Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where Will Johnny Play Revisited

Yesterday, the Boston Red Sox claimed outfielder Johnny Damon off waivers from the Detroit Tigers.

However, Damon has a no trade clause and could nix the move. Damon, of course, played for the Sox between 2002 and 2005 and was an integral part of the 2004 World Series championship team. Prior to the 2006 season, Damon signed a four year deal with the New York Yankees becoming persona non grata in Red Sox Nation. Damon signed with the Tigers this past off season.

At the moment, Damon is being coy as to his options. He has until tomorrow afternoon to make a decision.

There are two questions at issue for Damon.

First, who is more likely to reach the postseason? The Tigers or the Sox? As of this writing, the Sox are 5½ games behind the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. The Sox have a three game series against the Rays in St. Petersburg beginning Friday. The Tigers, on the other hand, are ten games back of the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. But then again it might be easier to make up ten games in the AL Central than it is to make up 5½ games in the AL East.

The second question for Damon is which team is more likely to include him in their long term plans. Damon is 36. I see Damon as a short term option for the Sox. He'll hit lead off and play left field. But the team has an abundance of left fielders - Darnell McDonald, Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava, Eric Patterson, Bill Hall and Jacoby Ellsbury (albeit unlikely to play again this season). Then there's the free agent market with the likes of Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. Crawford is 29 and Werth is 31. I can't see the Sox passing up on Crawford or Werth in favor of Damon.

In Detroit, Damon is viewed as a team leader and an elder statesman who can still play everyday. Even if the Tigers are out of it in 2010 they have a relatively young team and can rebound in 2011.

So I think Damon stays in Detroit. Although if he were to return here it would sure make the AL East race that much more compelling. I can't help but think that there's still a part of Damon that wants to be part of that excitement.

Here's what I wrote about Damon back in February shortly before he signed with the Tigers.

UPDATE: Damon will stay in Detroit. It gives Red Sox Nation yet another reason to boo him.

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