Yankees’ clubhouse was so upbeat and controversy-free last summer.
But times are indeed leaner, as Cashman has no intention of crashing through a $200 million hard ceiling. The GM promised Hal Steinbrenner that the days of wanton spending are over – although there are plenty of baseball teams who’d love to be on lockdown at $198 million.
Other than Kirby Puckett, Johnny Dickshot, Ed Konetchy and (maybe) Carney Lansford, how many batting title qualifying big leaguers have left the game, at age 36, after having a season as good as Johnny Damon had last year? Not many…that’s for sure. And, some of those that I mentioned here had an excuse – like injury or players returning from the war.
Or, maybe, is Damon just setting himself up to be the Collusion Poster-Child when the agents and/or the MLBPA makes a case against the owners? So, maybe Damon is more like Curt Flood than Johnny Dickshot?
What do you think?