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Random thoughts on the Johnny Damon signing

Feb 22, 2010, 9:27 AM EDT

As you no doubt heard, Johnny Damon signed with the Tigers over the weekend. One year, $8 million.  Some random observations:

  • I don’t buy for a second that Detroit really had a two-year, $14 million offer out there, but their one-year, $7 million offer was widely reported. That was dangling when the White Sox dropped out of the bidding on Friday.  Query:  If you are offering someone $7 million and your only real competition gives up, why do you raise your offer by $1 million? I’m thinking of selling my 2004 Honda Accord.  I think I’ll call Mike Ilitch, tell him that no one else wants it, and then demand $50,000.
  • Seriously, though, Ilitch really, really saved Boras’ bacon here.  In the space of a couple of days we went from a situation in which Damon was facing the contractual abyss to one in which he can take a $2 million pay cut next year and still say that he made out better for 2010-2011 than he would have had he taken the last offer the Yankees made him and which everyone said he was a moron not to take. Sure, he’d probably rather be in New York than Detroit, but if you don’t think Boras will spin this as a Bobby Abreu kind of thing at the press conference later today you’re crazy;
  • Not that an even $6 million contract next year is a given. Comerica Park is much bigger than Yankee Stadium, which will expose Damon’s poor arm and will likely depress his power numbers.
  • The no-trade clause which was reportedly included in the deal is rich indeed.  The team most likely to trade for Damon in the middle of the season is the Yankees, who are taking a chance on Brett Gardner as an everyday player. The odds of Damon not waiving his NTC for them — or for any other contender on a coast — are so infinitesimally small that they’re not even worth calculating. I bet Boras asked that the NTC be included so that he could claim that, yes, Detroit was where Damon always wanted to be. Even if we know that’s not really true.
  • Curtis Granderson’s 2010 salary: $5.5 million. Damon’s: $8 million. Just sayin’!

Johnny Damon will help the Tigers. Of course he would have helped them even more at $7 million or less too, but since Mike Ilitch doesn’t seem to care a whole hell of a lot for that supply and demand thing, we’ll never really know.

  1. judyj - Feb 22, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    Johnny – you didn’t play that hand well. We will miss you here in NY, but they missed you in Boston and KC as well. Hope you enjoy moving to Detroit for the season. Money isn’t always everything but it is to you. We moved on and now, well, see you in October – if you are as good as you think you are. No sad feelings – just joy that this story is finally off the radar.

  2. Old Gator - Feb 22, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    This “spin” thing has gotten out of hand. My physicist friends tell me even their pet quarks have gotten sick of it. That press conference today – what’s the point in standing in front of a room full of people enunciating fecalspeak when everyone in the room knows you’ve got a mouthful of coprolite marbles and you know they know it? I mean, I can get away with it on these blogs because I don’t have to look anyone in the eyes when I type (except maybe for my Gillian screensaver, but I know that she just finds me all the more picaresque for it). Scat Boras, however, can actually look people full in the eye (eyes when his audience consists of other than stupid journalistic cyclopses) and excrete from his mouth with a smile. That’s talent.
    Yes, yes, I know that at bottom Boras is really a lawyer. But in his case it’s nearly impossible to distinguish conditioning from genetics, resurrecting the old “nature vs. nurture” argument.

  3. Lawrence From Plattekill - Feb 22, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    Boras insisted on the no-trade contract so that if/when Detroit falls out of the race and wants to trade Damon for prospects, Damon can force the team he’s going to extend his contract by threatening to refuse to waive the no-trade clause.

  4. Charles Gates - Feb 22, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    Generally speaking, though, I’m sure you would have wanted Boras on your side of the table during your divorce prodeedings.

  5. eh? - Feb 22, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    Curtis Granderson’s 2010 salary: $5.5 million. Damon’s: $8 million. Just sayin’!
    Unfair comparison. Granderson would have commanded more on the FA market than Damon. Also, Tigers got several good potential and cheap players in return for Granderson. Signing Damon did not mortgage the future, even if he flops in ’10. They could even get some return on him at the trading deadline if the team underperforms. I suspect Ilitch stepped in to make this deal happen.
    I am interested in hearing what kind of reply Damon gives to the question of what took so long. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed by some string of cliches.

  6. JE - Feb 22, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    As Craig pointed out the other day, the Tigers might have found another way to land Scherzer and Schlereth. And don’t forget about the wasted cash spent on Valverde!

  7. Josh - Feb 22, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    At this point I’m wondering what it would take for you to concede that Damon was not a “moron” to turn down the supposed 2-yr $14M offer from the Yankees. Because, apparently, even recognizing that “he can take a $2 million pay cut next year and still say that he made out better for 2010-2011 than he would have had he taken the last offer the Yankees made him” isn’t enough. Because…

  8. Craig Calcaterra - Feb 22, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    Just because it ended up working out for him doesn’t mean it was a smart decision at the time. One can’t do too well in life assuming things like “billionaire team owner who claims the team needs to slash payroll is going to raise his bid after all the competition drops out . . . three months from now.”
    Things turned out well for Damon. Good for him. But it had a hell of a lot more to do with Mike Ilitch being irrational than it did in Damon’s decision making being sound.

  9. Josh - Feb 22, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Understood, but even if turning down the Yankees’ offer wasn’t a “smart” decision (and I never said it was), it certainly wasn’t “moronic.” I think there’s some ground between smart and moronic.
    Every offseason half the clubs in the league make irrational decisions that pay off for ballplayers’ wallets. Isn’t it even a little possible that Boras knew what he was doing? I’m sure Boras and Damon knew they were rolling the dice. What’s wrong with that?
    You’re overcompensating for Jon Heyman’s Boras-fellating. It’s equally obnoxious, IMO.

  10. Old Gator - Feb 22, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    I think they also signed Yog Sothoth and Shoggoth to minor league contracts.

  11. Old Gator - Feb 22, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    At the time, sure.
    But definitely not this year.

  12. Josh - Feb 22, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    My comments might sound harsh, so I’ll just throw in a positive one for good measure. This blog is one of my top destinations while goofing off at work, and your material is always thought-provoking. Keep up the (mostly) good work! 😉

  13. Craig Calcaterra - Feb 22, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Josh — no worries at all. I hope and expect criticism. I don’t have a monopoly on wisdom, and I’ll grant that I’ve overstated my case on this matter quite a few times.
    Last thing I want is this place turning into one of those message boards where no one criticizes the moderator. I’ll bristle if people call me a jackass, but I totally accept it if people explain why something I said was jackassy.
    It’s all good.

  14. Charles Gates - Feb 22, 2010 at 3:33 PM


  15. InnocentBystander - Feb 22, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    Given the conspiracy theories that surround anything Boras touches, what do you think of this…Any chance in order to save face, Boras strikes an off-the-record deal with Ilitch? Give Damon $8m (even though $7m or $6m or maybe even $5m is the best offer he will get anywhere else), and next time the Tigers are in on a big time free agent, the Tigers can cut some of their offer there. So, for example, Carlos Beltran is looking for 4 years, $76m and Boras gives him to the Tigers for 4/$72m. The $4m to Beltran on that size of a deal is insignificant, but the $2m-$3m extra for Damon makes it seem like, “wow, Boras really is a superstar agent and didn’t misjudge Johnny’s market at all.”

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