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Griff says...Johnny Damon Offer

My planned topic for today was about the importance of a Catcher in today’s game. But that was until I heard the Braves made an offer to Damon. Let’s face it; Damon is more exciting news right now. So let’s talk about it.

First of all, it is no longer a rumor. The Braves did actually make an offer to Damon. So contrary to Bowman’s continual blogs that the Braves were not pursuing him, they were. Hence my ongoing view that links many of my opinions opposite those espoused by Bowman. For an insider, he seldom has the real insider information. It is more like he is leaked contrary information like they do with a double spy. But I digress.

Johnny Damon. Good idea or bad idea? Most definitely it is a good idea. I’ve read and participated in the several hundred comments on the Bowman blog since the rumor hit today. I would say most are in favor of the idea. Of course some have no clue why it would be good or bad and are still talking about other topics.

But for those of us who follow the Braves closely and purport to be students of the game in general, we recognize the distinct weakness in the Braves team at the lead-off position. (Reference my earlier article about the importance of the lead-off position). For a long time I felt the Braves were oblivious to the issue but now I am somewhat encouraged that they see it as a real concern. I hope that they are not just dabbling, thinking they might steal Damon for a song. That won’t happen. But the $4 million offered him, some of it deferred, is at least a statement that they see how he could help us.

Damon was quoted as saying the Braves were at the top of his list. Chipper’s comment about it left a lukewarm feeling about the deal. He merely said something about Damon’s experience and that he would be a good addition. Maybe Chipper was afraid to say the wrong thing and alienate Diaz and McLouth. If they turn Chipper loose on Damon the deal could happen. So far Chipper has merely spoken to him I read. But Damon has said before he would like to play for the Braves.

Until now I was of the opinion that the Tigers would sign him. They seriously need someone like him at the top of their lineup because they lost the 1 and 2 spot guys in the lineup during the offseason. Even though Damon wants a two year contract I’m not so sure Detroit will go that far. If not, the Braves have a realistic chance.

Even batting second last year, Damon had close to a 37% OBP. In his career he is 288/355/439/794 for average, OBP, slugging and OPS. Those are good numbers. Most of that is from the lead-off position. He still has some speed and could fulfill the 1 spot significantly better than McLouth. That is really the problem. It is not so much that getting Damon is like getting an all-star lead-off man as much as it is that he is such an upgrade from McLouth in the lineup. It is well documented that Damon has a poor arm. But how much worse can it be than Anderson’s was last year? And Damon’s legs more than make up for his arm compared to Anderson’s total immobility last year. So actually I see it as a small defensive upgrade. Beyond that, in left field in 2008 and 2007 he had a positive UZR. In 2009 it was negative but it should be noted that McLouth has been negative in UZR every year for many years. So let’s be fair and say Damon is serviceable in left field. Center in recent years was a different story.

If we get him I feel we will be in great position to beat the Phillies for the NL East. If not, we still have a good team but it will be a struggle to overtake them, as many teams have improved. Is Damon the key piece needed? I think so. Assuming everything else comes together reasonably well and we do not get hit with significant key player injuries, the addition of Damon could be the missing link.

A big benefit that few are talking about is his visibility, persona and ability to put bodies in the seats at Turner Field. He will give us an added excitement surrounding the team that is currently lacking. That could help give the team more support, excitement and momentum. Perhaps it could help improve our home performances which in the past have been just so-so. If we could dominate on our home field again, it could really help. Damon can draw more fans, not necessarily to see Damon play, but because of his reputation, rings and visibility. Fans will be more interested to come out to be a part of the growing momentum and hope of a championship.

Bowman says he and other insiders are of the mind the deal will not happen. Now I'm really getting excited!

My next blog will be on Sunday. The topic will be about the importance of the Catcher, barring any other exciting news that may pop up. Griff says…later.

5 comments:

  1. As always, a well-written blog. While I don't agree that he is a huge upgrade over what we already have, I do feel he would add that certain dynamic to our lineup by allowing McClouth to drop in the lineup to more of a run producing spot in the lineup.

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  2. I always like a player like Damon who is productive and been to the World Series and won it a couple of times. Do I think he will be as productive with the Braves, he won't but he will add to the clubhouse which is important in baseball.

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  3. Looks like the latest rumor is the Tigers offered him 7 million. We probably can't compete with that.

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  4. Money - I think when I said big upgrade I was referring to an upgrade over McLouth in the lineup, and an upgrade over Anderson defensively. Otherwise I think we agree anyway.

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  5. Well.. I would have loved to have Damon for the tangibles as well as the intangibles, but if the Tigers are going to counter a $4 mil offer with $14 over two, then I say good luck Damon. Let's not get caught up in a bidding war for someone who's not THAT much of an upgrade.

    I might increase the offer a little more, but keep it at one year. If Damon REALLY wants to play for the Braves and Bobby Cox, maybe he will take it. If not, then we can just stick with the original plan and see what we need midseason.

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