Why a Johnny Damon reunion makes sense

Around this time two years ago, the Tigers were about midway through the six-week saga of signing Johnny Damon to be their left fielder and designated hitter. He had a good, not great season in Detroit, good for a .756 OPS and a .355 on-base percentage, then was told by the Tigers near season’s end they weren’t interested in re-signing him. Detroit was already plotting a pursuit of free-agent Victor Martinez.

So with Martinez likely out for the season, why would the Tigers have interest in going back to Damon?

Well, they have a few pretty good reasons. But the big picture is that this is a much different team, and a much better offense, than the one that split with Damon last offseason. Delmon Young is the veteran, run producing corner outfielder the Tigers lacked in 2010. Brennan Boesch isn’t a rookie anymore, and Alex Avila is an RBI guy.

The Tigers are searching for a bat to fill the opening left by Martinez, but if they can help it, they’d rather do it with an outfielder. They’d rather keep Miguel Cabrera at first base than have to move him in and out of the DH slot, and an outfielder would allow them some flexibility with Delmon Young in the DH role if they want. Granted, Damon has had just 46 starts in the outfield over the last two seasons, but he at least provides the capability.

Juan Pierre, another free agent linked to the Tigers, kind of falls in the same category, though he has been an everyday outfielder the last couple years in Chicago. Both have declining skills showing, especially in the field, but both can be productive near the top of the order.

Neither would likely be as expensive as a middle-of-the-order hitter, which is a factor. Though the Tigers did have an insurance policy on Victor Martinez, it isn’t believed to be for nearly as much as many have speculated (including myself).

Damon or Pierre would allow them to move either Young or  Boesch down while (in theory) improving the percentages of Cabrera coming up with runners on base. They also add a left-handed bat in the top third of the order, something both manager Jim Leyland and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski have referenced in recent days. Leyland, of course, has also referenced the appeal of adding a top-third order hitter and a better baserunner.

The idea, of course, hinges on somebody else batting behind Cabrera.  Young thrived last year batting in front of Cabrera in part because he saw a lot of strikes; nobody’s going to pitch around the guy batting in front of Cabrera. Boesch struggled mightily batting behind Cabrera down the stretch in 2010, but he’s a more mature hitter now. Leyland never wanted to bat Jhonny Peralta above sixth last year, and he didn’t want to put a whole lot of RBI pressure on Alex Avila either.

Interest in Damon appears to be in the early stages at this point. The Tigers haven’t had any direct contact with Damon, according to a source. But then, with the Yoenis Cespedes pursuit on hold pending his residency clearance in the Dominican Republic, the Tigers aren’t likely to add an outfielder until the Cespedes courtship gets resolved, or at least becomes clearer.

59 Comments

At the Dominican League final, best of 9.
Dirks:317
Cespedes:.000. 3 SO.

It wont matter if he lead off but the reason why theTigers left him go was his 209/
.314 with risp.
And he looked unconfortable with the resting JL likes to give

Well, heck, I don’t know. The one thing about Johnny is his very positive attitude that he brings to the team every day. His personality, competitivness, desire to win are all still there. He always seemed to hang around Jim alot. There’s lots of rumors and that’s just what this might be except Jason did write about it so it’s definitely out there. There’s no replacing Victor any way, any how. Since the insurance issue was brought up, that might mean not as much leeway in the payroll as we would have liked. Patience, ugh!

JD is very close to, if not already, over the hill. We have had too many guys hang around for too long after becoming unproductive or incapable. Inge, Ordonez, Guillen, Damon and Sheffield are a few to mention.
I really think Pierre is a much better signing than Damon would be. Damon is overrated in the clubhouse and his wife probably still doesn’t like Detroit. Damon was brutal with men in scoring position for us. I have a short memory but that I will not forget. Heck, I’d almost settle for Timo Perez ahead of Damon. (I’m ALMOST not kidding).
Is it worth considering a guy like Chone Figgins with the salary relief the Mariners would give up? He’s due to play some good ball again. And as troubled as everyone thinks he is, Hanley Ramirez would solve more than one area of deficiency for us. Granted it would probably create another in getting him!!

I guess I am saying it doesn’t make sense to me. We then would have 3 guys that play poorly in LF

true

would not be a fan of signing Pierre. he stole 27 bags, but got cut down 17 times. he’s 34, has no pop, and declining on base ability. Damon would be the better option. have no idea about whether Figgins could rebound…also 34, signed through 2013 which makes him less desirable. am sure Ms would love to dump his contract.
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not sure if Kotchman would accept a one year deal and a lot of DH time, but he seems to be the most likely FA candidate to hit .300, and is young enough (29) that he could improve upon last season. he’d fit in the #2 hole. it’s possible that he could produce like Mientkiewicz did during his good years in Minny. nothing special, but solid results.

Kotchman would be a good additon but a leadoff man is preferable and speed is essential.

CBS Sports reports that Roy Oswalt got a personal call from Justin Verlander encouragiing him to sign with the Tigers and he said he doesn’t want to play in Detroit. Ewww! Makes me not like Oswalt very much right now. Oh, my ‘achin back to you, Roy.

Ah, the rumors. We’ve been connected to how many players now? They match up players with teams and it becomes a documented…………..rumor. In any case, if the Tigers sign a FA other than Fielder, some people will complain and complain bitterly. It’s as much a part of the game as resin bags.
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I hear that Verlander tried to personally recruit Roy Oswalt but he doesn’t want to come to Detroit. Okay Roy, you can watch the postseason on TV, broadcast from Detroit.
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See that video of Cespedes going deep? The follow through on his swing reminded me of Willie Mays. I’m serious, but don’t read anything into that.
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Don’t tell anybody, but I think it’s going to be Damon. He fits JL’s style of play.

I’m going to refrain from commenting on that Rich. But you are right, he does fit JL’s style of play and that is precisely why I am not happy with that rumour. JL will go to the well (the bottom of) for his non productive DHs.

‘Fraid so.
By the way, when I say “some people will complain bitterly”, I’m not speaking of anyone in particular or even anyone who comments here, just the general population. I read a lot of sites. Want to be clear on that.

oh man :( I keep reading the title of this story as “When a Johnny Damon reunion makes sense….” and finishing it with things like “it’s been a bad offseason”, “you almost want to resign Maggs”, “a delmon young reunion is sounding feasible” or “signing the an unproven cuban minor leaguer for 50MM sounds like a good idea”…..

and on a side note, when Johnny Damon is the Egg McMuffin of free-agent No. 2 hitters – then you know it’s been the McDonalds of offseasons (think: cancerous)

And when people take what was meant to be a funny line about Johnny Damon seriously, you know how why hot stove season gets real old. I’m now counting down the hours until spring training.

What about Country Strong? He’s DH material and did a fine job for NY when ARod was injured. Just a thought.

country strong 2009-2011 batting stats: 536ABs, 27HRs, 52BB, 149SO, .259BA….so he’s got a BB/SO ratio of 1:3 and about a HR every 5 games if he has ~4.1ABs a game. might as well put peralta behind cabby (batting stats the past 2 years 1:2 BB/SO ratio and a .273BA – and a HR every 7 games)

Well i like johnny damon as a person but he didnt produce here before and i dont think an older jd will do better. We need better than what he can provide.

Im looking over matsui stats and i believe he would fit nicely in our lineup. 84sb last year and a .321 ob% .251ba. That screams leadoff to me. Bat boesch ahead of cabby and young after. When matsui gets on he steals bases and a fly ball from the big 3 will bring the speedy matsui home.

Godzilla? He looks and walks like he’s 56. Idk.

Kaz Matsui maybe……..

so if damon signs with the tigers…..you bat him 2nd or leadoff?

So Damon told Jon that he would consider Detroit, and Detroit told Jon that they would consider Damon. Swap the name “Jon” for “Carol” and you have the story of how I got my date for the senior prom.

AM I NUTS OR DID WE JUST SIGN FIELDER?

now i can’t sit down anymore. man i hope this isn’t a joke. 214MM over 9 yrs

my nephew just texted me but I haven’t seen anything official yet

mlive.com also reporting….

Well here is the main thing here: both cabby and prince play the same pos. – IMO cabby plays a really good 1st….maybe you just make them platoon DH/1B 100% of the time….and in the playoffs…..make 1 of them play…..3rd? OF? idk man. When victor comes back…..we have a SERIOUS log jam at DH

I hate to say it, but that’s a really good problem to have, if you can afford the players. Trades, position moves, etc. are not a problem when you have Miggy, VMart and Prince (and Delmon, Boesch, Peralta, Avila, Jackson…). And that doesn’t mention the pitching.

An MLB.com reporter is confirming a deal, but the Tigers haven’t said anything yet. I was not expecting this at all.

I am starting to see the rumors out there now. My question is, what do we do with someone that is a first baseman? My assumption is we want him as a dh and to give Miggy a rest from time to time. So I am surprised we would offer a 9 year deal if we need a short term dh. Is the writing on the wall for VMart?

OK, just saw something saying Miguel would be the dh and Prince the first baseman. I am not a big fan of that, Miggy has made it apparent that he doesn’t like sitting. I need answers darnit!!!

This is like I’m dreaming this. One instance where the word “unbelievable” is entirely accurate. And I will say that I think Cabrera can play thirdbase. The trade potentials for anyone, however, are off the charts.
Mr. Ilitch, Mr. Dave, the Tigers, are serious!!!!!!

hey you called it that something was still going to happen.

Yeah, but not THIS. I had Prince in Washington the entire time. I was waiting for that announcement.

