Johnny Damon is not someone you overpay for -- and I wasn't all that comfortable with the Red Sox offer of 4/40. So it'll be weird to see him clean-shaven and in pinstripes next summer, but I'm glad it's Steinbrenner and not Henry handing him an average of $13 million a season (!) until the end of 2009.
New York is paying for what Damon was, not what he will be. There can be no doubt that his four years in Boston will turn out to be far more productive than his four in the Bronx.
Damon's the original Idiot, the hirsute anti-Yankee who drilled the grand slam to ice Game 7. Yankee fans hate this guy. Now they have to pretend to like him, just like they're doing with Randy Johnson.
Anyone wanna guess how many times we'll see Jeter bunting Damon to second in the first inning? ... As far as outfield skills, if Torre's smart, he'll put Damon in left and Shemp in center.
What it perhaps most surprising -- though it really shouldn't be -- is the profound ignorance displayed by the national media. Read Olney, Rosenthal and the CHB to see how horrible confused and doomed the (newly) cursed the Red Sox are.
Their collective stupidity and inability to offer even a hint of actual analysis shouldn't surprise me, yet it does. It's like they are all 10 years old, thinking one team is better than another because it has more recognizable names on it. How do these guys have jobs?
Meanwhile, here in reality: Thanks for the memories, Johnny.
Now ... Jeremy Reed, come on down!
Damon is offering the usual bullshit:
My message to Red Sox fans is I tried. I tried everything in my power to try and come back, but unfortunately I know they're going to be upset, but I'm always going to have a strong feeling about them. I'm always going to remember the great times, the World Series, the three out of the four years we made the playoffs.Upset? Well, not really. In 2009, seeing Damon in the Yankee outfield and not Boston's will be a pleasant sight, not an infuriating one. (I only wish we still had Doug Mirabelli on the team, so we could cackle when he went from first to third on Damon's noodle.) And replacing his production will not be that hard.
Good leadoff men are tough to find and I think the Yankees found the best leadoff hitter in the game.As Art Martone points out, Mark Loretta has a higher career on-base percentage (.365) than Damon (.353).
Damon, May 2005:
There's no way I can go play for the Yankees, but I know they're going to come after me hard. It's definitely not the most important thing to go out there for the top dollar, which the Yankees are going to offer me. It's not what I need.
Damon, December 20, 2005:Boston: 4 years -- $40,000,000
New York: 4 years -- $52,000,000
Without a doubt [I'll cut my hair and shave my moustache]. Mr. Steinbrenner has a policy and I'm going to stick to it. Our policy with the Yankees is to go out there and win ...Bostonian of the Year: David Ortiz. ... The Red Sox inked 37-year-old Rudy Seanez to a one-year deal with a club option for 2007. ... Tony Graffanino accepted salary arbitration. ... After nearly three months of rest and the use of a protective shoe, Pedro Martinez's right toe still hurts. "This worries me a little because generally by this time of the year I'm already throwing."
Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe:
No way around this one. Johnny Damon is a Yankee and it looks like the Red Sox don't know what they are doing. ... While New England slept last night, Damon got into bed with the enemy. Sox officials smugly believed there was no market for their marquee center fielder and the Yankees took advantage of Boston's big sleep. ...While a columnist has more leeway than a repoter, it's amazing how factually wrong so much of CHB's work is. They assumed there was no market for Damon? They have no 1B? What???
So now your Boston Red Sox have no center fielder, no shortstop, and no first baseman to go along with no Theo Epstein and no clue. It's fair to say this is becoming a winter of discontent in Red Sox Nation. ... The Josh Beckett trade bought some goodwill and glad tidings, but losing Damon to the Yankees is a devastating blow to the foundation of the Nation.
The Sox won't recover from this one easily. In an already dismal offseason, they've now lost their center fielder and their leadoff hitter. They've also lost a local icon, a rare favorite of teenage girls and fanboy bloggers. ... [Damon's] production in pinstripes will be a personal affront to Red Sox fans around the world. ...
Bottom line: The Yankees just got better and more interesting, and the Red Sox just got worse and more boring.
Mike Lupica, New York Daily News:
The story here, in bold type, is that despite all the talk about saving money and getting younger, it was business as usual last night for the Yankees ...Joel Sherman, New York Post:
I like Damon as a ballplayer, always have ... but over the second half of [last] season he faded the way the Red Sox faded and couldn't throw the ball to second base. There were, in fact, days when he made Bernie Williams' arm look like some kind of rocket launcher in comparison. ...
The idea that this is some part of prudent financial plan because they wouldn't go to seven years for Damon is pretty funny. ...
I have felt for years that the Yankees missed a great chance with Damon four years ago when he was leaving Oakland as a free agent. ... He was 28 and available and would have moved Derek Jeter to No. 2 in the order right there.
The Yankees passed. Damon went to Boston instead. And when it came down to Game 7 in the American League Championship Series, it was Damon who hit one of the most famous postseason home runs ever hit against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, that grand slam off Javier Vazquez that really was the end of the biggest comeback in sports history. ...
In the winter when the Yankees overpaid for Hideki Matsui they now overpay for Johnny Damon. Only here is $52 million supposed to be viewed as some kind of bargain ...
The Yanks signed Damon for the same amount as Hideki Matsui. Which makes sense. ...George King, New York Post:
In the past 48 hours, the Yanks let Boras know that if Damon did not sign immediately, they were going to jump on a lower-level center fielder such as Corey Patterson or Luis Matos. It probably was a bluff, but not one Boras could risk. ... A key Idiot has jumped from the Red Sox to the Yankees, who suddenly look like winter winners. ...
For a few weeks, the Yanks have been calibrating how much greater their chances to win it all in 2006 and '07 are with Damon, and whether that was enough to motivate having Damon in 2008 and 2009, when he will be 34 and 35, and his already atrophying defense will have worsened further. ...
Damon instantly makes the Yanks the AL East favorites again, with all that the Blue Jays have done and all that the Red Sox might do.
Damon is leaving Fenway Park for Yankee Stadium to carry on the legacy of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams. ... Damon's decision caught the dysfunctional Red Sox brass by surprise. CEO Larry Lucchino said negotiations with Damon were ongoing almost an hour after the deal was sealed with the Yankees. ...Tyler Kepner, New York Times:
As for Yankee fans carrying a grudge against Damon for helping the Red Sox climb out of a 3-0 ditch in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, that will vanish shortly.
Why did Damon leave Boston for the blood rival Yankees? Damon was concerned about the upheaval in the Red Sox front office ... Also, Damon's wife has voiced a displeasure over the way she has been treated by the Boston media. ...
[T]he Red Sox have fallen squarely into turmoil. ... The Yankees, meanwhile, have no major holes. Their off-season work is all but complete, and they have done it at the expense of their rivals.The back pages of the rags are all pretty much the same: