Boy, if anyone could’ve used a teleprompter yesterday while speaking in front of the press it was Johnny Damon. After signing a 1-year, $8 million contract to play baseball in the Motor City for the 2010 season Damon told those present that playing in Detroit was always his goal.
“This is where I wanted to be from Day 1,” he told reporters at his coming out news conference. “I’m sorry it took so long.”
Damon sounded like playing in New York for the past four seasons was just a hiccup in his journey from Boston to Detroit.
Apparently, Damon’s speech writer isn’t aware of the economic climate assailing this country nowadays. Damon complained that he was offered a pay cut by the Yankees after having what anyone would call a great season.
“We’re coming off a great year and you’re told you’ve gotta take a pay cut,” Damon said to the media present. “You’re kind of like, ‘A pay cut? What the heck?’ It’s a little humbling.”
“You’re like, ‘Wow, is that what they really think of me? Or what I do for the ballclub?’ I did a lot for the ballclub. I even recruited (free agents) for those guys. I did everything.”
Talk about losing touch with reality. Does Damon realize there are people who have been out of work for years, losing their homes, businesses and having trouble putting food on the table or in their stomachs? How anyone could complain about being offered $14 million for two years, playing what in essence is a kid’s game, is ridiculous.
Gee, Johnny what were the Yankees thinking?
Maybe Damon should have spoken to Andy Pettitte before turning down the Yankees offer or making these insensitive statements.
In 2009, Pettitte took a sizable reduction in pay when the Yankees offered him a 1-year, $5 million contract to stay in the Bronx. Pettitte’s salary in 2008? $16 million.
However, Pettitte had to weigh out what was most important to him. Turn down the offer and move on or accept it and remain in pinstripes. Pettitte chose the latter.
“I had to eat a lot of pride,’’ Pettitte said in an interview this past Friday in the New York Post. “But they gave me a chance to make $5 million more in incentives.’’
Pettitte responded by having one of his better seasons over the past four seasons. After going 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA and 4-0 with a 3.58 ERA in the playoffs the Yankees rewarded Andy with a 1-year, $11.75 million contract to stay in New York.
After turning down the Yankees initial offer Damon remained on the market while the Yankees went looking elsewhere. After trading Curtis Granderson (Detroit Tigers), resigning Pettitte, signing Nick Johnson (Florida Marlins) and trading for Javier Vazquez (Atlanta Braves) there wasn’t enough money to interest Damon.
“I was in the same position and I could see it coming,’’ Pettitte said about the smaller pot of money. “That’s where I was last year. You need to be careful in that situation.’’
Damon and his agent Scott Boras overplayed their hand with the Yankees and got burned. If Detroit hadn’t offered this one-year deal what then? Damon would probably still be sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring.
After the season was completed, the playoffs and World Series over Damon made it clear where he wanted to play.
On November 23 Damon was contacted by the New York Daily News and was quoted as saying,
“I want to continue to be on a team that can win and to play in front of great fans – and we know that the Yankees fill both of those,” Damon said. “I think everyone knows my desire to come back. Still, every time I’ve been a free agent, I’ve ended up switching teams. It’s the nature of the beast. If people are interested, I’m going to listen.”
In another interview with Andrew Marchand of ESPN 1050 Radio in New York Damon told him, “I know where I want to be next year. I want to be here in New York.”
If Damon would’ve stepped back and looked at the big picture instead of having a myopic view he would probably be a Yankee today.
Perhaps, Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman summed it up best.
“When we signed him (for four years, $52 million), he was playing center field, a premium position, and the market was high. Now he’s a left fielder, he’s 36, in a collapsed market. Why would he not expect to take a pay cut?”
Hopefully, for Damon his ego didn’t get the best of him, because he is going to have to go through all of this again next year. The Tigers, in addition to Damon, got highly touted prospect Austin Jackson from the Yankees in the Granderson trade. Jackson will get a year in the Tiger organization and will be ready to go in 2011. Damon will be 37, and probably looking for a new employer. For the difference of $2 million ($8 million x 2) Damon let the Yankees slip through his fingers.
Damon will be missed, but he is not irreplaceable. If the new guys in pinstripes can play and hit up to their projected potentials Damon’s departure will be a distant memory.
In the end Johnny Damon will again wear the number 18 on his back, but he’ll wish he was playing for the number 28 in October.