If you get both of them in the field 3 days a week, they should both be able to tolerate it. Maybe Miggy can get his third-baseman’s glove back out! (I can dream, can’t I? I want to somehow keep V-Mart viable in Motown.)

he will have to in NL parks

PRINCE and CABBY both have a .992 fielding % at first….but prince is less in shape and has never played another position. Cabby has a .951 at 3rd base as well…he can play 3rd.

and i should mention the leage fielding % at 3rd base is .955…so he’s a little below average

less than so at 1st base…where the league avg. is 994

Oh, he can play third. Anyone that’s watched him at firstbase these years can see that. He’s no Brooks Robinson, but you give up some defense for this kind of offensive firepower. And I want Victor back next year too, still my favorite player.
This is jaw dropping. Maybe Roy Oswalt is calling Justin now. :-)

LMAO he should be!!! hahahaha

This tells me the Tigers are in win now mode, and probably look for a veteran pitcher as well (Oswalt would be my guess). It also makes me worry about VMart’s health a little more. Cabrera will play 1B, and I guess Fielder will DH. I assumed they would go after a LF and DH Delmon Young.

Jackson CF
Boesch RF
Young LF
Cabrera 1B
Fielder DH
Peralta SS
Avilia C
Raburn 2B
Inge 3B

Bench would be Laird, Dirks, Santiago and Kelly

In other news, Wilson Betemit signed with Baltimore today. So maybe Cabrera moves to 3B.

i read that Fielder will be primary first baseman and Big Migg will be assuming a new role. Everyone was under the assumption the Tigers were being passive this offseason. They aren’t done dealing yet, hold on to your hat.

Miguel Cabrera played OF with the Marlins on arriving at MLB. That would be better than risking him at 3B with his weight . Fielder as DH makes more sense.His weight even if he extremely athletic wont allow him to last 9 years at 1B
And unless they unload one of them next year , V Mart days at Detroit are over .
So much for 3, 20 millions players are too much.

Jason Beck’s Twitter suggests that Cabrera was approached about this deal and gave it his blessing. Very interested to see how this all turns out….

Lg Pos G GS CG Inn Ch PO A E DP Fld% Rtot Rdrs Rtot/yr Rdrs/yr RF/9 RF/G lgFld% lgRF9 lgRFG
4 Seasons 1B 596 592 527 5126.1 5232 4813 377 42 494 .992 -11 -21 -3 -4 9.11 8.71 .994 9.55 9.17
5 Seasons 3B 387 383 328 3273.2 977 268 661 48 77 .951 -19 -30 -7 -10 2.55 2.40 .955 2.70 2.69
3 Seasons OF 347 341 288 2946.2 596 549 30 17 5 .971 -26 -1 -10 0 1.77 1.67 .983 2.17 2.15
3 Seasons LF 248 241 206 2090.2 412 379 23 10 4 .976 -16 4 -9 2 1.73 1.62 .982 1.91 1.89
1 Season RF 100 100 82 856.0 184 170 7 7 1 .962 -9 -5 -13 -7 1.86 1.77 .980 2.09 2.07

^ i know that is a mess, but you’ll see that he can play 3rd base and 1st base just a little below league average. and the OF stats are misleading because it was a LONG time ago.

But a 3B , he makes me remenber Bob Horner.

Against RHP:
Jackson CF
Boesch RF
Cabrera 1B
Fielder DH
Young .LF
Avilia C ( remember JL like to mix LHB/RHB)
Peralta SS
Santiago 2b
Kelly 3B

Fielder holy freaking crap!!!!

My first comments ended up on another thread. When I read the text I screamed out loud.

Just watched MLB live. Prince will be playing first and Miggy will DH. But, as they kept saying, the mystery team always wins. So DD is not showing his hand or talking too much. 9 years and 214 million. Thanks Mr I. Go Tigers 2012!

Mr I every couple of years or so just can’t help himself, especially if Boras is involved.
Trying to manage a team with speed would have been hard to do anyway -stick to what you know.
Man I sure hope this all works out. Sorry guys but I get real nervous when you start talking sure things which the Tigs pretty much have now become..

All I have to add is God bless Mike Ilitch. We are truly spoiled in Detroit.

speechless after reading about this move. simply unbelievable. tigers came so close to getting prince back in the 2002 draft. brewers picked 7th overall…tigers had the 8th pick and took scott moore…wow, what an unfortunate turn of events that was, but it’s just history now.
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i’ll guess that Cabrera bats 3rd and Prince bats 4th. that R/L power combo is going to be a killer…and when Victor returns…wow. not only does this boost the Tigers, it hurts the Rangers and Yankees who could have signed him. best case scenario in my thinking was to have Prince sign in the NL. who knew Ilitch could dig that deep for this contract? what a rollercoaster ride for Tigers’ fans this offseason.
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Yesterday, something happened in my family that caused me to become very depressed and sad. It was a devastating event. I won’t go on about it, but I literally didnt feel like living any more. Today, I was just moping on the sofa when I got the text message about Prince. Like I told my son, it felt like a miracle. It took me out of that mindset and put me in a completely different frame of mind. Unbelievable! Thank you so much, Mr. Ilitch!

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